Opinion: The Pit Bull Conundrum, It’s A Good Law

| August 16, 2012 | 10 Comments

Well, Maryland legislatures set their priorities to reward the gaming industry in the most recent special session and let stand a controversial court ruling that declared Pit Bull dogs inherently dangerous opening their owners (and their landlords) to some serious liability.  It is unlikely that there will be another special session to address this, so for now the law stands.  But what about the law? Is it a good one? Are Pit Bulls inherently dangerous? More prone to attack and cause catastrophic injury?

Recent Pit Bull Attack In Harford County

Just yesterday, a seemingly friendly Pit Bull who did not show any aggressive tendencies (in the opinion of a sheriff deputy) turned and bit a young boy. When the sheriff went to his car, the seemingly non-aggressive Pit Bull charged the deputy who shot and killed the animal.

I have been critical of Pit Bulls in the past and do believe that while they may not be “inherently” dangerous, that their demeanor, breeding, and care do make them more prone to attack and harm.

Personal Experience

Yesterday, I witnessed a Pit Bull puppy walking his owner. The puppy was friendly enough, but the full grown woman was having a difficult time controlling the dog due to the sheer strength of the animal. This puppy was 4 months old. What would happen when it is full grown and decided to run away from the handler?  What would happen if it decided to attack? Would this woman who cannot handle a 4-month old puppy be able to control a dog in attack mode? How big does a handler need to be to effectively control a full grown dog (Pit Bull or any breed) if something goes wrong?

I have also been approached (and threatened) by two free-running Pit Bulls. They were aggressive and began to circle me and snarl as I tried to walk my leashed dog. I picked up my dog and used my foot to fend off the Pit Bulls who eventually lost interest. They did not bite, nor did they attack, but they were intimidating.  If a man walks up to a convenience store clerk and puts a gun in his face and then walks away without stealing or causing any harm–it is an impression that will last!

Pro-Pit Bull Comments

Of course the expected response from Pit Bull owners is that it is the owner and not the breed which is causing the problem. And to a degree, I feel they are correct. Any neglected dog is going to misbehave. Any dog that is taught to be aggressive (or not taught to be passive) will be aggressive. But pound for pound, Pit Bulls have the advantage over Chihuahuas. A grown woman can pull back a herd of yapping chihuahuas, but as I witnessed yesterday, will have difficulty controlling a single Pit Bull puppy.

Pit Bulls are bred into blood sport. Chihuahuas are not. From a pro-Pit Bull website, Pit Bulls On The Web:

THE GOLDEN RULE OF PIT BULL OWNERSHIP- NEVER TRUST YOUR PIT BULL NOT TO FIGHT!!!!! This breed is descended from pit dogs one way or another, and, given the right circumstances, most Pit Bulls will fight and against any other breed, they will win (you really don’t want to see that!). Scared yet? You should be.

The site continues to explain some history of the breed:

It is common knowledge however, that the Pit Bull breed was developed for blood sports: Bull baiting, bear baiting, and later, dogfighting.

Yes, it also says that in times gone by, the owners were there with some sort of control being exerted over the dog, but in modern times it appears that many owners are not controlling their dogs.   How else can you explain it?

Another argument that Pit Bull owners make is that there are many related breeds that are giving Pit Bulls a bad name. Yes there are several related breeds, but they all have the same roots. If Ted Bundy and Aileen Wuornos were to marry and had a son–would you be concerned before letting your daughter head out on a date? The point is that you cannot discount your relatives and your breeding.

Anne Arundel County Recent History

How many pit bull “events” have been here right in Anne Arundel County? Several attacked and killed livestock on the Broadneck peninsula. In Gambrills a group of them attacked their owner’s grandmother. One attacked a Severna Park pee-wee lacrosse player in Shady Side. Another attacked a child in PasadenaA dog baiting case of a pit bull.    Pit Bulls attack a jogger in Davidsonville.   A Severna Park man shoots an aggressive Pit Bull. A police officer trying to control a fight was forced to shoot an attacking Pit Bull.  There are more, just here in our little section of the world—just do a search on Eye On Annapolis.

While there are plenty of other dog bites happening in the area, few are as severe as a Pit Bull. Just look at the statistics provided by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Pit Bulls are responsible for nearly twice the amount of deaths than any other breed.

A Shelter Issue

Since the legislature failed to act, a State Court of Appeals will listen to arguments from the pro-Pit Bull lobby next Thursday to see if the law can be overturned. However, if not, animal shelters across Maryland are expecting an influx of Pit Bulls from people unable to keep them. Since the controversial ruling extends liability to the owner’s landlord, advocates estimate that there could be hundreds of thousands of Pit Bulls turned into already overcrowded shelters.

A Possible Solution At Hand

With the evidence and hard facts, it does demonstrate that Pit Bulls and “like” breeds  are inherently more aggressive and more prone to attack. When a pro-Pit Bull site comes out with a “Golden Rule” that says “never trust your dog to not fight,” that speaks volumes.  I believe that the recent court ruling is a reasonable one. I also believe that poor owners have been a part of the problem. While there are no census figures to support breed ownership, with advocates claiming that “hundreds of thousands” of Pit Bulls will be turned in (presumably from renters since the breed is not to blame) and a population of 5.8 million, Maryland looks to have about one Pit Bull for every 29 residents.

I do not want to discount the views and opinions of responsible owners. I believe we all have the right to own pets. Perhaps the solution is to allow the law to stand and take a look at it in a few years. Let the current Pit Bull population shrink and allow the responsible owners population to grow. Maybe by that that time, we will have less Pit Bulls running loose, attacking children, charging police officers, and involved in dog fighting.

What are your thoughts? Are you pro-Pit Bull? Are you anti-Pit Bull? Please leave a comment–you can remain anonymous so please feel to speak your mind. All comments will be published, but please no attacks on people and keep the language clean!

 

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Category: COLUMNS, OPINION

About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009. John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.