Michelle Mendoza, Master’s student – 2022

Legislation & policy targeting bully dog breeds – justified or not?

Michelle is a passionate animal lover who is especially enamoured with pit bulls, which actually consist of three breeds (American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American pit bull terriers) and other so-called bully-breed dogs. She is concerned about how their negative reputations influence legislation and policy. Indeed, keeping pit bulls can be quite the polarising issue, with advocates and opponents prone to misusing facts to make their cases. Michelle is digging into this for her master’s thesis.

By combining a review of the literature, with quantitative and qualitative social science, she will get at the justification for such legislation and policy. Are these breeds of dogs really more aggressive than other breeds and, if so, why? How do pet owners and other stakeholders understand and speak about the controversy, and what are their views on the merits of such legislation? How do the media portray the issues, and to what extent are the portrayals evidence-based? These are the key questions Michelle is attempting to answer.

Michelle hopes to graduate by summer 2022 and enter vet med (she now works as a veterinary technician in Jamaica, Queens). Michelle is pictured with Taz – her own lovely pit bull.