Imagine the town of Ledyard outlawing your dog. Imagine watching helplessly as Fido is declared dangerous and unwelcome. Imagine scrambling to relocate him to somewhere outside of Ledyard. For pit bull owners across the United States and Canada, this legal and emotional nightmare is becoming a reality as cities one after the other pass breed-specific legislation.
Breed-specific legislation bans one type of dog, most commonly pit bulls, for posing a threat to public safety. Over 937 American cities have implemented breed-specific legislation, including Denver, Miami and Cincinnati. According to an organization called Ban Pit Bulls, “All pit bulls have the potential to attack people without warning. The majority of pit bulls are ‘rescued’ and their background is unknown.” However, their reasoning falls short when looked at from a logical, statistical and humane point of view.
Statistically, more Americans die from falling out of bed each year (approx. 450) than from a pitbull attack (approx. 3). Therefore, banning pit bulls is useless and irrelevant. Instead of providing for public safety as intended, the ban is just inhumane to hundreds of innocent dogs who are pulled from their homes and sent away unnecessarily.
“All pit bulls have the potential to attack without warning.” That is true. But don’t all dogs have that same potential? The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) holds that “Behavior develops through a complex interaction between environment and genetics. This is an especially important consideration when we look at an individual dog versus a breed.”
It is true that some breeds are inherently more aggressive than others. Pit bulls were originally bred to be fighting dogs, and they are unfortunately still notorious for their use in illegal dog fighting. However, hostile dogs are ultimately raised to be hostile. At the same time, compassionate dogs are raised to be loving. A pit bull, as well as any other breed of dog, can become either. Causes of aggression in dogs include, “Owners failing to humanely contain, control and maintain their dogs (chained dogs, loose roaming dogs, cases of abuse/neglect),” as identified by Karen Delise, director of research for the National Canine Research Council and author of Fatal Dog Attacks.
Thus, it is unfair to call out the entire pit bull breed. If public safety is truly an issue, instead of breed-specific legislation, education and leash laws should be considered. These would place more responsibility on dog owners to make sure their animals don’t pose a ‘threat to society’.
“All dogs, including pit bulls, are individuals. Treating them as such, providing them with the care, training and supervision they require, and judging them by their actions and not by their DNA or their physical appearance is the best way to ensure that dogs and people can continue to share safe and happy lives together,” said ASPCA.
Rachel Kane, Staff Writer
Junior Rachel Kane is a staff writer for the 2016-2017 Colonel. Aside from playing varsity soccer and tennis, she is also the secretary of Tri-M and dances outside of school.