AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was originally written earlier today and since then I have learned that nothing is underway to restrict any specific breed. I do, however, still have the same questions. Read below.
How does government legislate values? Aren’t the values of a pet owner the issue when considering a ban on a specific breed? Legislating a ban such as this is profiling, pure and simple.
When the media and others say that pit bulls are dangerous, they are making a generalization, just as insurance companies use generalizations when they charge young men more for car insurance. Doctors too, use generalizations when they tell overweight middle-aged men to monitor their cholesterol, even though many of the men in the middle-aged and overweight category won’t experience heart trouble
Because we don’t know what breed of dog will bite someone, who will have a heart attack, or which young man will get into an accident, predictions are made by generalizing. Here’s a generalization: Dobermans, Great Danes, German shepherds, and Rottweilers are frequent biters, and the dog that mauled a Frenchwoman so badly a few years ago that she was given the world’s first face transplant was a Labrador retriever. With this information, how does government go about banning only one breed of dog? It certainly has not been successful in either Denver or Detroit.
The media contributes to Pit Bull profiling as well. While interviewing a man whose two pets had been killed by the police who recently raided the wrong house, an MSNBC reporter said “…wow…and your dogs weren’t even trained Pit Bulls.” Emotionally charged comments such as these only fuel the fire about Pit Bulls, especially since the dogs in question were Black Labs and not Bully breed dogs.
Pit-bulls aren’t a single breed! The American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier, and the American pit bull terrier, who have a square and muscular body, a short snout, and a sleek, short-haired coat, are all tossed into the general Pit Bull category. Bully breed dogs have characteristics that some consider “troublesome.” Their gameness, determination, and insensitivity to pain are nearly always directed toward other dogs. Pit bulls are not bred to fight humans; in actuality, a fighting dog that goes after spectators, its handler, or the trainer, is put down.
The Bully breed dogs have been called the “babysitter dog” because their temperament is one of devotion. In fact, many of the dogs rescued from the Michael Vick compound were found to be gentle and safe and have been adopted into homes with children. One of those dogs is now a therapy dog.
And finally, you should be aware of this information, excerpted from a February 2006 issue of The New Yorker, and written by Malcolm Gladwell:
“In the case of the young boy who was attacked in Ottawa several years ago, the dogs in question were un-neutered, ill-trained, and charged-up by the child’s screaming and advances. These dogs had a history of aggression, and an 18 year-old, irresponsible owner with a pile of citations about the dogs.
Ottawa could easily have prevented these dogs attack, with the right kind of generalization—a generalization based not on breed but on the known and meaningful connection between dangerous dogs and negligent owners. But that would have required someone from the city to track down the owner and check to see whether he had bought muzzles. And it would have required that someone was sent to make sure the dogs had been neutered after the first attack. And it would have required an animal-control law that insured that those whose dogs attack small children will have to forfeit their right to own a dog.
It would have required a more exacting set of generalizations to be more exactingly applied. It’s always easier just to ban the breed.”