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Punish the Deed, Not the Breed?

Thursday I talked about Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) and how I have conflicting thoughts about such laws. I do not feel these laws are a solution.  In fact, they make the problem worse. Many people want to own pit bulls because they’re considered dangerous. Others want the aura of having tamed “the savage beast.” Either way, BSL means more pit bulls owned.

I think it’s only fair that we look at the problem from a victim’s perspective. 

In an article published in the Seattle Times last October,  Ona Deane-Gordly, a victim of a pit bull attack, talks about the YEARS of recovery she has faced, both physical and psychological. Ms. Deane-Gordly does not support BSL, but she does support stiffer penalties for owners of dogs that attack. The owner of the dog that attacked Ms. Deane-Gordly was not charged. She surrendered the dog and it was euthanized. And it was Ms. Deane-Gordly’s insurance that paid for her medical care, not the dog’s owner or even her employer (she was working when attacked).

One of the most publicized cases of late is the attack on 10-year-old Dominic Solesky in Maryland. His attack, among others, was the reason why the Maryland Appeals Court ruled that pit bulls should be assumed to be dangerous and owners are liable if the dog attacks someone. Before it had to be proven the owner knew the dog was dangerous.

Thomas O’Halloran’s male pit bull escaped his kennel and attacked Solesky and another child. Solesky almost died.  The owner pled guilty to one count of Reckless Endangerment and was sentenced to 2 years supervised probation. The family sued O’Halloran and won. O’Halloran then filed bankruptcy and ended up paying nothing.

If these were isolated incidents, it would be terrible enough.

Sadly, that’s not the case. 

According to the American Humane Association, an estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur each year, and 800,000 of those bites require medical care.  And half of those bites happen to children less than 12 years of age.

That’s alot of children who have suffered.

So what’s the answer?

Well, herein lies the problem. Pet owners want protections for their pets, but are they willing to go to bat to also offer protections for victims?  

It’s my position that we should.

By being pro-active in supporting legislation that, while breed-neutral, holds owners accountable for the actions of their dogs, we can go a long way toward building bridges with people who don’t exactly like dogs (or cats).   We can also help them learn what responsible owners look like, and empower them to report irresponsible owners to authorities.

The American Veterinary Medial Association has developed a model public policy for communities to use to address dog bite problems. I think it’s fair, and with the education component, goes a long way to prevent bites.

So instead of making ourselves look as though we’re more concerned about our dogs than we are in the children of our community, let’s engage in outreach and work together with others in the community to protect both humans and innocent dogs.  I think it’s the right thing to do.

About Jen and the Furries

Hello and welcome. I’m a 50 something woman who’s probably awake when she should be sleeping. Oh, and there are animals, because who doesn’t have pets?


62 thoughts on “Punish the Deed, Not the Breed?

  1. Excellent points and ones which most of us dog lovers already employ. I can’t imagine not paying for someone else’s medical bills because of my dog (unless that person was trespassing on my property). Or someone else’s child or even their pet (I’ve had to pay for someone else’s pet before because of my dog Sephi).

    The problem is those people who have the dogs and DON’T take responsibility. How do we get THEM to take responsibility? Legislation really needs to focus on the owners, not the dogs.

    Posted by ILoveDogs | June 16, 2012, 9:47 AM
  2. I couldn’t agree more. The frightening statistics regarding children being bitten is what led me to start a school program, teaching children Safety Around Dogs and giving them detailed knowledge of dog body language. Let’s hope the next generation of dog owners can be a little bit more knowledgable and responsible. Personally, I love the Pit Bull and wish people did not own them because of their perceived toughness. These people tend to then treat them as such and exacerbate the problem. Any dog can be made aggressive, it’s just that people who like this trait, tend to like the Pit Bull

    Posted by Long Life Cats and Dogs | June 16, 2012, 9:52 AM
  3. Thank you for bringing up a difficult subject. We recently had the experience of someone leaving their dog with us, to be boarded for a period of 3 weeks. That period extended to months and, ultimately, the dog was essentially abandoned in our care…The dog is a great dog, AND very aggressive, AND in spite of much effort to determine, we had no idea what triggered the extremely aggressive behavior, and the dog’s owner was unavailable for help. Ultimately, we had to place him in a no-kill shelter because we knew that we didn’t have the knowledge or the skills necessary to safely handle the situation.

