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.