There are good reasons to advocate for a pet dog breed that drags babies from cribs, tears the face off toddlers, and shreds the limbs of women and teens. There are even good reasons to support such a breed, and their mixes, that's responsible for almost 60% of fatal dog attacks and maimings -- attacks that are unprovoked.
The good reasons:
The pit bull breed is really not a breed at all. It's a term that describes several breeds. American Pitbull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Owners emphasize that a dog that looks like a pit bull may not be a pit bull at all; it is something else. (Maybe a poodle?) So the beloved pit bull is unjustly blamed for attacks by look-alike dogs. Not fair.
Pit bulls can be gentle around children. They make good family pets -- but only if they're trained properly, socialized properly, and have had obedience training, and -- when this is done -- they're safe to be around and are no more likely to bite than other breeds.
And they do not have locking jaws, as some hysterical humans claim. In fact, a study has shown the pit bull and close mixes have a bite that is weaker than a Rottweiler and German Shepherd! (Remember this when you fail to pull one off a little girl while hitting it in the head with a lead pipe)
They challenge one's ability to be responsible and this is a good thing. Advocates say if it were not for irresponsible owners there would be no further attacks by this cherished breed. And this would be a wonderful world and everyone would be happy dog people. (So how many more maimings must happen before these owners shape up?)
Owners argue that you can't ban the entire breed because many owners obtain the breed for protection and perhaps to guard against any yahoos that might meander upon the in-the-house drug dealings. Besides, ban the pit bull and another breed will be trained to bite your face.
And if you're thinking about banning the cute breed know that enforcing such a ban is inefficient, impractical, and costly -- so says the White House and the ASPCA.
So why are so many communities across the land banning pit bulls?
From 1982 to 2013 pit bulls and close mixes were responsible for 1,777 maimings, for 64% of all such injuries in Canada and the U.S. Fifty-one percent of dog-related deaths (275) have been attributed to the breed. And comprising only 6% of the dog population, they inflict 67% of attacks doing bodily harm (2,990)! (They snap -- in their mind and with their jaws)
Why have 700 U.S. cities and counties, and two entire provinces in Canada, banned pit bulls from their entire communities?
Why aren't pit bulls allowed on Keesler Air Force Base and all U.S. military installations? (Someone needs to seriously talk to the Pentagon!)
Can a ban make a difference?
The Manitoba Province in Canada established a ban and a study was done by researchers at the University of Manitoba to see if it was working and found that in all 16 urban and rural jurisdictions that dog bite injury hospitalization rates dropped by 20% throughout the province. It was especially effective in protecting those aged under 20 years.
The province of Ontario passed its own ban in 2005. Public health statistics showed that 486 bites were recorded in Toronto that year, falling to 379 in 2010, Global News reported. That's a 22% drop. One-hundred-seventy (170) fatalities and/or maimings/ amputation/facial trauma that did not occur during that time. Was it worth it?
Thirty-seven Mississippi cities and counties (the Mississippi Coast not among them) currently have restrictions or bans on pit bulls, which include permits, registration, special pens, muzzling, avoidance around schools, mandatory neutering, age of ownership, limit of dogs owned, inspection by authorities, fines, jail time, proof of microchip, signage, and liability insurance -- among others.
Last year, four Mississippi legislators attempted to pass statewide "dangerous dog" legislation, HB 1261, but it died in committee for fear that officers would go on private property to manage the animal and instead search the property without a warrant.
Even the ASPCA agrees that owners, and their dogs that attack, threaten lives, saying "Dogs permitted by their owners to run loose, and dogs who attack people or other animals, pose a serious problem to public safety. But breed-specific dangerous dog laws are ineffective, inhumane and costly." (Is it inhumane if it saves a little girl's face, or a teen's leg?)
So if the concession is made to the ASPCA, the White House, and pit bull advocates to nix the breed ban, then the only solution all agree with is to penalize owners. Or do we not intervene and simply let these rising "lone wolf" attacks (like Islamic jihadists?) continue until the tipping point is reached? Or until some notable politician's grandchild is maimed or killed.
Our local newspaper reminded us last week of the tragic death a few years ago of the daughter of a city police chief. She was engaged to marry and her life was cut short by a DUI driver. The driver was a nice and decent fellow, responsible in all ways save for this incident. He's now serving time for this irresponsible act.
Can we wonder what the fate would've been of a pit bull owner if the officer's daughter had been mauled and killed by a pit bull? Would he have been so lucky to have been simply scolded and allowed to get another pit bull?
Who will be the next person on the Mississippi Coast to be maimed or killed by a pit bull or pit bull mix? The statistics say it will be a toddler, child, teen, or woman (70%). Let's hope it's no one. But if it happens to be a politician's grandchild who loses his life, or leg, instead of an unknown from across the tracks, you can bet there might be something done then.
Let's make people safer from dog attacks.