Why PETA Supports Breed-Specific Laws
PETA recently submitted a response to the government’s consultation on the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 stating that we support the ban on breeding pit bulls and similar dogs and that we’d like to see this extended to include Staffordshire bull terriers (Staffies) as well. In fact, PETA would support a ban on all dog breeding, and we’ve long called on people who are considering adding an animal companion to the family to adopt, not shop. Some dog lovers were surprised to learn about PETA’s stance, so we wanted to take this opportunity to explain our position.
We support this legislation because it’s what’s best for dogs. When shelters are forced to euthanise countless dogs every year simply because there aren’t enough good homes to go around, it makes sense to back efforts to reduce the population of any breed of dog through the use of breeding bans.
It Should Be Called the ‘Vulnerable Dogs Act’
Pit bull–type dogs are the most abused, most frequently abandoned, and most often euthanised breed on the planet. They’re abused, neglected, and tortured specifically because of their breed and characteristics. They experience more cruelty than any other dogs, as they’re commonly bred for fighting or kept as guard dogs, resulting in a lifetime of suffering. Many also endure painful physical mutilations such as ear-cropping – an illegal process that involves removing part of a dog’s ears to give him or her a more aggressive look. Appropriate breed-specific protective legislation outlaws the breeding of these dogs and is designed to safeguard them from homelessness and abuse. That’s why we’re in favour of it – with the caveat, of course, that any existing dogs be well cared for and protected.
Staffies are currently flooding UK animal shelters and have become by far the most commonly abandoned breed of dog in the country. They’re also one of the most abused – in fact, the RSPCA has confirmed that 80 per cent of its cruelty-to-animals prosecutions concern Staffies. The breed is also the most likely to be abducted and used by criminal gangs for fighting rings or as guard dogs. Given how vulnerable these dogs are to abuse, neglect, and abandonment, why would anyone fight the introduction of legislation that would prevent people from bringing more of them into a world that treats many so cruelly?
We Aren’t Looking to Put Any Dog Out of a Good Home
PETA cares deeply about pit bulls and Staffies. Far from being breed-specific “discrimination”, we see the legislation as breed-specific protection. When properly enforced, it prevents pit bull–type dogs from being born to suffer.
We’re NOT advocating for any dogs to be removed from loving homes, and any amendments to the legislation should include a grandfather clause allowing dogs who have been spayed or neutered and are well cared for to remain in their homes for the rest of their lives. Likewise, responsible guardians who currently live with pit bulls or other breeds that are restricted should be able to keep these dogs, provided the animals have been spayed or neutered and are properly looked after.
Nature Didn’t Create Dog Breeds – Humans Did
PETA’s opposition to dog breeding isn’t limited to pit bulls and Staffies – we campaign against all dog breeding, and we support any legislation that stops this cruel and exploitative practice. Dogs don’t choose for themselves to reproduce within one “breed”. Over the years, humans have forcibly mated particular animals in order to distort their features and create the breeds we recognise today. While pit bulls and Staffies are breeds and not species, there’s no denying that pit bull–type dogs are at a higher risk than other dog breeds of enduring a horrible fate. The best way to stop this abuse is for humans to stop creating more vulnerable dogs.
Dogs inevitably suffer when humans play around with their genetics to produce certain physical characteristics, whether it’s Cavalier King Charles spaniels, who are bred to have skulls that are too small for their brains – often resulting in an agonising condition called syringomyelia – or English bulldogs and pugs, whose “pushed-in” faces can cause them severe breathing problems and prevent them from running and playing.
The culture of dog breeding also fuels the homeless-animal crisis. Unscrupulous breeders churn out litter after litter of unhealthy pedigree puppies while thousands of healthy, adoptable dogs in animal shelters are denied their chance at a loving home. PETA encourages everyone to adopt dogs from shelters rather than buying them from pet shops or breeders and to ensure that their animals are spayed or neutered to help prevent the overpopulation problem from getting worse.
What You Can Do
If you want to speak out against dog breeding, please contact Channel 4 and ask it to stop airing Crufts, the unethical dog show that popularises the breeding of dogs with grossly exaggerated features and physical abnormalities.