And you thought the safety Nazis were bad....

Yesterday I wrote a post titled "How do I tell Coco they want to kill her?"

I am writing this one lest anyone think I was engaged in hyperbole. While I admitted that I was being emotional, the fact is that people who love their dogs do consider them members of their families, and when the government proposes taking them away and killing them, the effect on the emotions really isn't that different than if the government literally proposed killing human family members.

Losing a dog is a very traumatic event. I grieved as much for Puff as I have for a number of people, and by saying this, I in no way diminish the people I loved or the love I felt for them. Animals are animals, and they are not human, but grief is still grief.

Anyway, I did not exaggerate when I said that they want to kill Coco.

When I wrote yesterday's post, I was unaware of a proposed law in Ohio which would do just that:

"Pit bulls seem to be the dog of choice on the streets," said state Representative Tyrone Yates, D-53rd district, explaining his motive for House Bill 568, a proposal to ban pit bulls in Ohio.

Yates' bill would give pit bull owners 90 days to get the dogs out of Ohio before ordering county dog wardens to seize and destroy the dogs.

"I think eliminating vicious dogs is as important to reclaiming our cities as controlling gun violence and making sure our young people are going to school," says Yates.

And more from the Baltimore Sun Weblog:
While numerous local governments have adopted pit bull bans -- like the two towns in the Dakotas we referred to earlier this week -- this is the first proposed statewide ban with which I'm familiar. It's a highly revolting development, and one that -- though, granted, it pertains to exterminating breeds of dogs instead of races of people -- is reminiscent of some shameful times in world history.

I'm hoping this can't happen in 21st Century America, but then again, on a local level, it already has.

Even the American Kennel Club -- normally focused on purebred breeds, of which the pit bull is not one -- is urging citizens to voice their opposition to it, as you can see here.

We often hear talk about "safety Nazis" and the like, but these people really do want to conduct door to door searches to find and kill dogs.
(C)(1) Beginning ninety days after the effective date of this section, if an officer has probable cause to believe that a dog is a pit bull dog, the officer may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for a search warrant. The court shall issue a search warrant for the purposes requested if there is probable cause to believe that a dog is a pit bull dog.

(2) After obtaining a search warrant, an officer shall seize the pit bull dog and surrender the dog to the dog warden. Not later than ten days after receiving the dog, the dog warden shall euthanize the dog.

It's easy to say that I don't live in Ohio, but they're trying to allow municipalities to do it here in Pennsylvania, and while I can move, do I have to spend my life hiding and running? Must I live in fear of neighborhood informants telling the government that I have a pit bull hidden in my attic, and worry that eventually they will find Coco and drag her away to be killed while I scream and cry helplessly, wailing away like some poor babushka in Stalinist Russia who just lost her husband to the NKVD?

Yes, I know Coco is just a dog.

But I also thought I was living in the land of the free.

posted by Eric on 05.30.08 at 04:19 PM










Comments

"safety Nazis"

Have you read Liberal Fascism?

dre   ·  May 30, 2008 4:58 PM

Here's something that will keep you awake at night: will the no-knock-warrant ninjas be called up to enforce this? If Fido growls, will they open up with indiscriminating fire?

B Smith   ·  May 30, 2008 10:57 PM

Yes, if they think that you might own a gun, and yes.

Phelps   ·  May 31, 2008 12:04 AM

The problem I see with dogs, especially pitbulls, is that they don’t fit into the same mold as guns when it comes to safety.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” –True

“Pitbulls don’t kill people….” Well actually, they do.

People aren’t allowed (at least in my city) to keep mountain lions either; even if they raise them from birth and swear on a stack of bibles that they are the nicest sweetest pet known to man.

I know this next statement is going to raise some hackles, but you really do have to draw the line somewhere.

Joel D.   ·  May 31, 2008 11:10 AM

What of mutts with a percentage of Pit Bull in them?

Are they going to merely bust the two back legs of these dogs?

This is micromanaging at its worst.

John   ·  May 31, 2008 12:06 PM

Joel D.