    What we learned from the experience:
    1) There are no bad dogs, only humans who do not understand how to communicate effectively with the dog.
    2) If one does not have the necessary communication skills and understanding, no amount of love and good intentions will help protect either the pet or the humans.

    There is no single victim in this ugly situation: everyone is a victim. And we all need to be educated appropriately – humans as well as animals.

    Posted by Margarita | June 16, 2012, 9:56 AM
  4. Many people are very uneducated about what dogs need and many people get dogs for all the wrong reasons, both of these things lead to bites. I agree that if owners where responsible the incidence of dog bits would be much less. I also agree that any time a child is injured by a dog its a tragedy.. However, I think there is some major fear mongering involved that has led people to overestimate the risk of a child being badly bitten by a dog and has contributed to BSL. A good book on this topic is Dogs Bit But Balloons and Slippers are More Dangerous by Janis Bradley. We can’t remove all risk form our childrens world, and maybe we should not try. Life after all is fraught with risks.

    Urban Hounds

    Posted by Urban Hounds | June 16, 2012, 10:11 AM
    • So are you saying we should advocate for dogs but not for victims?

      Posted by rumpydog | June 16, 2012, 10:13 AM
      • I think the danger dogs pose to kids is pretty overexagerated in the light of other dangers. Are we going to outlaw cars, bicycles, roller skates? I would however support laws that benefit dogs and possible dog bite victims such as anti-tethering laws.

        Posted by Urban Hounds | June 16, 2012, 6:38 PM
  5. It is very difficult to make a law that will be just to both sides. See what’s happenning to poor Lennox here: http://bonesdiary.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/support-lennox-from-belfast/. I fear that what it takes is simpy a responsible dog owner and unfortunately many people aren’t…

    Posted by marina kanavaki | June 16, 2012, 10:35 AM
  6. Great post, Rumpy! Pet owners should be responsible for their pets; God forbid, if one of my dogs ever attacked a child or another pet, I would take full responsibility and do whatever I could to remedy the situation including paying 100% of all costs incurred as a result of MY irresponsibility.
    Still, I’m a firm believer that there are no such thing as bad dogs, only bad owners so breed-neutral/responsible owner laws are a must to avoid situations where pet owners don’t take responsibility. It should also be noted that over 70% of dog attacks come from unneutered male dogs. States like NY that have implemented responsible owner laws

    I do not believe that owners of Pit Bulls want to own these breeds because they are either considered “dangerous” or because they want the aura of taming the wild beast. Many Pittie owners desire the breed because they are wonderful family dogs, extremely loving, highly protective of those they love (look at the recent Pitties in the news who’s actions saved their owners)– or strictly because when visiting a shelter or rescue, they just fell in love with a beautiful soul who happened to be a Pit breed. That’s the way it happened for someone very close to me 🙂

    PS, my license plate cover is the title of your blog post. LOL!

    Posted by Deanna | June 16, 2012, 10:48 AM
    • Oops…I was saying, states like NY with responsible-owner laws have actually seen a decrease in dog attacks and dangerous dogs whereas states with BSL have no reduction in the numbers.
      I get so passionate about these issues I think faster than I type hehe!

      Posted by Deanna | June 16, 2012, 10:50 AM
      • I respectfully disagree and do believe many owners of pit bulls do so because they want a dog that evokes fear. If that were not the case, then why would numbers of pits bulls and PB mixes INCREASE when BSL is passed? I don’t see that as love for a dog breed. I see that as defying authority.

