President Obama’s administration officially came out against groups attempting legislate against ownership of pit bulls. So why do so many people still think pit bulls are dangerous?
The response says that the administration doesn’t think breed specific legislation works:
“We don’t support breed-specific legislation — research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources.
“As an alternative to breed-specific policies, the CDC recommends a community-based approach to prevent dog bites. And ultimately, we think that’s a much more promising way to build stronger communities of pets and pet owners.”
Despite many pit bull advocates arguing that pit bulls are no different than other dogs, there remain many anti-pit bull forces at work.
A May 2012 ruling by a Maryland appeals court ruled that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous” and that owners of the dogs — as well as landlords renting to pit bull owners — can be found liable for damages if one were to bite or attack. The ruling was reversed by the Maryland House of Delegates earlier this year, though much of the damage to pro-pit bull defenses was already done.
A New York Times article from March 2013 notes the difficulties some renters in America’s most expensive rental market can face when attempting to secure a home while owning a pit bull.
The family in the article was unable to secure a home — even in buildings that claimed to be “big dog friendly” — until the couple was able to take photos from different angles designed to minimize their dog’s “pit bull looks.”
The pit bull bias runs deep. As an owner of a three-year-old hound/pit bull mix named Penny, pictured left, I encounter non-dog-owners who will cross to the other side of a street to avoid her or shriek if they see her without any advanced notice.
Even fellow dog owners struggle to understand why people would own a pit bull.
One time last summer, at NYC’s Madison Square Dog Park, I brought my pit bull mix and yellow lab puppy to play on a Saturday morning. Upon entering the park, we noted an older golden retriever right by the entrance looking a bit territorial but thought nothing of it given its breed.
Within seconds, the golden retriever took an aggressive stance against my pit bull mix and they began to fight. What first looked like it might be play turned into an all-out dog fight. I was stunned as I realized what was going on — could my dog, who’s never done anything designed to hurt anyone, have been the instigator?
The dozen people in the park all swarmed around to check on the golden retriever, assuming it must have been hurt by the vicious pit bull. Their whispers filled the air. “Pit bulls.” “People shouldn’t even be allowed to have those dogs.” “How can you own one of those?”
I looked down to check on my dog and noticed my hands were covered in blood from my pit bull who had bites all over her right cheek, ear, and hind leg. She hadn’t been the aggressor; all of the damage inflicted was by the golden retriever who, coincidentally, emerged without a scratch.
The golden retriever’s owner could only offer a muffled “Sorry” while I not-so-graciously pointed out my dog’s litany of injuries compared to the “poor victim” dog being coddled by a group of blissfully ignorant dog owners. Despite my righteous indignation, there was no joy in escorting my pit bull to an emergency vet that Sunday morning.
Dogs are some of the best friends a man, woman, or child can have in their lives. But, in every way, they are what we make of them.
The White House has recognized that. Now it’s time for the rest of society to catch up.
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