Is It Who Pulls The Trigger?

Katherine Dobbs discusses the issue of banned dog breeds.

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(Note: Due to the recent disturbing report of Nick Santinos’ suicide after euthanizing his pit bull, Rocco, I have reissued this blog from last year…)

You may have heard it before, the reasoning that guns do not kill people, the people who pull the trigger do the killing. That’s pretty black and white in this instance…a gun sitting in a drawer or under a pillow isn’t going to go hurt someone on purpose; it’s not a living thing with thoughts, actions, and reactions.

So what about a parallel, but altogether different, issue of banned dog breeds? Yes, we all know that it’s becoming more commonplace for laws to be discussed and passed that ban certain dog breeds of notably bad reputations, such as pit bulls.

American pit bull terrier

On the one hand, you may know a person or family member who has suffered due to a dog attack. On the other hand, I have never met a more loyal group of dog lovers than owners of pit bulls, and they would never trade their breed for any other! They argue that like guns, it’s the people who own the dogs that are calling the shots and have the responsibility for answering to their dogs’ actions.

That may be true, and let me just state for the record that I am on the fence with this issue. I have two dogs and a daughter, and I have to say that I would be devastated if my daughter was ever hurt by any animal, including our own. Yet to ban an entire breed of dog, well, that seems a bit overwhelming. The difference between this circumstance and the gun analogy is that unlike guns, dogs do have minds of their own to act, and react, as nature would intend. Sometimes, that nature may not be the training we feel we have instilled in them; they may react out of deep place in their wild ancestry where the desires of humans do not reach.

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I guess more alarming than the banning of one breed in particular, with a particular nasty reputation largely because of the human exploitation of the breed for fighting, is that who will decide where these bans stop? What if the top three dog breeds on the list of bites get banned, who decides when number four or five should be “outlawed”?

While I don’t know how these decisions are made, or the conversation surrounding these rather controversial laws, it does make me curious as to who is bringing the data and making the statements for and against these measures. Do they talk to dog owners and experts? Do the lawmakers who get the final say even own pets? Is there a way to say for sure, that a type of training will always overcome any type of natural instinct to fight or attack?

You know as well as I that often these attacks are not unprovoked. They are often quite provoked by children that do not understand dogs and when to leave them alone, for instance. Shouldn’t the parents of these children be just as responsible for the actions of their children? As a parent of a human child and furry children, I can say it’s tough. I do try my best to hold every one of my children responsible for their actions.

So it makes you wonder, if dog is man’s best friend, have we let them down?

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