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Norwich Bulletin - 1/16/2005

There Are No Bad Dogs

Newspapers, television and radio stories about Pit Bulls tend to scare the general public and result in very bad press for these dogs that were once the darlings of the United States and just about our national dog! In 1898, the American Pit Bull Terrier became a foundation breed for the UKC, a new canine registry that recognized breeds that the AKC would not.

These dogs were seen in advertisements all over the country. They were our World War I war dogs because of their strong bodies, sweet temperaments, dependability and loyalty. They were the poster dogs for the war and used in countless advertising campaigns.

The RCA dog, Buster Brown and Petey, the beloved dog of the Rascals, were all Pit Bulls. Celebrities all owned this breed including Fred Astaire and President Woodrow Wilson. The Pit Bull Terrier was our nation's top dog. So what happened?

People happened. Because of their loyalty to their humans, they have been trained to be aggressive and dangerous, EVEN THOUGH it is not in their nature to be this way towards humans. While the Staffordshire bull terrier was bred to become the dog of choice in England's dog fighting sport, here in the United States people decided not only to teach them to fight other dogs, but to guard their stashes of drugs and other illegal substances.

And what has happened is that the media has given over to the hype of the "bad breed" rather than the bad trainer and that result is that insurance companies, apartment complexes, kennels, pet friendly hotels and inns, and other public organizations have banned the breed or made it so expensive the average dog owner cannot afford to keep his pet.

One of the results of this media blitz against Pit Bulls is breed legislation which, in effect, disallows a person the freedom of choosing their breed of dog. Instead of calling people to task for how they train their dogs, abuse or neglect them, the legislation collectively blames all the dogs of a particular breed for all the problems.

Instead, perhaps they should look at the owners and have some type of law that stops the particular person from owning the breed rather than the breed from being owned by other responsible parties?

And then there are the laws that don't exactly ban Pit Bulls but make it so restrictive that only the drug dealers with lots of money could afford to own one! For instance, the towns and cities require a minimum insurance coverage of $100,000 that covers dog bites. The dogs are required to be kept in kennels with a top on it and when walked, they must be muzzled and kept on a short lead.

So what happens is that the breeders of fighting dogs and drug dealers that use these dogs to guard them and their substances simply replace any dogs who are confiscated and subsequently destroyed, while much loved Pit Bulls who are gentle and sweet end up being left at shelters because there are so many cost prohibitive restrictions on owning them.

These dogs, who are the same sweet dogs that were revered during World War I, suffer the same fate and consequences that the aggressive and dangerous dogs do because there are too many people afraid of the breed.

I have rescued a few Pit Bulls and these dogs have wonderful personalities and wonderful homes with friends of mine. My Dogo Argentino was also rescued from a pound and suffers the same breed connotation that the Pit Bull. But even for those of us who are not generally afraid of these breeds, one must be very careful in choosing a Pit Bull to bring home from the pound, particularly since you can't ever really know the background of the dog.

You can't bring home a dog who has been trained to kill other animals and expect them to be friends with your cats or Yorkshire Terrier. And yet, on the other hand, so many good dogs die because people are afraid to take a chance.

I suggest that the laws be changed to reflect the times. Punish the people, swiftly and harshly for breaking the laws. Punish those who engage in dog fighting and who abuse and neglect these dogs to make them vicious.

Increase the fines and the punishments for animal abuse and drug trafficking. Stop the random breeding of fighting dogs and get the breed back out in public in a positive manner. How easy to blame a dog for all of society's ills - after all it's the easy way out since they can't speak for themselves.

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