        Posted by rumpydog | June 16, 2012, 11:06 AM
      • In Miami-Dade, where “Pit Bull type” dogs are banned, I think there are just as many as before the ban. In my experience, the reason for the increase is due to a few factors.
        #1 BSL itself. The community is encouraged to turn in anyone who may be harboring a Pit Bull type dog, including: AmStaf, APBT, Bull Terrier or any dog that is mixed with one of the breeds. People are told they are dangerous and encouraged to call MDAS on their neighbors , etc. The problem is that the majority of the community can’t properly identify these breeds and anything that looks similar is automatically thought to be a Pit.
        #2. Misidentification- Dogs thought to be Pit Bulls- or any dogs that come into the shelter- are subjected to an MDAS employee eye-identification, using a PDF sheet. If a dog has any of the characteristics on the PDF, they can be labeled a Pit. (I have the PDF in a post on my BSL page) This process calls for huge misidentification opportunity and many dogs are incorrectly labeled. The reason it happens more frequently when BSL is passed is because of the fear BSL itself perpetuates. As a volunteer at this shelter, I have seen Labs, American Bulldogs and Presa Canarios labeled as Pits. I’ve also seen it go the other way but that happens very rarely, usually when the dog is a mix and is skinny/abused.
        #3 (and this is smaller but relevant) When Pits are outlawed due to BSL, a tiny percentage of them are fixed. Vets are required to turn Pits in to MDAS and if taken to the shelter, they will be confiscated. Therefore, no one gets them spayed/neutered, resulting in many more dogs.
        I do believe that there are people who desire Pits for the reasons you stated however I think these factors have a large impact as well. Maybe Miami is much different than everywhere else, but from the misidentification studies and obvious fear BSL perpetuates, I’d imagine these things happen in many places BSL exists.

        Posted by Deanna | June 16, 2012, 11:52 AM
  7. Its a very good post Rumpy and also interesting for me to see how other countries deal with the problem. I am right in thinking some states have already banned the Pits?

    The ones we have are Pitbull types (for fighting they tend to use labs and staffies but have broadened out and now use Rotties, Mastiffs and now aketas.

    We have a lot of legislation re the fighting side BUT fights are conducted in secret and though we are not allowed under law to bring a Pit into the UK there is no law about them breeding pit types.

    They are talking of putting the Staffs into group 1 here which would mean they had to be neutered and muzzled in public. Most the attacks though are at homes.

    After a few years they will have eradicated staffies from the UK.

    We fight it to but its going to happen as like as not as there has been another attack and another badly injured child. I agree it does look like we are not thinking of the victims when we appose these Dog Acts.

    It can still be fought and amended to something that doesn’t eradicate the breed here.

    You know for me its the breeders that should be really targeted…I think I have said this before but they are the real problem. Back street breeders churn out all kinds of staffie crosses….. The dogs go to morons and the morons are the fault!

    Responsible breeding at some point has to come in. .

    I will find the BSL on line as it does sound similar to what we already have in the ’81 DDA and its amendments. We fought that DDA, we fought the amendments but as soon as another attack takes place they come up with more knee jerk reactions and it gets worse and harder to be a dog!

    Now there is a thing that ALL dogs should be muzzled in public. How do you them plat ball with them even?! Even that simple pleasure would be denied.

    Its horrendous for the victims. Its actually got to scar them literally and emotionally to some level for life.

    I agree make the owners responsible but they are (here) owned by people who shouldn’t have any dog and are already totally irresponsible.

    They wouldn’t registrar them if that s brought in and all the DDA does is allow for seasiure before the dogs have done anything (and often dogs that would never do it a s well) and cover what happens in an attack. Here innocent family pets are put down while the ones they should be going after keep breeding more undercover.

    Rumpy I so wish I knew the answer but what they are doing only covers half the issue and is often wrong in the UK.

    Posted by skezier | June 16, 2012, 11:05 AM
    • Sounds as though the problem is similar there as it is here. The difference is most municipalities are not as aggressive in fighting the problem as they appear to be where you live. I agree, the dogs aren’t the problem. The humans are.

      Posted by rumpydog | June 16, 2012, 11:08 AM
      • The humans are so the problem….. Here we have a certain mind set and often the ‘Pits’ we have are in their hands but they also use the staffs…. I would hate to see those also eradicated and the bulk are lovely.

        Shame owners can’t be trained as well as, when injury or death has happened, prisoned. There is a rescue that goes out on to the streets and offers dog training to the idiots they see with their Pits…. Some say yes and they training is as much for the humans as the dogs.

        The problem ones say no.

        I think the DDA is badly worded and ambiguous but it at does try and sot out the problems before they happen just its not covered anything towards the owners. Hey it is lax at times but we are a very highly populated and small plate and there are so many of the ‘pits’ in the wrong hands.

        What I wound say is that the rescues are probably glad that the American Pits never got a footing here. They are however full of staffie crosses and that means dogs in need can;t go into rescues as easily as they have no room so there is another side of the problem.

