BSL and the rights of the human animal

By Chantelle Mackney, Justice for Bullies, and April Fahr, HugABull.

“I don’t get what the big deal is. People choose to get those kinds of dogs. So what if they have to muzzle them? Isn’t that a small price to pay?”

“Muzzling/leashing/spay & neuter are things you should be doing anyway…why does it matter if you are required to do them because of breed-specific laws?”

Have you ever heard comments along these lines, sometimes even from people who claim to be allies? Statements like these lead us to believe that many people are unaware of what breed specific legislation really is, and how many areas of our everyday lives it can effect.

You vote for government trusting that they will make sound, evidence-based decisions and that they will be your voice. But as we’ve seen in Montreal, change can happen in a flash. In the course of a few months, the government decides they do not trust your ability to be a responsible pet owner based on no other information than your pet’s shape and size.

You are no longer free to love the dog of your choice. You are free to love a dog that our elected officials approve of, or love your dog with blanket conditions that apply to every dog that looks like yours whether they are a puppy, a therapy dog, a couch potato, or a senior with no teeth.

In most communities, dogs get at least one “strike” for behaviour before the law steps in to tell you how you must manage your pet. BSL means that we live with one or two strikes under our belt, even when our dog has done absolutely nothing wrong.

We already live with preconceptions and stigma that we are working every day to change. Every time BSL is passed, it reinforces the mythology that only some dogs are a risk and if we can make a small group of pet owners suffer, we will somehow be safe. It gives businesses, landlords, and others justification for passing their own breed restrictions on levels that affect even more aspects of our lives.

This is happening all across the world right now. Our elected officials are placing restrictions on our lives due to the shape of the dogs in our home. These restrictions take away our rights to make informed decisions on which pet we want to share our home with, how we wish to raise our pet, where we wish to live/work/go to school/travel, how we want to use parks and facilities our tax dollars pay for, and how we wish to live our everyday lives. These restrictions and or bans can be found in towns, cities, provinces, condo boards, private communities, military bases, campgrounds, and airplane carriers. Those who serve in our military are told every single day that they are capable of fighting to keep our countries safe, but are not capable of being responsible pet owners and managing their pet dog.

Breed specific legislation rules your life if you have a dog that is targeted by it.

People may be under the impression that BSL simply limits the dog’s rights and freedoms. That leashes and muzzles are “no big deal” or “ a small price to pay” . But in reality, it affects basic human and property rights. Your rights as pet owners, renters, property owners, taxpaying citizens and electors are stripped from you – not because of anything you’ve done or any real risk to anyone else – but because of the shape of the dog in your home.


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