Are We Blaming the Wrong End of the Leash?
“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” (LaPorte, Danielle)
Today, our society has found many ways to demolish the positivity of everything that crosses its path. One of these things happen to be an entire breed of dog, but it is not the first time. Dog breed discrimination has happened before with breeds including, but not limited to German Shepard's, Doberman's, Rottweiler's, and now Pit bulls. Though this kind of breed inspired discrimination has been around for years, it has now reached an all time low with the lives of Pit Bull's at stake.
Hero or Heroine?
Later down the road, and even currently, Pit Bulls became exceptional service dogs. Along side Labradors and Golden Retrievers, Pit Bulls are commonly used as therapy dogs. The breed has been deemed one of the most superb narcotics dogs in the United States. Also, they have been widely used as search and rescue dogs due to their keen since of smell and their strength and agility.
- One of the most popular myths about Pit Bulls is that they have a locking jaw upon attacks that cannot be undone. However, Pit Bulls do not have jaw formation differing from other breeds by any means. Like other big breeds, Pit Bulls exert a bite force of about 235 pounds per square inch; Rottweiler's exert the highest bite force at about 328 pounds per square inch.
- Pit Bulls have a low temperament making them less likely to attack without reason. For the past five years the ATTS (American Temperament Testing Society, Inc.) has recorded the temperament of Pit Bulls at 86.8 percent, ranking them right under Labrador Retrievers and above Golden Retrievers, Beagles, and Collies. In addition to this statistic, Pit Bulls also get tested multiple times throughout a year while all other breeds get tested no more than twice a year.
- A chemical imbalance causes Pit Bulls to be aggressive by nature. There is no chemical imbalance or enlarged brain issues that are present in this breed. No signs of any abnormal physical or chemical structures in the Pit Bull frame has been detected to cause aggression of any form.
Over the past five years I have seen a large number of stories covered by local and national news stations. Not to my surprise, they have been astonishingly negative; ending with the life of the dogs being taken followed by the reputation of the breed being further tarnished. Though the cases were sad and could have been prevented, one bad dog does not make a breed bad. There have been many heroic deeds done by the breed that should equally be shared to the public but ends up being tucked away or briefly shown. I feel as though the media should show the stories of the attacks being done by other breeds as well or follow up with the positives that Pit Bulls have also done; equal representation is key.
In August of 2008 over a four-day period there were four dog attacks. The media coverage on the four attacks were as follows:
- Day one, a Labrador attacked an elderly man resulting in him being hospitalized. The news covered his story with one article in the local newspaper.
- Day two, a mix-breed fatally injured a young child and the media ran two stories in the local newspaper.
- Day three, a mix-breed dog attacked a child resulting in him being hospitalized and only one article was reserved in the local newspaper.
- Day four, two Pit Bull's attacked a woman guarding her small dog, she was hospitalized and her dog was uninjured. The attack was reported in over 203 articles in national and international newspapers as well as broadcasted on several media news networks.
This kind of unequal representation aids in societies negative outlook on Pit Bulls as well as aids the fire behind Breed Specific Legislation.
Population observation statistics over the last three years have shown no evidence that Breed-Specific Legislation has made communities safer and lowered the amount of dog attacks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decided to strongly oppose the theory behind BSL due to the inaccuracy of "dog bite data" because a dog bite cannot be accurately linked to a specific breed especially when it comes to mixed breed dogs. Also, due to the high cost of enforcing Breed-Specific Legislation (roughly $250,000 per year) the CDC does not see enough evidence favoring the theory behind it to comply.
- Enhancing the enforcement of dog license laws
- Increase the availability of low-cost sterilizations
- Create breed-neutral laws based on the behaviors of the individual dog and their guardians
- Have graduated penalties and alternative living options for dogs deemed dangerous
- Create strict laws holding the dog's guardians financially responsible for not adhering to the dog laws
- Create laws holding the guardians civilly and criminally liable for any injuries and damages caused by their dog
- Uphold laws prohibiting the chaining, tethering, and other unreasonable confinements, including animal cruelty charges
- Community-based approach with up-to-date dog bite data and realistically enforceable laws
This type of breed discrimination is a national problem and is going to require people to work as a community to resolve the issue.