Obama Blasts Legislation Targeting Specific Dog Breeds

The President stands up against canine prejudice

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image: american pit bull terrier
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An American pit bull terrier

President Obama is looking more and more like dogs’ best friend.

In the same week the First family welcomed its newest member — an adorable Portuguese water dog named Sunny — Obama also tried to take a bite out of laws that target specific dog breeds. In response to a petition against Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) posted on We The People, the government’s official site for citizen suggestions and commentary, the Obama administration came out unequivocally against the mostly-local laws:

We don’t support breed-specific legislation — research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources.

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at twenty years of data about dog bites and human fatalities in the United States. They found that fatal attacks represent a very small proportion of dog bite injuries to people and that it’s virtually impossible to calculate bite rates for specific breeds.

The response also noted that the CDC suggests “a community-based approach” as an alternative, and more effective, method of preventing dog bites. “Ultimately, we think that’s a much more promising way to build stronger communities of pets and pet owners,” said the statement.

In addition to the CDC, organizations like the American Bar Association and the American Humane Association have also come out against BSL.

That the administration replied at all to this petition is perhaps the best evidence yet, other than the family’s two dogs, that the Obama’s care deeply about canine rights. We The People’s Terms of Participation clearly state that an administration response is only required once a petition reaches 100,000 signatures. This particular petition had only 30,000 supporters, meaning the administration voluntarily chose to make a public statement on the matter.

(MORE: The Softer Side of Pit Bulls: A Reviled Breed Gets a Makeover)

Breed Specific Legislation has been implemented in hundreds of municipalities across the U.S., including Prince George’s County, Maryland, located just a short drive away from the White House. The county has banned pit bulls outright, and according to the Maryland Dog Federation, those found within the county are usually either put down or donated to families in other areas. However, there is strong opposition to the laws, and the same federation reports that 17 states have banned legislation that single out specific types of dogs.

In addition to going against neighboring counties, Obama has also placed himself squarely in opposition to many in the United States military. The Marine Corps bans “large dog breeds with a predisposition toward aggressive or dangerous behavior,” including pit bulls, from on-base housing, and many Air Force, Army and Navy installations have followed suit. (The anti-pit bull website DogsBite.org catalogs exactly which bases and municipalities have banned certain dog breeds.)

Will the administration’s stance convince states and military authorities to drop Breed Specific Legislation for good? At least one anti-BSL activist thinks it will help.

“The White House is such a bully pulpit for important issues,” Lisa LaFontaine, president of the Washington Humane Society, told the Huffington Post. “And certainly for them to come down against this type of discrimination I think will give pause to any communities that are thinking about putting something like this in place, and certainly will fuel the work that’s already being done by advocates to overturn legislation that already exists.”

“It’s a really happy day,” LaFontaine added.

MORE: The Great Pit Bull Makeover

40 comments
doghero891
doghero891

The only reason I do not think people should stop breeding pitbulls is if they stop pitbulls become extinct. instead there should be more regulation on breeding. so only reputable breeders can legally breed dogs.

KariPeterson
KariPeterson

Stop breeding pit bulls.  The shelters are full of them.  They don't get adopted.

DebbieBell
DebbieBell

I do not advocate a confiscate and kill BSL, but compassionate, thinking people do not want the current situation to continue.

Can someone explain how it makes any sense to continue breeding THE dog designed to be the best at attacking other DOGS, for no reason, without warning first. And a dog that has proven time and again to be escape artists and to also  sometimes re-direct that dog aggression onto a person? The dog created by sadistic, sociopathic pit fanciers/fighters and still the choice of all USA dog fighters? 

How does it make sense to  continue breeding dogs who will then need to be strangled, beaten unconscious, stabbed, shot, shot in the skull with nails from a nail gun, all in attempts to get the "good" pit bull to release the victim?

No one who actually cares about dog welfare wants to see "their breed" become popular, as impulse buying, and over breeding results, and then abuse, neglect, homelessness and abandonment and DEATH follow. 

 You don't see Poodle Awareness Days or Doberman Adoptathons, do you?  When the Babe movie threatened to put border Collies in front of the public, caring rescues reached out to the media,  to educate the public that border collies are not easy pets who often failed as plain companion dogs. It worked. We did not see an upsurge in border collie buying, breeding, homelessness, or DEATH. 

