As of July 1, College Park has a new Potentially Dangerous Dog Ordinance. Owners of Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and American Staffordshire Terriers are required to register their dogs as “potentially dangerous” with the city, pay a $25 fee, and place an I.D. tag on their dog identifying them as such.
Several countries, including the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Spain, had Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) for years, and have recently repealed the laws. Apparently these restrictions do not work. Several American states have done the same thing. It has been demonstrated that the number of dog bites either stays the same or actually increases after these laws have been passed. Another issue is that the identification of dog breeds can be difficult, if not impossible, when the dog is a mixed breed. Different laws have different ways of classifying “dangerous” dogs, so there is no universal standard to judge which dogs are vicious. When put into practice the data shows that in most cases the problem is not solved, or even affected.
I believe that the problem is in the raising of our pets. If a dog isn’t socialized or trained properly, people get hurt. Some can’t get over an aggression they have towards children or certain groups of people (I met one dog who was scared silly of men with beards), but responsible owners can make sure these pets won’t cause anyone injury. The dog who scared me the most was a Golden Retriever. She was a rescue and had been abused, but she just could not be friendly toward anyone but her owner. The owner kept her safe and as far as I know she never hurt anyone.
Stereotyping a breed does nothing but harm. It also makes dogs who are “dangerous” more attractive to the criminal element of society, and hurts those who are responsible owners. This legislation also does nothing to protect those who are attacked by the “wrong” type of dog. That’s not to mention the needless euthanasias of dogs due solely to their appearance.
There are many web sites documenting attempts at BSL in places around the world. Most of the ones I have read demonstrate its failure to protect the citizens. None of our local counties has an ordinance like it, but some of the cities may, so make sure to check your local laws and comply with them to avoid hefty fines.
The following resources have information about this new BSL:
If you live in College Park, you need to be aware of this new legislation. What do you think about BSL?