Virginia is pretty backward in some areas, pretty progressive in others, and dead on the money at least some of the time.
For evidence of this last fact, take a peak at Virginia's dangerous dog law.
Virginia Statute 3.1-796.93 says that any county, city or town can enact an ordinance regulating dangerous and vicious dogs, BUT:
"No canine or canine crossbreed shall be found to be a dangerous dog or vicious dog solely because it is a particular breed, nor is the ownership of a particular breed of canine or canine crossbreed prohibited . . ."
Bingo. Virginia has banned all breed-specific canine bans. Yes, yes -- go ahead and diagram that sentence.
Virginia law demands that every dog be judged on its individual character rather than on knee-jerk prejudices or water-cooler stories.
You would think this law is just common sense, but common sense is not that common when it comes to debates about "dangerous" breeds.
On the one hand you have some people who think every pit bull, rottweiler or doberman should be put to sleep upon identification.
On the other hand you have a few radicalized pit bull, rottweiler and doberman owners who think every badly broken dog should be given an "opportunity" to be loved back to mental health.
Both sides are equally ideological and equally reactionary.
Virginia's position is that every dog should be judged as an individual. That means that while no dog should be doomed to death simply because of the way it looks, a very tough hand is necessary in cases where a dog has attacked a human or (except under specified special circumstances) another dog.
Virginia holds that while all dog owners have rights, they also have responsibilities. Common sense says this is particularly true for owners of large breed dogs historically used for protection or catch-dog purposes.
All breeds, but herding and molosser breeds in particular, contain powerful bits of genetic code within them. That genetic code means that a responsible owner needs to have a large yard with a high fence, or a secure kennel, and the time to give his or her dog excercise and consistent training on a daily basis.
Sadly, there are not enough owners that fit these requirements, and too many large dominant dogs of all types continue to be bred.
The result of this numerical imbalance is that large numbers of hard-to-place molosser breeds (mostly young pit bulls) are ending up in shelters where they are often quickly euthenized.
Pit bull lovers are often outraged when this occurs, yet these same pit bull lovers are often of guilty of glamorizing and romanticizing their dogs as "valiant gladiators" and "loyal guardians" with storied pasts and intricate and important pedigrees.
In fact, most of what is said in these potted histories is complete and utter nonsense.
Yet it is deadly nonsense for the dogs, as it attracts all sort of knuckle-draggers and wanna-be tough guys who too often end up as poor guardians of powerful dogs that can live a dozen years or more.
Bottom line: The pit bull is not a dog that needs a breed ban; it is a dog that needs to be unsold by the people that love it.
You want to help pit bulls? Here's a suggestion: Ask people to take down all the potted romantic histories that litter the internet, and instead replace that nonsense with detailed information about how long these dogs live, how much time an owner will spend picking up huge dog turds in the back yard, how much furniture a single bored dog can chew up, how hard it is to find a landlord that will let you rent a house or apartment with one, how much veterinary care and food for such a dog will cost over its life, and how they attract police attention worse that a Grateful Dead sticker on the back of a purple VW microbus.
Make these dogs uncool, and paint them as being a lot of trouble.
You will not be lying, and you will almost certainly be saving the life of a dog or two.
Other posts along this line from this blog:
- Overbreeding: Beware of Simple Answers
- What the Hell is an American Staffordshire Terrier?
- A 15-Year Mistake
- Rescue Me
Isabelle Dinoire of France had the world's first face transplant
after a dog ripped off her nose, lips and chin. The dog?
Her very own Labrador Retriever.