Police Dog Put To Sleep After Being Labeled a Pit Bull

A dog in Great Britain that was being trained for police work has been put to sleep after Dog Legislation Officers determined the dog to have physical characteristics of a pit bull.

The action proves that no matter the dog’s disposition, it is judged only for its appearance.

Avon and Somerset Police Department rescued Tyson from the RSPCA and worked with the dog for months training him to be a sniffing dog for the department.

Pit Bulls have been banned in the U.K. and Wales since 1991 under the Dangerous Dog Act.

There are no DNA tests to determine if a dog is a pit bull or pit bull mix since “pit bulls” are typically a various mix of breeds.

Dogs are typically labeled “pit bulls” by officers in jurisdictions where bans are in place by judging a number of different characteristics. In Miami, Fla., for example, an officer charged with enforcing the city’s ban uses a 47 point checklist with items such as body length, head size and markings.

Tyson was completing his training when he appeared on a local television show called Dog Rescuers.

After he was determined to be a pit bull mix, he was returned to the RSPCA’s West Hatch Rescue Centre, but because he was labeled a “dangerous breed,” the center had no choice but to put him to death.

"The outcome has devastated both police dog handlers and RSPCA staff who cared for and trained Tyson over a number of months,” the Avon and Somerset Police Department said in a statement.

The RSPCA added that the Breed Standard Laws "punishes certain types of dogs for the way they look and fails to consider a dog's individual behavior when determining whether or not they are dangerous.

"As a result, dogs whose behavior poses no risk are branded 'dangerous' just because of their appearance."

There are at least 57 municipalities in the United States with Breed Specific Legislation and the U.S. military has banned “pit bull type” dogs from its military housing.

Many of the leading animal welfare organizations, including Best Friends and the ASPCA denounce BSL.

“Although multiple communities have been studied where breed-specific legislation has been enacted, no convincing data indicates this strategy has succeeded anywhere to date,” the ASPCA position statement reads. “Conversely, studies can be referenced that evidence clear, positive effects of carefully crafted, breed-neutral laws It is, therefore, the ASPCA’s position to oppose any state or local law to regulate or ban dogs based on breed.”

The White House also took a stand against such laws last summer.

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First Published July 18, 2014 12:00 AM