i copied and pasted this from a note i wrote in an angry frenzy on my Facebook profile.
I was doing the dishes while watching the 10pm news, and couldn’t believe it. I almost dropped what I was washing.
The local news was reporting a case in Dallas, where today, neighbors discovered two pit bulls tied up in the backyard of a house, BOTH ON FIRE.
One of the neighbors who went to their rescue said she discovered the dogs from hearing their yelps.
The Dallas Humane Society took photos and video after the incident for evidence, and had to put the two dogs down because of the severity of their injuries.
Thank god my pit bull, Jenga, doesn’t understand English – she was sitting just a few feet away from me, chewing happily on a piece of rawhide.
Most Texas residents may not know this, but a “big dog” bill is currently being discussed before a state House committee.
According to an article on Channel 11 KHOU’s website,
“The measure pushed by Democratic Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio would require “vicious” dogs to be registered, insured and heavily restrained. The bill defines dogs as vicious if they’re though capable of causing serious injury due to its “physical nature” or is overly aggressive, jumps at the fence and makes people think it could attack.
Opponents say the bill would unfairly punish responsible owners of large dogs just because passers-by might be afraid.
They also say a provision requiring dogs that weigh more than 40 pounds to be leashed unless they’re at home or in a “secure enclosure” would put some therapy dogs and show dogs out of work. “
In a related article on the same site, pit bull owners in Austin have already voiced protest at the bill.
Breed specific legislation, commonly known as BSL, is the unfortunate result of irresponsible and under-educated dog ownership. Pit bulls, rottweilers, chows, akitas, and german shepherds are all vulnerable to BSL discrimination.
There’s no denying the facts: according to DogBiteLaw.com, pit bulls were responsible for 65% of all (fatal and non-fatal) dog bites in 2008, and Texas ranked number one for dog bites last year as well, with a total of 7. However, there are also other factors to consider. According to a San Francisco Chronicle article,
“…experts disagree about whether pit bulls are inherently more dangerous — or just the latest breed in vogue among irresponsible dog owners.
After all, German shepherds killed more people than any other dog in the late 1970s, when many people favored the breed for its fierce reputation. Then, for two years, it was Great Danes. Rottweilers topped the list of killer dogs through most of the ’90s, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control. Now it’s pit bulls.”
The problem is knowledge, and the severe lack of it.
Before I adopted Jenga, I did hours upon hours of research, visiting websites, watching videos, buying and reading books, and talking to pit bull owners. I learned important information about the breed – feeding, training, temperament, strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, common behavior, and how to read a dog’s body language: ears, tail, stance, eyes, sounds…etc. Responsible ownership includes consistent discipline and TRAINING. Those who know me sometimes say I am a bit heavy handed when it comes to Jenga, but in the same breath, they praise her obedience, attentiveness, and good demeanor. Jenga is not my “wittle bunny foo foo”; she’s my best friend and constant companion. I respect her, and she respects me. If there were to be dog legislation passed, it should be that EVERY potential dog adopter should have to take an informational quiz/test on training, ownership, and dog behavior in relation to the breed they are looking to adopt.
Even those who do not own dogs need to be aware of how to behave around dogs. According to DogBiteLaw.com:
* A dog in its own yard, and no master present. In 2008, 78% of the human fatalities were by dogs in their own yard.
* The pack mentality. Three dogs are worse than 2, 4 are worse than 3, etc. Docile dogs often become uncharacteristically violent and vicious when they are in a pack. In 2008, 39% of the fatalities involved multiple dogs.
* Chained or tethered. Dogs that are tied up are dangerous. In 2008, 9% of the fatalities involved chained dogs.
* Male. Male dogs are several times more dangerous than female dogs. Un-neutered male dogs are the worst.
* Newness. A new dog in the house is dangerous for the first 60 days, and a person who is new to a household where a dog resides is in danger of attack for the first 60 days. In 2007 and 2008, 20% of fatal dog attacks involved a new person or dog sharing a household for a period of two months or less.
These are all things that can be explained by an ill-informed public. Dogs in their own yard with no master around is going to be protective of their property, and dogs that are chained or tethered cannot escape from someone they find threatening, which leaves them with only attack as the only means of protecting themselves. It’s the same as approaching a frightened dog backed into a corner.
Pack mentality, male dogs being more dangerous than females, and newness are fairly logical variables to take into consideration, but are often forgotten. Adults should teach their children more commonly known dog behavior, such as not staring a strange dog in the face (it’s perceived as a challenge), not approaching a dog while staring it in the face (same reasons), and the most common mistake, looking a dog in the face, freezing, then running away (this is extremely submissive behavior, and may result in getting chased, then attacked). The best way to handle a dog that might have escaped its yard and is taking an uncomfortable interest in you is to feign interest in something else, fake an exaggerated yawn, turn sideways towards the dog, and start walking away (this tells the dog that you see him/her, and are not interested, and most importantly, not afraid). These are all common behaviors that dogs use with other dogs to diffuse a threatening situation. In many cases, dogs meet their deaths as “dangerous dogs” and owners lose their beloved companions simply because their dog was reacting the way dogs naturally react to a situation, and those who were bitten were the ones at fault due to lack of education.
This may not always be the case, and there ARE DANGEROUS, AGGRESSIVE DOGS, but RESPONSIBLE OWNERS AND AN EDUCATED PUBLIC CAN REDUCE THOSE INSTANCES DRAMATICALLY.
Story time: Once Alex and I were driving to go get food in College Station when we almost hit a large (65-70lb) pit bull/lab mix that ran across the road. We could see he had tags, and decided to try to help him find his owners, which should be easy since he seemed to be sticking to a nearby apartment complex. We parked the car, and Alex jumped out and cautiously started towards the dog, calling in an upbeat voice. The dog (an intact male) took off even further. He gave up and let me have a try. I got out, and walked away from where the dog was watching us. I sat on a curb and twiddled my thumbs, looking around at random things. Slowly, the dog made his way towards me. I let him sniff me, ignoring him completely and not making any moves until he was done, and finally began to talking to him and petting him. We got a hold of his collar and tags, and ended up getting him back to his owner, a little boy who lived in the complex. (Alex had to help lead the dog back, because the dog outweighed his owner. Too cute.)
A dog like that running loose, not approached by two pit bull owners (Alex and I both own pits), might have had a different outcome with someone else. I am by no means trying to applaud myself or Alex: my point is simply, A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE GOES A LONG WAY. Another reason the dog might have chosen to run from Alex and come to me might have had something to do with the fact that Alex is a 6′ 5″ tall male, and I am a 5′ 2″ female. Who cares if that’s true or not, but at least we stopped to consider it so we didn’t get bit. Patience plus know-how rarely yields a negative.
My spontaneous rant is nearly over, and here’s my plea to you:
1. If you are looking to buy a dog, CONSIDER ADOPTION. Just consider it. I understand it’s not for everyone, just be sure it’s not for selfish reasons.
2. Speaking of selfish reasons, DO NOT GET A SPECIFIC TYPE OF DOG BECAUSE IT LOOKS COOL. That’s both selfish and STUPID. Research the breed you want, and if it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, you NEED TO CHOOSE SOMETHING ELSE, or WAIT FOR THE RIGHT TIME.
3. If you CURRENTLY OWN a PIT BULL, PIT BULL MIX, or any of the other “dangerous” breeds listed above, do what you can to be a responsible owner, and educate others. GIVE YOUR DOG A VOICE.
4. If you DON’T OWN A DOG, or HAVE CHILDREN, EDUCATE THEM AND YOURSELF.
We can stop BSL and breed specific violence with some effort and education.