Friday, June 26, 2009

Breeds and the Law

Everywhere you go you hear the words "Breed Restrictions" and I just have to wonder what it all means. Where these legislators and government officials came to the conclusion that a specific breed is dangerous or even a nuisance. The answers I sought out shocked me. I've been in the veterinary field for quite some time and all the time I have never came across a "dangerous" or "nuisance" dog that was defined as the "bad" dog they are claimed to be. In fact they were outstanding patients. Now wouldn't this dangerous breed actually be dangerous in a hospital setting? I mean after all if the dog is coming in for anything from a nail trim to a blood test the dog would have to be restrained. A dangerous dog in my book would be more aggressive in these circumstances. Now don't get me wrong, I've had my share of aggression in the veterinary field, however I never looked at aggression to be classified by breed. I look at different circumstances to determine the aggression. Such as, have the owners trained him/her correctly or at all, was the dog socialized with other dogs and people besides the ones where he/she lives and was the dog abused or neglected in any way?

So, is one breed more dangerous than the other? Are some breeds hard wired to attack dogs and mame children? In the course of researching this article, my opinion is that much of this fire concerning the "bad breeds" is fanned by those who don't know the breed. The dog owners, the neighbors, the Johnson's with their 4 kids living down the street and yes even Mrs. Peterson the widow on the corner who makes those rock hard fruit cakes on the holidays and give them out. In one circumstance a middle-aged woman who lived a couple houses down from a young male was attacked by a "Pit Bull". This incident went to court and due to a few more similar cases this breed was thereby restricted and classified "dangerous". Now in Ohio a Pit Bull is classified not as a specific breed but as any dog of the bull terrier type. They also say that any dog that looks like a "Pit" will be classified as a Pit unless the owner has STRONG evidence supporting otherwise. Breeds earn their negative reputations from newsworthy attacks, media coverage and exaggerated stories spread word-of-mouth. Pit Bull types are crowding our animal shelters because their reputation as the uncontrollable and unpredictable attack dogs make it difficult, if not impossible for them to find a home. That is all because of "Breed Restrictions" and because of the reputation everyone is giving them. It's not the breed that needs to be punished with tainting it's name or restricting these possible family members filled with love from finding a home. We as a society are constantly placing a label on everyone and everything. We do it to our neighbors and colleagues. Whether by race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion.... whatever. Everything has a place and everything in its place, right? My final thought: blame the owner not the breed!

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