November 8, 2009
Banning Pit Bulls
All dogs bite. Every single one of them has the potential to turn on their very owner and as studies and news tell it they turn on children, strangers and other pets more often than we care to know about. What make makes a dog aggressive to the point they attack innocent victims? Is it their genes and nature, their training or perhaps their owners? Some individuals have proposed banning certain breeds that display a propensity for aggressive behavior as a solution. Banning might get results faster but it’s not the only or best solution. Without a doubt certain breeds seem to be naturally more aggressive and protective than others. The breed that comes to mind first is the Pit Bull Terrier known as pits or pit bulls. While these dogs have a reputation for being tough, strong and aggressive, they are not the only ones that should be shouldering the entire blame for their behavior. I’m not saying that the victims are to blame; the blame should fall on irresponsible dog owner whose mistreatment of dogs is the deciding factor on whether any certain dog will bite or attack. When choosing a dog, families should consider the temperament, physical size, and exercise needs of the breeds they are considering. Researching the characteristics of the dogs the families are considering is a great way to ensure the families ends up with a dog that will complement their family environment and lifestyle. Sadly, taking the time to truly research a dog before it is bought is something that very few owners practice. The deciding factor on which dog to buy comes down to the appearance of the dog without any thought given to the resources and time requirement for the specific dog. Buying a dog because it looks cute when it is a puppy could result in a headache later. The cute little puppy can turn into a large dog that needs to be walked a couple of hours a week or a dog that has a compulsive need to chew on every piece of furniture inside the house. Individuals and families need to be realistic about how much time and money they can dedicate to a pet and the pets need. Similarly, buying a dog because it looks tough is a mistake that the dog ends up paying for in the future. Often times Pit bulls are only purchased because they look cool and somehow that coolness and toughness factor supposedly translates onto the owner. It’s these owners that have no regard for the dog or its needs. They only think of dogs as an accessory that elevates their status among their friends and social groups. Its owners like these that do more harm than good for Pit bulls. Pit bulls can and are good family dogs. "They're awesome dogs as pets as long as the owner is responsible" states Ashley Clark, a member of Saving Paws Animal Rescue of Kentucky (qtd. in Mayse). A key mistake committed by many owners is they don’t take the time to socialize their dogs, which is paramount for a healthy pet, both mentally and physically. As dog trainer Victoria Stillwell asserts in USA Today “A dog is a social animal, so lack of social interaction can seriously damage its psychological well being”. Dogs need to be taught how to interact with members of the family as well as with other pets and strangers. Yes, socializing a pet is a time consuming task but one that should not be avoided. To leave a dog to its own devices is doing a great disservice to them and to any potential victim of a poor socialized animal. Another huge error by the owner is not exercising their dog. We all have basic needs like food, water, and sleep. Exercise is a basic need for dogs. Dogs will misbehave from lack of exercising. The misbehavior can come in the form of chewing, excessive barking, and acting aggressively. Leaving a dog in the house or in the backyard is not the equivalent of going for a walk or a run. When owners do this day in and day out, they are left with a dog that’s about...