Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What If Dog Licensing Meant Something?


John Wade makes a nice analogy about the folks who think owning a pug is the same as owning a large game-bred molosser breed.

Ms Clifton’s article illustrated a classic example of what I refer to as a mini-van level driving skills person buying a Ferrari because they “love them” without considering that the investment of competence and commitment that will suffice with one will not affect the other. A Rottweiler is not a mini-van breed. In the many assessments I’ve done where behaviour is going off the rails, it is often enough due to the person end of the leash rather than instability in the dog.

Some breeds require more driving skill, maintenance knowledge and time to invest than others. Inappropriately matched, it should come as no surprise when a mini-van rated driver ends up rolling the Ferrari, either wrecking themselves, the vehicle or an innocent bystander.

Bingo. Read the whole thing.

I have come to more or less the same conclusion when it comes to Pit Bull, and have offered a suggestion, short of a ban, that I think would reduce the number of Pit Bulls acquired in haste and abandoned to death by the folks who "love" them.


The sad truth... is most Pit Bulls in America do not end up in the right hands. This is a breed that tends to attract "the wrong types" to the point that research has shown that U.S. Pit Bull owners are far more likely to have criminal records than other dog owners.

The predictable result of too many boisterous Pit Bulls meeting up with too many ill-prepared and unstable owners is that the dogs suffer.

And in America, Pit Bulls suffer terribly.

Nearly a million Pit Bulls were euthanized in American shelters in 2009 -- more than the sum of all dogs of all breeds registered by the American Kennel Club last year.

In the last decade, about 8,000,000 Pit Bulls were euthanized in U.S. animal shelters -- approximately four hundred million pounds of dead Pit Bull.

What makes this particularly distressing is that Pit Bull euthanasia rates in the U.S. have been on the rise for 30 years, even as all other canine impounds and euthanasias have been on a steady and steep decline.

What's going on with Pit Bulls?

The problem is not Pit Bull haters.

Ironically enough, the problem is Pit Bull lovers.

After all, it's the Pit Bull "lovers" that are breeding these dogs.

It's the Pit Bull "lovers" that are acquiring these dogs.

It's the Pit Bull "lovers" that are too often abusing the dogs through ignorance and neglect before abandoning them to their death a year or two after acquisition.

You mean Pit Bull "haters" are not the problem?

No, they are not.

The problem is young numbskulls who acquire these dogs in ignorance and haste, discover that they are too much dog to handle, and who then abandon them at leisure.

So what to do?

One of the most obvious ways forward, is to do with Pit Bulls what we have done for hawks, guns, and and cars in the U.S.: require a license conditional upon passing a basic training course.

When "hunter safety" courses were mandated in the U.S., accidental shootings fell to the point that golf and tennis are now deemed to be more dangerous than hunting.

When falconers were required to serve two-year apprenticeships, the longevity of captive birds soared, and concerns about raptor abuse plummeted.

And, of course, driving courses and driver's licenses have been in place since the beginning. Do accidents still happen? Sure, but no one argues that driver's license enforcement is not Step One to improved highway safety.

With dogs, however, the assumption is that everyone knows everything they need to know about dogs at birth -- and never mind if that is demonstrably wrong, especially for large game-bred breed like Pit Bulls.

And the consequence of this crazy idea?

Millions of dead dogs.

What is bizarre here, is that you would think there would be a natural constituency for a simple Canine Safety and Responsibility Course.

After all, teaching such a course could be a small money-maker for sponsoring groups such as the Kennel Club, Dogs Trust, the RSPCA, and dog-activity clubs.

Would a Canine Safety and Responsibility Course solve every Pit Bull (or dog) problem in the world?

No, of course not.

But it would solve a lot of them, and it would also serve as the "edge of the wedge" when it comes to tackling the human problems that too many dogs face -- ignorance about costs, responsibility, health, and training.

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