But pit mongers and those who fight dogs do not care about dog welfare.  They know that pits disproportionately suffer and die, but that doesn't matter to them.  Their ego and their ability to breed and own pits is what matters to them. 

If the pit bully people actually cared about anything but themselves and their egos, they would stop mongering pits. They would support breed specific solutions to the disproportionately severe pit bull overpopulation crisis.  But tragically for all, the current pit bully people are no different from those who fight dogs.

Dog suffering and death? Dogs torn limb from limb, by "good" pits? Huh? "What problem?" wonder the pit bully people. "I'm fine, I have the ability to breed and own the dog of my choice, and that's all that matters to me=Me!"


joepondrom
joepondrom

Research shows that pit bulls are disproportionately dangerous, given that they are responsible for most recent fatal attacks but account for under ten percent of the dog population. President Obama is wrong on this issue. 

ToddLongstaff
ToddLongstaff

Nice to see and this will help turn the tide on this completely ineffective use of BSL and take those funds and put them to better use. This will have the Pit Bull haters going completely out of their minds today. Yeehaa on a major win for common sense.

GotoAfterburners
GotoAfterburners

Nobama, focus on the three black thugs who killed the innocent Australian athlete and the two black thugs that just killed a white 88 year old WW II vet...please stop doing the old magic trick style "don't look at that, focus on this" and address the out of control black on white crime spree that is going on.  This fight is ridiculous for a President to be involved in, but then again, that's how he gets elected...show compassion for the idiot people who spend their days worrying about a stupid dog and don't worry about the real problems that face this country.

JenniferO
JenniferO

What is ludicrous about Breed Specific Legislation is that there is nothing Breed-based or specific about it!  It is based on appearance - whatever someone thinks "might" look like a pit bull.  Study after study have shown that dogs are frequently mislabeled "pit bulls" when they actually have very little if any of the bully breeds in their genetic makeup.  Add that to the fact that it has been proven that no breed is inherently dangerous and the whole thing is ridiculous.  And that to the media bias in reporting and you've got full-blown hysteria that is unwarranted.  The bottom line is that you are more likely to be killed by a cow than you are a dog of ANY BREED.  All it seems to take is one "pit bull" -looking dog in a community to do something wrong and then BSL is proposed at the next City Council meeting.  My dog was attacked by a collie and lab.  But I did not rush to my local city council to ask for a ban on collies and labs. Could you imagine? Crazy, right?  Exactly.   All dogs of all walks of life have the ability to bite.  Most dogs never cause serious harm to anyone in their lifetime.   Breed Specific Legislation does nothing to improve safety, does nothing to address the issues of negligent owners, overbreeding, etc.  It is a knee-jerk reaction to hysteria and it is costly and nearly impossible to enforce. And it kills innocent dogs.  And it has to stop,

Jaloney_Caldwell
Jaloney_Caldwell

Obama is 100% right about something. Will wonders never cease? BSL is complete nonsense.

Yoshi
Yoshi

In my many years of "dog-sperience" I have found that it's not usually the dog, but the OWNER. Sort of the same concept as a firearm. They both must be well-managed or people can get hurt or worse.

cuddsie
cuddsie

Dogs Trust was pleased to see today’s statement from The White House on breed specific legislation (BSL), but is discouraged that no such commitment is being made by the Government on this side of the pond. The Obama administration declares that they do not support BSL and we couldn’t agree more with the owner of Presidential dogs Bo and Sunny. Dogs Trust has long been campaigning for a complete overhaul of dangerous dogs legislation in this country. We therefore call on David Cameron to look to Washington for guidance on dangerous dogs legislation. As the Obama administration states; banning certain breeds is simply not the answer.

Clarissa Baldwin, OBE, CEO Dogs Trust

S.D.
S.D.

I am so glad Obama has spoken out about this major issue. It is affecting thousands of families across the US and the world. Some may think that it is a minor issue and there are other things of greater priority, however if they understood how many people have been hurt and affected by this bad legislation they might realise it needs to be addressed. Not only that but huge amounts of public funds have gone into defending BSL and seizing innocent dogs, as well as court cases, money which could be redirected onto better projects if the BSL laws would be dropped. 

