May 22, 2012 by Lillian Winkler
by Lillian Winkler
Recently West Fork City Council presented a draft of animal control ordinance including banning the Pit Bull breed with the exception of current owners that have papers on their dog. Many towns all across America have done the same with a few passing, including 19 already in Arkansas. The Pit Bull isn’t the first however to be deemed a vicious animal, throughout history many breeds including Rottweilers, Bulldogs and Mastiffs have been prohibited within numerous city limits. A large factor when proposing a ban is a review of the local dog bite or dog attack reports. If a pattern is occurring involving violence connected to a certain breed of dog it is the communities responsibility to take action.
However, according to many sites including the Endangered Breed Association, its believed that dog bite statistics can be unreliable in regards to the identification of a breed explaining that it is far more difficult then one would imagine. Especially in high dog populated areas mixed breeds outnumber purebreds, which can lead an untrained eye to only see certain familiar characteristics of a dog. Pit Bulls for example are actually a common name used referring to three separate breeds which are the American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. Many would rightly dispute that the numbers don’t lie when it comes to the high percentage of violent incidents involving Pit Bull dogs and other attack statistics. On the Human Society webpage they go further in explaining the problems behind this kind of reasoning by stating that in one area there might be 5 attacks by Golden Retrievers and 10 attacks by Pit Bulls when in reality the population of Pit Bulls in the area outnumber the Golden retrievers 10 to 1 which in turn would make the Golden retriever more dangerous. Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) is very controversial and can be viewed as solving a problem with the wrong solution by blaming a certain breed for continuous violent behavior rather then viewing it as an overpopulation issue.
There are many myths about Pit Bulls which have been fed by media or individual experiences that allow them to be more easily discriminated. Many of these fabrications such as locking jaw, brain swelling, natural violent tendencies as mentioned on the Animal Planet site promote irrational fear, not to mention the unnecessary cropping of the ears to obtain a more malicious appearance. Before the recent outbreak of “finger pointing” the Pit Bull breed had a phenomenal record of loyalty and safety during the 19th century being classified as “The Nanny Dog” because of its great temperament with children and a protective relationship with human beings. During WW1 Sergeant Stubby, a Pit Bull, became the most decorated war-dog in history and received multiple medals for his bravery, loyalty and intelligence. In addition to Pit Bulls being issued medals and serving as therapy dogs you can read many more heroic stories where Pit Bulls save the day.
The fear for these dogs is in no way a delusion, they are big, fast, are very strong and most definitely have the ability to cause severe harm to you and others whether you know them or not. What many people don’t know though is the very first dog to ever be banned in the U.S is the German Sheppard which is now utilized by the police and the blind being a service animal. The important thing to remember is that this could be with any dog, no matter the breed. A dog is an animal and should be treated like one; with caution.
As explained on the CDC website precautions must always be made when coming in contact with dogs. First of all, socialization at a early age is very important, allow the animal to come in contact with many different people and other pets and reward friendliness during an impressionable age. It is never a good idea to approach an unfamiliar dog and if one is spotted near you that appears to be behaving oddly or isn’t accompanied by an adult it should be reported immediately to be handled by officials. Getting a dog spayed or neuter should be a priority for any non-breeder, aggressive behavior often stems from an unfixed dog merely reacting to their natural instincts and hormones. Discipline can’t be stressed enough when dealing with your pet and is paramount when regarding its behavior towards you and others. Most who get dogs want companionship or protection, you can choose to be the dog’s friend and allow misbehavior that can lead to future troubles, or you can take control by becoming the alpha and gaining your pets respect resulting in a well mannered and safe comrade.
Lillian Winkler lives in Fayetteville and has a 5 month old Pit Bull puppy herself. Just like with any young pup, Trillion is a handful and requires much time and attention. Having dealt with many bully breeds she is confident that with the right kind of discipline and training she will have a great pet for years to come.