Last October, AP-Petside.com conducted a survey of 1,000 pet owners nationwide (with the help of GfK Roper Public Affairs). The survey was specificly related to "dangerous dogs" and how people viewed them.
The results are interesting. They're hopeful. And they're telling.
According to the poll, 71% of pet owners said that any breed of dog can be safe as long as they're properly trained. This is obviously great (and true)
Sixty percent of pet owners felt that all dog breeds should be allowed in residential communities, while 38% though some breeds should be banned. Of those who thought that dog breeds should be banned, 85% named 'pit bulls' while Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds and Chow Chows were also named. Two percent said they would ban all large dogs.
When specifically polled about 'pit bulls', 53% said they were safe in residential neighborhoods, but 43% said they were too dangerous.
However, there is a huge age disparity in the answer to this question. While 76% of those under the age of 30 said pit bulls were safe, only 37% of 'seniors' thought so. In total, 56% of seniors though some dogs should be outlawed, compared to just 22% of those under the age of 30.
It should be noted that the margin of error is about 4 percentage points.
I think the results are pretty interesting, are consistent with my experience and perceptions, and maybe best of all, provide hope for our future.
-- It is great that younger people are coming into a world where they are getting both sides of the story, hearing more positive stories, and understanding that the issue is about proper dog ownership vs breeds. Not only will this help with the next generation understanding the why they need to properly train their pets, they will also, long term, put the emphasis on the right end of the leash in solving the problems.
-- It isn't surprising that older people, people who were more heavily influenced by the crazed hysteria of 'pit bulls' in the late 1980s are more prone to think of them as aggressive. There was a time when there was very little positive said about these types of dogs and that no doubt left a lasting impact on older people.
-- It is disappointing that so many pet owners still remain that would focus on different breeds of dogs....we need to do more work in educating those pet owners among us.
-- It's also interesting that about 18% of those surveyed thought that amy breed of dog could be safe if properly trained and yet still thought 'pit bulls' weren't safe in residential neighborhoods. Thanks to that group for almost getting it, but not quite.
-- It's great to see that the narrative is changing....and that as younger people are being exposed more to the changing narrative, they are realizing that they can be great dogs. I'd venture to say that 10 years ago these numbers wouldn't have been nearly this good. Nice work by everyone who has worked so hard to change the narrative.