WASHINGTON, D.C., August 22 – American Humane Association, which has been working to protect the nation's children and animals for 136 years, applauds President Obama for joining a growing chorus of animal-friendly groups including American Humane Association that are opposed to breed-specific legislation (BSL) and have been calling for an end to the banning or restriction of specific types of dogs based only on their breed.
"This is a great week for America's -- and humankind's -- best friends," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. "Not only is there a new dog in the White House, but the President has made it a new day for dogs by opposing unjust and ineffective laws that ban or restrict certain types of dog based only on breed. Fact is, there is little evidence that supports breed-specific legislation as an effective means of reducing dog bites and dog attacks. On the contrary, studies have shown that it is not the breeds themselves that are dangerous, but unfavorable situations that are creating dangerous dogs. The support of the administration on this issue is a step forward in addressing the true issues and improving the safety and welfare for both people and the animals they love."
Legislation targeting specific breeds simply does not work because dog attacks result from multiple factors, not just a simple breakdown of breed culpability. Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, the American Veterinary Medical Association and The National Canine Research Council, as well as independent researchers, all agree that BSL is not productive. On top of this, a recent scientific study shows that breed identification is often difficult, compounding the problem. There are, however, four key points that could reduce the number of dog attacks:
Supervision: Dogs left on their own may feel uncertain and defensive, or even overly confident -- and this poses risks to the dog, as well as to other people and dogs. The vast majority of dogs involved in attacks are off-leash and unsupervised. Additionally, unsupervised children may innocently wander too close to a dangerous situation. Eighty-eight percent of fatal dog attacks among 2-year-olds occurred when the child was left unsupervised. Supervision of children, especially around dogs, is one way to help ensure they are safe.
Train and socialize your dog: Be sure your dog interacts with and has good manners around all members of the family, the public and other animals. Basic training is as important for the owner as it is for the dog, and socialization is the key to a well-adjusted adult dog. It is essential that puppies between 8 and 16 weeks old be exposed to a variety of people, places, dogs and other animals. As dogs age, do your best to continue their exposure to these things to ensure that they are well socialized throughout their lives.
Restrain your dog: Dogs that are allowed to roam loose outside the yard may perceive the entire neighborhood as their “territory” and may defend it aggressively. By obeying leash laws and taking care to properly fence your yard, you will not only be respecting the laws in your community, but you will also be keeping your dog safe from cars, other dogs and unforeseen dangers.
Unchain your dog: Chained dogs are nearly three times more likely to bite. Tethering or chaining dogs increases their stress, protectiveness and vulnerability, thereby increasing the potential for aggression. Fencing is the better solution.
“For thousands of years, dogs have been our best friends,” says Dr. Ganzert. “Eliminating breed-specific legislation is one way of showing that we can be their best friends, as well. We are very pleased to have the President and the Administration take this vital step in opposing BSL.”
American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.