Readers dogged on pit bull issue

Fritz Spencer’s opinion in his Aug. 17 column about dog regulations (“Maine should take the lead on the prohibition of vicious dogs”) is uneducated and irresponsible.

He continues to spread the sensationalized story that has already been written thousands of times.

Time and time again this rudimentary and simplistic approach to the issue has continued to do thousands of great and loving dogs a huge injustice.

Reading his article, it is immediately clear to me that Mr. Spencer had done no research regarding the other side of the issue and has probably never spent any time with a pit bull, rottweiller or other “vicious” breed he names.

To assume that some dogs are naturally “criminals” also shows that Mr. Spencer has no understanding of how species and dogs interact with the world around them.

Dogs do not have human characteristics and certainly do not decide that they should engage in criminal behavior.

Dogs react to the world around them, including the actions of those humans given the responsibility of caring for them. You cannot blame the dog for the way they are treated, it is quite simply just an easy way out. This is exemplified in the Michael Vick case, where all but one dog was able to be rehabilitated and placed with families.

Several of his pit bulls are now therapy dogs, and one works in schools with young children.

Banning certain dogs does not solve this problem and in fact would probably only serve to make it worse by adding more of a stigma to these loyal, loving and intelligent dogs.

As an owner of a kind and gentle pit bull that has never threatened anyone, I would encourage everyone to remember the importance of tolerance and avoiding sweeping generalizations for both people and dogs.

Marta Hurgin

Windham

 

Like Fritz Spencer, we are dog lovers who spent most of our lives trying not to cringe every time a pit bull approached. Smile, radiate “nice doggy” vibes and hope to survive.

Then we were adopted by a stray puppy obviously destined to become a big, handsome Weimaraner.

But when his growth was arrested we discovered the shocking truth: Our happy little bundle of love was a pit bull mix.

We enjoyed more than 16 years with this delightful little guy. Occy (the kids named him; don’t ask) always got along well with other dogs. People loved him – he created fan clubs everywhere he went.

Now we have another pit bull, Max. Max is gregarious with people and very nurturing to other dogs. An anecdote: When a small dog charged Max, snarling and baring his teeth, Max just regarded him quizzically.

He doesn’t understand viciousness. And Max is just one of three wonderful pit bull pets in our small neighborhood.

Why the difference between the picture above and Mr. Spencer’s ruthless mandibles of death? Probably it’s due to the one part of a sound analysis that Mr. Spencer conveniently rules out: In his view, nature versus nurture “is a topic for another time.” But it’s really the main issue.

An acquaintance put it best: “It’s the most intelligent breeds that get victimized by people.” The dominant drive we’ve seen in pit bulls is that they want to please you. Some people take advantage of that to bend the dog’s behavior to violence.

And, Mr. Spencer, that’s your real metaphor with human beings. The more intelligent breeds become the child soldiers of the canine world, warped into unnatural behaviors at an early age.

And like child soldiers, you rehabilitate them and punish those who cruelly mistrained them in the first place.

Steve and Helen Aylward

Portland

 

Fritz Spencer’s recent column on vicious dogs is full of myths, misinformation and misquoted studies taken out of context,

Breed bans are not an effective answer. Great Britain has had a four-breed ban in place for nearly 20 years, but it has failed to reduce the overall number of dog bites.

In 2008, The Netherlands scrapped its 15-year-old ban on pit bulls because it was ineffective.

During the last few decades in the United States, dog bites have dropped dramatically in major cities such as New York City, Baltimore and Minneapolis – all without the added expense of breed bans.

Breed bans waste taxpayer dollars rounding up dogs simply because they look like certain breeds.

targeting dogs based on their looks, safe dogs with responsible owners are affected while the irresponsible owners who create dangerous dogs are ignored.

Those communities who are serious about reducing dog bites should skip breed-specific legislation and opt for effective solutions, such as enforced leash laws, limitations on dog chaining and ample resources for animal control offices.

Katie Lisnik

Maine State Director

The Humane Society of the United States

Portland

 

Sadly, Rep. Rangel won’t be punished sufficiently

I find it a bit funny (even though I guess I really shouldn’t, considering who is involved) that the House Ethics Committee was thinking of giving Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., only a reprimand for all the ethics violations that he has been charged with.

If he were a young man or maybe a junior House member, maybe I could understand why he was offered the chance to be let off so easily, because he could plead ignorance of the rules.

But Rep. Rangel has been in politics for more than 40 years, he is running for election for the 21st time and he is 80 years old. Maybe he could use senility as an excuse for his “mistakes.”

If he were a Republican member of the House, the Democrats would be screaming to ” hang him from the yardarm” and every talking head on television and every liberal newspaper in the country would be echoing the chant.

And if a Republican or a regular citizen got caught doing what Rep. Rangel is charged with, you can bet either one of those people would be headed for prison. But that won’t happen to Rep. Rangel.

He’ll get a slap on the wrist, give us one of those crooked “you guys are a bunch of morons” smiles of his and go on his way. I hope the voters in his district remember how he has embarrassed himself and them and vote him out of office.

It is time that all politicians who break the rules, no matter which party, pay the price for breaking those rules.

Frederick H. Giese

Lisbon Falls