Pit Bulls, Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepards, and even Golden Retrievers are great dogs if raised right. If not raised properly, if raised to fight, then these are some of the worst dogs to own. The difference is the training of these dogs. If this law passes it won't be just Pit Bull's, I can see a law passing that calls the dog bark noise pollution, so you have to have the dogs bark "softened" which is a really horrible procedure. Imagine having some of your vocal chords cut, not fun.

"you really do have to draw the line somewhere." And where do you draw the line with guns? 50 caliber is banned? 45? 357? Eventually we will only be allowed to own black powder long rifles, using your logic.


John   ·  May 31, 2008 12:23 PM

Phelps - Mountain Lions are wild animals. Dogs are not. Dogs have been bred to be domestic animals. It takes considerable effort to make one vicious.

There are already cities where possession of certain breeds (almost always pits, rotts, and dobies) is forbidden. Some insurance companies will not write you a homeowner's policy if you have one of those breeds.

And there's only one reason for it - black people like those breeds. White liberals fear blacks, and therefore want them unarmed and undogged.

If someone comes for my Doberman, they'll meet my baseball bat. And they'll find out that I'm far more dangerous than my dog.

brian   ·  May 31, 2008 1:23 PM

Mr. Joel D.

It may seem like "piling on", but one must ask if you have ever owned a dog? The type of thinking being displayed here would tend to support the argument that if the father is a criminal, we must execute the children. If there is a genetic disposition towards criminality exhibited by an individual, then the whole breed must be suspect. Which is fallacious on many levels, but I suspect you realize that. Otherwise you wouldn't have added "mountain lion" to your list of domesticated animals.

I knew a man who bred wolf half-breeds. I told him to his face that he was wrong to do so. No matter how many times I replay "Dancing With Wolves", I am still able to remember that a movie is not real life. 'Member the Bear Guy that was killed by a bear? Suprised?

I suggest you buy a book. "The Art of Raising a Puppy". Here's an interesting review of the book:

http://tinyurl.com/5wr6jb

Read the book. Then, get a puppy. Regardless of breed, if you follow the advice, you'll have a remarkable friend for life.

Sure, you'll have to revisit your fondness for chicks with cats, but you'll get over that. Dogs make everything better. Unless you're crazy. Then, guess what? You're dogs gonna be crazy, too. Just like people.

OregonGuy   ·  May 31, 2008 1:35 PM

I recently moved to TX from a small town in PA. One of my neighbors had a pitt bull; they would, of course, let her out to play fetch, etc., every day.

This dog *loved* to bark at me and charge at me (just me for some reason) - and the owners, a lady and her daughter, were obviously terrified that I would make some sort of complaint about the dog, and so were always chasing after her when this happened.

I spent a lot of time laughing at that dog and always stood my ground, which just seemed to piss it off even more. You see, she wasn't a bad dog - as much as she was full of bluster, she'd never actually assault me while I was simply going about my business. I think she took my failure to heed her doggy seriousness as some sort of personal insult. I got along well with those neighbors, despite their embarrassment.

I ran into dozens of running dogs while hiking there, as well, and in every case the owners would be concerned how I reacted, whether the dog had a stupid tongue-hanging grin or was barking. (carrying openly probably had a bit to do with that)

None of those dogs were ever a problem; short of illness or disease (a sick dog split one of my fingers open once), it takes a screwed up owner to produce a screwed up dog.

Tim   ·  May 31, 2008 2:16 PM

A mountain lion can be expected to behave as a mountain lion, and mountain lions are not dogs. Dogs are domesticated, and what they're loosely calling "pit bulls" consist of several breeds originally bred for fighting against other dogs.

While it's tough to generalize about individual dogs based on the original purpose of its breed, in general one can expect pit bulls to be better fighters than other dogs, and to enjoy fighting -- PROVIDED that they are allowed or encouraged to do that. Similarly, retrievers were bred to retrieve birds when they're shot from the sky, and "coon hounds" were bred to go after raccoons; this does not mean that an untrained retreiver or coon hound automatically will follow the original breeding intent, though. A New York City labrador never field-trained would probably run from a gunshot, and if I threw poor Coco into a pit against a trained fighter, she'd probably leap out and run away. I had a friend who owned a coon hound who showed zero interest when raccoons raided their trashcan. So, what dogs were once bred for does not assure behavior.

