1) Be aware. Did you know that Denver has laws against pit bulls being owned? Or that Texas tried to pass a breed specific law? Stay up to date on animal laws in your area. Many people don’t realize that it’s illegal to have their dog riding free in the bed of their truck (it is required in many states to have your dog in a crate for safety purposes). Nor do people realize what can happen if your dog is found running around the city (you can get cited and it may prohibit you from adopting dogs at certain shelters). Know the laws in your area and what laws may be passed in your area.
2) Understand what’s going on. How many times have you watched the news and seen reporters tell a story about a vicious dog who attacked a child? Too often. How many times have you seen the story with people who believe the dog isn’t the one to blame but the owner is? Not enough. Realize that it is ultimately YOUR responsibility how your dog behaves. Leaving your dog tethered in the yard all day can cause him to become barky, which can cause neighbors to assume he’s dangerous. Petting your dog while you’re holding her in the store because she’s growling tells her she has a right to be scared and encourages her actions. Let your dogs be dogs. Give them room to run, explore, and understand that people can be friends. By confining your dogs it can instill aggressive and fearful attitudes in them.
3) Realize that ANY dog can bite. That playful Lab down the street looks easygoing but if you hit it hard enough or scare it bad enough he just might come at you. It’s not just bully breeds. By understanding dogs’ behavior you can prevent yourself and your children from being bitten as well as prevent an innocent dog from being impounded and possibly euthanized. Be respectful towards all dogs and if a dog shows fear or aggression back off in a calm, slow manner; running or screaming can agitate it more.
4) Stand up for your dog. By checking websites linked to animal rescue groups like the ASPCA or HSUS you’ll be kept updated on what’s going on with breed specific laws and puppy mill busts. Staying on top of it all will enable you to speak up for your voiceless mutt because oftentimes stories posted on these websites will have contact information so that you can petition against breed specific laws. Other sites, such as Ring Dog Rescue, are breed specific but are just as accessible and informative about what’s going on. In fact, they can oftentimes be more up to date so that you can fight for your dog’s right before the vote has already been cast.
5) Help others. Don’t just petition if a breed specific law hits your town or state. Do it for any state or city that crosses your path. You never know where life may take you and if it happens to be somewhere that has a BSL you missed your chance to speak up. Why let other owners give up their dogs if you’re not willing to give up yours? You can also petition against puppy mills or volunteer at rescues. You may just be one person but it makes all the difference in the world to those dogs out there that you’re helping to give a second chance to.
Please keep in mind that you should always be polite when discussing issues with politicians. Being rude, sarcastic, or aggressive only causes the problem to worsen. Also know that you don’t need a dog to help out. Anyone willing to save dogs is generally welcome to have a voice. Don’t think that just bully breeds are up for bans either. There are places out there that ban Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and in some places even Chihuahuas. Make sure you obedience train your dog, know how to read your dog’s body language, and fight for your dog’s rights.