Saturday, April 9, 2011


Why don't people take dog ownership seriously? And then why do people label breeds so quickly as dangerous?

News flash people - any breed under the right circumstance is dangerous!! And unfortunately people seem to be really good at creating those right circumstances

There was another dog attack in the local news this week. I read a follow up column on it in the paper last night - Most Recent Pit Bull attack begs the question... how can these attacks be prevented?

My simple answer? by training and exercising you dog. Tired dogs are good dogs. Bored, restless, adolescent dogs (of any breed) get into trouble.

As I read through the article, I really wished the author would have offered real solutions for the issue. Instead it focused on the horrors of dog attacks and once again singled out breeds as inherently dangerous. News flash - all dogs have teeth, all dogs can bite. The author did the normal search for "Pit bulls". Which of course left out the story about the Golden Retriever in Australia that mauled four people and the Miniature Poodle that attacked a young boy.

In the article the author states “Look, people: If you are going to own a dog such as a pit bull, or a mastiff, or a German shepherd dog, you need to be aware of the risks involved and take every precaution to ensure your dog will not end up in the headlines after another horrible incident.”

In the interest of prevention I would have phrased it a bit differently. Because while I understand and agree with the point they are trying to make, I think this statement is a little misguided. I would change it to read “you need to be aware of the responsibilities of owning a dog (any dog) and ensure that it has proper training and exercise. Dogs have needs and when these needs are not met issues arise.

I’ll go out on a limb here and venture to guess what life was like for those two dogs now in the news. Keep in mind they are young, adolescent dogs high energy dogs of a working breed. The type of dog that could probably run for 3 or 4 miles just fine, or play fetch for 45 minutes at least twice a day. I would surmise that they had minimal exercise and training - perhaps they were just let out in the yard or taken for walks around the block. I’d suspect that they were bored, restless and edgy because of it. Then they are expected to stay home and out of trouble for 8-10 hours a day while their owner is at work. This is an incredibly unhealthy state of mind for any dog. Just like a teenager would get into trouble if they had nothing to do all day, dogs will too.

On the flip side, I imagine that a person involved in dog training/dog sports could have taken one of those dogs and by this age had a dog that was well on it’s way to becoming a great performance dog. Instead the dogs will most likely be euthanized when their 10 days are up (which I agree with - you can’t have dogs in a neighborhood that have already attacked a person to that extent).

People taking on any high energy working breed need to be aware of the dog’s needs and have a plan in place for meeting those needs.

So instead of well meaning, but essentially useless "Dangerous Dog" ordinances (Seriously, if someone thinks my mutt looks like like it could have GSD in it than it is automatically assumed dangerous?) let's work on getting to the root of this issue - educating owners and holding them responsible.

If you want to own a dog, great! You just need to complete a simple study course and written test when you apply for the license. Your unlicensed dog is out roaming the streets? You have a choice of paying a fine or volunteering at a local animal shelter for an afternoon. Your unlicensed dog is harassing neighbors? Here's a video on the effects of dog bites that you're watching. And no, you don't just have the option of surrendering your dog so that you're off the hook. Your dog viciously attacks someone? It's going on your record until you pay fines and complete a community service project.

People need to step up to the plate and take responsibility for the animals they bring into their lives. They owe it to both their dogs and their neighbors.