        Hey I am going back to my soap box about back street breeding again ‘-)

        Posted by skezier | June 16, 2012, 4:08 PM
  8. Sorry that should be the ’91 DDA not the ’81 one

    Posted by skezier | June 16, 2012, 11:08 AM
  9. Pit bulls are NOT soft cuddly family orientated dogs by nature – they are FIGHTING dogs by nature! By nature they ARE aggressive!! If this was not the case irresponsible owners purchasing them for this exact reason wouldn’t bother and the irresponsible owning for status etc wouldn’t be an issue. There is no way of knowing which one will by INSTINCT as it was bred to do, show aggressive and dangerous behaviour and which one it will lay dormant in for life giving a seemingly “soft cuddly family orientated dog” If breeders concentrated on breeding that by nature ARE these things and refrained from breeding dangerous dogs we wouldn’t have Pit bulls etc to sweat about. From what I’ve been seeing on my Facebook of late people in general DON’T especially want these type of dogs, given the unbelievable number of adult and pup Pit bulls currently fast running out of time in US “kill shelters.” It is selfish to continue breeding a breed that is more often than not a menace to society and in many cases is seemingly “born to die” anyway. Stop breeding them! Kinder to them and kinder to us!!!

    Posted by europasicewolf | June 16, 2012, 11:12 AM
    • I do believe the dogs, with responsible handling, can be productive dogs and beloved family pets. I also believe that many people who own these dogs don’t know how to handle these dogs responsibly.

      With a middle-of-the-road solution that requires licensing, education, and accountability, we can go far to help people who ARE responsible retain their beloved pets while protecting society from those dogs who are a threat.

      Posted by rumpydog | June 16, 2012, 11:19 AM
      • In an ideal world, yes. Unfortunately this is not an ideal world, and since we cannot always rehabilitate our fellow humans-gone-bad, it would be very arrogant of us to believe we could do so with a different species in a parallel situation.

        Posted by europasicewolf | June 16, 2012, 11:36 AM
  10. Interesting that so many insist there are no bad dogs and that it is all the owners fault everytime. Bad BREEDING leads to poor temperament and other undesirable traits that are inherited by the dog. That is not the owners fault. And with such negative instincts at work such a dog would be very difficult at best to rehabilitate and likely be highly unpredictable and untrustworthy, spending half it’s life in a muzzle etc as a result of the high risk it carried. And if a human assaults/kills etc another human or for that matter an animal are they an innocent victim that other humans don’t know how to communicate with? Some would probably say “yes” to that question. They are probably the irresponsible dog owner type too. They are normally punished and made to pay for their crimes. In some US states and elsewhere in the world they still have the death penalty. But if a dog mauls or kills a human it is a poor, misunderstood victim? I don’t think so. Doesn’t matter if it is dog or human. If you “do the crime you do the time.”

    Posted by europasicewolf | June 16, 2012, 11:31 AM
    • Good point, but we don’t execute the whole family because one member is a killer.

      Posted by rumpydog | June 16, 2012, 11:32 AM
      • Families are not bred to be dangerously aggressive/killers. Certain breeds of dog were bred specifically for their aggression, fighting skills, and ultimately the killer instinct. That is their nature and no amount of training and responsible ownership will ever totally eliminate that instinct. Humans didn’t descend from wolves either and do not have those instincts. It is important not to humanize our domestic animals and also to remember the breed traits are imprinted after many years of breeding to purpose.Eg Fighting to kill.

        Posted by europasicewolf | June 16, 2012, 11:48 AM
    • I agree in principle, to a point, what your saying Europasicewolf. The thing is the good ones are not guilty and to eradicate maybe a bit over the top.

      Here in the UK we have no American Pits legally. The ones here had to be nurtured and none were allowed entry into the UK. Now they are talking about doing the same with Staffies….. Most staffies are ok. They are known as the nanny dogs and they have been about for a very long time.

      I know the American Pits are a breed for fighting and maybe the UK were right to ban them but now they are moving on to the Straffs its a case of Idiots can’t have a staf so will have something else and do the same thing via training in some cases so then anointer breed of dog becomes eradicated.

      back street breeding I would go after. Bad breeding, personally, I think the kennel club here should sort but they don’t… that would be another rant.

