BSL & the U.S. Military

March 19th, 2009 10:11 am by Kelly Garbato

Via the latest issue of Dog’s Life e-newsletter, I found a link to this alarming story, by Steve Dale at Dump the Dog is Military’s Message to Families with Targeted ‘Bad’ Breeds.

That’s right, folks: breed specific legislation, coming soon to military housing near you:

Lots of dog breeds will no longer be allowed on military housing property, according to new policy announced in a memo stamped January 5 from the United States Department of the Army. According to sources, the directive was approved by the Pentagon just prior to President George W. Bush leaving office.

The subject line of the memo reads: “Pet Policy for Privatized Housing Under the Army’s Residential Communities Initiative Privatization Program. Pit Bulls (American Staffordshire Bull Terriers and English Staffordshire Bull Terriers), Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows and wolf hybrids are now banned.” […]

According to the ruling, dogs of any type who currently live on base can be grandfathered in. However, Lynde points out that families are frequently being asked to re-locate. When they do, they can no longer bring their banned dogs with them. Similarly, new enlistees must leave their dogs at home if they’re indentified as a banned breed.

Then what happens to any banned dogs identified and then forcibly relinquished by transferring military? Lynde says, “No one seems to have that answer.”

With morale already low on military bases, according to Lynde, she believes the ruling has already begun to further impact morale. “What kind of family support is this? I tried to communicate with the Garrison Comander’s Office (at Fort Bragg), but I got nowhere,” she says.

Military families whose members include so-called “dangerous” dog breeds, such as pit bulls, rottweilers, doberman pinschers, chow chows and wolf hybrids (!?) – or any mutt whose lineage includes or even resembles these breeds – may, under the new housing policy, be forced to relinquish their canines. If they’re unable to find a trusted friend or family member to take the animals, presumably they’ll have no choice but to surrender their beloved dogs to animal shelters, where many will be killed for lack of homes.

Simply put, this is a travesty. We already demand far too much of our military members and their families – we send them overseas, to fight and die in capricious, pointless wars; we deny them proper physical and psychological care, both in the battlefield and here at home; we ignore the high rates of sexual assault perpetrated against women in the military; we actively discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons who want nothing more than to serve their country; we fail to provide care for the non-human members of military families when the caregivers are deployed or on active duty; and now, the U.S. government is attempting to eradicate a targeted segment of their non-human family members, based on nothing other than naked prejudice, stereotypes and hysteria. Shameful, just shameful.


Take action

1. Please write to your Congresspeople and demand that they take action to halt this policy from being implemented – and then repeal it altogether. You can find contact information for your Senators and Representative here and here. Please copy President Obama on your email, as well. You can find contact information here.

2. Additionally, please write to your state representatives and demand that they tackle this issue on a state level (if nothing else, by applying pressure to their colleagues in the U.S. Senate and House). You can locate your state representative and senator by Googling “kansas + state + legislature” or similar. has a state-by-state list of military bases and installations here. Please copy each base in your state on all correspondence you send to your state legislators.

3. Finally, please consider contacting your local media as well. This is particularly important if you live near a large military base or installation. Reporters love local angles on national stories – and they love dogs, too. Here’s an opportunity to put that speciesism to good use. (But let’s not reinforce it, mmmkay?)

As for talking points, is quite helpful, and includes pointers on what you should and shouldn’t say when making the case against BSL. Best Friends has also written about this issue; see, for example, Once Heroes, Now Banned…. and (the ironically titled) Discrimination in the Military?

Under the “what you can do” heading, Best Friends recommends:


► Write a letter to President Barack and Michelle Obama, as well as Army officials. You may contact the President and the First Lady here or send an e-mail to comments [at] and put the appropriate name in the subject line. To comment to the Army, contact Ms. Joyce VanSlyke at joyce.vanslyke [at]

Please keep your contact polite, professional and educational. Encourage other alternatives such as:

• Consider mandatory micro-chipping. Fine those who abandon their dogs.
• Encourage a law prohibiting dogs from being alone in a yard without supervision, until permanently anchored fencing is allowed on military based housing.
• Enforce mandatory spay/neuter programs for all pets on military based housing.
• Enact higher fines for those who breed dogs on military bases.
• You can also join the Stop Breed Specific Legislation community on the Best Friends Network.
• Teach the community, particularly children, about responsible dog ownership and care. Offer humane educators to speak.

Best Friends also has a community organized around stopping BSL, where you can keep up-to-date on news and developments.

(Photo credit: provided courtesy of Lynn Lynde; posted to Best Friends NC Community by Pamela Hay.)



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2 Responses to “BSL & the U.S. Military”

  1. » Blog Archive » easyVegan Link Sanctuary, 2009-03-20 Says:

    […] Best Friends: Discrimination in the Military? “An animal welfare organization is calling on the U.S. military to reverse a wholesale ban on certain breeds of dogs which is tearing apart families and their dogs at bases across the country. Best Friends Animal Society is adamantly opposed to wholesale profiling of any breed of dog and is urging Americans to get involved.” (See also: BSL & the U.S. Military.) […]

  2. patty conine Says:

    to many dogs are getting a bad wrap. i have own 4 rotts and i think they are the best. all my rotts werwe beautiful friend and it hurt me and made very sad when i had to put them down. i lose part of my family, i 65 and i am looking for another rott. GREAT DOG AND FRIENDS

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