December 28, 2009

ASPCA Position Statement on BSL

I heart this photo. Zippy Hernandez and family (clockwise from left): Vanessa, Berenice, Jesse, Francisco and Eliana. Awesome photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice for Sports Illustrated.

The ASPCA is totally against it. As a wise commenter on the Bad Rap blog mused this morning, "[W]on't it be interesting when pibble-killing legislators have only PETA on their side?" For those new to this whole issue, ASPCA is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and BSL stands for "ignorant chuckleheads who missed the news that phrenology is so terribly 1800s." PETA stands for "Ingrid Newkirk thinks I'm a thug and wants my dogs dead."

From the ASPCA position statement:
[T]he ASPCA advocates the implementation of a community dog bite prevention program encompassing media and educational outreach in conjunction with the enactment, and vigorous enforcement, of breed-neutral laws that focus on the irresponsible and dangerous behavior of individual guardians and their dogs. The ASPCA believes that this approach—promoting education in the appropriate care, training, and supervision of dogs as well as state and local laws that address licensing, reproductive status, chaining/improper confinement, cruel treatment, and at-large dogs; imposing civil and criminal liability on guardians for their negligent and reckless behavior; and targeting problematic dogs and guardians early with progressively escalating penalties—constitutes the most compassionate, fair, efficient, and ultimately effective means of resolving concerns related to dangerous dogs in the community.

Read the whole thing. It's excellent. And if you ever get a chance to hear Bill Bruce talk about Calgary Animal Services, don't miss him. Quite an education, in the best sense of the word: no BSL, no mandatory spay/neuter, no limit laws regulating the number of pets a person can keep — just the best animal control program in North America.


Heartwarming story o' the day, from the fine folks at Our Pack: Life's Peachy for Peachy. Our Pack totally rocks.


A final thought that should probably have its own post [damn you, vacation DIY projects]: as someone with a fair amount of experience with intact male dogs, I disagree with the ASPCA's implication that reproductive status is by itself a contributing factor to dog bites and "dominance aggression."

In North America, intact male dogs frequently belong to a class of people that might be categorized as "irresponsible pet owners": they tether their dogs, for example. They live in poor neighborhoods and keep dogs for protection. Their dogs are unsocialized and untrained. All these factors are far more likely to contribute to a bite or attack, IMHO, than is a dog's reproductive status. When a chained-up, untrained dog is driven nearly mad by social isolation and deprivation, and that poor, neglected dog bites someone, the fact that the dog was an intact male is one of the least important contributing factors, if you ask me.


Katie said...

I think a fair number of the intact male dogs who get into trouble are also dogs who are owned by people who want their dogs to keep their balls because somehow that will make them more tough, more macho. They value that socially-dysfunctional, intimidating persona, including in their dog.

I am desperately tired of the "testicles make dogs dominant and dominant is BAD" speech.

But not as tired as I am of people who still, despite it failing over and over again, think BSL is a good idea. Yay for the ASPCA!

Luisa said...

Katie said: "I am desperately tired of the "testicles make dogs dominant and dominant is BAD" speech."

Oh, amen. You want "dominance," I've got a border collie bitch [the landshark] that walks backwards up palm trees to mark as high as she can. It's quite amazing. There's no bitch like a border collie bitch ;~)

Spay/neuter isn't the norm in Scandinavia, and yet the Swedes and their neighbors somehow manage not to lead the world in dog bites and attacks.

Heather Houlahan said...

Correlation. Causation. Who could know that they are actually different words? I mean, both start with a C, you know?

Anonymous said...

How sad, though, that the ASPCA promotes the concept of "guardianship" of animals rather than ownership.