      Posted by skezier | June 16, 2012, 3:54 PM
      • That would be an interesting rant! Let me know if you ever post that rant and I’ll pop over for a little look 😉 I’ve heard about Staff’s being known as “nanny dogs”,,,it was strongly contradicted and firmly rebuked! But neither party backed up their statements with any evidence so don’t know about that one. A well bred Staff’ with a responsible, knowledgeable owner might be ok but too many are crossed with aggressive dogs to breed aggressive Staff types the end result is much the same as with Pit bulls. And I know Staff/types are well known in the UK for their attacks especially on children. I’d agree with you about kennel clubs though 🙂 Thanks for your interest in my comments btw!

        Posted by europasicewolf | June 17, 2012, 12:01 PM
  11. I agree with skezier above. No more comment needed. It is the owners not the dogs that are at fault. In the UK the DDA has done more harm than good IMHO!

    Posted by CATachresis | June 16, 2012, 11:46 AM
    • So what is a reasonable solution that protects the dogs and still keeps society safe?

      Posted by rumpydog | June 16, 2012, 11:53 AM
      • CATachresis is right its done a harm and is a very badly worded Act. The amendments are as not brilliant. Under the DDA anyone can (technically) say they thought your dog was going to bite them and the dog could be seized and destroyed… its that badly worded.

        What is the answer? Been thinking about it a lot to be honest and all I can come up with is tackerling the problems of back street and bad breeding…..

        Any Staff crosses at the right sort of size could be viewed as a pit here and also some boxer crosses as well. Its horrible to hear of a loved and kind family pet being seized and destroyed just cus a group of morons have used that type for their depraved pleasure or had that kind of dog to look big….

        In the wrong hands any dog can go bad but when the dog that has has got the kind of bite pressure that the pit types have it does so much damage. The other thing is that the press in the UK whip it all up as well. Dog attacks are few and far between and yet they are talking about eradicating a breed.

        There has to be an better way of dong it

        Posted by skezier | June 16, 2012, 4:41 PM
  12. So many pet owners don’t realise that they have a responsibility to take care of, train and treat the animal well. They think it is just a case of getting a dog (or cat) and that’s it. We are the ones that turn them into aggressive creatures.


    Posted by Jill Spain (@JillSpain) | June 16, 2012, 12:17 PM
  13. When it comes to a Pit Bull watch out. I have seen this nasty breed of dog and what it can do to people. I been on many ambulance calls that involve dog bit attacks in my career in the Fire Department. Better then 75% have been Pit Bull bits and attacks.
    In this case I say punish the breed and hopefully we will not have the deed.

    Posted by Lee | June 16, 2012, 1:06 PM
  14. Some dogs are definitely more aggressive than others especially if this trait is being selectively bred INTO them. In NZ all dog owners have to be registered. And the dog has to be registered. Different amounts for different dogs. And you pay your registration every year. If your dog even nips someone he is put down. Which is harsh but helps people to understand that he HAS to keep the dog on a leash and muzzled when out. But we also have a terrible problem with pit bulls and mastiffs that are trained to be very aggressive . So i do not know what the answer is.. Very good piece of writing though. very pertinent subject. c

    Posted by ceciliag | June 16, 2012, 1:19 PM
  15. Great post. Yes dog owners must work to protect both people/children and to protect dogs. Bad/irresponsible owners are the problem, not the dogs.
    I am tired of having to carry mace when walking my large well mannered “aggressive breed” dog on leash because, despite leash laws, one person insists on letting their pit and pit mix dogs out their front door to roam the neighborhood and chase people and animals. Dogs are dogs in a pack – and don’t behave the same if owner isn’t around. It’s not the pit or pit mix that is the problem – it’s the owner. Unfortunately those dogs will eventually the price when they cross the line and harm someone. And the owner will whine “You are anti pit bulls – they are so sweet” And the anti “aggressive dog” people will have more scary headlines.
    Bad owners. Not bad dogs.
    A few thoughts
    Street side vendors are a big problem (stolen dogs, and poorly bred dogs – sometimes bred for the wrong attributes…ones that appeal to a certain type of buyer)
    The military has a list of dogs banned from bases – they found certain breeds are preferred by military owners and it is indicated these aggressive breeds are being selected for the dog’s macho image
    In response to one of the commenters about human behavior: research has shown that crime tendencies DO run in some families. Whether it’s genetic or environmental isn’t / can’t be known, but here here is an effort to intervene with children of parents in prison / known criminals in order to break the cycle of violence/crime being handed down to the next generation.
    Great post Rumpy

    Posted by philosophermouseofthehedge | June 16, 2012, 1:45 PM
  16. Rumpy Dog – excellent post and you make a compelling arguement. It seems that no matter what the topic – from your post to breeding, to pet overpopulation, etc. that education, responsibility, and preventative measures are always the right answers. It is extremism, ignorance, irresponsibility, and deliberate apathy that cause the problems.

