Enough with the pit bull fear-mongering

I do believe I’ve had enough of the prejudiced attitudes towards pit bulls, or towards any breed of dog that resembles them.

They are, after all, just a dog. A dog that has been given a bad reputation because of their history, a history created by humans. About 60 years ago one guy said to another guy, “I’ll bet my dog can kick your dog’s butt, and when he does it means I’m more of a man than you are.”

Let’s sit quietly and ponder the stupidity of such a statement. Unfortunately, it’s a premise that hasn’t been lost over the decades but instead amplified to such a degree that the dogs in question are still used in fighting matches to ensure the prowess of their owners.

The pit bull is the most abused breed of dog and the hardest to find a home for once it has been surrendered to shelters.

Why?

Because of the prejudiced fear of the breed, but also because of the sneers from others that a well-meaning person would have to endure upon adopting a pit bull.

When they are owned by educated, responsible people who have put the time and effort into socializing and training them, they are a loyal, and gregariously natured dog. Of all the breeds that came through my classes the pit bull is by far the most intelligent.

Yet you rarely see them on any list of the “world’s most intelligent dogs.”

Most of the time their intelligence is greater than the person who owns them, leading to abuse and neglect which ends up creating behavioural problems.

Fortunately, education is changing people’s perceptions of dog aggression and many are beginning to understand that behavioural problems can happen in any breed. Any dog can express aggression towards another dog or human if it is abused, neglected, improperly trained and socialized. Yet humans have only been picking on the pit bull.

Cesar Milan has a great quote: “In the ’70s they blamed the doberman, in the ’80s they blamed the German shepherd, in the ’90s they blamed the rottweiller, now they are blaming the pit bull.”

When will they start blaming the humans? The pit bull didn’t create itself.

Fortunately there is a silver lining to this cloud of prejudice surrounding the pit bull and it’s right here, in our own back yards of B.C.

While the province of Ontario has Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), banning ownership of pit bulls in their province out of overzealous fear mongering, we here in British Columbia can boast of a more progressive stance toward these archaic views of the pit bull.

Many communities in the Lower Mainland have either changed their bylaws regarding breed specific regulations, or are reviewing them because they recognize that they are prejudiced and outdated.

In many B.C. municipalities, bylaws once referred to vicious dogs as any dog that has attacked a person or animal without provocation, OR, a Staffordshire terrier, pit bull or any dog generally recognized as a pitbull or mixed breed that resembles a pit bull. In essence, pit bulls or dogs that look like them are already labeled as vicious, even if they have done nothing but be exemplary members of our community.

Fortunately changes to many of these bylaws now state that “any” dog is considered vicious that has attacked a person or animal without provocation. The biased reference to pit bulls is now gone.

This means the responsibility for a vicious dog of any breed now begins to reflect back on the owner, and whether it was a lack of proper care and training that led the dog to bite.

Hallelujah!


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