“A mentally ill woman who had drowned one of her sons and was in the process of drowning the other was stopped by Buddy, another family’s pit bull, who dragged the boy away from a river in Australia. On March 2nd, Buddy was at the Murray River in Moama, a town bordering the states of New South Wales and Victoria, when he saw a distressing situation unfolding in front of him. A nine-year-old boy was trying to escape the clutches of a woman who was attempting to harm him, so Buddy came to the rescue. He grabbed at the boy and tried to pull him away, inadvertently biting him. He also bit the woman as she came after her son. The boy survived, but had to be treated for his bite injuries at a children’s hospital in Melbourne. As a result, Buddy was seized by rangers. A petition was launched to save Buddy’s life, as he certainly would have been put to sleep for attacking a child. The boys’ maternal grandfather even supported the initiative. “I own a similar dog, and I know he was trying to save the boys – it’s their nature when they are raised with kids,” he explained to The Courier Mail. “Let the ones who his actions affected decide.” (Life with Dogs)
Buddy’s owners said he doesn’t have a history of aggression, and had never bitten anyone before. Police advised the Murray River Council that he was responding to “extreme circumstances,” and had likely been acting in a “reasonable defense” of the child. The petition garnered over 50,000 signatures, and all the efforts made on Buddy’s behalf were successful.
Many people do not know that there is no proper breed identified as a pit bull. Dogs commonly identified as pit bulls are quite often a mix of multiple breeds, so breed identification by appearance alone is considered to be misleading. America’s nickname for Pit Bulls was “The Nanny Dog”. For generations if you had children and wanted to keep them safe you wanted a pit bull; the dog that was the most reliable of any breed with children or adults. Before pit bulls it was Rottweilers, before Rottweilers it was Dobermans, and before them German Shepherds. Each breed in it’s order were deemed too vicious and unpredictable to be around people. Each time people wanted laws to ban them. The most tolerant, patient, gentle breed of dogs is now embarrassingly portrayed as the most dangerous. This new reputation means 6,000 pits are put to death every day, by far the highest number of any other breed euthanized.
What do Firearms, vehicles and “man’s best friend” all have in common? In the hands of an irresponsible person, they can be deadly. For years people have been pointing their finger at the dangers of certain pets when the owners are the real sources of their behavior. Biased laws have been created to eliminate specific breeds, as quick fixes, but the law is more breed discriminatory. There is a more humane solution to the breed specific banning legislation (BSL).
Banning a breed does not solve the real problem with an aggressive pet. No breed is more aggressive than another through genetics. In working and growing up with all different breeds with more growls, nips, and bites than remembered, no two encounters have been from the same breed. Removing breeds that are labeled “aggressive” give people a false sense of security. In Sarah Knaptons Article, “Banned Dogs are not Dangerous…” in Daily Telegraph, She states that a certain breed is not dangerous: “dogs that are banned may be no more unsafe than other breeds and simply attract bad owners.” Bad dog owners will simply keep their banned breeds or breed more. Irresponsible owners will just take the next suiting breed and make them dangerous (Siebert). Leaving every breed the potential to be an aggressive pet.
Breed banning of Pit bulls, is more costly than just expense wise, but emotional as well. It has cost more to enforce a breed ban than what’s being brought in. Maryland spent $456,000.00 to implicate the new law while it only brought in $35,000.00 in fees payable to the court (Mann). When an animal is seized to be euthanized, they are being ripped away from a family with no real cause other than appearance of dogs. Tearing apart families and spending taxpayer money to care and destroy seized animals is unnecessary.
There are better alternatives to reducing dog attacks than to ban an innocent breed. Instead of removing the dog from its family, the owner needs to be held more responsible. Most clinics offer low cost spay/neuter services along with enforcing license laws. Some cities have implemented new laws on top of the leash law. In Damian Mann’s article, “Dog Owners Rally Against Breeds Specific Ban” in the Mail Tribune, He explains that there are other options: “Some cities across the country have banned pit bulls, while others have opted for sterilization or muzzle laws.” A breed neutral approach will eliminate all stereotypes for aggressive breeds. Using more humane options makes it safe for both the community and the breed.
Since the ban law has been enforced there has been significant drops in recorded dog bites (Raghavan). With the BSL people feel safer to roam freely outside of their homes knowing that a dog bite or attack is less likely to happen with this aggressive breed being outlawed. While you have those people who believe it is in the dogs nature to fight those who own pits and believes think think allowing them to fight is giving them their full potential in life (Werkheiser). The difficulty in identifying dog breeds makes the data hard to identify. Dog attacks are serious problems and trying to identify a dangerous dog can be a touchy issue. With this law solving the problem of recorded bites, there is no need for this ban. The BSL only causes a problem with “dangerous dogs.” All dogs can be dangerous but in reality it is often the small dogs that tend to bite more often, but due to the small or non existent injury they often go unreported. These unreported dog bites causes the reports against dog bites to be inconclusive.
The American Humane Association documented dog bite statistics for 2011:
92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered.
25% of fatal dog attacks involved chained dogs.
71% of bites occur to the extremities (arms, legs, hands, feet).
two-thirds of bites occurred on or near the victim’s property, and most victims knew the dog.
