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The ‘dangerous dog’ debate rages on

Dear Readers • The recent article by R. Scott Nolen in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association concerning the multi-state legislation prohibiting people keeping certain kinds of dogs is a clarion call to end such discriminatory, “breedist” legislation.

Many good dogs, and their caregivers and families, have suffered the consequences of this biologically and ethologically absurd legislation. Admittedly, “pit bull-type” dogs — especially from low-income, drug- and crime-ridden rural and urban communities where dog fighting and animal cruelty are endemic — have stigmatized dogs of that kind and their look-alikes.

Some people back away from our dog, whom they see as part pit bull, but she is actually a shy and gentle Australian red heeler with some boxer in her lineage. She was adopted from our local shelter in Minnesota, one of few states where no such breed-specific prohibitions exist. She was brought up from a shelter in Alabama, one of several states where any dog who looks pit-bullish is euthanized or abandoned.

DNA testing of an individual dog’s ancestry is not yet as reliable as screening for genetic disorders. One owner of a dog who plays with ours at the local dog park was rejected by a landlord after he insisted her beagle-looking dog be DNA tested for breed ancestry. The test came back positive for chow, a breed the landlord considered dangerous. Other owners of purebreds have also had false chow ancestry attributed to their dogs after receiving DNA analysis from certain companies.

All animal shelters, dog adoption centers, animal control agencies, animal protection organizations and state veterinary associations need to support the alternative to breed-specific legislation as proposed by the American Veterinary Medical Association. This will do much to prevent the abuse and suffering of dogs of certain kinds who invoke unwarranted prejudice and fear, and also advance societal acceptance of veterinary bioethics .


The suburban Atlanta city of Sandy Springs, Ga., has banned pet store sales of dogs and cats from large-scale commercial breeders, but stores may offer pets from shelters and animal rescue organizations. Pet stores must document the source of all the dogs and cats they offer for sale and post the name of the source in a visible location.

Visit Dr. Fox’s website at Send mail to [email protected] or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, Mo. 64106.


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The ‘dangerous dog’ debate rages on


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