    Posted by Deb Barnes - Zee and Zoey | June 16, 2012, 1:56 PM
  17. As always a thoughtful and balanced post. I’m in agreement with owners having to endure punishment if neglectful in raising, training, and socializing their dog(s). Outreach and advertising, such as with the example of the spay and neuter campaign, are good places to start. Kids are taught not to run up to dogs on the street. Owners need to learn to not to ignore their dogs, any breed, for any reason.

    Posted by Wayside Artist | June 16, 2012, 3:55 PM
  18. From the National Canine Research Council preliminary report 2011:
    The news media regularly describe dogs as members of specific breeds. Yet, NCRC’s investigations over the years show that a majority of the breed descriptors assigned by the news media cannot be documented or otherwise considered reasonable (through pedigree, DNA or otherwise). For example, NCRC investigations of the dog bite-related fatalities in 2010 showed that in only eleven of the cases could the breed descriptors assigned to the dogs be documented, or otherwise considered reasonable. Eight different kinds of dogs were identified in those eleven incidents. The breed composition of all the other dogs was indeterminate, whatever the news media reported about them. In fact, in three cases in 2010, news stories identified dogs and attributed breeds to those dogs that detectives later determined were NOT the dogs involved in the incident. The dog(s) responsible were never identified or captured. News outlets, having moved on to other, pressing issues, never corrected this. There is no scientific evidence that one kind of dog is more likely to injure a human being than another kind of dog.

    Click to access NCRC%20Preliminary%20Report%202011.pdf

    Posted by yelodoggie | June 16, 2012, 6:04 PM
  19. I think that there are so many types of humans all over the world and some of them are very responsible for everything and some are not for anything. Those humans that the later type shouldn’t have animals who don’t have the same language humans have. Animals are much more sensitive for many things than humans are, so unless humans teach them about what are right, what are not, they can’t live in human societies. I very agree with you, Rumpy, we should support those viictims, too as well as our own dogs and have to make clear who are irresponsible and make problems to specify that the innocent dogs as ‘ dangerous breed’

    Posted by eripanwkevin | June 16, 2012, 8:35 PM
  20. I so agree. Recently a pit bull named Izzy moved in next door and such a well behaved dog like I’ve not seen in a long time. Makes one think twice about the bad reputation they have gotten. Thanks for this post!

    Posted by Renee Espriu | June 16, 2012, 9:38 PM
  21. Most of us are conscientious people and if we, or our animals caused someone harm we’d want to make amends but most of us isn’t all of us. I know it’s a little ridiculous but it’s worth considering this – if a person’s dog robbed a bank or stole an expensive car vs biting/attacking someone, which would get the higher penalty for the owner? The law cares more about property than people, dogs or any animal. Robbing a bank will get your more gaol time than many crimes against humans, and heaps more than crimes against, or due to an act by an animal in your care. The laws to prosecute negligent or cruel pet/animal owners are nowhere near severe enough. I believe awareness & education is effective to a point, and many instances the circumstances are unfortunate but there’s always the few who don’t give a rats about anything but themselves, and the law should be applied as if for a serious crime – gaol time.

    Posted by EllaDee | June 16, 2012, 11:15 PM
  22. It’s a tough call. Even if the owner is held responsible, who’s to say that the owner would even confess it’s his dog? The owner can easily say, “Well, that’s not my dog.” And there isn’t any proof for that. Maybe establish a license to pet ownership with a registry of each owner and what pets they own.

    I fear for the day that my dog bites someone and for that, I’ve become a more responsible owner. I astonished that people are let off so easily and puts the blame on the breed.

    Posted by learningdog | June 17, 2012, 12:36 AM
  23. One hundred percent for sure punish the deed not the breed!

    Posted by Tandy | June 17, 2012, 1:56 AM
  24. I think owners of dogs that attack should have to pay for the victims’ costs. I speak as someone whose dog has actually bitten someone – she’s a chihuahua cross so I don’t think it actually penetrated the skin! But I’d be happy to buy a bandaid if it had.

