Don't Blame the Dog, Blame Society
Remember the beloved pup in “The Little Rascals” that everyone adored? The dog everyone wanted to protect, love, and entertain not only them, but their children as well. His name was Petey and he just had that effect on you where you wanted him to be a part of your family. However, we are struggling to remember what breed Petey was…wait, he was an American Pit Bull Terrier! A dog that was once adored by all, is now among the other dog breeds that are banned from multiple places, labeled as a breed that everyone believes to be a mean, aggressive, fighting dog.
Although there are more breeds than just Pit Bulls being banned in certain cities, states and countries, they are usually the ones that people point their judging fingers at. Other dog breeds that receive a lot of hype about being aggressive and join the Pit Bull on the list of banned dog breeds include, but are not limited to; Rottweilers, Chows, Bulldogs, Doberman Pinschers, and Bullmastiffs. Even if a breed isn’t banned in that area, there still might be regulations that owners have to follow for their breed of dog just to keep them.
In Montreal, Canada, they have imposed strict animal rules, but have focused on pit bulls. If a pit bull is to roam outside of their owner’s house, they are required to wear muzzles at all times. Pit bull owners must also have their dogs on a leash that is no longer than 1.25 meters. The only exception to that rule is if the pit bull is in an enclosure that is 2 meters or higher. All pit bulls must be surveyed by an adult that is 18 years or older, and they are all required to wear a tag that’s distributed by the City of Montreal.
Freedom for those dogs, and their owners, have flown out the window. Not only are these breeds deprived on the enjoyment of the outside world without being restrained, they will also never get the chance to live their life to the fullest. For the owners, these regulations and restrictions attract more unwanted attention when they have to walk their dog wearing a government enforced muzzle around the neighborhood. People are quick to judge that the dog in the muzzle must be aggressive and even more negativity is directed at the breed. As the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover, right?”
The documentary titled “Beyond The Myth” (Sherrill. 2010) Reference: (Beyond the Myth: A Film About Pit Bulls and Breed Discrimination. Dir. Libby Sherrill. USA, 2010.) is about how pit bulls have suffered from the repeated negativity from the media. The documentary has shed light on statistics involving pit bulls, and also goes off of people’s experiences dealing with the ordinances in their city.
Cincinnati, Ohio, enacted the BSL, Breed Specific Legislation, in 2003, mostly targeting pit bulls and pit bull mixes. Ashlee and Ben Herche of Cincinnati City, moved from the place they called home to outside city limits just so they could keep their pit bull dogs. Although, the Herche family followed BSL regulations, they were still afraid to travel into the city with their pets fearing they would have them taken away. In only nine years’ time, Cincinnati had killed nearly 400 pit bulls from 2003-2012. Thankfully, in 2012 Cincinnati City Council voted 8-1 to repeal language in the city’s vicious dog ordinance, which made owning a pit bull within city limits illegal.
Even before Ohio passed their BSL enactment, Miami, Florida, was already on board the ‘ban’ wagon enacting the BSL, years earlier in 1989. From 2005-2009 the Miami-Dade Animal Services received nearly 4,000 pit bulls at their shelter from 2005-2009. Dogs were forced from their homes and with the BSL law actively in place, sadly, 2,019 of them were killed.
A total of 77 cities in Iowa have banned pit bulls, and a couple of them have banned other breeds like the German Shepard and Siberian Husky. Interestingly enough, seven years after Sioux City, Iowa, put a ban on pit bulls, not only did the severity of the bites remain unchanged, but the overall number of bites increased. Which verifies, Breed Specific Legislation laws are ineffective, proving that it’s not the dog, it’s the people who own them and how they are trained.
With so many bans and regulations being instated in cities today, dog parents and the special relationships they have with their dog are being torn apart. Not only are dogs being taken from their owners in certain areas because of the bans, but some are even being euthanized just because that dog has the trait of a breed marked as “agressive.” That’s right! Even if the dog has never showed a hint of aggression or dogs that aren’t even full Pit bulls, for example, are facing death row.
In 2008, Denver was one of the cities that was banning pit bulls and euthanizing them if they were on someone’s property. Coco was one of the dogs killed in 2008 after her owner, Desiree, tried finding her pup a new home but that plan fell through. Someone reported Coco being back on Desiree’s property, and that’s when she was picked up, brought to a kennel where she was chained up without any natural light flowing in. Although Desiree fought in court, the animal control officers testified that Coco was a pit bull, which is prohibited by Denver, even though Coco only possessed 11 of the 25 attributes on the checklist for pit bulls. Coco was euthanized a month later and the remains were brought to Desiree in a black garbage bag. Mind you, this dog never hurt anyone or anything. Desiree mentioned that Denver doesn’t allow anyone to bury their pit bull dogs either, and if they find out they’re buried in your backyard then they come and dig them up.
According to the Health Colorado Information Dataset: Colorado Injury Hospitalization Statistics, between 1995-2010, Denver County had Colorado’s highest number of dog bites that resulted in a person’s hospitalization. They had more than 6 times the number of bites as Boulder, a city that does not have a ban against any breed, which has approximately half the population of Denver.
Also, in a one year study from July 2007-2008, 129 different breeds of dogs were responsible for biting people in Colorado. The golden retriever topped the list with the highest number of bites – the poster pet for most recommended family dog.
Rottweilers and Dobermans seem to get a bad hype as well because of how they look – scary, mean, and aggressive. In movies, they always seem to cast a Rottweiler or a Doberman as “the bad dog,” or just the dog that has a scary, intimidating voice. For example, the movie UP put a Doberman as the leader of the pack making him out to be scary and mean. Don’t get us wrong though, we absolutely loved this movie!
The media has fabricated news stories so much, that it has given us a bad view of pit bulls. The Independent Data Collection Center stated that 60% of people with negative opinions of pit bulls say the media contributed the most to their opinion. Whereas, only 15% said their personal experience contributed the greatest to having a negative opinion.
According to the News Library, March 2010, 68% of articles reporting pit bull, or pit bull “mix,” attacks mentioned “pit bull” in the title. However, only 8% of articles reporting on dog attacks by other breeds mentioned the breed in the headline. Therefore, the media is constructing people’s views on certain breeds by highlighting pit bulls and other “aggressive” breeds in the headlines of dog attacks, but if it was a Golden Retriever attack, they’re likely to keep that breed out of the headline.
Eliminating a specific breed doesn’t deal with the problem of vicious dogs. The problem of vicious dogs comes from the owners, how the dog is bred, and how the owner treats them. Are they chained up in the backyard with only 5 feet of moving room? Are they forced into being involved in dog fighting? Are the owners treating them poorly, victims of neglect and abuse?
To the people fighting to keep Breed Specific Legislation laws in place it’s important for you to understand that it’s not the breed of the dog that’s the problem, it’s the bad dog owners. People have become so judgmental and are discriminating against certain breeds simply because of what they’ve heard or read. Yes, certain breeds are known to be more aggressive and protective than others, but it’s all on how they were brought up in life. You can’t blame the breed when, in reality, it all comes down on the people who bring up those dogs. Some pit bulls, Rottweilers, and other breeds being banned, are the most loving and caring breeds we have ever had the fortune of interacting with.
So, before you go and start blaming the dog, take some time to research the breed and realize that they’re not all aggressive. Just like people, dogs aren’t born bad, it depends on society and the people they are exposed to. How they train them, how they treat them, and how they are educated before adopting the dog is extremely important for having a successful, safe relationship. Don’t blame the dog, blame society!