Friday, March 6, 2009

It's time to ban logic!

There was a bit of doggie-Dallas furor when Jacquielynn Floyd opined on the issue of pit bulls in one of her columns. She follows up with another column: Balancing the loves and fears....

Floyd has met pit bulls. So far as I can tell, all the ones she's met have been friendly, nice dogs.

Yet because of the inactions of a few, she's willing to reverse her position on BSL - even though all those pit bulls she's met are quite alright, it's time to ban the sale and breeding of pit bulls for "the greater good". It will improve public safety and animal welfare, so Floyd's argument sorta goes (there's also something about being able to go down to the river and not get eaten by tigers in Floyd's civilized society).

The reality of dog bites bear out the truth: Most dogs don't bite and when they do, they generally cause little harm. That linked Colorado survey is based on personal anecdata but put together makes for something a lot more provocative than a simple story or opinion. And the CDC puts hospital visits from dog bites at around 330,000 a year with hospitalization of about 6,000. Out of 300+ million people and 80+ million dogs, that ain't a bad statistic. Between 15-30 people die each year from dog bites. Each death is tragic, but they should not be used as tools of fear against dogs of any kind. An infinitisemally small number of people are killed by dogs, while the overwhelming (I mean it's about 99.999%) majority of us will not be felled by a dog.

As to pit bulls - we know they don't all bite. We know that they are a very popular breed, and in many urban areas, are THE most popular breed. The Colorado survey linked above shows that pit bulls are the 2nd most reported biters while labs were the most reported. No one should find it surprising that two of the most popular breeds would comprise the largest percentage of bites. As a portion of their entire breed's population, though, it's not noteworthy. Most Labs and Pit Bulls don't bite or maul people - millions of them just go about living their lives.

People have a right to pick the best dog for their family and lifestyle. Dogs have a right to be judged based on their basic temperament, not on their breed. While I may be an advocate of spaying/neutering (not mandated), choosing to single out a type of dog sends a negative message, something pit bulls and their guardian/owners don't need. More importantly, it does not stop animal abuse nor does it increase public safety. It's a little like putting a cast on a leg that's not broken.

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