Sunday, January 24, 2010

Well, that's good.

One breed-specific dog ban down about a billion to go.



Joel Monka said...

What's wrong with breed-specific laws? We regulate weapons by their lethality if used, not by the likelyhood of their being used. Isn't claiming that Rotweillers or Pit Bulls aren't any more likely to attack than any other breed akin to saying that a 90mm recoilless rifle is no more likely to discharge accidently than a .22 rifle?

Chalicechick said...

Malcolm Gladwell addresses the issue at great length here. Gladwell found a study from a research group in Georgia that has so far tested more than 25,000, measuring stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness in interaction with people. Gladwell writes, "Eighty-four per cent of the pit bulls that have been given the test have passed, which ranks pit bulls ahead of beagles, Airedales, bearded collies, and all but one variety of dachshund."

The president of the group said pit bulls even test unusually well with children.

Unless they've been trained to be agressive, pits aren't more likely to attack people. Yes, the fact that idiots like to adopt pit bulls because they think they look tough, and those idiots correlate highly with the idiots who abuse their animals and train them to be aggressive, skews the statistics, but that there is nothing inherently aggressive about pits remains the case.

Hell, one won the Westminister Kennell Club show five years ago. Rufus, that dog, is a Bull Terrier, one of many "pitbull-type" dogs that are oh-so-vaguely banned in some areas.

To me, the most depressing part of this is that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When Kansas City banned pit bulls, they instituted an "amnesty period" when dog owners could bring their dogs in to be euthanized.

Do you think the types of people who have pits because they are badass followed that law? Hell, no. I'm sure the only people who obeyed were boring suburban pit owners like theCSO and I who, had we no other option, would have been devestated to bring our beloved dog in to be killed to appease a stupid law.

And the only pits left will be the ones mostly likely to attack people, ensuring that pits never get a fair shake in the press.

As for guns, I don't know enough about them to comment on your analogy. I generally don't really take stands on gun control one way or another. I do know that some people claim that one should need to take and pass a driver's-licesnse-like test to own a gun. I could live with that for dog owners too, or at least I like it more than just banning a perfectly nice breed of dog outright.

owner of the sweetest pit bull mix ever.

Joel Monka said...

Ah- the gun reference was probably a bit gun-geeky... the 90mm ia a cannon that fires a shell 90mm in diameter.

I have no doubt that your dog is sweet. The problem has never been that pit bulls are hot tempered; they're not. The problem is that if they do go off, they do far more damage than many other breeds. Here in Indianapolis last year, a 68 year old woman, was attacked on her own porch by a neighbor's dog and lost one leg, and the other one is pretty much useless. Yes, the owner of the dog has been sentenced to two years in the county jail, but that doesn't put her leg back on. Pit bulls figure in only a very small number of dog bite incidents- but always figure in a large plurality or a majority of the deaths and maiming.

Desmond Ravenstone said...

Ironically, a properly raised pit bull is actually very good with children -- while chihuahuas are generally considered more temperamental and more prone to attack, so much so that their breeders do not recommend having them around small children.

Ultimately, it is how a dog (or any other animal) is raised which determines how vicious or easily provoked it will be. So rather than ban specific breeds, makes more sense to prohibit people who breed attack dogs from owning any more dogs.

Chalicechick said...

From Gladwell's article:

“I’ve seen virtually every breed involved in fatalities, including Pomeranians and everything else, except a beagle or a basset hound,” Randall Lockwood, a senior vice-president of the A.S.P.C.A. and one of the country’s leading dogbite experts, told me. “And there’s always one or two deaths attributable to malamutes or huskies, although you never hear people clamoring for a ban on those breeds. When I first started looking at fatal dog attacks, they largely involved dogs like German shepherds and shepherd mixes and St. Bernards—which is probably why Stephen King chose to make Cujo a St. Bernard, not a pit bull. I haven’t seen a fatality involving a Doberman for decades, whereas in the nineteen-seventies they were quite common. If you wanted a mean dog, back then, you got a Doberman. I don’t think I even saw my first pit-bull case until the middle to late nineteen-eighties, and I didn’t start seeing Rottweilers until I’d already looked at a few hundred fatal dog attacks. Now those dogs make up the preponderance of fatalities. The point is that it changes over time. It’s a reflection of what the dog of choice is among people who want to own an aggressive dog.”

So again, if the ASPCA's expert is correct, banning pit bulls won't solve anything because:

A. The aggressive idiots who mistreat their dogs and rain them to be vicious might get pits anyway

B. If they don't, they will get Rottweilers. If you ban Rottweilers they will get German Shepherds, if you ban them...

Remember the Frenchwoman who was mauled so badly by a dog that she became the recipient of the world's first face transplant?

She was mauled by a Labrador Retriever.

The wrong kind of owner can make just about any dog vicious.

So banning pit bulls is stupid and solves nothing. And if you are like Kansas City and if you don't Grandfather in pets who are already living the ban is to me unimaginably cruel.

To me this all has the irony that since most people are irrationally afraid of pits, many shelters won't take pits. The shelters that do are always full of them. So every pit bull and pit bull mix owner I know personally adopted a pit from a shelter to save it from the needle since pits are likely to get the needle. The bleeding heart dog lover types who adopt pits in my neighborhood are actually the least likely to abuse a dog or try to turn it mean.


*And the entire question of what constitutes a "pit bull-type dog" is very debatable and largely comes down to "what your local dogcatcher thinks kinda looks like a pit, regardless of whether it has any of the recognized pit bull breeds in it or acts like a pit is stereotypically supposed to."

Ps. Cat-chasing notwithstanding, the only time I've ever seen my pit mix Justice Ginsburg (Yes, I'm a law geek) get aggressive with any living thing is when my aunt's rat terrier took her food. In dog culture, you just don't do that. There was some angry barking and both dogs were pulled away and that was that.

hsofia said...

In my experience, the trending in dogs is spot on. When I was growing up in NY in the early to mid 80s, Dobermans were absolutely the scary dogs. It was assumed that people who owned them did NOT want you coming near their house or yard for whatever reason. I have many memories of them barking aggressively at us kids as we walked home from school, and seeing them in the street, fighting with each other. Do you know that I have not laid eyes on a Doberman in 20 years? What the hell happened to them? Twenty years ago, it would have been Dobermans that were banned, but as CC says, the "in-dog" among aggressive dog breeders changes - and can change quickly. Far quicker than the law will!

kimc said...

So, can we ban aggressive people? :-)

I used to walk dogs with a friend who had two big poodles. We got attacked one day by a Rottweiler. After that, my friend carried a big stick on walks.
When I had an Australian Shepherd mix (blue merle), kids would corner her and poke at her face until she snapped at the air in front of them. At least once the kid's mother all freaked out that the dog was attacking her kid, who was clearly at fault.