What is Breed Bias?
According to the dictionary of google, the word bias refers to a prejudice either for or against, a specific issue. With dogs, the bias is against certain breeds including not only Pit Bull terriers but a number of other large breed dogs such as Chows, German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Dobermans to name but a few. Over time, these classes of dog have been labelled as unpredictable and volatile, with the result being a breed bias.
We all know that breeds big and small have the potential to get testy if mistreated, frightened or provoked. In fact, we’ve probably witnessed that type of behavior in our own pooch when they sense stranger danger, or another dog wants to eat from their bowl or tries to play with their toys. All breeds possess the ability to act out when trying to communicate the “back off” message. And they can as quickly be calmed by a patient owner who has built a stable, trusting relationship with that dog.
Unfortunately, when broad-brushing reports are made about a certain breed of dog, they often take a position that ignores contributing factors such as prior abuse, improper socialization, neglect – all which factor in humans. Sweeping statements and sensationalistic reporting practices simply put it down to being the nature of that particular beast.
The problem with building a breed bias is that it unfairly categorizes an entire class of dog as being volatile and untrustworthy. When supported by media stories that aim to reinforce this prejudice, you generate a fear within the public that is unwarranted.
From fear comes rules and regulations and that’s where Breed Discriminatory Legislation (BDL) enters the picture. It targets certain breeds (including those that resemble any of the designated breeds) and introduces outright bans or restrictions that require continual muzzling, spaying, or neutering to prevent reproduction. In Canada, it’s called Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and its in place in Ontario as it relates to Pit Bull terriers.
By building and reinforcing a negative perception of a breed, it also condemns many loving animals to death because they are considered unadoptable. These dogs languish in a shelter waiting for a family or they are euthanized. And for a nation that’s seeking a no-kill policy in animal shelters, the BDL is a thoroughly counter-productive approach that can essentially wipes out an entire strain of dog.
Supporting the absurdity of BDL is a study conducted by the American Temperament Test Society, Inc. that indicates dogs such as Dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Scottish terriers are much more volatile and easily provoked when out for a typical walk with their owner.
When the American Kennel Club (AKC) describes the American Staffordshire terrier (kissin’ cousin to the Pit Bull terrier) as being smart, confident and good-natured and you learn that this “lovable, personality dog” (again, AKC descriptor) is considered less reactive than a Chihuahua, maybe a review of this legislation is due. And that elected officials be required to take a harder look at penalties for abusers including an all-out ban from owning animals.
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