Sign in or
Pit Bull Bans
Punish the Deed, Not the Breed
Cassandra EdwardsToday in America pit bulls face harsh prejudice and an unfair reputation as being vicious. Many cities have established a pit bull ban, which prohibits any pit bull type to be within the city limits. Repercussions of breaking this law lead to owners facing fines and the dog facing euthanization. Denver, Colorado; Kansas City, Missouri; Cincinnati, Ohio and Santa Monica, California, to name a few, all have breed specific bans in place. In 2005, the Municipal Lawyer featured an article explaining why Denver is justified in breed specific legislation. The claim is made that pit bulls are not like other dogs. They were bred to be better, stronger, and bolder dogs that were more inclined to engage in the dangerous behaviors likely to win in bull-baiting. “The most significant point about the justification for bans or restrictions of pit bulls is that these are not dependent upon a claim that every pit bull has a higher than average propensity for attacking humans. The justification is based on the clear evidence that, as a group, pit bulls, compared to other breeds, generally have a higher propensity to exhibit unique behavioral traits during an attack. These behaviors have a higher likelihood of causing more severe injuries or death” (Nelson 13). Nelson’s assessment is correct, which is why pet owners need to be held accountable for their dog’s actions. An interesting stance on pit bull bans comes from PETA, a well-known organization of advocates for animal rights. PETA supports legislation that bans the breeding of pit bulls, just as they support any spay/neuter legislation as the most effective way to combat the animal overpopulation problem. They support pit bull bans, as long as they include a grandfather clause allowing all living dogs who are already in good homes and well cared for to live the remainder of their lives safely and peacefully. PETA’s position comes as a shock to me, because I had assumed that, being the people for the ethical treatment of animals, they would be against any law that would single out a breed. Further reading on their website provides support for PETA’s claim. “PETA supports such laws because they have the potential to prevent an enormous amount of suffering. In the United States, pit bulls stand out as the most abused of all dog breeds. Pit bull rescue groups are bursting at the seams with victims of dog fighting, abuse, and neglect. Shelter workers across the nation see firsthand on a regular basis the extreme cruelty that countless pit bulls are subjected to.” ("PETA") To punish a dog is like punishing a toddler. There are only so many concepts they can perceive as bad. So, seizing a dog and sentencing him to euthanization will not teach that dog a lesson nor will it set an example for other dogs. “Punish the deed, not the breed” is a famous quote used by those in support of pit bull rights. It means that each dog bite needs to be treated on a case-by-case basis, and that owners are the determining factor for whether a dog is docile or vicious. As a pit bull owner, I am against pit bull bans and for animal rights. I believe that government officials see a problem (dog attacks) and want to find a solution. However, they cannot find a way to punish the owners of bad dogs, so they punish the dogs themselves. Several testimonies from pit bull owners provide support for this breed’s soft and loving personality. The only thing my pit bull has ever “attacked” is his bowl of food. A recent article in the St. Petersburg Times titled “Fears Unleash Bill Targeting the Pit Bull” reported on a new bill passed in Florida. “The bill…would not outright ban any breed, but it would give communities the ability to require muzzling, neutering or additional insurance for certain dogs, measures that critics say would have the same effect as a ban,” (LaPeter Anton, and DeGregory). But, according to Senator Tony Hill, the Senate sponsor, “We’re talking about pit bulls.” Hill’s bias is unjustified when the St. Petersburg Times researched the most fatal dog attacks in the last five years. Of the ten attacks only one was committed by a pit bull. The other nine attacks the contributing factor was human error or irresponsible ownership, which reinforces my claim that pet owners need to be held responsible. The most frustrating, misconception of pit bulls is whether a dog does or does not belong to the pit bull group. Often times Boxers, Mastiffs, Bulldogs, Dogue De Bordeaus, Dogo Argentinos, Presa Canarios, and Patterdale Terriers are mistaken for pit bulls. This becomes a serious issue when a dog is seized and falsely accused of being a pit bull. This was the case for Dexter of Denver, Colorado in October 2009. Denver Animal Care and Control officers seized and impounded Dexter after three evaluation teams concluded that he had enough pit bull blood to qualify as illegal under the city’s pit bull ban. Dexter’s owner, Kevin O’Connell, requested that a hearing officer evaluate the work of the pit bull evaluators. After numerous delays, Denver hearing officer Ann Cisneros ruled that all three of the city's evaluators had been incorrect in labeling Dexter a pit bull. Judges affiliated with the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club each conducted broad examinations of Dexter and found the dog to be mostly boxer. However, had O’Connell not gone through all of this trouble, his dog would have been put to sleep (Maher). Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers are the three breeds that comprise the pit bull group. The problem with grouping multiple breeds together is that the larger amount of dogs within the group contributes to higher statistics. When the Center for Disease Control releases its statement for dog bites, they have the pit bull group listed, hence pit bulls biting more than any other breed. That category actually needs to be broken down into three different breeds. In conclusion, I am opposed to breed specific legislation. With every dog comes the possibility of temperament and behavioral issues, which is why dogs also come with a great deal of responsibility. If dog owners abuse their rights of owning a dog by neglecting, abusing, starving or chaining their dog, than they need to be punished. Punishing the dog, whether it is a pit bull or any other breed, will not solve any problems.
Nelson, Kory. "One City's Experience." Municipal Lawyer 46.6 (2005): 12-16. Web. 21 Apr 2010.
LaPeter Anton, Leonora, and Lane DeGregory. "Fears Unleash Bill Targeting the Pit Bull." St. Petersburg Times (11 Apr 2010): n. pag. Web. 27 Apr 2010.
"PETA." PETA’s Position on Pit Bull Bans. PETA, 2010. Web. 21 Apr 2010.
Maher, Jared. "In Denver, Animal Control decides which dogs are pit bulls. But what happens if they're wrong?." Denver Westword (2009): 1-2. Web. 20 Apr 2010.
Kelley, Ann. "Owner admits dogs attacked Edmond neighbor’s dachshund." NewsOK (2010): 1. Web. 20 Apr 2010.
Latest page update: made by credwards
, May 31 2010, 5:33 PM EDT
(about this update
About This Update
Edited by credwards
- complete history)
Keyword tags: None
More Info: links to this page
There are no threads for this page. Be the first to start a new thread.