Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pit Bull ban punishes dogs and people for the crimes of bad owners

Personal comment transcript from this episode of The Web-DVM:

My personal comment this week has to do with the results of our most recent web poll about what the future fate of pit bulls should be in this country, posted in the wake of several counties across the nation imposing bans on ownership of pit bulls. The choices regarding their fate were 1.) Pit Bulls Are inherently dangerous dogs that should be banned, 2.) Pits can be as gentle as any other breed when raised in a loving, caring environment, but made dangerous by bad people that raise them to be that way - and therefore should not be banned, and finally, 3.) Pits are not inherently dangerous dogs, but because they can be trained to be very dangerous when raised by the wrong people, special permits should be required for ownership. The results were as follows: 25% agreed that as inherently dangerous dogs pits should be banned, 25% agreed that they are no more inherently dangerous any other dog breed when raised in the right environment and therefore should not be banned, and the remaining 50% of participants felt that they should not be banned, but because they can be trained in such a manner that they can be very dangerous, special permits should be required for pit bull ownership.

I personally do not agree with any of these web poll choices in their entirety. Pit Bulls are not inherently dangerous dogs as evidenced by the countless numbers of Pits I see as patients that are as gentle and loving as the sweetest of any family dogs in the hands of loving and caring owners. It is true that a higher percentage of these dogs seem to have a greater potential to exhibit aggression toward other dogs, probably due to this trait having been favored in many of their breeding lines, but they still do not even approximate the dog aggressive potential of Jack Russell Terriers, Chihuahuas, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, and many other breeds known for their propensity to not play well with their own kind. Yet no one is calling for the banning of all of these other breeds.

This issue is not really about a particular breed of dog, as any dog raised with torment and cruelty has the potential to be raised to be dangerous. It just so happens that due to the extraordinary strength of pit bulls, more so than most other breeds, they are raised in this fashion for fighting in a ring for profit, or to be kept for intimidation to protect homes or businesses. This issue really then is more about holding dog owners accountable for the fate of their dogs, regardless of breed, period.

I did a report on the city of Calgary, Canada on the old radio show some time ago, that highlighted the progressive nature of their animal control program, and how it starts with holding the pet owner primarily accountable for what becomes of their pets. In Calgary, every dog must have a license and microchip so that if it is found repeatedly loose in a neighborhood, having bitten someone, having attacked another dog, eliminated on public or others' private property, abused or abandoned, the owner is held accountable in the court of law.

If a dog is found to not have both a license and microchip, stiff fines are imposed. When they are found to not be responsible pet owners, they are fined and even jailed. To decrease unwanted animals and the tragedy of overcrowded shelters and euthanasia due to overpopulation, licenses for unaltered animals costs a great deal more than licenses for those spayed and neutered.

The result of their program? It works. They absolutely put any single US city to shame with regard to having dramatically lower rates of homeless dogs, dog bites, unwanted dogs, and euthanasia due to overcrowded shelters. Law enforcement in Calgary has the tools to trace dogs raised to be aggressive and left loose to terrorize neighborhoods back to the owners, to place the punishment where it belongs - the irresponsible human idiots that put dogs in these circumstances.

To try to make the country safer from the consequences of irresponsible and even sadistic dog ownership is asinine! A ban on a breed of dog punishes the thousands of responsible and caring Pit Bull owners that have well adjusted, sweet family dogs, whose loss from an absurd ban would be devastating and tragic. The source of this problem is not a breed, it is a species, the human species. It is time to follow Calgary's lead and start holding them accountable.


pw1974 said...

Right on, Doc! All the Pits I have known were big mushy goofballs, because they were raisd by the right kinds of people.

Concerned Parent said...

I understand these arguments - this it is not the breed, it is the idiot humans that either are irresponsible or sinister with these dogs that cause the problem. BUT, this is little consulation to the mother of a child who is killed or maimed by one of these dogs.

You are also right that they are not the only breed that can be made aggressive, raised irresponsibly or with alice. But they are more powerful and capabale of inflicting serious injury than most breeds out there. Therefore, I amo not certain how I feel about how to approach this situation, but I do not think I would be terribly upset if they were not allowed in my neighborhood.

Concerned Parent said...

Correction, I meant "malice", not "alice."

Sorry about my horrible typing!

Roger L. Welton, DVM said...

Banning the breed still does not do anything about the core problem, the people who own dogs irresponsibly Once Pits are gone, they will adopt Rotweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, or any other number of dogs that can be dangerous as the result of poor socialization, neglect, abuse, and/or lack of restraint.

Banning Pits to solve the problem will do nothing more than give you a false sense of security, while local law makers will pat themselves on the back thinking they have have actually accomplished something, and bad owners continue to be allowed to be bad owners.

Anonymous said...

I personally think banning the breed is asinine. Its like trying to ban guns just because the "wrong" people can get ahold of them. Its the BREED of PEOPLE that need to be banned & punished. Like Dr Welton said, these types of people will adopt other dogs that have to potential to be dangerous as well, and/or still own & breed pit bulls... just illegally... I agree that something should be done. But I believe that "something" should be a huge crackdown on the idiots that posses these dogs.

pw1974 said...

Comparing living, breathing, family members to inanimate deadly weapons?? Look, I am all for second ammendment rights, but your comparison really furthers the notion that domestic dogs are simply property that should even be under consideration for banning.

And while alot of people would be pretty PO'd about losing their guns to banning, feel that their rights have been stomped on, but still a far cry from losing your best friend and family member.

But I am glad you are on my side, however "interesting" your logic is.

Jan said...

I don't know pw, there are some of those NRA gun loons out there that hold their guns in pretty high regard, maybe even on the level of their wives, children, and certainly their dogs. I know a few that I would wager would make love to their guns if they could find a way.

You should not underestimate what guns mean to some "interesting" people.

On another note, I agree that consideration of dogs as property does further the justification that they can be banned like Cuban Cigars, Steroids in Baseball, and yes, Guns.

russ said...

I have pit bulls and guns. I have never broken the law, and never even tried to hurt anyone or any living animal. So I am not going to let anyone take either my guns or pit bulls any from me. Why should we punish good people because some people are bad.

If that is the reson. Then we should ban cars and alcohol. If you do the research, more people are killed in DUI crashes than all other murders combined.

It is time to punish bad people and make people responsible for there own actions without excuses

russ said...

I misspelled I wanted to type " I am not going to let anyone take either from me" ooooops

russ said...

One more thing. If pitbulls are banned the people who fight the dogs are still going to fight them. It is illegal to fight them now. these poeple are going to bread them in there basement or garage just like they do now

Anonymous said...

Yeah, sorry for the "bad analogy" it wasn't meant to be taken so literally... but I agree with Russ, banning the breed (or guns, or alcohol, or Cuban cigars, or even steroids in baseball for that matter) is not going to fix anything. The only way in my opinion is to "crack down" on the perpetrators. No matter what is "banned" the people that "abuse" anything, whether it be a living family member (dog) or alcohol or anything else, there will still be a way to do it, and it will still be done it just won't be legal and it only punishes the good members of society that are responsible people...