    Posted by butimbeautiful | June 17, 2012, 4:13 AM
  25. Hey Rumpy, Jet here.

    Thank you for keeping this issue live. I blogged about BSL in March (I think Savvy from Savannah’s Paw Prints sent you our links already), and so many other bloggers have as well. Education, awareness, healthy breeding, logical legislating are all positive ways to deal with this issue.

    Posted by heyitsjethere | June 17, 2012, 5:57 AM
  26. Well, BSL may be controversial, but what goes on without that is hardly encouraging. I mean, what sort of justice is it where a dog-owner can choose to surrender his dog because it has attacked someone and then the dog is killed? I’m avoiding the word “euthanasia” because killing a dog for having bitten someone is NOT euthanasia.
    In all probability, a dog will attack a human if it feels threatened for some reason, or provoked, or in a worst case scenario – if it is ill tempered in general or been irritable for some reason before the incident. It is the responsibility of the dog-owner to understand his dog and handle such a situation. I do not see any reason why an animal has to die because his human handlers have trained him badly or failed to look after him. It’s better to leave an animal in the wild if we, human beings, are not capable or willing to help them negotiate the human world.
    A mistake must be punished, but that doesn’t need to be punished with death. It’s only fair that owners have to pay up, and send their dogs for corrective training in case a dog bites.

    Posted by Sampurna | June 17, 2012, 7:14 AM
    • When you see the extreme damage a dog has done to a human, can you still say that dog should live while we kill MILLIONS of dogs each year for NO crime other than not having a home?

      Posted by rumpydog | June 17, 2012, 8:25 AM
      • You’re close to my point. Which is, the default punishment meted out to a dog for transgressing human laws should not be death. The reason a dog transgresses is, in all probability, the failure of human beings to check or train the animal. So we, as humans should not take cover and abandon an animal for dead in such circumstances.
        I’m not denying that some dogs can be dangerous and can wreak havoc. Neither am I denying that it should be punished. All I’m saying is that we should not be so easy-going about the death sentence lest we find ourselves sending our kids to the gallows for the “crime” of maybe skipping traffic lights.

        Posted by Sampurna | June 17, 2012, 10:39 PM
  27. You’re doing such a good Rumpy. 🙂

    Here in Holland there was news about a Pitbull, who tried to wake his owner, who fainted. The dog panicked (I think?), and bit his ear, like he was trying to wake him up, drag him away. The owner ended up in the hospital, and a few stitches needed to be put in his ear.

    But he decided to euthanize his dog. Because his pitbull had tasted blood, and he was sure he wanted more… Even though he agreed he was the best dog he ever had. And he was planning on getting a new dog !!

    Some people, just shouldn’t own dogs, or pets in general. It’s the owner that is dangerous, not the dog.

    Posted by Dianda | June 17, 2012, 7:22 AM
  28. I agree Rumpy we need to protect humans and innocent dogs!

    I personally have never met a bad pit bull, they have all been very loving and yes protective of their families. It is the exploitation of this breed that has led to laws against them and the slap on the wrist to the people who do it. I don’t think there is an easy answer to the problem but I do not agree with BSL, I would agree that owners should take responsibility for their animals. I think if we start to out law breeds where will it stop. Maybe what we should do is outlaw bad owners, don’t get me wrong I am not trying to make light of the subject. I had my dogs added to my homeowners insurance just as a precaution in the event of a mishap. Dogs can bite for many different reasons so it is people who need to educate themselves and children on how to act and treat animals, after all they do not think like people and certainly do not reason like people. There are bites that are un-provoked as well as provoked.

    Some of your other readers pointed out there are no bad dogs only bad people. I used to think that way until I started learning more about genetics, I do believe there are some bad dogs due to a bad combination of genes and yes sometimes poor judgement of the breeder. Typically I do not see this with responsible breeders, great time and care is taken on selecting the best over all dogs for their breeding program. I spent almost 2 years looking at dogs to use with my female and one of the top things on my list of must haves is good temperament. Many breeds were originally bred for a specific purpose but for some as that purpose was no longer necessary RESPONSIBLE BREEDERS started breeding for better temperaments so they would make good family pets. There is an ongoing problem with back yard breeding and puppy mills with most any breed and again there is no simple solution that I can see that would target the guilty.

