A friend of mine and I were talking the other day about city councils, BSL and canine laws. It was an interesting discussion. The most interesting part of the discussion though was arond how it seems the city administrators seem to pay so little attention to the experts on canine legislation. When it comes to canine legislation, it appears that everyone thinks they're an expert.
It's not like this in other areas of government. Certainly if there was a bridge in need of repair in a particular city, the city would bring in the experts in to create a solution. They'd listen to a structural engineer to see if the bridge was sound structurally, an architect maybe to design a new bridge, a traffic engineer to figure out the best way to re-route traffic during the building/remodeling proecess, etc. Certainly the victims of the blocks of falling concrete from the bridge would be listened to about the need to "do something" but probably not on the best specific solution to the problem of the decayiing bridge. We'd listen to the experts on that.
Why is it different then for dogs? When it comes to canine legislation and animal behavior, it seems like everyone's an expert. It seems like legislators, newspaper columnists, dog bite victims....everyone...is an expert on what exactly the solutions should be. Meanwhile, the true experts in canine behavior and effective canine legislation are often ignored.
Virtually every major national organization that has an expertise in canine behavior and human interactions agrees that breed specific ordinances are a bad idea. Here's a short list of some of the national organizations that oppose BSL with links to their position statements:
As well as virtually all local AVMA and local humane society and aspca groups including my local KCAVMA, Kansas AVMA and Missouri AVMA. This list doesn't even include some of the people behind some of the best case studies for preventing dangerous attacks in their communities like Bill Bruce in Calgary and people who are successfully ending shelter euthanasia in their communities.
Oh sure, if I look hard enough I can find an "expert" who thinks differently about this. I'm sure that I could find an "expert" that would tell me the world is flat or that there is no such thing as micro evolution too. But I think it's really telling when the national organizations represent the majority of the people in the US that know the most about animal welfare, animal training, animal behavior, animal care, running animal shelters, animal breeds and running animal control law enforcement all, unanimously agree that breed specific laws are not effective in creating safer communities for people to live in because breed is not a determining factor in whether or not a dog bites.
So can we please start listening to the experts when dealing with local issues? I would certainly hope we would when building buildings and bridges. Why not with dogs?