Breed Bans

By Erin Lale

Today when people talk about breed bans, they’re usually talking about pit bulls. Owning pit bulls is still legal in Nevada, but there are bans elsewhere. All dogs can bite. Responsible owners give their dogs obedience training, and supervise them around small children and other animals. When pit bulls are trained as fighting dogs, their owners train them to attack other dogs. That is hardly the fault of genetics.

Other dog breeds demonized in the past include Rottweilers and German Shepherds, which today are ubiquitous as police dogs. But some states have breed bans against cats.

I got my Bengal Cat, Beni-Wan Cat-Obi, by joining a Bengal Cat breed rescue website, and when I saw the one I wanted, I contacted the advertiser, which was the no-kill shelter 9th Life Hawaii, and applied to adopt him. Since his breed is illegal in Hawaii, the shelter ships Bengals to the mainland for adoption. As I pointed out in the Cool Cat Campaign Commercial, which aired during my run for Nevada State Assembly in 2010, if Beni had been picked up by a public, tax-supported shelter he would have been destroyed as unadoptable.

It was his good fortune, and mine, that he happened to be picked up by a privately funded no-kill shelter.

Nevada is one of only 17 States where the Bengal Cat is legal to own. States that ban the Bengal Cat generally justify it by saying it is not really a domestic cat because it has some wild ancestry from the Asian Leopard Cat, Felis b=Bengalensis, from which came the Bengal name.

Bengal Cats are recognized as domestic cats by the major cat fancy organizations. They are bred for a human-friendly temperament. The Asian Leopard Cat is a small wild cat and the Bengal Cat is the same size as the common domestic cat. Mixed-breed domestic shorthair cats are genetically the same species as their wild ancestor, felis lybica, the African wild cat.

Breed bans are based on irrational fear, not science, and are not an appropriate use of government force.

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