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Writing effective letters to officials
 
One of the most difficult things for those new to fighting BSL is expressing your feelings to the legislators and/or other officials who have proposed it.  There are some very important things to remember when communicating with officials: 
 
First and foremost, ALWAYS BE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL - even if you don't agree with their views.  Our dogs are worth putting your personal feelings of anger aside in order to communicate effectively. 
  • It is not necessary to type your letter. In fact, a handwritten letter has a tremendous impact. (As long as its legible!) Even a postcard is fine, as long as it's nott the pre-printed "form" card.
  • Be brief and to the point. Try to limit your letter to one or two subjects. Include all bill titles and numbers whenever possible.
  • Send your letter as soon as you hear about an issue or bill. If it comes up again later in the session, you can always write again or make a phone call.
  • During the legislative session, send letters to the State Capitol building. During the interim, send letters to the legislators' home addresses.
 
Below are some form letters (ranging from very simple to quite detailed) which oppose BSL that you can modify to fit your current situation and send to officials.    
 
* * * * * * *

Simple Letter
 
 
The Honorable John Q. Official
State Capital
Nashville, Tennessee
 
    Re:  House/Sentate Bill No.           [or] Proposed orginance on            
 
Dear                                           :
 
I am writing to you about House/Senate Bill No.          [or] the proposed ordinance on [specify details of ordinance].  I am strongly opposed to this [bill/ordinance] and ask that you vote against it.  Passage of this bill will not address the root cause of the problem, and it will have a negative impact on responsible, law abiding dog owners while those who do not abide by the law will simply continue to do so. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Respectfully,
 
 
 
Letter #2

 

Dear                                                :

I am writing in response to the pending resolution regarding regulations specific to [targeted breed] with the use of breed specific legislation in [your town].

ANY dog can become a problem for the public if the dog is allowed to run loose and is not supervised. The key word is responsible. Webster's definition of responsibility is: Being legally or ethically accountable for the welfare or care of another. To say [targeted breed] are dangerous does not address the real problem - irresponsible owners.

Please reconsider and retract your breed specific resolution. Please do not punish responsible owners who maintain their dogs as companions and members of the family; dogs that do not pose a threat to anyone. Why should we be punished simply because irresponsible owners of the same breed of dog have not "ethically and legally" protected others from injury?

Please provide our community with non-breed specific legislation that is competent to regulate the irresponsible owners and protect those who maintain their dogs safely and humanely. Please provide definitions for vicious and/or potentially dangerous with measurable actions which cannot be questioned or misinterpreted due to bias.

The irresponsible owners do not care what breed of dog they lose the right to own - they'll find another breed of dog to fit their needs. As a responsible owner, I ask you to seriously consider the impact of breed-specific legislation.

Respectfully,
 
 
 
 
Detailed Letter

 
 
Dear                                                          :

To be useful, legislation must be effective, enforceable, economical, and reasonably fair. Recently, a resolution has been placed before you that fails all of these tests. This legislation is motivated by fear and lack of relevant knowledge. It is discriminatory, impractical, and unenforceable. Worst of all, it will not solve the problem. I urge you to vote against it.

The proposed bill would restrict the ownership of certain types of dogs, specifically
[targeted breed].
These breeds have been the subject of irresponsible and sensationalist reporting across the country. The media and the inexperienced would have you believe that these breeds are vicious and should be prohibited.

The plain fact is that there is no relationship between the type of the dog and the number of incidents. If your town has 100 German Shepherds and 1 Poodle, you'll soon learn that the German Shepherds are responsible for 100 times as many incidents as the Poodles. Does this mean that German Shepherds are intrinsically vicious? Of course not.

Taken as a whole,
 [targeted breed] 
have proven their stability and good canine citizenry by becoming 'Search & Rescue dogs, Therapy dogs working inside hospitals, and family companions for years. A five year study published in the Cincinnati Law Review in 1982, vol. 53, pg 1077, which specifically considered both Rottweilers and "pit bulls," concluded in part that: - statistics do not support the assertion that any one breed was dangerous, - when legislation is focused on the type of dog it fails, because it is ... unenforceable, confusing, and costly. - focusing legislation on dogs that are "vicious" distracts attention from the real problem, which is irresponsible owners.

In light of the studies, the facts, and the discriminatory nature of the proposed legislation, we urge you to take the following actions:

1. Reject the current legislation, which is contrary to fact and distracts from the real issue: responsible ownership.

2. Work to establish reasonable guidelines for responsible pet ownership, and encourage legislation that supports owner responsibility without reference to specific breeds.

Study after study shows that ANY dog, regardless of breed, will be whatever its owner makes of it....nothing more, nothing less. Owners can and should take responsibility for their pets. We suggest that the appropriate policy is "blame the owner, not the dog." If a dog attacks a person, the law should treat it as though the owner attacked that person.

Voting for this proposal as it stands will harm both the law abiding, responsible dog owners and the victims, but it won't solve anything.

Respectfully,