    Posted by Misty Shores Chesapeakes | June 17, 2012, 2:31 PM
  29. An excellent summary of the issues. I love my Boxers and I’m proud to be a responsible dog owner x.

    Posted by shacklefordlb | June 17, 2012, 2:57 PM
  30. There are no bad dogs – just bad owners.

    Posted by Alejandro De La Garza | June 17, 2012, 3:16 PM
  31. Hiya Rumpers, Savannah here…WOW! Do you ever know how to throw a pawty!!! What dialogue! Insightful perspectives on the whole “breed/deed” issue…and BSL…etc.

    I hung out for a bit before commenting…wanted to hear others’ thoughts…what a range of thinking, huh? And yet, still no one has the ‘silver bullet’ to solve this problem…pretty lame…especially for a dog such as Lennox and for people who have been injured or killed by dog attacks. what to do, what to do???…

    I am no learned canine professional…however (BTW this is MOM talking, not Savvy)…

    We were involved in raising, training, showing, breeding and sledding with Siberians for about 15 years. I think we learned some things…not everything.

    What I do know is that it is totally possible to breed for temperament…just ask Michael Vick and his pals, they just kept breeding one bitch who was extremely aggressive to even more aggressive males, and “voila!”…they got more aggressive offspring.

    Of course, they had to remove that bitch’s teeth to keep her from trying to tear apart the males who mounted her constantly…so she could continue to be bred/read raped…ok, ok, just sayin….

    So…let’s talk about actually reading, and following breed standards. That doesn’t take care of mixed breeds…but IMHO…I can tell something about a dog’s temperament if I know something, even a little, about it’s makeup.

    No one should be breeding any dog unless it is to improve that breed…based on breed standards. Talk to the Rottie folks who have dogs who are way over breed height and weight, yet still show them. Ahhhhunnnh…again just sayin’…

    I will stop now..I won’t go into the human issues around not obeying leash laws in at least the USA…of course, those who allow their dogs to roam, run, wander in areas where a leash is law…that law was for the “other” dog owners, not them.

    I am done…no perfect solution…but I would at least start with breed standards upheld and leash laws enforced (yes, even in National US Parks and Forests) and make owners accountable for their dogs’ actions. OK, I am tired, off to bed…paw pumps Rumpy…great post

    Posted by Savannah's Paw Tracks | June 17, 2012, 7:06 PM
  32. I think there are two major areas that cause so many problems. bad dog owners who do not control and train their animals. i also think many chldren are not taught how to behave around strange dogs. Parents forget that dogs just can’t be approached any which way and often children see other dogs as extensions of their own pets. parents need to make children aware that thisis not the case. that they must respect strange dogs and by doing so reduce the danger of an attack. Like that silly woman on TV who got right in to that dogs face…while a feel for her…it was her fault. you don’t place a dog in that position without expecting something to occur.

    Posted by Jo Bryant | June 17, 2012, 7:18 PM
  33. Reblogged this on Savannah's Paw Tracks and commented:
    I think this an impawtant topic we, cats and dogs, should not let go…we need to find some solutions for peeps and dogs…Rumpy has done an incredible job of keeping this in front of us and giving us a chance to have a dialogue about it. Lemme know what you think…

    Posted by Savannah's Paw Tracks | June 18, 2012, 2:49 PM
  34. Rumpy this is a very balanced and important post. As we are writing this, the humans are watching a news story about a pit bull who attacked a young girl.

    Bella and DiDi

    Posted by Paws To Talk | June 18, 2012, 10:01 PM
  35. There is a lot of helpful information in this Rumpydog. I read a lot about pit bull attacks and it is important to know what the laws are and how they impact owners and victims. TY!

    Posted by eof737 | June 20, 2012, 3:05 PM
  36. Our grandchildren want to get a dog. We’ve talked about the people’s perceptions of certain breeds. While some dogs – of any type – might have a more aggressive nature, I feel their behavior – good or bad – is the result of how they were raised. It’s wrong to stereotype, whether you’re talking about people or dogs.

    Posted by earthriderjudyberman | June 20, 2012, 5:39 PM


  1. Pingback: Can I Pet Your Dog? « Misty Shores Chesapeakes - June 19, 2012

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