BSL and American Pit Bull Terriers
I thought in light of the current situation with NFL star Michael Vick, I would voice my opinions of BSL, breed specific legislation, and pit bull in general. When I use the term 'pit bull' it will encompass all bully breed dogs that are pit bull, pit bull mixes, american staffordshire terriers, and any mix thereof.
I will go ahead and say I am by a long shot, biased towards pit bulls. I have worked with many pitbull who were CGC certified, pet therapy certified, and dog trainer's assistants. I have owned two pitbulls, and been very close with other pit bulls.
Now, breed specific legislation involves the banning of certain breeds, normally including pit bull, chow chows, rottweilers, dobermans, and sometimes huskies, shepherds and akitas. Other time, various other dog breeds have been included into the mix. The legislation tends to say that these breeds are not allowed in a particular state period. But, sometimes they will add a clause that says if you have owned one of the breeds listed, for a designated time, you can keep your dog, but they will give you many rules in order to do so. The dog must be leashed at all times, wear a muzzle if in public, etc. All rules that further 'this is a bad dog and a worse breed. So be aware.'
I disagree. There are bad owners not bad breeds.
Any dog can become aggressive. Any dog can become dog aggressive. Any dog can become food aggressive. Toy aggressive. And even human aggressive.
I have a dog who has possession agression, dog aggression, and is semi human aggressive. This dog was not trained to be so, and this dog is not a bully breed dog. It is a yorkshire terrier!
Many say that pit bulls are naturally aggressive or will turn no matter what. Not true. I will admit there are cases that this happens, but not the majority of the time. Banning breeds that have the bad reputations, means that the good owners are punished, while the bad owners move to a state that allows the breed.
Pitbulls were once nanny dogs. They were family pets. They were house pets. They were loves members of the family. They were fighting dogs.
These dogs had two jobs, (1) fight other dogs and (2) be family pet. If they showed any signs of aggression to the family or any person, they were put down. Human aggression was highly frowned upon even in these dogs. So, why is it that today, the majority of mankind assumes that these bully breed dogs will attack them?
Media catches ahold of dog bite, and immediately publishes it as a pit bull attack before knowing any details. They never go back to retract the story.
How fair is that for the dog?
Why is it that even pitbull rescues have mixed emotions and opinions about the dogs they are rescuing? Why is it that they tell people that pitbulls do not get along with other dogs of the same sex? When I have two females- a pit and a mix- that get along great. Why do they tell people that young pitbulls should not be housed with young children? When they WERE nanny dogs to children in history.
Why is that they when most people think of pitbull, they think visciousness? When in reality there are many noted pitbulls in military history for search and rescue and therapy dogs. When several years back, Petey from 'The Little Rascals' was the pitbull of the times.
Why is the all American, AMERICAN PIT BULL TERRIER is now treated like the plague?
Bad owners. Bad reps.
Not the individual dog's fault.
What's not understood in today's society is that dog bites are all pit bull. Labs, terriers, retrievers, are ALL on record for biting. Those aren't publicized, as it would ruin their reputation as a 'good dog'.
What's not understood is that there are literally thousands upon thousands, probably near millions of pit bulls (remember this includes mixes, AmStaffs, etc) running around America today. Outside dogs. Inside dogs. Strays. Etc. There are bound to be pit bull bites. Statistically the higher number of an individual breed, the more likely to have dog bites occur.
Plus, statistically, APBT's are the least likely breed to bite. Not saying that it doesn't happen... I'm just saying...
Personally, I have one dalmation, one mutt, one yorkie, one St Bernard/ collie mix, and one APBT. Of all my dogs, I trust the APBT most. The dalmatian is hyper and a tad unpredictable. The mutt is very old in age, and becoming senile. The yorkie is semi-aggressive on different levels. The St. Bernard/collie mix is slightly food and toy aggressive, and will jump on another dog if it cries. The APBT, even though a puppy, is quickly learning her boundaries as a pet; she's had less training than the other dogs, and is just as responsive if not more at times.
I strongly believe that breed specific legislation is NOT the way to go when it comes to fixing the problem of dog attacks. What needs to be push is education. Education of proper dog ownership needs to be stressed upon Americans today. This would not only help correct bad dog behaviors, but shelter dog numbers. The fewer badly behaved or misunderstood dogs, the fewer dogs that are admitted to a shelter. The fewer dogs admitted to a shelter, lowers the number of euthanized dogs in America.
Dogs are supposed to be man's best friend. Why don't we treat them that way?