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Attacking Dog Breeds: Truth or Exaggeration?

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Splashed across the news feed on bing.com is a sensational story about a mother who bit the ear off a pit bull that was savagely attacking her 2-year old daughter. Story headline: “Mother acted on pure instinct when she punched the dog in the mouth and bit off its ear when it attacked her little girl…both mom and daughter are recovering—and the brutal beast has been put down” (nydailynews.com). This “vicious beast” is the criminal and the mother is no-doubt a hero. There’s no mother out there that would have done the same thing however, the way this article explains the story is sensationalized, the author clearly meant to demonize this dog. Stories like this have cast a shadow over the lowly pit bull breed and caused entire communities to take up pitchforks and push for legislation to ban the pit bull from existence. Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) is a quick solution to the public frenzy created after a media-reported dog attack. However, BSL is rapidly proving to be ineffective. Counties are finding that BSL is too costly, it provides the public with a false sense of security, and it does not address animal abuse, even inadvertent abuse by loving owners.

Breed Specific Legislation and Dangerous Dog laws are two ways states and counties deal with dog-bite related attacks. Dangerous Dog Laws regulate or prohibit ownership of a dog that has already shown signs of aggression or violence. According Hussain (2006) “dangerous-dog laws tend to be more effective, efficient, and addresses the problem of the ‘dog-bite epidemic’ by objectively examining a dog’s prior conduct rather than making subjective evaluations of viciousness based solely on breed” (pg.2). Breed-Specific Laws severely regulate or prohibit ownership of a d...

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...4, 2014, from http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/stop-animal-abuse/fact-sheets/breed-specific-legislation.html

Dog Bite-Related Fatalities. (n.d.). National Canine Research Council. Retrieved April 26, 2014, from http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/dogbites/dog-bite-related-fatalities/

Fact Sheet: Prince George's County Breed Ban. (n.d.). marylanddogfederation.com. Retrieved April 26, 2014, from http://www.marylanddogfederation.com/uploads/1/6/6/0/16605940/pg_fact_sheet_cost.pdf

Huemer, A. (2000). Scapegoats & Underdogs: The Pit Bull Dilema. The Animals Agenda, 20(4), 31-38.

Hussain, S. G. (2006). Attacking the Dog-Bite Epidemic: Why Breed-Specific Legislation Won't Solve the Dangerous-Dog Dilema. Fordham Law Review, 74(5), 2847-2888.

Medlin, J. (2007). Pit Bull Bans and the Human Factors Affecting Canine Behavior. Depaul Law Review, 56(4), 1285-1320.
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