So, the people who saved my dog’s life would like her DNA pulled. Simple, right? We get the test done and, voilà, we have her breed(s). Except that I live in Boston, where there are restrictions on pit bulls and pit bull mixes.
If my dog’s DNA test “proves” (because these are not conclusive), that my dog is a pit bull or pit bull mix, then I get to register her as such and pay the extra fees, post the sign under my door and muzzle her on her walks. If the test declares her something else, then she is registered as any other breed, right? Well, not exactly.
One thing more inconclusive than a DNA test, it seems, is the eye of the beholder; the police officer, the Animal Control officer, or the Parks and Recreation Ranger who sees my dog and says, “That’s a pit bull. Where’s the correct tag? Why isn’t she muzzled?” Because BSL is subjective, dogs are subjected to someone else’s arbitrary determination of their breed and then their subsequent responses. It wouldn’t matter if I had notarized DNA test results indicating that my dog is a sheepdog mix; what she “looks like” is all that counts. I could register her as a sheepdog mix, but if Officer Smythe says “that’s a pit bull, you need to register her as a pit bull” then by gum, I guess I have to do that to avoid risking her life. Registering her as a pit bull or pit bull mix doesn’t risk anything, whether it flies in the face of her test results or not. And there’s the rub.
BSL is not logical. It does not address the very real problems of dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners. It does not address roaming dogs and homeless dogs and dog overpopulation, or any of the other issues we face as we advocate for pit bulls and pit bull mixes. Testing my dog’s DNA has nothing to do with how we live our lives in a city with BSL. Like many, I have chosen to register my dog as a Boxer mix. If Officer Smythe & co. have something else to say about that, then I’ll have to deal with it. But DNA testing is not the answer. Educating the general public and eliminating BSL is. I’ll get my dog’s DNA tested—perhaps it will further scientific research. But I won’t rely on it to change the way pit bulls and pit bull mixes are treated in Boston or anywhere else.