Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Why breed-specific laws don't work

They don't work because they don't seek to get to the root of the actual problem: irresponsible pet owners.

I live very near Spotsylvania County where an 82 year old woman and her dog were killed by 3 pit bulls last August. Like the shark attacks a few years ago, this caused the media to put a spotlight on pits and other *dangerous dogs* when they attacked someone or something. In Suffolk shortly after Dorothy Sullivan's death, a 4 year old boy was mauled when he wandered into his backyard where a pit bull had been chained. In Orange County somewhere around that same time, a 2 year old boy had wandered into his backyard where the family's rotteweiler was chained.

Interestingly enough, one Don Bauermeister, who helped get pits banned in Council Bluffs, Iowa, admitted that by November 2005, there had only been 12 homicides by pits and pit-mixes. Sure, you're asking, Only?, but when you look at the much larger picture and that the number 12 represents a mere 10% of the current pit bull population, yes, it's an only.

Have we started a war on black labrador's, especially since one mauled the woman who is now the first ever recipient of a face transplant?

Ms. Dinoire described how she awoke to discover her horrible disfigurement after her black Labrador chewed off the lower part of her face while she was unconscious from taking sleeping pills last May.
I find it contradictory how the two dogs have been treated in the media. Had her face been mauled by a pit, german shepherd, rottie or doberman pinscher, there would have been a witch hunt doggie style.

Admittedly, pits do have a bad history because they were originally bred for fighting. However, banning the breed doesn't mean the problem will go away, because those persons intent on mishandling pits or any other dogs will simply choose a dog not on the list.

So, once again, to all who scream that pits are bad (like Kerry Dougherty), remember that problems such as this are almost always bigger than they seem and quick fixes rarely work.

Anectode: My ex-husband is one of these irresponsible owners and I don't think he should have anymore dogs ever. However, he is also one those people who like to have pits purely for the status symbol. Right now he's got 3. All are kept in a crate 24/7, only let out to go to the bathroom and maybe for some brief exercise time. I've been trying to find a way to either get them to the SPCA/Humane Society or get them to better homes all without his cooperation. Sadly, what he's doing isn't illegal because they're being fed/watered and they've had some shots.

So if we want to get at the real problem, start passing laws that will convict people like my ex-husband of animal cruelty with the punishment of jail time and a hefty fine for each count.

(Which some states have done, btw. If you read the very first link, it gives you that info. Virginia has a non-breed specific law that allows persons to control dangerous dogs, which also allows individual cities or towns to decide how to regulate dangerous or vicious dogs. Actually holding owners accountable is a law still being debated.)

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