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An Argument Against Breed-Specific Legislation

analytical Essay
2742 words
2742 words
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The term “breed-specific legislation” is not one that comes up often in day-to-day discussion for most people. Breed-specific legislation refers to all laws that seek to restrict or eliminate ownership of certain animal breeds, most often dog breeds. It was first conceived as a method of controlling and reducing animal cruelty, as well as mitigating the occurrence of dog-related human injuries and the illegal activities of dog-fighting and related crimes. Breed-specific legislation is distinct from animal control laws that restrict ownership of wild or demonstrably dangerous (those with a past history of unacceptable, aggressive behavior) animals, because breed-specific legislation makes a blanket restriction on all animals of a certain breed regardless of individual history. This means that breed-specific legislation is often promulgated on the basis of breed reputation. In recent years it is the pit bull which has come under the scrutiny of legislative bodies, as their reputation becomes more and more sullied by street crime.

To say “pit bull,” however, is a vague reference to several pit bull types, which are considered separate breeds by registries like the American Kennel Club (AKC). Each type has a slightly different breeding history; many began with the breeding of bulldogs with terriers to produce a loyal, compact and tenacious breed (“American Pit Bull Terrier”). The standard three pit bull types most often mentioned by name in breed-specific legislation include the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. That is not the extent of the legislation, however, which also includes dogs that “substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Ken...

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“Dog Bite: Fact Sheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, 1 Apr. 2008. Web. 13 Nov. 2010.

“Dogfighting Fact Sheet.” The Humane Society of the United States. 2 Nov. 2009. Web. 23 Nov. 2010.

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Perry, April M. “Guilt by Saturation: Media Liability for Third-party Violence and the Availability Heuristic.” Northwestern University Law Review 97.2 (2003): 1045. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2010.

“The Truth About Pit Bulls.” ASPCA. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2010.

“U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities January 2006 to December 2008.” DogsBite. 20 Apr. 2009. Web. 22 Nov. 2010.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that breed-specific legislation is a method of controlling and reducing animal cruelty, as well as mitigating the occurrence of dog-related human injuries.
  • Explains that pit bulls are separate breeds by registries like the american kennel club (akc). they have a slightly different breeding history.
  • Illustrates the distortion of statistics by comparing a conventional family dog with an anxious stray of unknown origin.
  • Analyzes how the resurgence of dog-fighting has caused damage to the pit bull reputation, making it a bad representative of the breed.
  • Describes the american pit bull terrier, united kennel club, ukc, 1 nov. 2008.
  • States that dog bite: fact sheet. centers for disease control and prevention.
  • Explains the dogfighting fact sheet from the humane society of the united states.
  • Argues that pit bull-type restrictive legislation is ultimately futile and should not be pursued as a serious method of ensuring public safety.
  • Explains that the media has a love-affair with sensational stories, but the effect of availability heuristics is not to be underestimated.
  • Argues that pit bulls were bred selectively to be loyal to humans and have a solid, stable, and persevering personality.
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