Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is something we are strongly against here at TAILS because we feel that it punishes the innocent, not the guilty. Back in October we wrote an in-depth article talking about why BSL’s are not effective and why they should be stopped.
We wanted to share with you an editorial piece on dog breed bans written by Jamie Buehrle that was recently published in the Orlando Sentinel. Jamie and her husband, Mark, are spokesmen for Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah.
In the pro-baseball life, moving houses, cities and states is nothing out of the ordinary. My husband, Mark, and I have been fortunate that, other than ferrying between our off-season home in St. Louis and our baseball-season home in Chicago, finding a rental home every year for spring training in Arizona has been our only stressful move for the past 12 years.
This off-season, however, all that changed for us when Mark signed with the Miami Marlins, and we were faced with the prospect of moving to a brand-new city where we don’t know a soul.
Moving two toddlers and four dogs to a strange, new city is overwhelming in itself, but we were soon confronted with an added stress: One of our beloved dogs — a sweet, rescued American Staffordshire terrier, a breed classified as a pit-bull-type dog — was not welcome within the Miami-Dade County limits.
A grandfathered law bans our dog simply because of the way he looks. Mark and I were forced to focus on the issue of finding a house outside of Miami-Dade and in a community that would welcome both our two-legged and four-legged family members. This is something I never thought I would have to go through.
We are fortunate in the fact that we have the resources to look in other areas, and we have the luxury of options. But I think of all the families that do not have the same resources. I wonder how heartbreaking it would be to have to leave four-legged family members behind when moving, or risk having those members taken away after the move.
That experience made me want to speak out about the unfair, discriminatory laws that many cities across the country have in place.
It made me want to show the world what a great dog my American Staffordshire terrier, Slater, is; how amazing Slater is with my two toddlers; and how easily he fits in with my other three dogs since we adopted him.
And, of course, how he loves everybody, and it never occurs to him that someone would not love him in return.
Then I took a step back and looked at the big picture. What I really want to tell people is this:
Let’s just treat pit bull-type dogs like every other dog. Let’s allow responsible owners to choose what type of dog is best for their lifestyles. I want the choice, but most important, I want the responsibility put back in the owners’ hands.
Laws, ordinances or bans cannot ensure that owners take responsibility for their animals, regardless of breed.
Instead of generalizing about or stereotyping an entire breed, let’s base our animal laws on the behavior of each dog.
The owners should be held accountable for vaccinations, daily care, socialization, exercise and safety of their animals, regardless of breed.
Florida Senate Bill 1322 would finally allow residents of Miami-Dade County to have the same freedom of pet choice as the rest of the state. The bill, which passed through committees recently, would, once and for all, give all Floridians the freedom to pick a breed — any breed that best suits their lifestyles.
I want to shout from the rooftops that there are more than 330,000 animals of all types, breeds and ages dying in shelters every month in the United States. More important, I want people to educate themselves on the various characteristics of various breeds and the care they require.
Responsible owners should be able to pick a breed, whether the breed is a lovable mutt, a poodle, or amazing vizslas and pit-bull-type dogs that we’re lucky to share our lives with.
Jamie Buehrle and her husband, Mark, are spokesmen for Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah.