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Dog Laws
Don Abney

There has been an epidemic of "Vicious Dog Laws" enacted nationwide, pertaining to what is being considered a breed specific problem. At this time, the American Pit Bull Terrier is the named breed. Why? Because this breed is the most reported, and attracts the most attention of any of the other breeds.

When questioned, the proponents of the bill will inevitably reply that this breed is dangerous because of the devastating injury, including death, which it can apply. Since it is a very popular breed, it attracts the most attention, but, it is not the only breed that can cause devastating injuries. There are other breeds that can, and do, cause the same amount of harm as the APBT, and are added to some lists of breeds that these laws are designed toward. Unfortunately, what is being overlooked is this: if we remove the APBT from existence, another breed of dog would be selected by these bill proponents to take its place. This trend could continue until no breed of dog would be accepted in society.

This type of breed specific legislation is ineffective, and devoid of sensible thinking. Using the theory by which these laws are being enacted, we, as a society, should be passing similar laws pertaining to man. After all, man is a logical thinker and should be able to understand the guidance that is being attempted. For example: if a man, let's use the fictitious name Giorgio Gregorian, committed a crime that involved the harm or death of another, all of the people in that community named Gregorian should be treated with a similar restriction as the one placed on Giorgio. Regardless of their relationship to the offender, degree of intelligence, level of training, socialization, living standard, or level of success, they all should be treated exactly the same. If this sounds completely ludicrous to you, then you should recognize that this is exactly what is happening with Dog Laws. A specific dog commits a horrendous crime, and we condemn the entire breed. How long will it be before our law makers make the decision to apply it to your breed of dog, or to your family?

Do we need a Vicious Dog Law? Yes, and it should apply to any dog displaying vicious or dangerous actions. Should it name specific breeds? Absolutely not! Any dog that has teeth and is capable of eating is capable of biting. There is any number of reasons why a dog would bite. It could be a feeling of protecting its property, whether male or female of the species. Males will feel the need to protect a female in heat, especially if he is vying for the privilege of breeding. Since they are not logical thinkers, he will defend his position against anyone or anything. He does not care if you do not have intentions of breeding with his mate, you invaded his territory and he will defend his position. Illness, disease, discomfort, pain, and defense of his territory and his owners are all reasons why a dog would attack.

I have made the recommendation that no child under the age of ten (10) should be left alone with a dog, even if it is the family pet and has been raised from a puppy. Dogs, as I have stated, function solely by trained response and instinct. Children under the age of ten have the tendencies to run about and scream. Screaming could be that of play or fear, but the dog equates that screaming to weakness. In any pack, weakness is not tolerated and must be eliminated for the safety and strength of the pack. Children are bitten daily by the family dog, because the dog does not comprehend human behavior. Rather than trying to teach a canine to be human, accepting canine behavior would be better. When the children are playing, put the dog away.

The problem, as I see it, is that most dog owners do not take the time to train their dogs properly. Most owners are familiar with dogs in general and believe they can handle a dog. After all, it's smaller than they are, and can easily be handled. What is missed by most owners is that the dog does not function on a logical scale. Dogs function on instinct and trained response. Owners feel that, if they direct a dog to the behavior they want, the dog should understand and comply forever. Well, children don't comply with this type of training, so why should a dog? The dog, just as with children, needs constant reminders of their place and acceptable behavior. Training is ongoing and constant. Behavior problems must be met and curtailed at the instant they occur. They cannot be overlooked, or be labeled as puppy behavior, or play biting. Biting is biting, and it is not play.

Puppies and dogs bite because they do not have hands, so they use their mouths in the same manner as we would use our hands. Unfortunately, their mouths contain teeth, and that's where the problem comes in. They must be made to understand that we are not their chew toy, and that placing their teeth on us is forbidden. This correction should begin at the instant it occurs. If allowed to continue, the biting could become more severe, and the problem becomes harder to curtail. It is a matter of assuming a leadership role and maintaining that role. Just as with children, your dog may attempt to challenge you for your position. It must be met and dealt with in a humane, civil, but firm manner. Maintaining your level of authority and respect is of utmost importance.

Dogs want a leader, and, if you do not assume that position, you will lose it. Basic obedience training can help to curtail a lot of unwanted behaviors, simply because the training not only teaches the dog to obey, but places you in the leadership position. The dog learns to obey and respect you.

The biggest problem that arises from obedience training is the correction. The owner can be reluctant to apply the proper correction for fear that their dog will dislike them. The fact is that, if you make the correction, the dog will learn to respect you as a fair leader; a leader that will dispense love, praise, and correction in a fair manner.

This may sound all too simple, but I've seen some very aggressive dogs become better tempered because of their experience with basic obedience training. It bears repeating that training is never ending. Once basic training is completed, taking the time to work with your dog on a weekly basis should be a part of the dog's life routine.

I am a dog lover, and do not wish to see any breed eliminated from ownership. If we, as a dog loving community, do not take a stand, even when it does not apply to our chosen breed, ours will eventually be grouped into the same cluster of "Vicious Breeds". Unknowledgeable politicians being driven by selfish, unknowledgeable persons or groups will continue to enact laws against various breeds instead of fulfilling the duties of the laws already in existence. By limiting the law to a specific breed, it makes the enforcement job easier. We have laws against dangerous and vicious animals, but they either are not enforced, or become bypassed because of a lack of personnel. With the proper amount of personnel to handle the dog complaints, the problems could be easily solved, but that would entail more money designated to someone other than the politicians.

Wake up, and Stand up for the Canine Community.

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