BSL won’t affect anyone but dog fighters and backyard breeders”- Mia Johnson, Founder of National Canine Victim Awareness
That statement alone is absolutely ridiculous and it should insult each and every dog owner out there. If Mia Johnson wasn’t attempting to sugar coat her Breed Specific Legislation propaganda, her sentence WOULD read, “BSL will affect everyone BUT dog fighters and backyard breeders.”, because that is the actual truth, but truth and BSL advocates like Mia Johnson do not go hand in hand. The very idea that BSL will prevent dog fighting and back yard breeders is laughable. When have criminals every truly cared about any sort of legislating? That’s like saying gun control will keep guns out of criminals hands, making rape a felony (which it is) will prevent rape and discrimination laws will prevent racism. Dog fighters from all backgrounds, couldn’t care less about breed specific legislation because those laws do not apply to them. They will still continue to do the things they do and use the dogs that they do. I’ve yet to see BSL prevent one dog fighter from fighting their dogs or one back yard breeder from breeding their … have you? I have asked Mia Johnson this very question and she has yet to get back to me with an answer. What she does keep saying is the same thing over and over again: “Breed Specific Legislation will not affect one single responsible “pit bull” type dog owner in the United States.” How would a citizen of Canada know exactly what would or wouldn’t affect US citizens?
Dog Fighters Worry about BSL?
Dog fighters won’t sweat an impending BSL or the fight about it. The professionals, hobbyists and the street fighter won’t lose a wink of sleep. (I think it’s critical for people to understand that even though the three types of dog fighters have essentially the same agenda and their outcome is the same but it’s their mind set and views that are all vary, but I will dig deeper into that on another blog post.) Street fighters are usually connected to gangs, fighting their dogs over disputes and taunting each other with “My dog can kill your dog” mentality. Since the majority of their fights are spontaneous, the police and animal control are hardly ever to stop or prevent them (Ensminger, 2010; Boucher,2011; Anon, 2014b,d). Do you think street fighters will straighten their act up and stop fighting and back yard breeding because they care about following the law? What about the hobbyists? Those dog fighters, much like Vicks who have one or multiple dogs who fight their dogs for supplemental income and entertainment and network in specific geographic networks, will they be affected by BSL? Now, how about those Professionals? Those that have generations of “game dogs” and unlike the street fighters and hobbyists, they can trace their dogs’ lineage back to God knows when and Charging tremendous amounts of money for stud fees, breeding and owning a large number of dogs, many times, 50 or more. How affected do you think they will be? Since they are already neck deep in illegal activity, operating on a national and even an international level within a highly secret network (Gibson, 2005; Ensminger, 2010; Anon, 2014b,d). Somehow I don’t think following the rules of BSL will slow them down a bit. So, I’ve yet to see how BSL will affect them one single bit.
The Cold and Heart Breaking Truth.
Now, who will breed specific legislation really affect? The reality is BSL will affect the millions of responsible “pit bull type” dog owners in the United States, but it will hit low income communities the hardest. The nations poverty level for 2015 for a family of 4 is 24,250. In 2014, 46.7 million people lived in poverty and millions of those are dog owners who would be affected by BSL.
Breed Specific Legislation targets the poor and punishes them not for being irresponsible dog owners but for being low income. BID (Breed Insurance Discrimination) often not in the spot light like BSL but also creates yet another challenge to low income dog owners and Johanna Falber, founder of Stubby’s Heroes’ explains, “With BID, the tenant may or may not have a lease. If they have a lease, and the lease does not make any mention of breed, even though the tenant is within right to have the dog, we have found that often times the landlords and even some “property managers” have bullied the tenants over their dog. The tenant, not wanting to be evicted (again, they do not have the resources to fight), often gives in. They relocate the dog to avoid any legal or financial troubles. If there is not a lease, we have seen the same happen. The tenant again, is in no position to hire representation, does not often know about the pro bono attorneys, and does not know about the free services that advocacy and activism groups offer. They are a caretaker of a dog; and not an advocate or activist to know of the resources, the services, and the community that can help. “
Low income families are already facing enough stereotyping and discrimination that all BSL does is continue to place more burden on a struggling percentage of the United States population.
What happens when a low income family has to decide between keeping the family pet and putting food on the table? Families tearfully end up surrendering their dogs and those dogs are usually euthanized. Contrary to what BSL advocates like Mia Johnson promote, the majority of dogs, included pit type dogs are not surrendered due to aggression issues. The top 10 reasons for dogs being relinquished in no particular order (The percentages do not add up to 100% because they represent only the top ten reasons given by owners for relinquishment of animals to shelters):
- Biting (3%)
- Pet illness (4%)
- Having no time for pet (4%)
- No homes available for litter mates (3%)
- Inadequate facilities (4%)
- Owner having person problems (4%)
- Cost of pet maintenance (5%)
- Too many animals in household (4%)
- Land lord not allowing pets (6%)
- Moving (7%)
Since some BSL laws allow pit bulls to be grandfathered, they also refuse to allow pit bulls to be adopted out. If low income families are forced to surrender their family pets because they cannot meet the financial requirements of BSL, those dogs surrendered will be automatically euthanized. Healthy, happy family dogs euthanized all because of the financial hardship placed on families caused by BSL.
The3 Big Elephants in the Room
Discrimination, Racism and Stereotyping
I know BSL advocates howling at the use of the word “discrimination” when discussing breed specific legislation and they cry foul when racism is brought up, however, BSL does just that. Breed specific legislation discriminates against dog owners and opens the door for law enforcement to racially profile dog owners. Everyone knows that the dogs themselves have no idea about the controversy that surrounds them, but their owners do and this is exactly why BSL is more about the dog owners than the dogs. A study done by Northeastern University professor Arnold Arluke in 2003 and recorded in the “International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy” points this out (Arnold, 2003) and Swaylove.org shows that police departments have used dog breeds to racially profile and target people from certain neighborhoods. Automatically assuming that a young African American or you Latino walking their pit bull type dog down the street is gang affiliated. This shows just how racism and stereotyping increase when BSL is brought to the table and something Canadian Mia Johnson, the creator of National Canine Victim Awareness forgets to mention as she attempts to flood the media with her unsubstantiated fake coalition for BSL. BSL advocates like Canadian Mia Johnson openly promote the stereotyping as she and fellow BSL advocates misrepresent pit bull owners as A) poor white trash or B) Black Ghetto hood rats.
Racism openly runs wild within the BSL advocacy and is found acceptable if used to stereotype owners. From calling African American pit bulls owners “N*ggers” to the onslaught against the Latin American pit bull owners, laughing and joking about shipping the “wetbacks back across the boarder and taking their land sharks with them”, it makes it startling clear that BSL Advocates are not just focusing on the dogs but the people. When has this become acceptable? Are we allowing a small group of people to get away with the unacceptable because they hide under the façade of “public safety”?
Time for a Change
It’s no secret that there is something undeniably broken within the BSL community and it shows loud and clear. If law makers allow a small sect of people who are focused on ostracizing and targeting lower income communities by essentially forcing them to surrender their family dogs because they can not afford unjust restrictions, what message are we telling families? Johanna Falber hits the nail on the head when she says, “The issues facing our dogs often stem from social issues that we are not addressing. They start with the issues in local communities, and are spilling over to affect animals.” Maybe it’s time we set aside the knee jerk reaction of what BSL is and start focusing on working with the communities that need a little extra help because it’s obvious that BSL targets everyone but the criminals.