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Guest View: Problem Is People, Not Pit Bulls

Discussion in 'Laws & Legislation' started by Marty, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. Marty

    Marty Guest

    Moriarty, NM -- Regarding Kathy Louise Schuit's Dec. 16 article, "Sen.'s Bill Takes on Pit Bulls":

    Ms. Schuit claims she was simply reporting on what was said at Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort's press conference. Nonetheless, Schuit allowed to go unchallenged in her reporting many inflammatory and inaccurate statements about dog population numbers and the nature of dog bites and attacks.

    With all due respect, Sue Wilson Beffort, Tijeras Mayor Gloria Chavez and the grandmother of victim Emma-Leigh Chambers-Allen are not authorities on dog behavior and attacks. Rather, the most accurate and up-to-date information has been gathered by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, as well as epidemiologists, animal control officers, and state and city law enforcement officials throughout the United States. This information is presented in Karen Delise's book, "Fatal Dog Attacks: The Stories Behind the Statistics." Anyone reporting on or interested in dog bites, dog attacks or breed specific legislation should own this book as reference.

    Wilson's statement that pit bulls are "killers" is likewise wrong. Yes, some pit bulls are used to fight. Other dogs, that is, not humans. And it's not a killer instinct that makes a pit bull a fighter; it's the dog's tenacity and desire to please humans, even humans who are sick and inhumane. This tenacity was bred into pit bulls hundreds of years ago so that they could work for us, i.e., herd and protect our cattle and serve as companions for children and adults. In short, pit bulls were bred to be human-friendly, with a strong bite inhibition against people and an intense, almost slavish, desire to please. This fact is backed up by the American Canine Temperament Test Society (http://www.atts.org/), which lists pit bulls as having one of the most stable temperaments of any dog, including golden retrievers.

    Simply put, a pit bull that bites or attacks a human being is an aberration, a sad example of what happens when a perfectly good breed becomes popular for all the wrong reasons. Over-breed and mis-breed a dog, then beat it, chain it up 24/7, or allow it to run loose with little or no socialization, and that dog will develop a deviant temperament, regardless of breed. The sad but true fact is our society supports a small percentage of criminal types who deliberately seek to breed ferocious dogs for their own macho posturing and for fighting. These people have tried in the past to ruin German shepherds, Dobermans and even St. Bernards. Now, they are turning their attention to pit bulls.

    So what we have here is a people problem, not a pit bull problem. But breed specific legislation (BSL) doesn't address people; it only punishes the dog, which is as effective as throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    I could quote you some statistics of my own— such as how BSL hasn't made a dent in the pit bull population of Dade County, Fla. In 1989, Dade banned pit bulls forever. In 2002, animal control stats estimated 50,000 of the dogs still reside there.

    How about cost? When Baltimore ran a cost analysis of BSL, it determined it would run the city $750,000 a year to enforce the law. Can we here in New Mexico afford close to one million dollars for each of our municipalities to enforce BSL?

    Furthermore, many pro-BSL officials don't even know what pit bulls look like. At least 25 different pure breed dogs share similar physical characteristics with pit bulls. Log onto http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/findpit.html and try to identify the breed. It isn't easy. So you have to wonder: how many so-called pit bull attacks were actually perpetrated by other breeds?

    So what are the alternatives to BSL?

    First, enforce already existing leash laws. Only 10 percent of dog attacks involve restrained dogs.

    Ban chaining. Tethering a dog to a small area only serves to make it territorially aggressive, sending it into a highly defensive mode whenever humans come around.

    Offer low-cost spay and neuter programs, which will prevent dog bites by eliminating rampant overpopulation (the more poorly bred dogs out there, the more likely their temperaments are unstable) and by lowering the amount of intact animals (the highest majority of dog bites/attacks are by un-neutered male dogs, followed by un-spayed females).

    Pass anti-breed specific dangerous dog laws such as those in California, which punish with stiff fines and jail time owners who neglect, abuse, starve, chain and fight their dogs.

    Finally, stop turning a blind eye toward the terrible blood sport of dog fighting and go after these thugs for their criminal deeds. Today, they have set their sights on the pit bull; tomorrow, which breed will it be? The family golden retriever?

    We don't need media hype and hysteria here in New Mexico. Instead we need cool, informed individuals uninfluenced by blind emotion, who are willing once and for all to deal effectively with the problem of irresponsible dog ownership.

    Freelance writer and researcher Rena Distasio of Tijeras is the owner of three dogs and a volunteer dog walker at Albuquerque's Animal Care Center ("the pound"). She interacts with pit bulls on a regular basis and has never had one act aggressively toward her.
  2. Jenn

    Jenn Top Dog

    Good for her - while I don't agree with everything she is standing up for the breed with some very valid points!
  3. Vador

    Vador Big Dog

    Good point jenn. At least somethings being done
  4. Dexter, New Mexico

    Pit bulls are the best doggs in the world. Every time i went outside to play with my dog he would react to me like a human. He would jump on me, go get his ball so we can play fetch or catch (yes he can catch), and he even got his leash so i can take him for a walk so he can play with the neighborhood kids. Now that he's gone i really miss him. The fu#$*!g animal conrtol took him just because he taking himself for a walk when i was at my basketball game.
  5. Crash97

    Crash97 Top Dog

    While she may have had some good points, she was also going off half-cocked like most others trying to solve the dog bite problem. She is saying ban chaining, I'm sorry but chaining properly is the single most responsible method of containment for a bulldog. These are a working breed first and foremost, they were not developed for companion status. And thus as with most working breeds responds well to a chain as long as they are exercised sufficiently and given proper treatment.
  6. Classic

    Classic Big Dog

    you are right, but the sad part is people letting their dogs run loose to cause problems get a lot less trouble from the law.
  7. pit stop

    pit stop Pup

    I agree with you Crash for the most part but in my opinion chaining also sets the table for accidents. A chained dog becomes more territorial of his "space" when it is limited to the radius of a chain. IMO

    It then becomes much easier for someone or another dog to accidently "wander" into that space with no defined boundaries. I think a fenced kennel with a locked gate is appropriate to make sure that no unauthorized contact is made with the dog.

    now I understand that some of us live in areas where there is almost no possibility for someone to "wander" into our dogs space, but if a standard has to be set for housing our APBT's apart from other breeds, I think no chains makes sense. (if anything pertaining to BSL makes sense)

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