Breed Specific Legislation
by Steve Stone
Breed Specific Legislation
In the United States, a vast but shadowy subculture of dog owners thrives,
living in an underworld invisible to responsible pet owners and
show-goers. For many decades the inhabitants of this subculture have
been looking for the ideal "junk yard dog," a large ferocious
beast that seems a major threat if not an actual menace. Equally faddish as
the visible world of dogs, this underworld moves from breed to breed in
its search of the canine suited to its warped dreams.
Years ago, the first I knew of these people, they were "into"
German Shepherds where they stayed for about fifteen years before
moving into Dobermans. After that they got hold of Collies and Saint
After a period of foundering, they conceived the notion of moving into
Their modus operandi is always the same: First their top echelon buys
"pet quality" pups from legitimate but novice breeders or
obtain adults from animal rescue stations since pedigrees and
registrations meaning nothing to them. They keep the animals chained or
cooped up in back of the house and breed father to daughter, mother to son, sister
to brother, with complete disregard. The first litters sell for seventy-five
dollars per pup, but the next generation sells for fifty dollars, and
the generations after that for thirty or thirty-five. Bitches are bred
on every heat and shotgunned when they have whelping problems or become
infertile. Usually three or four generations of such breeding suffices
to guarantee that most of the specimens are atypical in the extreme, including
These unfortunate creatures are not fed correctly and receive little or no
veterinary care. They are encouraged to behave savagely and even to
attack on command. Of course such "training" borders upon the
barbaric and serves only to destabilize an already iffy specimen.
When the underworld people got into Sheps and Dobes and Collies and Saints,
they managed nearly to ruin those breeds . But when they got hold
of Pitbulls, they got more, much more, than they had bargained for.
Pitbulls proved a lead-pipe cinch for the subculture to ruin in
record time because their temperament, originally sound, is easy to
spoil. It does not require physical abuse or maltreatment but nothing
more than indifference from the owners and isolation from human love
and companionship, an existence without human affection for long periods of time.
The result: a vicious dog in the original sense of that term.
A Pitbull, even with a spoiled temperament, remains the most athletic
and strongest canine, pound-for-pound, in existence, capable of almost
unimaginable feats of power, endurance, and tenacity, feats far beyond
the capacity of most mortal dogs.
When uncaring owners allowed such Pitbulls to roam free or get free, some
of them did indeed commit social atrocities, that's true. But these
were not well-bred dogs owned and raised and cared for by responsible
citizens. Rather, they were canine sociopaths manufactured to design by
that shadowy subculture, reflecting as though from a mirror its moral
and ethical bankruptcy.
In response, the national media began its typical shark-feeding frenzy, its
reportage always superficial, always error-prone, always
sensationalized. And the duped public reacted predictably.
When I arrived in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1969, there was not a Pitbull in the
city. In 1988, frightened owners turned in more than 400 Pitbulls to
the Omaha Animal Shelter to be destroyed humanely -- but an estimated
two thousand more were not turned in.
Now, in 1996, the "Pitbull menace" is long gone - it's over,
kaput - and has been for five years or more although its image lingers
on public memory.
The shadowy subculture has moved on and is in the process of ruining yet
It's moved into Rottweilers.