July 20, 2010

Our View: If a pit bull's vicious,
check out its owner's bite

Rather than restrict these breeds, penalize the people who 'keep a dangerous dog.'

Are the breeds of dogs collectively called "pit bulls" inherently more dangerous than other canine types, and thus should be banned by law?

Looked at one way -- based on the dogs' behavior across the entire group of similar breeds -- the answer seems to be that pit bulls are no more likely to attack people or other animals than any other breed.

Looked at another way -- when the methods some owners use to train them are considered -- specific dogs can be very dangerous when used in ways that are themselves criminal.

Pit bulls -- the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier and the Staffordshire bull terrier -- share the aggressiveness of their original herding and hunting breeds, the bulldog and the terrier.

These broad-chested and sturdy-bodied crossbreeds were commonly selected to be trained for the "fighting pits" when dog-fighting became popular in the 1800s.

When not spayed or neutered and when treated in specific and often cruel ways that emphasize their aggressiveness, some pit bulls do become highly inclined to attack other animals and strangers.

That is why some studies show that dog bites and the rare deaths from bites involve pit bulls and pit-bull mixes far beyond their percentage of the canine population.

However, if not specifically conditioned to fight, there appears to be no evidence they are any more aggressive than other hunting breeds.

Thus, it doesn't seem to be the dog that has a problem with viciousness so much as the cruel humans who could make any dog "dangerous."

Thus, laws that ban or restrict pit bulls should probably be aimed instead at controlling the creatures on the other end of the leash.


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