Reading the news this week almost resembles reading articles from The Onion - only without the humor and the wit. The public/media reactions to events not only crazy, but it's also got me wonderng if we're even making efforts to protect the right species.
In Troy, MO, the city council unanimously approved an ordinance that bans all new 'pit bulls' from a city (as well as any mixed breed that contains "an element" of these breeds -- I'm not sure if you could write anything more vague than that). The community passed the ordinance when a resident supposedly saw two 'pit bulls' running at large in the city. Apparently one resident had his dog mauled by the dogs and requested a ban. Three things impress me about this:
1) That the only people who identified the dogs as 'pit bulls' were residents -- and the general public is far from being breed ID experts.
2) If the city law enforcement cannot even round up stray/at-large dogs, how are they ever going to enforce the city's breed ban?
3) How is one incident indicative of every "pit bull" type dog in the community?
By contrast, in Danvers, MA, a Labrador Retriever attacked and killed a Miniature Schnauzer. It's the same scenerio as what happened in Troy, however, there has been no talk of banning Labradors in the community. In fact, they're still talking about whether the dog will be allowed to move out of the city vs killing it in the shelter. While I support Danvers' approach, why such a contrast in how the same incident, involving different breeds, is handled? In one, they banned all similar type dogs? In the other, they are looking specifically at the individual dog?
When people talk about breed descrimination, this is it.
But it gets even wackier.
There was quite a horrific incident in Sea Tac, WA. As best I can gather from the media four young teenagers between the ages of 11 and 15 beat a dog and assaulted 2 adult women. At some point, a 63 year old woman was driving downthe road and saw three boys and a girl repeatedly hitting and kicking a dog on the side of the road. The woman stopped her car, and asked if the youth needed help. At that point, the 15 year old girl told her to mind her own business, and then opened the care door and started attacking the woman -- pulling her hair and dragging her over to the passenger seat of her car. When the woman tried to get away, the girl chased her and continued hitting her, and the boys followed. At some point, the dog that they had been beating apparently bit the woman on the wrist and leg.
Meanwhile, a 2nd woman, 41, saw the first attack and followed the youth to a nearby park. When the kids realized they were being followed, the girl reported head butted the second woman and punched her several times in the head and body. The three boys accompanied the girl and reportedly provoked the dog to bite the woman while the girl assaulted her.
While all of this is horrific, what is possibly more amazing to me is that the pit bull seems to be getting the majority of the blame (especially early on), not the 15 year old girl who is apparently quite the debutante. Here are the headlines:
But even more amazingly, is that the topic of a breed ban has again been brought up by the media -- including the article from the Seattle Post Intelligencer: Pit Bull Problem: The owner or the breed?
How in the world does anyone read what happened in Sea Tac and think that the problem here was with the dog? There isn't a single thing about that would even hint at these being model owners. In fact, I would venture to say that it is quite the testiment to the breed's devotion to humans (whether really earned or not) that this dog didn't go after the kids that were beating and kicking it in the first place.
And who is going to pretend out there that any dog, regardless of breed, that ended up in a situation where it was clearly abused and beaten by its owners wouldn't have a propensity to have a few aggression issues. If someone repeatedly beat and kicked me, I know I would have aggression issues if given the opportunity.
How in the heck does someone, even for an instant, try to pin this incident on being a breed issue?
And as more and more stories come out about abuse and cruelty cases -- a large number of them involving 'pit bulls' -- it is becoming increasingly clear to me that we're trying to protect the wrong species. Just in the past couple of weeks:
In Florida, a four month old pit bull puppy was euthanized because he was sprayed with lighter fluid and set on fire after an argument between two people.
In Cambridge, MD, a 'pit bull' was found hanged to death from a tree.
In Tounton, MA, a four month old pit bull puppy was brutally beaten by his 31 year old owner.
In Sioux City, IA, a 35 year old man was arrested for punching his pit bull in the face about 30 times, killing it.
A Louisiana woman found a neglected, starving 'pit bull' with horrible skin conditions and chained to a concrete block in some weeds.
In Belle Plaine, KS nine starving pit bulls were pulled out of a home where they were left to their own devises amidst piles of rotting garbage and old tires.
With owners like this, is it any wonder some dogs become aggressive? In spite of the fact that dogs are naturally very friendly toward people, there are some people who just have a way with abuse and neglect. And do we think that if a dog is terribly mistreated, as it was in the case in Sea Tac, that it would matter what breed was involved whether it became aggressive or not?
Of the 7 million or so pit bulls that live in the United States, the majority live with great owners: people who care about them, love them, walk them, snuggle with them, and share beds with them. We don't read a lot about these people in the news, but there are litteraly millions of them out there.
However, for a variety of reasons, the pieces of crap that will cruelly treat dogs have gravitated toward this type of dog. And instead of going out and enforcing cruelty and neglect laws with a vengeance to protect the dogs from this cruelty, the media through their blaming of breed in spite of clear evidence that it's not the breed, and city councils who now react completely differently to attacks by one breed vs those by a different one, have somehow convinced themselves that the "solution" to the problem is rounding up all the dogs that resemble the victims and systematically killing them with breed bans.
That's no solution.
It's time to put an end to the nonsense. It's time to quit blaming the victims of human cruelty and stupidity, and start blaming the humans themselves - and vigilently prosecuting their abusive behavior. This cycle will never end until we do, because even if you exterminate one breed,there will always be another breed. It sucks. As humans, we don't like to look at ourselves and blame our own kind for the problems that exist. We don't really like seeing the massive failings of our own humanity.
But until we do, the problem will go on. And we need to end the abuse now -- and quit blaming the victims of the abuse for the problem.