The Injustice of Breed Bans, and a Kinder Alternative


(Featured image credit: Kim Bartlett – Animal People, Inc.)

Pit bull bans are cruel to both the dogs and the people who have taken them into their homes and love them. Unfortunately, there are many people who purchase these dogs and related breeds to turn them into symbols of machismo, uncared for watchdogs, or abused fighting dogs. Some opposition to pit bull breed bans has come from pit bull breeders as well as from people involved in dogfighting rings; such people may even pose as rescuers.

A humane alternative to banning any breed of dog (for whatever purpose) is a breed-ing ban, whereby the worst thing dogs and their families would face would be spaying or neutering – which in a perfect world would be performed on all dogs and cats who are not registered as breeders, with all breeding strictly regulated. Since pit bulls are arguably the most abused of all dog breeds, the dogs most easily put to terrible use in dogfighting, and the dogs most likely to be abandoned at shelters or dumped on the streets or elsewhere, it seems reasonable from a humane standpoint to begin to regulate breeding of all dogs by starting with a breed-ing ban of pit bulls and related breeds.

It must be understood that a dog breed is not a “species” that has evolved through natural processes. Any dog breed allowed to freely breed with dogs who are not of their breed will, after a few generations, resemble the generic street dogs found all over the world. We need not worry about the “extinction” of a breed of any domesticated animal, as the breeds’ absence will not diminish the earth or deprive any natural ecosystem of a beneficial component.

I offer these comments not as one who dislikes pit bull dogs or other animals, but as one interested in the welfare of all creatures.

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About Author

Kim Bartlett is a veteran of 40+ years in animal rights advocacy. She earned humanitarian service awards from various animal welfare organizations in Texas for volunteer efforts in the 1970s and ’80s. In 1986, Kim left Texas to become editor of The Animals’ Agenda magazine, a position she held until 1992, when she co-founded Animal People. Her interest in international animal affairs brought Animal People into the forefront of humane outreach to the developing world. While anthropologist Margaret Mead was known for teaching that "a small group of committed people can change the world," Kim believes that runaway human population growth has rendered one-person-at-a-time activism futile. Says Kim, "The growth of the human population in the developing world has outstripped our efforts at awareness building, ever since the rise of the modern animal rights movement in the 1970s. Only in countries with relatively stable populations has the animal rights movement sustained a lasting effect. Mass media, now including online social media, is essential for educating people and effecting change on a global scale." Recent paradigm shifts in human attitudes toward animals - startling and unpredicted shifts - including the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, in which leading neuroscientists joined to declare the consciousness of animals, and Pope Francis’ encyclical, "Care for Our Common Home," which calls for kindness toward animals and an entirely different understanding of “dominion,” give Kim hope that a completely new human relationship with animals lies somewhere ahead of us. Click to see author's profile.


  1. Thank you for your bravery on this issue. Most groups–aside from PETA, to their credit–are too afraid of the dog breeding lobby to support breeding bans for these very unfortunate and overbred animals.
    I too support BSL in the form of mandatory spay/neuter for all pit bulls–it’s the most fair and humane way.

  2. Michael Carvalho on

    I am in line with much of what you have stated in your write up. But why do you fall short of suggesting mandatory spay and neuter of all dogs other than those of licensed breeders?

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