We bloggers spend a lot of time with words. I don’t know how many of you sit blankly staring at your monitor, scouring your brain for just the right term to capture your thoughts, but I imagine many of you do. The words we choose to express our ideas and feelings are important – and in some cases the difference could be life and death.
Last week, in a post titled “Let’s call breed bans what they are: Death sentences,” Edie Jarolim suggested that the commonly-used term “Breed Specific Laws” is so vague that it does nothing to indicate the impact of laws. And the acronym “BSLs” is even worse – it takes a vague term and gives it even less meaning.
I appreciate Edie for raising this issue, and I agree with her. In hopes of being part of the solution, I will heretofore refer to these laws “Breed Discrimination Laws” – and I won’t be abbreviating it.
As it relates to traveling, the effects of Breed Discrimination Laws range from annoying to killer – literally. On our travels, we’ve come across campgrounds where we were not allowed to stay because the county or municipality had restrictions on German Shepherds. It’s annoying, but I didn’t want to spend my time or money in a place that didn’t appreciate Buster anyway.
In other jurisdictions it’s a lot worse. Denver, Colorado will confiscate a pit bull from your possession and execute it, even if it has never hurt anyone. The province of Ontario, Canada operates much the same way. It’s unthinkable, I know – but it’s a pet travel reality. And, when you’re traveling with your pet you need to be aware of what could happen.
So, what breeds of dogs fall prey to these laws? We find the most affected breeds to be the Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and German Shepherds, but Akitas, American Bulldogs, Chows, Huskies, Mastiffs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and Shar-Pei are also targeted. In fact, I once started a list of all the affected breeds, but gave up when it passed 100. To make matters worse, some of these laws have very broad language that include restrictions on mixes of the targeted breeds and other dogs that LOOK LIKE the targeted breeds!
If you have an affected breed – or a dog that looks like one – what kinds of restrictions should you expect? Some jurisdictions require owners to carry proof of liability insurance, others say restricted breeds must be muzzled when in public, and some cities, states and provinces have gone so far as to ban dogs of certain breeds from living within their borders. Penalties for violating these restrictions range from fines, to jail, to the confiscation and execution of the dog.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid any possible conflicts while you are traveling:
Before you plan your next trip, use the links above to pick a location where you and your pet will both be welcome. It could save your pet’s life!
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