Tenet #3: Stop Breed-Specific Policies and Euthanasia

Best practice: Each animal is allowed sufficient time to decompress upon entering shelter. The animal then undergoes a temperament test performed by staff or volunteers who are trained and certified in nationally recognized temperament testing protocols, as well as a routine medical exam.  If the animal does not have significant medical or behavioral issues, it is made immediately available for adoption or rescue.

There is no existing data which indicates a dog’s breed or physical characteristics make it inherently dangerous.  In fact, the only rigorous study regarding dog attacks was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and found the following:

  • More than 70 percent of all dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs.
  • An unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than is a neutered dog.
  • A chained or tethered dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than a dog who is not chained or tethered.
  • 97% of dogs involved in fatal dog attacks in 2006 were not spayed/neutered: 78% were maintained not as pets, but rather for guarding, image enhancement, fighting or breeding; 84% were maintained by reckless owners—these dogs were abused or neglected, not humanely controlled or contained, or allowed to interact with children unsupervised.

The common thread among these dogs who bite?  Irresponsible and/or abusive owners.  Punish the deed, not the breed!  Breeds categorized as “pit bulls” (e.g. American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier) have temperaments ranked higher than the national average, according to the American Temperament Test Society.  That’s right – pitties rank better than Beagles, Chihuahuas, and many other popular breeds.  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), CDC, Humane Society, and other reputable agencies have adopted positions against breed-specific policies and practices, citing such policies are expensive and ineffective at reducing the incidence of dog bites.

MACC’s Policy: For over a decade and until just 30 days ago, Metro Animal Care & Control’s written policy prohibited any pit bulls or “pit bull type dogs” from being adopted.  Though not a written policy, we also found that some other “bully” breeds were either being killed due to their breed or were labeled as available to “rescue only.”

When we asked why the breed-specific policy was in place, we were provided several explanations.  We were first told it was likely a response to an accusation made several years ago – that MACC was “selling pit bulls out the back door.”  Though the claims were never substantiated, we were told this policy was born out of that accusation.  We were also told the policy could have a resulted from the recommendations of some insurance providers.  Finally, health officials told us they weren’t really certain why the archaic policy was still in place, but with so many animals coming into MACC on a daily basis, it was a way to make “tough decisions.”

Initially, we were less than cautiously optimistic this policy would ever change.  However, in an Advisory Council meeting on May 8, it was announced the breed-specific policy would be lifted.  Beginning June 1, the first litter of pit bull puppies was offered for adoption, and now MACC’s policy is that all healthy bully pups under 6 months of age may be candidates for adoption.  And just 60 days from today, following MACC employees’ certification in ASPCA’s SAFER program, all adult dogs passing a temperament and medical test, regardless of breed, will also have the opportunity to considered for adoption.

This is a huge milestone, and we thank all the petition signers and citizens of Nashville for joining with us to save lives at MACC.  Space is still limited, and there is no guarantee for any animal.  And as you know, many adoptable animals are not listed on MACC’s PetFinder website,  so we need YOU to be a part of these adoption efforts.  We have an important role to play in helping spread the word – bully breed puppies are available for adoption at MACC!


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