Breed Specific Legislation is not a substitute for being a responsible pet owner

Do you feel personally victimized by breed-specific legislation? Yeah, me too. I love my city, but unfortunately Denver is one of 937 cities in the United States to ban Pit Bulls. While I do not have a Pit Bull myself, I have had difficulty finding housing complexes that allow my two German Shepherds, as they are often on the “breed restricted” list. In my experience, a Cocker Spaniel or Chihuahua is just as likely – if not MORE likely – to bite than so-called “aggressive” breeds. 

I am not trying to minimize the fact that dog bites can do serious harm. Usually when we hear about a dog attack in the media, it is because a child has been seriously injured or potentially killed. It is gut wrenching. And it is an understandable reaction for the government to think that placing a ban on the specific breed that could inflict this kind of injury would solve the issue. If it were that easy, then why hasn’t the frequency of dog bite wounds decreased since banning breeds? Breed-specific legislation has made NO headway in reducing dog bites. And that is because it’s the people who need to change, NOT that the dogs need to be banned or confined.

Here’s the thing: animals are only as good as the people who care for them. Having a companion animal is a privilege, not a right. When you take on the responsibility of having a dog, you are committed to making sure that your pet can safely interact with other animals and with people. And if they can’t, then it is your responsibility to keep them away from their triggers. Does your dog go after small dogs? Children? Men? Then keep it on a leash. Keep them muzzled in public. See a veterinary behaviorist. 

I understand that some people genuinely exhaust all of the resources available to them, and some dogs have simply had too much trauma to recover. They may always have aggressive tendencies, and they may always pose a risk to people or other pets. However, the majority of dog bites are preventable. It is our responsibility to teach children how to interact with dogs – they are animals, and they will react instinctually if they are threatened in any way. And more importantly, if an animal has shown any aggressive tendency toward people, it does not belong in a household with a child. Period. 

It is pretty inevitable that at some point, your dog will bite another dog or it will bite a person. Or your dog might be the victim of the bite. It is very easy to get let your temper get the best of you in these situations, and to yell and blame the other dog owner. At the end of the day, ask yourself – are you being a responsible owner? Was your dog on a leash? Did you take an aggressive dog to an off leash park? Dogs will be dogs, and to be blunt about it, shit happens. I get it. But maybe if everyone did their part to be a responsible dog owner, we wouldn’t have to be breedist and face legislative action against our beloved companions. 

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