The insurance industry pays more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims each year.
At least 25 different breeds of dogs have been involved in the 238 dog-bite-related fatalities in the U.S.
24% of human deaths involved unrestrained dogs off of their owners’ property.
58% of human deaths involved unrestrained dogs on their owners’ property.
We need Dangerous Dog Acts that hold owners accountable for their dogs if their dogs bite anyone, regardless of the breed.
Dog aggression is not breed determined. BSL is a legislation made of fear, ignorance and laziness. It is not based on logic, common sense or truth. If you want to make a change – go after the people that cause the problem, not the innocent dog. It is better to teach children about dogs than ban these breeds. A study in the Medical Journal of Australia says that banning certain breeds of dogs is ineffective in reducing the rate and severity of attacks. Basically in the hands of an irresponsible owner, any dog can be dangerous. ”Dangerous breeds” are not based on whether the breeds are inherently dangerous, but on those breeds which had been traditionally used for fighting. Continuing these restrictions may create the risk of higher numbers of unregistered animals or irresponsible owners simply turning to other breeds. Children and some dogs, like guard dogs, just should not be mixed. Some people are not suited to own certain breeds.
A more adequate solution is a type of Megan’s Law if you will, but for animals called Riot’s Law. A type of data base that can be accessed by the public to notify them of people with a history of abuse and neglect to animals and place a dot under their information. This system allows those in control of animals being released to the public a way to see if the potential pet owner has ever surrendered an animal, had an animal seized or been arrested/fined for dog fights, animal abuse or any type of neglect. This will allow the adoptees to prevent another incident from happening. This solution can have an additional service for city employees, shelters, veterinarians, and repitoral breeders to not only register an owner but place notes under their files to determine if certain incidents are accidental or abuse.
In the event of a person being arrested for animal cruelty the same time as booking it can be connected to this database of Riot’s Law and information can be automatically linked being that registration for this database in relatively easy and quick (Brooks). Not taking away extra time from the City Employee. As for shelters and breeders; before one adopts a pet they can have easy access to see if there has been any type of incidents that could be potential red flags to owners trying to obtain a pet. Helping eliminate repeat offenders. When it comes to Veterinarians their primary job to to heal the injured and sometimes accidents happen and small children happen. This added on feature for Riot’s Law can give vets and city workers an option to place important notes regarding the accident so if the owner goes to another vet for a repeat injury they can see the previous notes to help determine if it is in fact an abuse situation.
Due to the fact that the public can see this just like Megan’s Law their input can be just as vital as those of a professional. Neighbors and family members are those who see first hand how one treats their animals. This database will allow the public to submit any concerns that will go straight to the Animal Control Office to investigate as they see fit. The public can see if people in their neighborhood has ever committed such acts by simple looking up their address and scanning around the maps show that will be marked by colored dots. The Different colors or shades of a color can indicate the severity of the incident.
Megan’s Law is a relatively new service that still has research and analyses being done so there are mixed emotions on whether the law is having a statistically significant effect on the number of reports. Although several states have shown increases in attacks, other states have shown a decrease (Vasquez). Policy makers are still in works to determine if new laws need to be in place but Sex offenders are having to register on their own while in the case of Riot’s Law others will registering them to avoid those who will not do it on their own.
Breed Banning is inhumane due to having other resources that are not being utilized. From tearing families apart to costly euthanasias other options are being ignored. The breed itself is not aggressive but out of fear people feel safer with them being removed entirely. A law likes Riot’s Law can not only help eliminate those offenders obtaining new breeds to conform into aggression but can help eliminate them from having a pet all together to prevent future claims of dangerous animals.
Brooks, Alexander D. “Megan’s Law: Constitutionality and Policy.” Criminal Justice Ethics, vol. 15, no. 1, Winter/Spring 96, p. 56.
Knapton, Sara. “Banned Dogs Are Not Dangerous, Blame The Owners, Says Study.” Daily Telegraph (London) (2013): 16.Points of View Reference Center. Web. 7 Oct. 2016.
Mann, Damian. “Dog owners rally against breed-specific ban.” Mail Tribune (Medford, OR) 22 Jan. 2014: Points of View Reference Center. Web. 7 Oct. 2016.
Raghavan, Malathi, et al. “Effectiveness of Breed-Specific Legislation in Decreasing the Incidence of Dog-Bite Injury Hospitalisations in People in the Canadian Province of Manitoba.” Injury Prevention (1353-8047), vol. 19, no. 3, June 2013, pp. 177-183.
Siebert, Charles. “The Dog in the Fight.” New York Times Magazine, vol. 153, no. 52732, 18 Jan. 2004, pp. 16-17.
Turner, Jean. “News Review.” Veterinary Nursing Journal, vol. 28, no. 10, Oct. 2013, p. 335.
Vásquez, Bob Edward, et al. “The Influence of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Laws in the United States.” Crime & Delinquency, vol. 54, no. 2, Apr. 2008, pp. 175-192.
Werkheiser, Ian. “Fighting Nature: An Analysis and Critique of Breed-Specific Flourishing Arguments for Dog Fights.” Society & Animals, vol. 23, no. 5, Sept. 2015, pp. 502-520.