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Stop Breed-Specific Legislation in Tennessee
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AVMA Dog Bite Prevention Report
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State Anti-BSL Laws
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Sample Letters to Officials
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Special thanks to Jodi Preis with Bless the Bullys for drafting these!!

The language can be altered to the situation at hand. It is currently modified to reflect the pending legislation in Sumner County, Tennessee.

Letter #1

Dear Commissioners:

To be useful, legislation must be effective, enforceable, economical, and reasonably fair. Recently, a resolution has been placed before the Sumner County Commissioners that fails all of these tests. This legislation is motivated by fear and lack of relevant knowledge. It is discriminatory, impractical, and unenforceable. Worst of all, it will not solve the problem. I urge you to vote against it.

The proposed bill would restrict the ownership of certain types of dogs, specifically pit bulls. These breeds have been the subject of irresponsible and sensationalist reporting across the country. The media and the inexperienced would have you believe that these breeds are vicious and should be prohibited.

The plain fact is that there is no relationship between the type of the dog and the number of incidents. If your town has 100 German Shepherds and 1 Poodle, you'll soon learn that the German Shepherds are responsible for 100 times as many incidents as the Poodles. Does this mean that German Shepherds are intrinsically vicious? Of course not.

Taken as a whole, pit bulls have proven their stability and good canine citizenry by becoming 'Search & Rescue dogs, Therapy dogs working inside hospitals, and family companions for years. A five year study published in the Cincinnati Law Review in 1982, vol. 53, pg 1077, which specifically considered both Rottweilers and "pit bulls," concluded in part that: - statistics do not support the assertion that any one breed was dangerous, - when legislation is focused on the type of dog it fails, because it is ... unenforceable, confusing, and costly. - focusing legislation on dogs that are "vicious" distracts attention from the real problem, which is irresponsible owners.

In light of the studies, the facts, and the discriminatory nature of the proposed legislation, we urge you to take the following actions:

1. Reject the current legislation, which is contrary to fact and distracts from the real issue: responsible ownership.

2. Work to establish reasonable guidelines for responsible pet ownership, and encourage legislation that supports owner responsibility without reference to specific breeds.

Study after study shows that ANY dog, regardless of breed, will be whatever its owner makes of it....nothing more, nothing less. Owners can and should take responsibility for their pets. We suggest that the appropriate policy is "blame the owner, not the dog." If a dog attacks a person, the law should treat it as though the owner attacked that person.

Voting for this proposal as it stands will harm both the law abiding, responsible dog owners and the victims, but it won't solve anything.


Letter #2

Dear Commissioners:

I am writing in response to the pending resolution regarding regulations specific to "pit bull" dogs with the use of breed specific legislation in Sumner County.

ANY dog can become a problem for the public if the dog is allowed to run loose and is not supervised. The key word is responsible. Webster's definition of responsibility is: Being legally or ethically accountable for the welfare or care of another. To say "pit bull" dogs are dangerous does not address the real problem - irresponsible owners.

Please reconsider and retract your pit bull resolution. Please do not punish responsible owners who maintain their dogs as companions and members of the family; dogs that do not pose a threat to anyone. Why should we be punished simply because irresponsible owners of the same breed of dog have not "ethically and legally" protected others from injury?

Please provide our community with non-breed specific legislation that is competent to regulate the irresponsible owners and protect those who maintain their dogs safely and humanely. Please provide definitions for vicious and/or potentially dangerous with measurable actions which cannot be questioned or misinterpreted due to bias.

The irresponsible owners do not care what breed of dog they lose the right to own - they'll find another breed of dog to fit their needs. As a responsible owner, I ask you to seriously consider the impact of breed-specific legislation.