Massachussetts Might Ban Pit Bulls
Oddly enough nothing about other dangerous breeds such as rottweilers, at least in this article. And as an owner of both a pit bull and a rottweiler, I have to say that is indeed curious. After all, rottweilers are large powerful breeds, typically larger than most pit bulls (my rottweiler, female, weighs in at about 120 pounds). Rottweilers are working dogs and part of the job is guarding. As such they didn’t go through the same breeding process that sought to eliminate human aggression that pit bulls (American Pit Bull Terriers, and American Staffordshire Terriers) went through. And female rottweilers are noted for being somewhat territorial. Not that I advocate breed specific legislation aimed at any large breed powerful dog such as rottweilers.
The problem with these laws is that they treat the symptom and not the problem. When you look at dog related fatalities statistics you’ll see that over time the number of fatalities attributed to a given breed changes. At one time St. Bernard’s were considered the big ferocious dog (could this be why Cujo was a St. Bernard and not a pit bull or rottweiler?). Dobermans, German Shepherds have also been in the “hot seat” as the “dangerous breed” that will kill a baby on sight. So the idea that we can simply ban a breed and dog related fatalities will decline is probably specious reasoning considering that the number of dog related fatalities tends to be vary only slightly over time.
So what is the problem? Bad owners. The owner who gets a dog and puts in the back yard and then only sees the dog when they feed and water it. The owner who wants a dog to protect his property and or person and fulfill the role as a family pet. The worst of all is the owner who wants a vicious dog for either fighting or to intimidate others. Ban a breed and kill all dogs of that breed and these owners will simply move on to another breed. The chow-chow, the akita, the bull mastiff, the cane corso, etc. Until the issue of bad owners is addressed the problem with dog related fatalities and dog bites will not change.
For example, we took our dogs to the UCLA Festival of Books. This event draws in thousands of people to the UCLA campus. While there we saw other people with dogs too. Most were small lap dogs. While we were walking amongst the booths there were indeed issues with dogs…other people’s dogs. A bichon friese type dog wanted to try going up against my pit bull. This dog was in a frenzy to get at my pit. I have taught my pit bull, Petunia, that such aggressive behavior displeases me, so she ignored the yappy little monster. Later while walking down the hill near Janss Steps a pomeranian like dog went bonkers and aggressively charged my rottweiler. Later a pug decided that it would start barking and acting very aggressively as my pit bull passed by. In all cases my dogs were very well behaved and the cute little cuddle “safe” dogs were the ones going psychotic.1
Or answer this question: My son has been around a german shepherd, a rottweiler, rottweiler mix, shih tzu, a golden retriever, golden lab, and a pit bull. Guess which one bit him on the cheek?
Then there is a more disconcerting problem with the arguments for banning specific breeds of dog. The argument is that a dog is considered dangerous/vicious simply by the fact that it belongs to a given breed. There is no attempt to judge the dog as an individual. Now, take a look at crime statistics by race, and as Michael Graham noted, you should find yourself in a very uncomfortable place.
1To be sure, my dog has a problem with dog aggression. But unlike most dog owners I keep a close eye on my dog when I know another dog is around. At the first sign that Petunia is getting wound up, I will let her know not too. Usually all that is needed is putting my hand on her head and saying, “No,” other times a sit command can stop her. These other owners, they do everything wrong. They don’t know another dog is near them until their dog is in a frenzy. Then they start tugging on the leash, pick up the dog and start giving affection to the dog. This merely reinforces that kind of behavior. Dogs usually get affection when they do something right (e.g. follow a command).