Dangerous Dogs….& ‘Pit Bulls’

Must have been a slow news day in Chicago. A guy jogging in a south side patk was attacked by—-dangerous dogs….well…they were idenfied as Pit Bulls. They probably were pit bulls, but in  televised news reports, I did notice that the terminology used was….dangerous dogs.

A dog groomer friend worries that there will be another push for a breed ban.  I am sure she is not the only  dog lover wondering if this will  be put into play again.  So, let’s address what a dangerous dog is:  it’s the dog not under control of the owner (hey—could that be your cuddly dog? ).

As a  dog groomer, I see a lot of pit bulls just because a lot of people want to rescue a dog in a shelter, and in a major market city, there are more Pit Bulls in shelters than any other type of dog. Why?  They are bred by the  backyard breeders.  You know them:  friends of friends, your brother, your cousin—the tough guys who  barely graduated high school, or might have gotten a couple of years of college. They might even identify themselves as (a religion), but  clearly are influences by style, fashion, friends. They never read, but someone told them…they could make a lot of money breeding their dogs. But they don’t consider themselves breeders because they —what? Don’t have a separate kennel building? Don’t have a breeding license? Aren’t inspected?  Aren’t making a living (just beer & cigarette money)?  Why don’t they consider themselves breeders?  They own the mommy dog  (the dam) at the time she whelps the puppies. That’s what a  breeder is.

So, with all those Pits,  and them being TERRIERS…  the statistical odds are that  the macho doofuses of the world who want a tough appearing dog, will get a couple, NOT TRAIN THEM, not have control over them, and, because they are  Pit Bulls, because of the way they are built, IF they attack someone, they will do real damage.  But, so will just about any terrier,  or any  angry dog.

Every year, I shop for home owners insurance, and in addition to being asked my zip code & if I have a flat roof. I am asked it I own: Boxers, Bulldogs, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Pit Bulls, Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Akitas, Bull Terriers,  Bull Mastiffs,Cane Corso (really…)  Presa Canario, Dogo Argentino, or Mastiffs.  I don’t own those breeds.  &. it is not that those dogs bite more people–-it is that the owners of those dogs get sued more.

Notice, Belgian Malinois, Tervuren, Beauceron, Black Russian Terriers, Giant Schnauzers, Chow Chows,Scottish Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, American Cocker Spaniels are  not on the list.  Yet, ask any groomer what they get bitten by:  It’s actually the smaller dogs, and many will not groom Lhasas or Chows.

Talk to an emergency room nurse in a hospital in or near a major city, and ask what breed is implicated  when children come in to be treated for dog bites—often, it is Labrador Retrievers!  Those are what there are the most of in suburban areas!  &, I maintain that if the cockers & the tiny designer dogs looked like Pit Bulls—there would be a move to ban them!

So, the bottom line is…you  are not solving the problem by banning breeds.

One of my favorite writers, Malcolm Gladwell, wrote an article called The Trouble Makers, for the New Yorker magazine ( http://www.gladwell.com/2006/2006_02_06_a_pitbull.html ) . It was published in the February 6, 2006 edition.  He thoroughly discusses what the problem is:  bad owners. Yet, for some reason, our elected officials, whom we over pay to govern us with integrity, can’t manage to make the owning  of dangerous dogs not worth it by  legislating fines that would make the owner pay for all the damage the dangerous dogs do! (They also let  pedophiles out of jail before they are dead, to make room for the marijuana smokers.  Makes perfect sense).

Making the owners of these dogs pay for all the damages (which would, in effect, make them economic slaves) would  ultimately make the problem go away.  See…not all the owners  of dangerous dogs live in zip codes where they are NOT ALLOWED  to own dangerous dogs, or they don’t have home owners insurance.  Or, the landlord is a slumlord living overseas, & doesn’t give a shit, as long as the  guy pays his rent.

Another thing that would help is for all of us who love animals  to make sure that  kids in lower income communities (these are the kids most ignored when it comes to good information about dogs) get  humane education in the primary grades.  It can be part of a reading, or social studies program. In Chicago, we have http://www.safehumaneChicago.org  It’s an uphill battle.  It’s up to us—who love dogs, to fight it.


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