Pit bull advocates and their organizations publish extensive amounts of opinion-type literature to refute claims that pit bulls are aggressive.
Animal Farm Foundation, a pit bull advocacy group in the US with an annual income of $66.6 million, currently has no fewer than 13 ebooks available. Topics include how to influence media and politicians about pit bulls, how to obtain grants and awards for pit bulls rescue and advocacy, how to convince school children that pit bulls are safe, and strategies for marketing and advertising pit bulls.
COMMON BSL TALKING POINTS:
- Pit bulls are not a breed, so “breed-specific” legislation is not possible.
Many arguments against BSL made by Animal Farm and others concern the word “breed”. Legislators may be challenged to identify pit bull from photographs, and to listen to arguments intended to confuse the notion of “breed”.
However, legislation for pit bulls is not based on defining pit bulls as a “breed”. It is based on the number of attacks by pit bulls as opposed to attacks by other dogs, and on the severity of bites by pit bulls compared to the severity of bites by other dogs. BSL policies draw on evidence from attack and bite records kept by cities and counties.
- “Blame the deed not the breed.”
This common argument promotes punishing people after their dogs attack, rather than preventing attacks in the first place. This is the same as advocating for people to be fined for texting while driving only if they they hit someone, or punishing people who drink and drive only if there is an accident. Fortunately society has progressed sufficiently that most people understand the benefits of ensuring these things do not happen in the first place.
The goal of breed-specific laws is to prevent the deed in the first place.
Note: This argument is often used by the same people who object to calling pit bulls a “breed”.
- BSL does not keep people safe from dog bites. Any dog can bite.
The “bite” is not the issue. The severity of the “bite” is the issue. Reports from cities all over North America show that pit bulls not only bite more (approximately one in four dog bites is by a pit bull), but their bites are much more severe.
Studies of city records also show that pit bulls are 4-8 times more likely to attack than other breeds of dogs, that they do more extensive damage, and that their “bites” kill more people than any other breed of dog.
Looking at comparative numbers, in 2013-2014 more than one pit bull in 40 killed or seriously injured another animal, compared with about one dog in 50,000 of other breeds.
- BSL is “racist” towards pit bulls.
Advocates for pit bulls frequently argue BSL is “racist”, going as far as to compare their dogs to the Jews persecuted by Nazis.
- BSL is expensive.
Animal Farm and others claim that “BSL costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to round up and kill all banned dogs.”
1. BSL does not mean rounding up and killing dogs. When BSL is enacted, existing pets are grandfathered in and allowed to live out their natural lives, under the condition they are neutered and spayed to prevent further breeding.
2. The cost to taxpayers for enforcing BSL is significantly less than the cost of medical and veterinary bills for victims of pit bulls, and significantly less than typical insurance claims for dog bites, which averaged $32,072 in 2014. It is significantly less than the cost of managing, housing and euthanizing pit bulls in city shelters.
3. The cost of BSL, by Animal Farm’s own calculations, is actually less than the current cost to taxpayers. Taxpayers currently subsidize over $2 billion annually on U.S. shelters and euthanization. Best Friends claims that if BSL is enacted, the total cost for BSL services for all dogs in the United States would be only $476,973,320.
- “No one tells me what to do with my dog.”
Pit bull owners can be very confrontational about their rights, but pit bulls are a form of property. When a type of property like fireworks or guns or pit bulls proves dangerous to the public, civilized societies agree to enact laws to protect themselves. Laws may not be popular with everyone, but they are the point of a civilized society.
- Pit bulls don’t deserve a bad reputation because they are “nanny” dogs.
Numerous articles have discredited this myth, and it’s been discredited by several prominent pit bull advocacy groups including Bad Rap. In fact, many pit bull breeders believe this myth is extremely dangerous as it leads to romantic notions about pit bulls.
Historical studies describe how pit bulls were commonly used to track and punish runaway Negro slaves in America; to grip and hold the snouts of large bovines while their throats were being cut; to hunt and drive livestock; and to cull weaker animals from herds. The pit bull has been extensively used in dog fighting. Where pit bulls appeared in early children’s literature and films (such as “Little Rascals”), the role of the dog was to “sic’em” or attack.
- It’s the owners who don’t socialize their dogs.
Blaming the owner is one of the most common tactics used to argue against BSL.
However the truth is that about 1/2 of all pit bull attacks are on their owners or family members, many of whom trained and socialized their dogs since they were puppies. This percentage is likely much higher if pit bull owners under-report bites.
Unfortunately, training, socializing, loving, adoring pit bulls, and taking their photos sleeping with human babies does not change their basic nature, which is unpredictable and prey-driven.
Pit bulls do not normally warn people they are going to attack. There are no “typical” or “ordinary” canine warning signs. The majority of attacks are well established to be “out of the blue”, unprovoked and unexpected.
- The media picks on pit bulls and give them a bad reputation.
The media reports on pit bull attacks because pit bulls attack more frequently and more severely than any other type of dog. The media’s job is to report on dangers to the public.
- Media reports are unreliable.
There is a persistent allegation by pit bull advocates that the use of media accounts as a data source is somehow suspect. The reality is that media coverage incorporates information from police reports, animal control reports, witness accounts, victim accounts and hospital reports.
- “BSL is not effective because I knew a pit bull once and he was the sweetest dog.”
By banning or restricting pit bulls with muzzles and other safety precautions, legislators protect people from incidents by those pit bulls who are not “the sweetest”, as well as from unprovoked and unpredictable attacks for which pit bulls are well known.
- Pit bulls are heroes and they save people.
Since 1982, the ratio of pit bulls verifiably saving a human life as opposed to killing someone has been about 1 to 60. – Merrit Clifton
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