These BSL laws hurt families, and they drain public funds, so join Obama and take a stand to get rid of these laws. 

GinaGregoire
GinaGregoire

Thank you, Mr. President.  Too many dogs have been executed by those who do not understand that people make the dog aggressive. 

Fayclis
Fayclis

Worldwide BSL has proved to be costly and ineffective and many countries have removed BSL based on the fact that dog bites either remain the same or actually increase.  Killing dogs has not and does make responsible dog ownership.  Millions of responsible dog owners and their non-offending pets have been targeted and profiled. Kudos to the President and the White House for standing up against what has become a modern day witch hunt.   

Whatanotion
Whatanotion

OK OB1 I've come to your defense many times even though I did not vote for you.  You've spoken of common sense before.   What happened here?  The military can have it but not the general public?  Maybe you're holding out for something more in the 35 lbs and up with known mean demeanors ?   Clearly I would love to take a #5 iron to the head of my neighbor's Chihuaua.  I can't break wind without the lil Bastid barking a raging storm.

asiaman
asiaman

Make dog owners and gun owners criminally liable for what the dog or gun does with or without the permission of the owner...

karen.carver
karen.carver

No word from him on the teens who beat the boy in Florida...no word yet on the Australian killed by three teens who were "bored" in TX...

Way to go O! You really have your priorities straight on "prejudice"...

AcaciaRogers
AcaciaRogers

@DebbieBell @DebbieBell While I agree that pit bulls should stop being bred as the shelters are full of them, your beliefs on the breed are inaccurate. Statistics and news about them are heavily tampered with. In my line of work, especially living in NH, I interact with dozens of pit bulls a day that i do not know. Never have any of them shown aggression toward me. And perhaps 1 in 10 show any negative behavior toward other dogs. Their natural predisposition toward dog aggression is way overplayed. For example, Micheal Vick was not only arrested and charged for fighting dogs, but also for killing dozens of pit bulls due to the fact that they refused to fight. It is in fact in a pit bulls nature to be overly friendly and loyal. Also, breed specific legislation only encourages criminals to get ahold of these dogs even more, and the majority of actual pit bull related attacks occur in neglected, criminally owned dogs. The same would happen to golden retrievers or spaniels if they were the criminal favorite. Ive been bitten by a couple golden retrievers that were family dogs, but never by a pit bull.

MikeSteindog
MikeSteindog

@DebbieBell When are you going to actually accept that those of us who love the breed actually do support the end of backyard breeding and stiffer penalties for animal abuse and fighting. I realize, probably never, as your repeated internet posts on the topic seem to disregard anything that differ from your extremely biased and inaccurate view of these dogs. Therefore, I will simply enjoy the fact that you will be wasting more of your time posting nonsense, while more and more communities become safer by passing laws that focus on owners, and not dogs.

AcaciaRogers
AcaciaRogers

your beliefs on the breed are inaccurate. Statistics and news about them are heavily tampered with. In my line of work, especially living in NH, I interact with dozens of pit bulls a day that i do not know. Never have any of them shown aggression toward me. And perhaps 1 in 10 show any negative behavior toward other dogs. Their natural predisposition toward dog aggression is way overplayed. For example, Micheal Vick was not only arrested and charged for fighting dogs, but also for killing dozens of pit bulls due to the fact that they refused to fight. It is in fact in a pit bulls nature to be overly friendly and loyal. Also, breed specific legislation only encourages criminals to get ahold of these dogs even more, and the majority of actual pit bull related attacks occur in neglected, criminally owned dogs. The same would happen to golden retrievers or spaniels if they were the criminal favorite. Ive been bitten by a couple golden retrievers that were family dogs, but never by a pit bull.

pamjk
pamjk

@joepondrom What research are you citing? What are your sources? Really I am curious, I'm not trying to be confrontational.

sbnovascotiahome
sbnovascotiahome

@GotoAfterburners and you are a racist I noticed you mentioned color lots. Have a problem with skin color do you. It's hate mongers like you that just won't go away. Being a thug has nothing to do with skin color and since it matters to you I'm white and thinking you are to and that's embarrassing so please shut up you prejudice ass.

