Tuesday, January 27, 2009
A vicious, frightening, deadly attacker is living in your home as a family pet. Around your children, your daughters, your sons—The attacker?
A pit bull.
If you categorize pit bulls in this way and believe the breed to be inherently violent, I don’t blame you. Why wouldn’t you?
A 9-year-old boy in Delaware was attacked by pit bulls this past Friday. A 12-year-old girl in Milwaukee had a chunk of her eyebrow ripped off by a pit bull.
And no--neither child was reported to be taunting the dog.
So, why not just ban pit bulls altogether? This would solve the problem. Rid cities and towns of these troublemakers. Punish the breed.
Better yet, let’s ban labs, too. Let’s ban Marley. After the UK woman lost her face to a lab attack, of course we should.
Sound ridiculous? Of course it does, because breed-banning is not the answer.
Several U.S. cities have banned pit bulls, like Denver, Co., to fight dog attacks. A suburb in Milwaukee is now facing similar legislation. But, what these laws really do is punish the innocent animal, rather than the negligent, irresponsible owners.
Regardless of the type of dog you own, their temperament is dependent on your training and ownership. I am from the school of thought that it’s not the breed alone that controls your dog’s actions, but the training.
Whether you have a dachshund, a yorkie, a Rottweiler or German shepherd, if you train your dog to fight, to bite, to attack, to defend, it will. And when it does defend and attack a neighbor, which breed do you think will do the most damage?
Probably not the yorkie.
In a study by the University of Pennsylvania regarding aggressive dog breeds, the “tough-guy” breeds, like the pit bull and Rottweiler, didn’t even round out the top three. Who made it tops? Who is most aggressive? The Dachshund--followed by the Chihuahua, according to the study.
But, when a dachshund snaps or bites, it may not be reported. The injury is probably not life-threatening or disfiguring.
Right now, there is no reliable data regarding which breed is more likely to bite or has bitten most.
Still, in 1979-1998, pit bull type breeds were listed in a CDC report as being responsible for more bite-related deaths.
What does this say about pit bulls? It says, when it does attack with its strong jaws and pure strength, the injury or aftermath is more likely to be harmful enough or frightening enough that the attack gets reported. Plus, it also attests to the fact that pit bulls are bred, in many instances, for dog fighting.
If you have ever taken a look at the dogs available for adoption here in Philadelphia, you see a majority are pit bulls or pit bull mixes. From my visits to animal shelters, I have encountered these dogs, and many unfortunately have clipped ears, which is a sure sign of fight-training.
When they are trained to be aggressive, few, if any, people want them. A second chance is not likely and another pit bull stereotype is born.
And yes, we do know there are pit bull owners out there who are properly training their dogs and would tell you how sweet and loyal the breed truly is.
This is not to say you should run out and adopt a pit bull. This isn't to say you should run out and adopt any particular breed. You must first evaluate your dog experience, your training style, your lifestyle, etc. The breed may not be for everyone.
But, whether or not you would or could own a pit bull, they should not be seen as violent beings. Legislation needs to be put in place, which regulates an owner’s actions and responsibility, rather than lashing out at just one breed in particular.
Plus, ban one breed and irresponsible owners will move on to another breed to “toughen up.” Pretty soon, we’d be left to ban Marley--and who would want to do that?