Image by Taylor Deas-Melesh

HISTORY AND IMPACT OF BSL IN PG

Since 1997, Pit Bulls have been outlawed in Prince George’s County, the second most populous county in Maryland, bordering the Eastern side of Washington DC. It is the only jurisdiction in the D.C. region that has a breed-specific ban, yet hundreds continue to be impounded by Animal Control every year. According to the Washington Post, in 2018, Prince George’s County impounded 687 Pit Bulls, and euthanized more than 400. Only 283 were place in rescue, shelters, or returned to homes. By mid-2019, 492 pit bulls had been impounded, 52% of those euthanized.

To date Prince George's County continues to maintain and enforce it's "pit bull ban". Any dog brought to the shelter is visually assessed by staff and if deemed a "pit bull type dog" is separated from the other animals, unable to be adopted to to any citizen (even residents of other cities or states). 

These laws have been in place for 25 years. Thousands of dogs have been removed from homes, or languished in the shelter after being found stray (potential owners fearing large fines or jail time if they were to claim their dog), and euthanized. While PG county now allows specific rescues to foster and adopt these pit-bull type dogs to families out of PG county, the number of pit-bull type dogs in the shelter continues to surpass the number of available homes. 

BSL has numerous flaws. For a system claiming to be in place to protect the public there has been NO increase in public safety from this ban, no reduction in dog bites. The crowding of pit-bull type dogs in the shelter indicates the desire of the public to still own these types of dogs, but as banned dogs can not comfortably be taken to PG county vets for fear of being reported, this leaves most of them unfixed with unregulated breeding. No vets also means unvaccinated and more likely to catch diseases and suffer, or even spread diseases to other dogs and humans. No county resources for pit-bull type dogs means no training and no opportunities for socialization. Further complicating the issue is the fact the term “pit bull” does not denote a specific breed and there is no agreed-upon definition of “pit bull-type dogs” – not in science, the law, kennel clubs, or animal shelters. Adding to that, even if pit bull WERE a breed, studies show that even "experts" determining a breed based on visual assessment are wrong more often than they are correct when comparing their educated assessments to DNA testing. 

But all of the above flaws are moot. The fact that matters most is the one proven over and over and over again since breed bans started becoming popular in the 1980's (German Shepherds, Doberman and Rotties have all been through this as well, but each of their times being villainized by the media and the public were much shorter durations). That one fact that matters is that there is not a single peer-reviewed study which concludes that any one breed or dog type is "inherently more dangerous" than any other breed. Period.