All strong breed dogs such as Akitas, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Cane Corsos, Huskies, Mastiffs, "pitbull-type" dogs, and many other strong breeds and mixes require responsible ownership for happy pets and families. While all dogs deserve responsible ownership, strong breed dogs especially require it to help ensure everyone's happiness and safety. Below, we list five of the most critical factors for responsible dog ownership - almost all serious dog bite incidents (by dogs of all breeds) are the result of a failure of one of these factors related to responsible ownership.
Five critical factors for responsible ownership:
Many dog bite incidents can be prevented by heeding the basic warning signs of canine aggression and problematic behavior. Any severe aggression or unsafe behavior should be immediately assessed by a veterinarian or professional dog trainer. While all dogs may exhibit some level of aggression in certain situations, any unsafe dog-on-dog or dog-on-human behavior should be professionally evaluated. In most situations, aggression and problematic behavior can be successfully mitigated with professional training, by avoiding specific situations (like dog parks), by using devices such as muzzles on walks, or with veterinarian prescribed medication (anti-anxiety, sedatives, etc.). Warning signs can include:
The factors for responsible ownership listed above are only guidelines - all situations are different and all dogs are individuals that require different levels of care, attention, training, and commitment. Dogs fully rely on their human companions for everything in life - from proper care and training to happiness and safety. Great dogs are created when they are properly and responsibly cared for - and when they are, humans are rewarded with a loyal best friend that will provide companionship, happiness, and unconditional love.
Great news in Washington: On Tuesday, the city of Yakima successfully repealed their obsolete ban on "pitbull-type" dogs that has been in effect for more than 30 years. Supported by robust public support from city residents, the Yakima City Council easily repealed the ban in a 5-2 vote and ended the ineffective and discriminatory policy that banned dogs based only on their appearance or breed. The ban, or breed specific legislation (BSL), is being replaced with more effective breed-neutral regulations that address all potentially dangerous dogs, all irresponsible dog owners, and all unsafe dog-related situations - regardless of a dog's appearance or breed. Congratulations to the City Council and the residents of Yakima for improving public safety by repealing BSL and implementing a more effective and more equitable breed-neutral approach for addressing and reducing dog-bite incidents in the city. Yakima joins a list of 10+ cities that have repealed BSL in 2018 alone and are taking a decisive stand against old and long-debunked myths and stereotypes about "pitbull-type dogs".
A few reasons why the national trend against BSL is strong and enjoys robust public support:
Aside from the scientific studies and peer-reviewed facts, the reality is that the majority of the public no longer supports discrimination against pitbull-type dogs because simply stated, they are great dogs. They consistently achieve excellent temperament scores and are successful as service dogs, as therapy dogs, as K9 police dogs, and as family pets. All around the country and across many different political spectrums the trend is clear - BSL and breed bans are being challenged and of those challenged, many are being successfully repealed in favor of non-discriminatory and more effective breed-neutral regulations.
The American Bar Association urges all state, territorial, and local legislative bodies and governmental agencies to adopt comprehensive breed-neutral ... laws that ensure due process protections for owners, encourage responsible pet ownership and focus on the behavior of both dog owners and dogs, and to repeal any breed discriminatory or breed specific provisions
A beautiful story: Meet Beau, a pitbull-type dog who went from being a stray to helping his new family through a very difficult time by providing his unconditional love. In this short video, watch how Beau immediately provides comfort, happiness, and love to the family that adopted him even though he previously suffered neglect as a stray - yet another example of the inherent goodness and excellent temperament of pitbull-type dogs. A big thanks to Pittie Nation for showcasing Beau and for continuing to *shatter* stereotypes about pitbull-type dogs.
Great news: On Tuesday, voters in Springfield (MO) rejected a ban on “pitbull-type” dogs by a landslide with over 68% voting against the proposed ban. While the vote is a strong win against breed discrimination, ineffective policies, and junk science - it also validates a growing national trend against all forms of breed-specific legislation (BSL) including breed-based bans. Furthermore, the vote aligns with a recent national survey where 84% of Americans polled were against breed-specific bans of any kind. Below, we summarize the decaying state of BSL in the U.S. and abroad. Congratulations to the voters of Springfield and a big thanks to "Springfield Citizens Against BSL" that lead the successful campaign against BSL and breed discrimination in Springfield!
