The mayor of Sioux City, Iowa wants to lift the city’s pit bull ban and modify the “one bite and you’re out” vicious-animal ordinance. According to a recent article in the Sioux City Journal, no new pit bulls may currently be brought into Sioux City, and animals found to be vicious must be euthanized.
Some animal advocates oppose such laws, but I’m in favor of breed bans and wish it was illegal to bring pit bulls into my community. Of course, I believe that any breed ban should include a grandfather clause protecting dogs who are already living in good homes. They deserve to live the remainder of their lives safely and peacefully.
But for my own dog’s safety, I would never want to reside in a neighborhood where a pit bull was living. I simply could not take that risk. Ever since I moved to Sarasota in November, I’ve been keeping a watchful eye out for pit bulls and other potentially dangerous dogs. There is a reason why homeowner’s insurance is often higher for people with pit bulls, Rottweilers, and other potentially dangerous dog breeds: They pose a greater threat to public safety.
Although pit bulls can be loving companions when cared for by kind people, they are bred to be aggressive. It goes without saying that a dog’s temperament and behavior will vary depending on how he or she is treated, but “vicious” behavior tends to be common in pit bulls. Even those who don’t have a history of abuse and have never displayed signs of aggression have “snapped,” mauling neighborhood children or animals, or even attacking their caregivers.
All dogs, including mixed breeds, are capable of aggression, of course, but, according to DogBite.org, in the three year period from 2006 to 2008, pit bull type dogs killed 52 Americans and accounted for 59% of all fatal attacks. Combined, pit bulls and Rottweilers accounted for 73% of these deaths. There were 318 media reported pit bull attacks from January to June 2009.
People who oppose breed bans often point out that people are the problem, not pit bulls. This is a true. Pit bulls have a reputation as a living weapon and are abused more than any other breed of dog on the planet. Many of them are forced to fight and they understandably become vicious as a result. Others are used as guard dogs or “status symbols.” They are starved and beaten and chained to metal barrels so that they will become “fierce” and attack people and other animals. They usually aren’t spayed or neutered, and reports show that unaltered dogs are three times more likely to bite.
If you care about dogs—all dogs, as I do—why not support legislation that will stop people from bringing more pits into the world to be fought, mistreated, and exploited? That doesn’t mean that every pit bull must be euthanized or relocated; it just means that we need to pass laws banning people from breeding more pit bulls.
In case anyone thinks that I’m simply “singling out” one breed, please understand that I’m in favor of a ban on all breeding. With millions of animals euthanized in shelters every year, there is no excuse for anyone to continue churning out pit bulls, poodles, Pomeranians, or any other dogs. But we must start somewhere and since pit bulls are so often abused and are already prohibited in some communities, it makes sense for caring people to encouragelawmakers to pass and uphold similar bans everywhere. This will not only protect the public, it will protect pit bulls and other dogs too.
For a more detailed explanation, and information on PETA’s efforts to help pit bulls, see PETA’s position statements on pit bull bans.
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