Monday, February 2, 2009

Dogs, even pit bulls, are like people

By Traci Durant
Guest Columnist
Sunday, February 1, 2009

The banning of dangerous breeds of dogs needs to be rethought. All dogs of one specific breed are not dangerous, vicious or aggressive, and pit bull is the main breed everyone looks at. I work at a veterinary clinic and see plenty of dogs of all breeds, including pit bull, and out of all the pit bulls that come through either to board or for exams, I have only come across two that were considered aggressive or dangerous. Most of the dogs that come in snapping or growling are not of the so-called vicious breed; they are just afraid or old and cranky.

Not all pit bulls are vicious, aggressive and dangerous. Every animal is unpredictable; I have seen dogs of nonvicious breeds that live together since being puppies become aggressive and vicious toward each other. I myself have owned a lot of dogs, including Doberman pinschers, German shepherds, pit bulls and strays (mix breeds) that were dumped. More than 50 percent of all our dogs were strays and of the so-called vicious breeds. We have never had any of our dogs become vicious, aggressive or turn on other dogs or us; not even the strays that we didn't know anything about. All they wanted was a good home, and that is what they got.

Most people want to say that it's not the owner or the dog's living environment that turns the dog, but in most cases it is. It's the way the owner acts toward the dog and the way the owner treats or neglects the dog. Some people get animals and don't want to take the responsibility. Sometimes it's not the owner's fault, but fault could also be placed upon other people or neighborhood children that come by to be irritating: screaming, hitting the fence, poking sticks at the dog or trying to get their own dogs to bark and charge the fence at the dog on the other side. In some ways, animals are like people, and people are like animals by the way we act. When a person or an animal gets pushed so far, they are going to push back. In reality, people are more vicious than animals. If a person is neglected or mistreated, he or she is going to do something for attention or to get back at the world, and yet we don't ban them. They just get a so-called slap on the wrist.

It doesn't matter what breed the dog is, it should not be banned from city limits, but instead there should be certain requirements for owning so-called vicious breeds. Requirements that present and future owners must meet, such as proper fencing and ties (no chains) in yards if the dogs jump fences, but dogs still must have plenty of time to roam the whole yard. Proper warning signs if needed for watch, protection or so-called vicious dogs. All dogs of the so-called vicious breeds must at least take a certified obedience class to train and socialize the dog with other dogs and people. Owners can only own two or three of the same breed if the breed is categorized as a so-called vicious breed. Special requirements for breeders who house more than two breeding dogs of the so-called vicious breeds must have proper privacy fencing, proper kennels or housing for the dogs and absolutely no chains or ties.

I currently own a pit bull (far from vicious) along with a border collie, who my pit bull has always gotten along with. She had never seen my sister's dog (a miniature pinscher) or my parents' dogs (five Chihuahuas, a blue heeler mix and a Labrador-rottweiler mix), and she never once tried to snap, bite or charge at the other dogs. All she wanted to do was sniff and play. My pit bull has never been aggressive or vicious toward anyone. I have even taken her to meet my grandmother, and she loved all over her. I also took my pit bull to the balloon festival last fall, and not once did she bark or growl at anyone.

Both my pit bull and border collie do bark at people they don't know that may be a threat to me, and that is one thing I will always want in any dog I own because I feel safe no matter where I go. No matter what happens or where I live, I will never give up my dogs.

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