NicoleDogrescuer
NicoleDogrescuer

@spot60spot @TIME @TIMENewsFeed 

Hundreds of millions of dollars of tax payer money in the US and tens of millions of pounds of tax payer money in the UK is wasted on BSL policies that do not work, that actually INCREASE the amount of dog attacks, that make communities more dangerous  and rip families apart. Dogs are family. They are loved like kids. You come to take my dog, you will not live to tell the tale. My dogs is family.

S.D.
S.D.

@spot60spot @TIME @TIMENewsFeed  If you realised how much public funds have been wasted on court cases related to BSL, how much police time goes into it on a daily basis, and how much public funds have gone into seizing dogs, kenneling them etc you would realise this IS a pressing issue. Thousands of people have been affected by it and many families hurt. If BSL laws were dropped, public funds could be redirected onto other pressing issues which need the money that is currently going into BSL court cases and police time

grnfrg
grnfrg

@Whatanotion    I'm still laughing! Thank you for making my day.  And I'm a dog lover.

TheodorePiasecki
TheodorePiasecki

@asiaman so if someone steals your car and kills someone by running them over it will be your fault since its your car? or if someone steals your ipod and causes someone else hearing lose its your fault since its your ipod? only time any one should be held liable is when proper precautions were not taking to prevent it ie dog was not on a leash however guns being stolen from a home and then a criminal using them in a act of volince your telling me the owner is responsible for that criminals behavior 

ClayHundenshire
ClayHundenshire

@karen.carver 


Why does the president need to comment on those crimes again? Oh, because the media points them out, although crimes like this happen everyday, yet you don't hear about them. Learn how the media works. It's a circus. The president should be talking about BSL, because millions of Americans are affected by it and many people are againt it? How many people are affected by an Australian that got by 3 punks? Not nearly as many as BSL.

S.D.
S.D.

@karen.carver Huge amounts of police time and public funds have been going into upholding the BSL laws. Money which has been wasted and could have been better used on other issues needing attention. If the police are daily having to deal with BSL cases due to a bad law, then the President taking a stand against that law is a good thing. It shows he understand that money drains in the law are not a good thing, and wasting police time, which they could better put onto fighting real crime, needs to be dealt with

GarethWilliams
GarethWilliams

@karen.carver Is there legislation related to those two events the President should be commenting on? As the head of the Executive branch he commented on proposed legislation. Anyone can see that. Imagine the scandal if the President dedicated the literally every waking moment he would require to comment on all crimes that occur. It'd be ridiculous. 

DebbieBell
DebbieBell

@MikeSteindog @DebbieBell  Re: supporting the end of Byb: Prove it.  Show me. 

While that may be the case in your community, I don't see any "support the end of byb" in our community or any other I have heard of anywhere.

Oh, pit mongers will raise a ruckus when an individual pit bull makes the news, but I hear nothing from them regarding reduction in breeding. Who are breeding pits?  I can't find any websites for anyone who is  breeding for reduced dog aggression, as some say, "dog aggression is what makes a pit a pit". And pay attention to all those breeders who use "nice words" such as "excellent agility, tenacity, determination and "WE SHIP TO MEXICO".  Tell me those dogs are not bred to attack, maim, kill dogs.  

Re: increasing penalties: our prisons are already full. We cannot afford housing all those who fight dogs. But we could make them spay/neuter their dogs. 

While an occasional dog fight raid may make the news, that won't stop the small scale and one on one fights, between neighbors, friends, enemies. These will continue as long as pits are bred. 

Does it bother you at all that 900,000 to many pits are born year after year, so that many must be killed. Can you show me a community pit bull group that says "never breed pits" on their website homepage and THE works to make it happen?

Results matter. The only way to reduce pit breeding is to legislate it.

Before the  pit invasion,  we  never had a dog killed on a public sidewalk, we never had a dog murder when a dog broke into a house to kill the victim dog. These attacks are specifically the work of "good" pit bulls.   

ellssiee
ellssiee

@DebbieBell @MikeSteindog 

"Pit invasion?" Seriously?  There are a bunch of houses on my street with corgis; is that a corgi invasion?  

Pit bulls are naturally good-tempered dogs.  They are just as sweet as lab breeds.  It is the people that abuse them and train them specifically for fighting that are ruining the breed's temperament.  So why isn't that illegal?  Oh wait, it already is.  Animal abuse is, in fact, against the law.