Don’t judge a dog by its breed

I would imagine the majority of my readers out there are dog lovers, so I’m hoping we can re-evaluate a serious public policy issue together. The Marine Corps recently banned all “dangerous dogs” on Camp Pendleton, effectively evicting pit bulls, Rottweilers, and every other big, bulky dog. The pit bull witch hunt is happening all over the country, and it’s beginning to hit closer to home. It’s just not fair. 
Dog attacks are a serious matter, especially when a pit bull is involved. Pit bulls are strong dogs, no doubt. There is a significant difference between being bitten by a pit bull and being bitten by a Chihuahua. Does this justify banning the breed outright in our cities? Hardly.  
I am the proud owner of one of these “dangerous dogs,” and there hasn’t been a single occasion when I felt my dog was a threat to society. Cyrus’ only shortcoming is that he isn’t exactly the nicest guy around other male dogs at times. While I do occasionally get annoyed with his behavior, I plan accordingly. I’m what you call a “responsible dog owner.”
And even though I make an extra effort, I’m still faced with doggy discrimination and plain ol’ ignorance. If you’ve tried to rent with a pit bull in San Diego County, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
So what is it about pit bulls that strikes fear in our hearts? Certainly not their happy, go-lucky demeanors. Sadly, I believe many people feel threatened by the breed based on looks alone.
I won’t deny the fact that pit bulls were initially bred to fight other dogs, and no amount of training will ever permanently erase their desire to wrestle. But there are so many strange pit bull myths out there in need of remedy, perhaps most popular being the one about a pit bull’s “lock jaw.” Or the myth that they’ll attack unprovoked. Or the one that only gangsters and street scum own pit bulls. Sure, some do, but there are far more responsible pit bull owners who understand and accept the challenges of raising this breed.
They say a tired pitty is a good pitty, and this couldn’t be any closer to the truth.  Pit bulls possess seemingly unlimited stores of energy. It breaks my heart when I see clueless dog owners attempting to raise a bully breed in a small backyard. Pit bulls are clever, and will funnel their lack of exercise and attention into something malicious. 
I have no grounds except personal experience to prove this theory, but I believe most pit bulls who get in trouble are too wound up, and lack the attention they crave. Pit bulls are a loyal, caring breed, but if left unattended they will devise a way to get into big trouble. In short, a well-trained pit bull will offer its owner so much in the way of fun and adventure as long as it’s cared for.
This fact should drive public policy on dog breeds, not fear alone. Perhaps the potential pit bull owner should be required to pass a temperament test before owning a bully. Perhaps we should create strict guidelines for owners, such as exercise plans and big backyards. I know this may seem nearly impossible to implement, but there have to be alternatives to ostracizing such a beautiful breed.
My “dangerous dog” has more fans around town than I do, I swear. From the little old ladies to fellow dog owners, Cyrus just tends to make people happy. So please, before you scream “ban the breed” at the top of your lungs, consider the productive members of society like myself who own a bully.  This sort of discriminatory behavior has to stop.

1 comment

CSense1 October 17, 2009 at 9:48 am

Your article is well written and reasoned, but until we see a dramatic decline in human deaths by pit bulls and rottweilers, people will still have a justifiable inclination to be afraid of these breeds. Are 100% of human deaths from pit bulls and rottweilers caused by the them being improperly trained, exercised or socialized? Until that’s true, I think I am making a wise decision by staying far away from off leashed pit bulls or rottweilers on the beach or at the park vs off leashed chihuahuas or bassett hounds.

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