|Barked: Thu Dec 4, '08 6:20pm PST |
|Hey Portland pups,
You've probably all seen the recent media frenzy about pitbulls in the past few weeks. Since dogster is such a pit-friendly site, I'd like to assume that we're all on the same page about what great dogs pit bulls are. If we're not on the same page, well:
Did you know that in the month of October, 2008 alone:
-A 2 year old girl suffered a bite to the face by a golden retriever/lab mix?
-A policeman was taken to the hospital after being bitten on the hand and arm by a police canine?
-A dachshund was viciously attacked and killed by a police canine?
These are only a few of the dog-related incidents that you probably heard nothing about. One major reason?
The dogs weren't pit bulls.
Unfortunately for the dogs that were once America's favorite breed, the media is playing a major role in fueling the public's fear of pit bulls. Stories of pit bull attacks are sensational, and sensational stories sell. Often a dog attack that involves a dog that simply looks like a pit bull, or a dog that is a mix of a pit bull, is reported as a "pit bull attack". This not only skews statistics on dog bites, but creates an obscenely biased view of the breed in the public's eye. What the media fails to consider is that explicitly covering pit bull related incidents only makes it harder for responsible, caring people to own this loyal breed, while simultaneously making it even more attractive for irresponsible people to use and abuse this notably powerful dog.
That said, pit bulls are certainly a powerful breed. They are known for their excellence in weight pulling and their sleek muscular bodies. Yet pit bulls are obviously not the only powerful breed of dog, nor are they anywhere near as big or strong as some. While German Shepard Dogs, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers, for example, are all quite similar in size and strength to the "pit bull type dog", dogs such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, St. Bernards, and Bernese Mountain dogs dwarf pit bulls. Thanks to the media, you typically won't hear about it if these dogs attack, but the damage is no less. And, for the record, there is nothing about a pit bull's jaws that differs from the jaws of other dogs. Period.
One of the major factors influencing the number of dog bites per breed is the popularity of that breed at that time. Clearly, pit bull terriers are a popular breed, and, sadly, they are often popular with people who want dogs for the wrong reasons. In the seventies, the breed of choice for irresponsible dog owners was the Doberman Pinscher. In the eighties, it was the German Shepard Dog. Now, sadly, the breed of dog that was America's first dog to be decorated a war hero has taken the hit as the target for the most horrifying dog abuse and neglect in our country.
What good will it do to ban pit bulls? People who want guard dogs will not simply give up the idea of having dogs as protection. Another breed will become the choice for abuse, and the aggression will continue. Breed bans worldwide are being overturned because they have proven to be ineffective. The best way to control canine aggression is by assessing dogs as individuals, and by forcing owners' of aggressive dogs to safely control their dogs. Stricter laws for aggressive dogs of any breed and their owners make sense. Banning a dog based solely on its breed does not.
If dogs are supposed to be our best friends, then we must be theirs. Proper, positive training and thorough socialization are necessary for all dogs, regardless of their breed. It is past time for people to educate themselves about responsibly sharing our lives with dogs and demanding that all dogs are treated with kindness and respect. Blaming a breed of dog is doing neither of us any favors.
We need to let our legislators and our media know that we don't support BSL. Let your voice be heard and send out an email or two! Our dogs need us to speak for them and the time is now...
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