The decaying state of BSL in the U.S. and abroad:
We could easily add more evidence of the decaying state of BSL to the list above, but the overall conclusion is clear and simple: BSL and breed-based bans are being challenged, repealed, voted down, and are becoming increasingly unpopular with citizens and voters all across the U.S. and abroad. Politicians and public officials who support BSL should consider themselves on notice - while there is a fringe but vocal minority that support breed discrimination, it's becoming evident that the majority of citizens are against invasive, ineffective, and discriminatory policies such as BSL and instead support more sensible breed-neutral policies that address relevant factors such as irresponsible ownership and/or a dog's behavior. Although there is still a lot of advocacy, education, and work to be done to combat breed discrimination and to eradicate BSL, the tide (and the majority) is slowly but surely turning against BSL and discriminatory appearance-based bans.
Enacting any ban based on stereotypes and junk science, instead of on peer-reviewed facts and expert information, is quite frankly an abuse of public policy and resources ... imagine if other bans were enacted using similar unsound standards. Dog bite incidents are a serious issue and comprehensive breed-neutral regulations are the most effective solution because they address all potentially dangerous dogs, all irresponsible dog owners, and all unsafe dog-related situations ... regardless of a dog's appearance or breed.
Since only 2016, at least 24 different breeds and mixed breeds have been implicated in fatal dog attacks (listed in Table 1 below) including: Akita, Belgian Malinois, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, English Mastiff, German Shepherd, Giant Schnauzer, Husky, Labrador Retriever, Rottweiler, and others. While every dog bite-related fatality is tragic, the number and variety of breeds involved in fatal attacks is clear evidence that serious dog bite-related incidents are not a breed-specific issue. The fact that many people are only aware of incidents associated with "pitbull-type" dogs is unfortunately a strong indication of media bias when reporting serious dog bite incidents. Not only is it irresponsible for the media to cherry-pick and emphasize some incidents over others (based on the breed involved) because it feeds myths, stereotypes, and misinformation - but it can also lead to poor public safety policy decisions such as breed-specific legislation (BSL) which multiple peer-reviewed studies have concluded is ineffective.
The dog bite-related incident data for January/2016 through June/2018 fully debunks the myth that serious dog bite-related incidents are only associated with pitbull-type dogs - while also confirming that:
Table 1: Breeds involved in fatal dog attacks between January/2016 and June/2018 include:
(in alphabetical order, references to news sources with breed information provided in Table 2 below)
Table 2: News source references for breeds listed in Table 1:
(excluding pitbull-type dogs, see "Notes" below)
The data, scientific studies, and risk rates clearly show that serious dog bite-related incidents are not a breed-specific issue. For canine regulation, it is important to understand the differences between the two major types of regulation - Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and Breed Neutral Legislation (BNL). BSL is a limited, single-factor, appearance-based approach while BNL is a comprehensive, multifactorial, behavior-based approach. For public safety, BSL imposes regulations on a minority of dogs based only on their appearance (regardless of a dog's behavior or responsible ownership) while breed-neutral regulations address all potentially dangerous dogs, all irresponsible owners, and all unsafe dog-related situations - regardless of a dog's appearance or breed. Consequently, multiple peer-reviewed studies have concluded that BSL is ineffective; furthermore, it is a discriminatory trend in decline evidenced by the vast majority (98%) of cities and towns that use breed-neutral regulations as their primary and only form of regulation because of the many advantages of breed-neutral regulations summarized on our Breed Legislation page.
Breed specific ordinances have proven ineffective in reducing the ... number of dog bites. Breed Specific Legislation ... has generally been discredited in actual experience of cities, professionals and academic research as being both ineffective and expensive
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Insight, news, and analysis on issues and topics relevant to pitbull-type dogs.