Stacie Tamaki, a Dogster member and guardian of Kitai, returns as our guest blogger.
What You as a Pet Owner Can Do
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to assume that all dogs who bite or maul were trained to do so. The truth is that many dogs who bite, dare I say the vast majority, were never trained to be aggressive. They’re pets who became aggressive because they were either neglected and/or under-socialized. Another often overlooked type of dog who bites is the spoiled pet. Often these dogs know no boundaries. While many dogs receive no training or boundaries and the worst they will ever do is bark a lot or demand attention, there are some who will go further and develop fear, possession and territorial aggression issues. Make no mistake, though these pets are loved and pampered they are just as capable of biting as any other dog.
That said, Lisa and I agree that the most important thing all of us can do to halt the spread of BSL is for each of us as dog owners, regardless of the breed, to make sure our own pets are properly socialized and on leashes, especially in cities where the law requires them to be. Letting your dog sit in your front yard untethered is creating a scenario where your dog could bite someone or another animal walking down the street as well as run into traffic and get hit by a car. I implore you, please don’t set your pup up to fail. If it doesn’t have 100% voice recall? Don’t let it off leash. If you have a dog that you think could or would bite someone or another animal if given the opportunity? Learn how to use a basket muzzle when you take your dog out in public. Learn about behavior modification, consult a dog behaviorist, and begin basic obedience training with the help of a professional. Socializing and training both take time, but the sooner you start? The sooner your own pet will become part of the solution and not be part of the dog bite problem.
Equally important is always to speak out when you hear of BSL being proposed, even if it isn’t in your city or state. Send emails and letters to council people and legislators; call them if you don’t have time to write. If BSL is being proposed in your local community, attend city council meetings and speak up. Advocate for the dogs. Calmly and respectfully offer alternatives like the ones listed above. If nobody says anything the laws will pass unchallenged. It’s up to all of us to protect both our pets and communities while at the same time bringing an end to BSL.