Monday, May 07, 2012

The Hard Truth From Orlando

The end of an American icon: Outlawing the American Pit-bull
The American pit bull: loyal, tenacious, affectionate -- the RCA dog, the Little Rascals’ Petey (AKA General Grant/Jiggs buried in Maryland . How’s that for irony?), the first American War Dog -- is about to be eradicated. They aren't any where near the greatest number of dog-bite perpetrators, but the greatest number of dog attack-related fatalities involve the pit-bull or pit-mix. That's a fact.
So the reaction by the Maryland Court of Appeals is to do everything possible to end the ownership of pit bulls, and therefore prospectively end the breed, by increasing financial liability to the point that its in your best interest to take your pit or pit-mix pet straight to the shelters and have it put down and get yourself a goldfish or some other non-liability causing pet instead. So we can anticipate a glut of surrendered or abandoned pit bulls or supposed pit-mixes dumped at shelters to be euthanized in Maryland over the next few months. And when other locations enact similar rulings, thousands more pets will be abandoned or killed.
So what's the malfunction here? The malfunction is 30 years of idiot owners, pet over-population and little regulation or enforcement of owner responsibilities. The statistical dates of the dog bites and dog attack fatalities correlate directly to the rise of the American drug culture and rampant immigration. That's when we had a resurgence of breeding pit bulls for increased aggression, a resurgence of dog baiting and dog fighting, breeding attack dogs to protect drug dealers and their property. But a lot of aggressive dogs don't belong to criminals or immigrants from dog-fighting cultures. They belong to lazy, dysfunctional or just plain ignorant dog owners who consider pets an entitlement rather than a privilege.
Back in the 50's and 60's, everybody had German Shepherds -- popularized by Rin-Tin-Tin. And then we had a glut of dog attacks in the media by Shepherds until you don't see Shepherds as the family dog nearly as frequently as you used to. Shepherds went out of favor because of mishandling, misunderstanding and injuries. But we didn't eradicate the breed; we acknowledged they were working dogs and that's largely where you see them today.
I have a rescue mutt; optimistically labeled by my vet as a Lab-mix, though I think they fibbed because of the incredible number of abandoned and abused pit bulls and pit-mixes bred by our extraordinarily prolific immigrant and ethnic dog-fighting population here in Orlando . They save what they can with labels and services.
She's not my first dog. She's not my first big dog. But she's my first with some pit bull in the mix.
The fact is, I knew my puppy was going to be a big dog. I knew she would be able to do some harm if I didn't have some control. I had her neutered at four months of age. We went to a formal Obedience School at five. She's 2 1/2 years old now and weighs a whopping 77 pounds. She goes on a short leash with a pinch collar or Gentle Leader collar always. If I have her in a park around children, she is muzzled. She is allowed to play in a fenced yard with a play buddy (a neighborhood dog she adores) but under my direct supervision. She is never left alone in the yard unsupervised. She is not tied or chained. She is allowed the run of my small apartment and my gated porch. She goes with me in the car on routine errands. She's kennel-trained and well-behaved when left alone.
I do not allow roughhousing with her by family or by neighbors. Having had a couple of bad experiences with other people's unsupervised pets (probably the source of her dislike of other big dogs), I do not take her to dog parks. We work continually on basic behavior and training techniques on her five to six daily walks and when visiting friends and family.
It grieves me to see all these good, loving animals which are going to be put down because of this court's ruling. I think it's hideous the mistreatment to which we subject these and other animals -- and there's no real effort to stop it. And pit bull eradication won't stop dog bites or fatalities. We need corrective regulation across the board for pet ownership; mandatory micro-chip to establish ownership of all off-leash pets, mandatory spay or neuter of pets for non-breeders, limitations and regular compliance inspections for licensed breeders, dog handler training for children and adults with insurance incentives to encourage compliance. Dog fighting and dog-baiting should be prison-level or deportation offenses. Landlords should know what kinds of pets are appropriate for their property and lease to compliant tenants only.
But animal welfare has always taken a backseat to human entitlement. The dogs will be dumped, tortured and killed; the twit-heads who wouldn't do the minimum to keep their pets from harm or harming others will find something else to mistreat, misuse and neglect. Such is the nature of the human beast and it will not be legislated away.

   Florida Cracker

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