The Milford Daily News published an editorial recently concerning communities affixing blame for dog bites to specific breeds rather than to the people who own them. The author starts by saying,
“Banning pit bulls based on high-profile stories about someone being bitten is a fool’s errand and distracts us from where our attention should be: modifying the behavior of the owners.
“This issue arose last week when parts of a 71-year-old Bridgewater woman’s face were bitten off by a pit bull owned by a family member. The dog was destroyed and the pieces of face were retrieved from its stomach for reattachment. Since then, there has been a cry in some circles for a pit bull ban. Critics of such bans rightly point out that any violent behavior in such dogs is largely due to their training. They also point out that pit bull is not a breed. The American Staffordshire terrier commonly called a pit bull is just one of a number of breeds lumped into the pit bull category.”
The article correctly points out that most dog bites/attacks are the result of irresponsible dog owners. However, they did not mention that in many cases, if not most, the dogs behavior results from a lack of training rather than from an owner purposely training a dog to be aggressive. When dog owners fail to provide their pet with structure, socialization and discipline they are dramatically increasing the odds of aggressive behavior developing in their dog. A large adult dog is a carnivorous predator with the same basic instincts, reflexes and drives as their wild ancestors, and are fully capable of injuring and possibly killing an adult human. So, it’s not enough to simply avoid doing the wrong things when raising a dog, owners must proactively be doing the right things to ensure that their dog is both social and obedient.
While the articles author makes a good point regarding placing responsibility for most dog attacks with the dog owner, he or she incorrectly states that pit bulls are not a pure breed of dog. The American Pit Bull Terrier, commonly referred to as the “pit bull”, has been recognized as a pure breed by the United Kennel Club since 1898 and is recognized by the American Kennel Club under the name American Staffordshire Terrier(some would argue that they are separate and distinct breeds, but that’s a discussion for another day). That the pit bull is a pure breed of dog is beyond doubt, however, confusion concerning this topic continues to plague the breed due to the fact that many animal control agencies have categorized dogs with short coats and muscular builds as “pit bull type dogs” which has resulted in inflated bite statistics and a tarnished reputation for the breed.
Tougher vicious dog laws are a much more reasonable answer to dog attacks than breed banning since it will address the problem where it starts, with the owner. Punishing an entire breed(s) for the actions of a very small percentage is isn’t fair or reasonable. Especially considering that fact that the actions of that small number of dogs are the direct result of irresponsible owners.
Responsible dog owners follow a simple plan; TRAIN, SOCIALIZE…….REPEAT. Following this simple plan with your dog, regardless of breed, will allow you to raise a dog friendly, obedient and a pleasure to be around.
To read the complete article referenced above go to: