Op-Ed Calls for Reversal of FL Ban on BSL

An editorial (with poll) in the Orlando Sentinel starts out like this:

Spike is gone, mauled to death earlier this month by a pit bull on the loose.

The little Dachshund was the latest casualty of an out-of-control breed whose irresponsible owners are letting their animals terrorize dogs and people alike.

It’s all downhill from there.

The piece goes on to say that because BSL is prohibited in FL, nothing can be done to protect people from dangerous dogs. And that Pitbull advocates don’t post stories about Pitbull bites, only the nicey-nice stories.

Wrong, wrong and wrong-o-mundo.

There’s no such thing as monsters and no such thing as “an out-of-control breed” of dog. Some individual dogs of all breeds bite, for various reasons. But most dogs don’t bite. Some owners are irresponsible – they may own any breed of dog, including Dachshunds for example. But most owners are well intentioned people who, if they aren’t already behaving responsibly, may need a hand up in the form of education and community support. Making low/no cost neuter surgery accessible to all pet owners who want it is just one way the community can make a difference. And the idea that nothing can be done to protect the public from dangerous dogs unless BSL is passed is utterly false. Non breed specific legislation regarding dangerous dogs is already on the books in many areas.

I’m a Pitbull advocate and I post stories about bites in addition to the hero dog and other positive stories. Some people don’t like that. But we can always learn something from tragedy and every opportunity to educate is important. I don’t blame the breed, I look at the backstory and try to figure out what went wrong. Too often, bite incidents could have been prevented by something as simple as not leaving a child unattended with a dog or keeping a dog confined. These are basic tenets of responsible dog ownership and yet the need for education is apparent. So I don’t shy away from those. On the other hand, I don’t fall for every “Pitbull Mauling Rah-Rah-Rah!” headline that makes its way on to the internet. We have seen time and again that the dog in question is in fact not a Pitbull, that there was no mauling, etc. while bite incidents involving other breeds get little media coverage.

As for who is terrorizing who, I’d say irresponsible journalism and wrong-headed thinking are partly to blame for perpetuating the myths (and ratings grab) surrounding Pitbulls. Everyone is entitled to his opinion but fear mongering and discrimination have no place in our communities. We are a no kill nation of pet lovers and a humane society. Join us.

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