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Marines Give Dogs 60 Days to Get Out of Town

Marines Give Dogs 60 Days to Get Out of Town

 

The U.S. Marine Corps ruled against several dog breeds they consider to be dangerous from living on Marine installations.  They have given the owners 60 days to either move their dogs out of base housing or apply for a waiver which will require their pets to be tested. 

 

The rule which is now part of the Marine Corps Housing Management Manual bans purebred and mixed breed Pit bull dogs, Rottweilers and canid/ wolf hybrids from being on “any Marine Corps installation, at any time.”  The only exception would be trips directly to and from a base veterinary office, “with no other stops aboard the installation authorized.”

 

The MarineTimes reported, “Base residents who do not comply with the policy may be evicted.”

 

The new mandate sounds harsh, but unfortunately it was born out of several tragedies that could have been prevented, if some of the dogs’ owners were more responsible. 

 

In 2005 a Rottweiler living on base at Camp Lejeune, N.C, got loose and grabbed a 9-year-old girl by the head while she was playing outside.  The child survived, but received disfiguring injuries to her face and neck.  She has needed several painful surgeries and faces more as she gets older.

 

And this summer a 3-year-old boy was attacked and killed by a Pit bull dog that was visiting the base. 

 

The lawyer for the 9-year-old girl’s family said, “It’s clear to anyone who drives around Camp that dogs routinely run loose.  The Marine Corps has a problem.”  The Corps addressed this problem by implementing the new ban.

 

The actual policy states it this way, “The rise in ownership of large dog breeds with a predisposition toward aggressive or dangerous behavior, coupled with the increased risk of tragic incidents involving these dogs, necessitates a uniform policy to provide for the health, safety and tranquility of all residents of family housing areas.” 

 

The ban is actually trying to be fair by making a concession for residents who already own one of the restricted breeds.  It is giving them 60 days to apply for a waiver that would “grandfather” their pets until September 30, 2012.  The waiver must be approved by the installation commander, and the dog must pass a “nationally-recognized temperament test, administered and interpreted by individuals who have been certified in technique and evaluation of the test results, at the service member resident’s expense.  Such tests include Canine Good Citizen (AKC) and the Delta Test (Delta Society).”

 

The policy is good news for dog trainers who have started offering group and private classes to help the dogs prepare for the exam.  The dogs must be able to complete the following tasks:

  • Accept a friendly stranger
  • Sit politely for petting
  • Walk on a loose lead
  • Walk through a crowd
  • Perform the commands sit and down
  • Stay in place until called
  • Come when called

The test will also determine a dog’s reaction to another dog and to a distraction.

 

The ban has animal rescue groups like Pit Bull Rescue San Diego worried that many of the dogs won’t be able to pass the test and will be relinquished to animal shelters.  PBRSD stated, “Shelters are already at capacity from the housing and economic crisis.”  They are encouraging Marines who own these dogs to work on getting the waiver and training.  They have also posted a Pit-friendly housing list for anyone who is considering moving off base with their dogs.

 

Ultimately the dogs will be the ones to suffer if this new policy isn’t taken seriously.  They will be confiscated and evicted and will likely end up at shelters.  It’s sad that the Marine Corps was forced to implement this ban.  It is a commentary on what is going on all over the country with breed specific legislation; some pet owners are irresponsible, tragedy happens and people demand laws to make them safe.   

 

The Marines have until October 11, 2009 to get their waivers and have their dogs’ tested.  It will be interesting to see how many Marines follow-through and protect their pets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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130 comments

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8:07PM PDT on Oct 9, 2009

Deb H. - Thanks so much or the update! I think that's great.

9:37AM PDT on Oct 9, 2009

Nicole B.,
Not sure if you live in Calg., but despite the glowing report on the programs mentioned in that article you referred to, I can't help but note that pretty much every, single time there is a news story in Calg. about a dog who bit someone, that dog still ends up being KILLED by Calg. Animal Services (through court order). So I'm wondering if this is just more of the usual "hype" Calg. is famous for & doesn't actually reflect the real facts of life here for animals. (just as the Calg. H.S. invariably ends up killing off the vast majority of cats found in "hoarders" homes, then claims they were virtually all "too ill" or "unhomeable" or some other such nonsense. Those of us with more brains to disseminate the real facts from PR moves aren't so easily fooled.

So good idea in theory of course, but I'm just not convinced Calg. actually follows this program the way they claim they do, nor deserves such praise. Wouldn't be at all surprised if they're skewing the data to make themselves look good - happens a lot here.

9:20AM PDT on Oct 9, 2009

A current UPDATE (as of Oct. 9) on this story can be viewed at:
http://www.aspca.org/news/national/10-09-09.html

Excerpts from this article state:

ASPCA behaviorists report that of the 85 dogs assessed to date, only two were found to have a high enough potential for aggression to have to be removed from the base. "Two others showed aggressive tendencies, but one will work with a trainer and another will be neutered," comments Dr. Weiss. “The vast majority, however, are well-loved, well-behaved family pets.”
And,
"We're very excited about the ASPCA’s assessment," says Army Capt. Jenifer Gustafson, the Officer in Charge of the veterinary clinic on Parris Island. "This is a welcome alternative to the unpleasant possibility of pet parents being forced to give up their dogs or leave base housing.”

But they, and we, still need to focus *primarily* on re-educating people about the fallacies about breed-specific bans, or these types of scenarios will keep repeating themselves everywhere. Now that they've been adopted as 'fact' in the minds of so many, these false beliefs have taken on a life of their own, & the severe damage that has resulted needs undoing, for the sakes of all the dogs who end up dead as a result of such misperceptions.

12:30AM PDT on Oct 5, 2009

Bravo to Nicole B. You have great courage my friend and said a lot of things in your post that many of us were thinking but didn't have the guts to say. I wish you success. My partner has cancer and is just hanging in there. God Bless.

2:49PM PDT on Oct 3, 2009

sad that it is the animals that have to pay when it's the lazy people who are at fault!but then it's usually the animals who pay anyway!!sad,sad,very sad !

6:01AM PDT on Sep 28, 2009

I'm fed up with people that are irresponsible with pets and and children. They are too lazy to train them properly and kindly and let them run wild. This 'my personal freedom' thing as gotten way out of hand in the US. If you can train your kids to behave respectfully, then don't expect them to train their dogs either. Sad, the dogs have to suffer.

4:44AM PDT on Sep 28, 2009

I feel very sad today to read this. I am not expecting these Marines to take the time to enroll in these programs. It will show how many are really animal caregivers for certain. Fear or not, a well cared for animal will not bite. Unless agression has been instilled in the animal. Or it feels threatened....please reconsider the ban, and consider humane kennels being built on the housing site that would give time for training of ANY pet dog living there. You owe it to mans best friend!

4:05AM PDT on Sep 28, 2009

I agree it is the owners who need training. BSL does not stop dogs biting, there is some research out there that shows you are more likely to be bitten by a lab than a pittie!

12:49AM PDT on Sep 28, 2009

I can understand why people would want to ban dogs that are deemed "dangerous" and have attacked previous residents/children. I mean if your child was mauled by a large dog, wouldn't you want them off of where you live too? However, I do not agree that they should be banned. A lot of dogs are going to get put into shelters now, since their owners most likely won't want to relocate. It's so sad. I wish the world was more educated on dogs and how to raise them right.

8:13PM PDT on Sep 27, 2009

Every dog that lives in a neighborhood (vs working farm dogs, and maybe even them) should be able to pass this test. People are so lazy about training their dogs. It makes the dogs happier and less anxious.

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