Politics

City Councilman Learns Lesson Why Dog Bans Don't Work

| by Reason Foundation

Aaron Rochester, a city councilman in Sioux City, Iowa, who led an effort to get pit bulls banned in the city is now appealing to prevent his own dog from being euthanized after it apparently bit a neighbor. His dog? A Labrador.

It's just an anecdote, but it's illustrative of the problems with breed-specific legislation. Bad owners create bad dogs, regardless of the dog's lineage. Bans on pit bulls don't prevent dog fighting, nor do they prevent people from raising vicious dogs. They just ensure that dogs fitting the pit bull description will be vicious, because the well-bred lines will be discontinued and good owners will stop raising them. Meanwhile, people who raise dogs for fighting will simply move on to another breed.

Moreover, the term pit bull isn't really a breed at all. It's a generic term that can and has been applied to just about any dog with bulldog and/or terrier traits (take the pit bull test here). The American Kennel Club-recognized breed that's generally associated with the term is the American Staffordshire Terrier. And the vast, vast majority of staffies are harmless (they're actually considered a child-friendly breed).

I hope Rochester's dog isn't put down, and instead sent to a trainer. But Rochester ought pay the appropriate damages to his neighbor and perhaps take a couple of dog-rearing classes before he's allowed to own another dog. Maybe he'll even learn from all of this why specific breeds aren't the problem.

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