Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Minnesota Breed Ban!

Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, has announced that he plans to introduce legislation next year that will ban five breeds in Minnesota. Under the proposed law, anyone owning, housing, training, or breeding Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Chow Chows, Akitas, or wolf hybrids (or any mixed breed with any of the above traits) would be committing a crime subject to fines and jail time.
Apparently, Rep. Lesch has bought into the notion that specific breeds are inherently vicious and banning them would drastically cut down on dog attacks on humans. "You never hear stories about roving packs of golden retrievers attacking children in our streets," Lesch has said, "But you do hear about the pit bulls." It is my understanding that Minnesota dog attacks have been on a decline in the past few years, but Lesch has chosen to focus on a couple high-profile cases just recently in St. Paul that happened to involve pit bulls.
Here's the main problem with this proposed law: Any dog can become dangerous when bred and/or trained to be aggressive. It's ridiculous to think that restricting ownership of five breeds will stop or even cut down on dog bites, because the former owners of individual dogs who were bred or trained to be aggressive will simply acquire another breed of dog and train it in the same way. If they choose golden retrievers instead of pit bulls, and those dogs become aggressive, which breed do you think breed-specific legislation (BSL) proponents will target next?
Another problem with any BSL is that a lot of people can't positively identify dog breeds, and "pit bull", for example, is used by citizens as well as police and lawmakers to include a wide range of different breeds. I seriously doubt that John Lesch could tell you the difference between an American pit bull and an American Staffordshire Terrier, or the difference between an Akita and a Siberian Husky, for that matter.
I believe our state representative is just buying into the propoganda, perhaps even thinking his actions are noble. But how many of his family and friends own dogs, ANY breed of dogs? My understanding is that Minnesota law prohibits cities from enacting their own breed bans, and this is good. As far as statewide BSL, this proposal has many, many opponents; responsible dog owners who refuse to be punished and lose their best friends because of the irresponsibility of a few. Just because you may be (like me) the proud owner of a goofy, loveable, and extremely gentle dog, don't kid yourself. Great Danes can, and do, bite, and these few incidences speak volumes more about the breed from a lawmaker's standpoint than the thousands of sweet and well-behaved Danes in homes all across the nation.
Please take a few minutes to contact Rep. John Lesch, and in your own words, urge him to reconsider his stand on dog breed bans. Ask him to instead consider better enforcement of dog laws already in effect, including leash laws. There are laws regarding "dangerous dogs", and enforcement of these could prevent dog bites more effectively than breed bans. When Lesch announced his proposal at the Capitol on Friday, with him was a 5-year-old St.Paul girl who had been attacked by a "pit bull" last month. As Lesch called for support for his breed ban, the fact that that individual dog had previously been declared "potentially dangerous" by city inspectors seemed to get lost in the shuffle.
Following are a few links regarding breed-specific legislation. Not surprisingly, pit bull organizations are leading this fight. The Real Pit Bull site explains BSL thoroughly and gives alternatives to breed bans, as well as a petition to stop John Lesch's proposed legislation.
As always, Trail Center's website has pages of information for dog owners, and Sarah's views on BSL (as a Rottweiler owner).
An important, and truly eye-opening, exercise is the Find The Pit Bull test from Pit Bulls On The Web. I encourage everyone to take this short test and then visit this site's BSL page. There are also quite a few great articles under "Related Links".
The dogs pictured in this post are friends and acquaintances of Savage, and with the exception of the Brittany Spaniel, all dogs that would be illegal to own under the new breed ban. In descending order, the puppies are Savage and Mason, Wally, Roger, Mason, Elvis, Jones, and Savage, Willy, and Mason again. And yes, we do love our rotties!


  1. Anonymous said...
    Great job Paula. How about a nice letter to the editor...
    Laura Marxen said...
    A very well written post, and one that speaks on behalf of the opinion of most of the people I call friends. Most people would hesitate to approach a so-called "mean" breed, but I feel more comfortable around the larger more dominant breeds, both strange and familiar ones. As someone who has been pretty violently attacked by a Parson Russel Terrier, I have seen firsthand what human training (or lack of) can result in. It's all about us, not the dogs. To anyone who is familiar with these breeds that are falling under scrutiny, have you ever noticed that these specific breeds rank highest in regards to intelligence and trainability? Meaning, they are more responsive to their owners' commands and personalities than other breeds. Does that tell you anything...?
    Gunther said...
    Excellent and very well written post. No one could have said it better.

    I'm not sure if you are aware that there are some southern states that have included Great Danes on their lists. WTF? We are working down here to make sure these ignorant people are educated. (or voted out of office)

    I've worked with schultzhund K9 for years before Gunther, I've been around strong massive high prey drive dogs and my only serious bite was from a fluffy toy breed that took a bite out of leg and left me 12 stitches.

    It's about the human not the dog. I find dogs are a hell of lot more honest and smarter than the politicians.

    Thank you for posting the info on your blog.
    Jason said...

    Just found your blog....I'm adding it to my reading rotation.

    Pretty cool....

    Keep up the fight against BSL!!!!

    Anonymous said...
    Came across this blog searching for info on Great Danes. I noticed this is almost a year old, but as a former and probably future Rottweiler owner, I hope the fight hasn't been lost.

    Patrick in LA.

    p.s. Savage is stunning.

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