A Texas couple whose 10-year-old son was killed by a pit bull is calling on lawmakers to make it a third-degree felony to own a pit bull in the state. At the same time, a group of activists in Denver is raising money in an attempt to overturn the city's ban on pit bulls — adopted in 1989 after a highly publicized attack — saying the animals have been unfairly labeled as vicious. Are pit bulls too dangerous, or is banning them an overreaction? (Watch an HLN discussion about the push)
The pit bull stereotype is wrong: Pit bulls don't deserve their "bad reputation," says dog trainer Joe Dwyer, as quoted by PR Leap. The dogs make terrific pets when they get firm guidance, socialization, attention, love, and exercise. According to the American Temperament Testing Society, they're no more vicious than golden retrievers. Like any dog, pit bulls can be dangerous if mistreated or abused, but that's the owner's fault, not the dog's.
"Pit bulls get a bad rap"
Dog-bite statistics do not lie: Sure, pit bulls behave well most of the time, says Animal People editor Merritt Clifton, as quoted in The Huffington Post, but it's still "sheer foolishness to encourage people to regard them" as just another breed. They are responsible for an unusually high percentage of dog bites (PDF). And a powerful pit bull typically does far more damage than other dogs. Activists wouldn't suggest people adopt pumas, because run-ins with them are "frequently fatal." The same should go for pit bulls.
"Pit bull ban proposed in Texas, 'Justin's Law,' would make owning the dog breed a felony"
Bans do not address the real problem: Leave it to government to use "tragedy to justify tyranny," says the Shelby, N.C., Star in an editorial. Just as politicians push gun control after every high-profile shooting, they seem to propose pit bull bans after every tragic attack. Animal-rights activists oppose "breed-specific" bans because they don't work, and may even compromise public safety by diverting attention from the real problem. If we want to "prevent unprovoked" dog attacks, we should impose "severe penalties" for the negligent owners who truly cause them.
"Punishing pit bulls or people?"