Has no one else noticed that the vast majority of “pit bull” attacks have been caused by dogs running at large? News flash: Responsible owners do not let their dogs roam at will. Bad things can happen when a dog is out on his/her own. And owners who care about their companions don’t take this chance. The sheer fact that these dogs are unsupervised and uncontained should be the first clue that this is an owner issue.
Unlike the BSL fanatics, I don’t believe we have a breed problem. I think that we may well have a people problem. According to the study released a couple of years ago, the main causative reasons for serious and/or fatal dog attacks had little to do with breed…but much to do with human failings.
- Dogs running at large
- Dogs chained or kenneled in the yard with little or no human interaction
- Dogs who are untrained
- Dogs who are unsocialized
- Dogs who are abused/neglected
- Dogs who are not considered family members but who are guard, protection or yard dogs
- Dogs who have never developed a positive relationship with humans
We fail dogs every day. Many are abused, neglected, starved, chained, beaten and unsocialized. But just as problematic are the owners who coddle, spoil and neglect to train their dogs. Dogs are not people. Dogs don’t speak human languages. Dogs are amazing companions, but humans have to be willing to do the right thing for and by them.
Bad owners will be bad owners until they decide to change. It doesn’t matter if pit bull type dogs are banned. Bad owners will just get another dog. A lab forced to live his life at the end of a chain, beaten and abused, is just as dangerous as any dog the haters want to ban.
We need safe communities. We need to know our children aren’t in danger from vicious dogs. So…instead of putting our money and efforts into breed bans, why don’t we work towards passing laws that will have lasting consequences for all dogs?
- Pass abuse/neglect laws that have some teeth in them, and enforce them. Abused/neglected dogs are much more likely to have behavioral problems.
- Anti-chaining ordinances. Some countries state that if a dog is chained outside for more than an hour, it is considered animal abuse. But aside from that, we KNOW chained dogs are more deadly than ones who are not.
- Free or low cost spay/neuter services. Unneutered male dogs cause most dog attacks. And although some people think that mandatory spay/neuter laws are the way to go….they can actually make the problem worse. Dogs will not receive critical socialization, training or medical care if the owners can’t afford to neuter their animal. Instead, they will keep the animal hidden away, causing some major behavioral issues.
- Free or low cost puppy socialization classes. Dogs do not have the ability to easily generalize. By getting them out and exposing them to new things when they are young and impressionable, you are helping make sure they are emotionally healthy and safe to be around.
- Free or low cost training classes. Dogs who are well-trained know what is expected of them. Rarely do you see aggression problems in dog who have been lovingly trained.
- Dog safety classes in every grade school We KNOW that these classes have a profound affect on bite statistics. Communities which have classes in their schools have seen an 80% drop in reportable dog bites….after one 1/2 hour class. Every single child should know the basics of dog interactions.
- Pet food banks. Starving dogs are more likely to be reactive, especially if food is involved. A food bank can help make sure dogs receive enough to eat.
There will always be people who point at a breed of dog and claim that is the problem. If X breed was removed from society, all of our problems would disappear. They are not being rational, critically thinking individuals. Instead of wasting time arguing with them….let’s work together to make lasting change that is good for all of us.