There is a movement in our country to implement the banning of a dog breed known as the Pitt Bull Terrier, due to claims by proponents of this policy that these dogs are innately dangerous to society. A recent web poll posted on the Web-DVM, polling visitors on whether these canines should be banned, yielded the following results:
Of 172 visitors that participated in the poll,
- 35% voted Yes
- 55% voted No
- 10% voted Not Sure
Having treated literally thousands of Pit Bulls in my career as a small animal practitioner, I find this trend to be unfair and disturbing. The vast majority of Pits that I have and continue to come across in my job are friendly and gentle. Raised with love and humanity, Pits have every potential to be loving family dogs as any other popular breeds we deem socially acceptable. They are not by nature mean and violent animals, but overwhelmingly seem quite the opposite.
Pitt Bulls become a danger to society when they are purposely tormented and brutalized into being violent animals by sociopathic individuals who view the dogs as a means to elevate their status by having vicious dogs protect their property, or to make them money by cruelly fighting these animals with one another. It is the despicable human element that creates monsters where there were once innocent animals with the potential to make loving pets. Even in a pro Pitt Bull banning article written by Brian C. Anderson, on City-Journal.org, in the the third sentence of the article the author wrote this:
"Pit-bull owners had converted the little park in front of our apartment building into a dog-training ground, where they goaded their animals into attacking one another or taught them to hang from tree branches to strengthen their jaws and their tenacity. Not surprisingly, when the dogs were running wild, the neighborhood's young mothers gathered up their children and fled."
While the theme of this article is pro Pit Bull banning, this man clearly underscores my point that it is bad people that create the dangerous dogs.
Why must the dogs and the people that raise and love these dogs into being great family pets pay for the sins of the dregs of society that make a sport of cruelly transforming Pits into dangerous dogs? What happens to a family that absolutely loves their Pit Bull as a member of their family, when suddenly their municipality unjustly deems their dog dangerous and illegal? As heartbreaking and tragic as that may seem to those of us who love our dogs as important members of our families, that could be a reality in many towns in our country if this this trend continues.
Rather than blame the dogs for their irresponsible, often cruel treatment, we need to hold the people who mistreat them accountable for the consequences. Search and prosecution of these people needs to be more aggressive. Penalties need to be more severe, and the media needs to care more. Municipalities need to be more serious about licensing and microchipping of these dogs.
Make no mistake, if our local governments are successful in ridding our country of Pit Bulls altogether without dealing with the people that abuse these animals to do their violent bidding, the cruel people who were not ever held accountable will simply find another breed to terrorize.
Roger L. Welton, DVM