Dangerous Dogs - Breed Bans?
Take Two - Not About Breed Bans!
July 2001 | TheDogPress.com
Mike Murray, Another Viewpoint
I have received a lot of email about this article. I have been called a few names, been corrected, and had lots of 'statistics' thrown at me. Which just shows me that this is a problem that can't be solved, at least certainly not by me. I am obviously just not that good a communicator.
I am not for breed bans. I am not for puppy mills. I am for standing back and looking at both sides of an issue and trying to find a solution. That is what I have been trying to accomplish. I have been trying to get breeders to look at these issues from the point of view of the public. Instead I get all sorts of email trying to 'educate' me. But I'm not the one pushing for new legislation. It's the public you have to reach. And you will never reach them in any meaningful way as long as you make no attempt to understand their side, when you attack them or get hostile and defensive, and you just throw numbers around that really don't make any sense.
I grew up around Rottweilers, cleaning kennels before and after school. I am now in my mid-forties and have spent most of that time around one 'dangerous' breed or another. I understand them and I am comfortable with them. But I am not a breeder. My closest friends are not breeders. My social life does not revolve around dog shows. So I can see and understand both sides of the issues.
The public perceives certain breeds as dangerous, right or wrong, and unless and until you change that perception these breeds will continue to get legislated. And so far breeders have gotten it totally wrong. I only have to read my email to see that. I have all sorts of email telling me that all dogs are equally good, that if a dog bites it is always the stupid owners fault. Wow, that ought to win 'em over! I have countless emails full of questionable statistics such as Pomeranians attack more than Pit Bulls, then the very same letter will again tell me that no one breed is more likely to attack than another. Hunh?
It may well be that Pomeranians bite more than Pit Bulls, but that's not the issue. Pom bites take band-aids, Pit Bull bites require stitches. Irregardless of the statistical likelihood of a certain breed biting, big dogs hurt more than little dogs. Couple this with the constant barrage of news stories about 'dog bites child' and it becomes easy to understand why the public is wary of these breeds.
By the way, don't totally blame the news media if you feel the statistics are skewed to show more bites from 'dangerous' dogs. A Chihuahua snapping at your finger is not newsworthy. That kid that had his ear torn off down here is. That's the nature of news.
I have become totally frustrated with breeders' inability to understand where the public is coming from. I have emails telling me that it is a breeders God-given right to raise any breed anywhere they please. Even if it was a right is it sensible? If you try to raise Dobermans in an apartment complex it is dumb from both a public relations and a liability viewpoint.
I think the main issue all comes down once again to public image. Ethical breeders have no way of distinguishing themselves from the commercial breeder on the one hand and the 'Cool, I've got Rottweilers' backyard breeder on the other. Responsible breeders are not the problem, it's the redneck raising Pit Bulls behind his trailer and the puppy mill spewing out Dobermans. But the public has no way of knowing the difference and breeders don't want to do anything to separate themselves fearing 'loss of rights' so it becomes a winner take all fight.
All I have been trying to say is don't dismiss the publics' fear of certain breeds. They are not doing it on purpose, no one decides to pick on a particular breed today let's call all our friends. Try to understand and find a way to change it. Statistics are useless. If I am walking down a sidewalk and I see a large dog coming toward me I don't carry dog bit statistics in my head to crunch and determine the likelihood of being bitten. I see the dog and either I am afraid or I am not. If I am afraid don't treat me like I am stupid because I don't know whether or not your dog is dangerous or that a hundred years ago it was bred to bait bulls. Show me your dog and your breed in a positive light.
Anyway, I won't belabor the point any further. These are just my opinions. Either I am totally wrong or I am incapable of getting my point across. Either way there is no sense going on about it. And you don't need to send me email telling me how wrong I am, I have plenty.
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