Panic Policy Making: Canine Breed Bans in Canada and the United States

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Short Description:
Based on interviews with members of the general population supplemented by research with nonprofit leaders and public officials, the authors of this paper discuss the "panic" that often drives officials to legislate against certain breeds of dogs. They find that "the evidence indicates that support for breed bans stem from the galvanization of a latent fear of pit bull type dogs and fear of criminal behavior related to owners of these dogs."

The following abstract is excerpted from the full paper:

"Although dogs have bitten humans for millennia, in recent years state, provincial, and local governments have responded to incidents of dog bites with legislation or administrative rules that ban the ownership of dog breeds such as American Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, and American Pit Bulls. In this paper we examine if a framework of “panic policymaking” can explain the passage of breed bans."
"The paper first develops a framework to explain panic policymaking that builds upon and modifies psychological theories of decision making, the sociological literature on moral panics, the analytical and case study literature about critical junctures in policy paths, behavioral economic studies of responses to risks, and the empirical studies of punctuated policy equilibria."
"Using data from a survey of the Canadian and U.S. public and interviews with interest group activists and public officials in locales that considered and defeated or passed breed bans, we then assess the predictive value of the concept of panic policymaking. Finally, we consider how breed bans indicate the scope and limits of the concept of animal rights."
Note: the link below will open a PDF file.

Spot Check Number: 1978
Sponsor: West Virginia University
Researcher/Author: Susan Hunter and Richard A. Brisbin, Jr.
Animal Type: Dogs, Companion Animals
Research Method: In Person Interview/Survey, Literature Review, Telephone Survey
Geographic Region: International
Number of Participants: 2,028
Year Conducted: 2007

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