That said, it has to be remembered that pit bulls not only were never bred to be attack dogs, but because they were used in dogfights and had to be repeatedly handled by their owners while in the pit, any pit bull showing the slightest sign of aggression towards humans was eliminated from the gene pool. The result is that while they're more likely to be dog-aggressive, they're less likely to be human aggressive. Because of the bad reputation, they don't get a second chance, so any time another dog shows aggression towards Coco (who is always leashed in public), I get her the hell away from the situation -- not only because I don't want her to fight, but because if there was a fight, she'd automatically be considered in the wrong, even if she merely defended herself. Puff got attacked by a dog in a park once; I picked him up and RAN away for this very reason.

Aggression towards humans can happen in any breed, though, and I freely admit, when it happens with a pit bull the results can be awful. Considering the proliferation of these dogs in the hands of a thug criminal population which wants them to be mean, I'm surprised there aren't more ugly incidents. I can't tell you the number of times I have approached pit bulls in the hands of thug types and they've gotten mad at their dogs for being friendly to me. I wish such people would not own pit bulls, but I also wish they wouldn't own guns.

For more on the history of the breed and the deliberate culling of people-biters, see this New Yorker article:

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/02/06/060206fa_fact

It's a very long article, but here's a relevant excerpt:

****QUOTE****
The supposedly troublesome characteristics of the pit-bull type--its gameness, its determination, its insensitivity to pain--are chiefly directed toward other dogs. Pit bulls were not bred to fight humans. On the contrary: a dog that went after spectators, or its handler, or the trainer, or any of the other people involved in making a dogfighting dog a good dogfighter was usually put down. (The rule in the pit-bull world was "Man-eaters die.")

A Georgia-based group called the American Temperament Test Society has put twenty-five thousand dogs through a ten-part standardized drill designed to assess a dog's stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness in the company of people. A handler takes a dog on a six-foot lead and judges its reaction to stimuli such as gunshots, an umbrella opening, and a weirdly dressed stranger approaching in a threatening way. Eighty-four per cent of the pit bulls that have been given the test have passed, which ranks pit bulls ahead of beagles, Airedales, bearded collies, and all but one variety of dachshund. "We have tested somewhere around a thousand pit-bull-type dogs," Carl Herkstroeter, the president of the A.T.T.S., says. "I've tested half of them. And of the number I've tested I have disqualified one pit bull because of aggressive tendencies. They have done extremely well. They have a good temperament. They are very good with children." It can even be argued that the same traits that make the pit bull so aggressive toward other dogs are what make it so nice to humans. "There are a lot of pit bulls these days who are licensed therapy dogs," the writer Vicki Hearne points out. "Their stability and resoluteness make them excellent for work with people who might not like a more bouncy, flibbertigibbet sort of dog. When pit bulls set out to provide comfort, they are as resolute as they are when they fight, but what they are resolute about is being gentle. And, because they are fearless, they can be gentle with anybody."

****QUOTE****

Many have wondered where they get their amiable clownishness that people who love them find so endearing. My theory is that there may have been an additional reason beyond culling people-mean pit bulls; the endearing personality might have developed as an unintended byproduct (possibly with Darwinian implications) of one of the cruelties inherent in dogfighting -- the tendency of dogfighters to kill dogs that didn't perform well in the pit. The more loveable a losing (or "cowardly") dog was, the more likely he'd be saved as someone's family pet.

Anyway, I love Coco, who is not a mountain lion or a rattlesnake, but a dog. I resent her being judged not for anything she or I have done, but for what other dogs have done (more properly, what irresponsible owners allowed or encouraged).

Eric Scheie   ·  May 31, 2008 3:33 PM

We suspect that my daughter's dog is part pit - the obvious part is boxer, and she is a big, friendly, people-loving softie. The screwy part of this kind of law is that pits were originally bred to fight other dogs. A tendency to go after people was viewed as a bad one, and bred out as much as possible. Someone who has trained a pit as a people-attack dog has done something really warped and contrary to what the dog was bred for and it's nature.

I have never seen my daughter's dog react badly to another human. I seriously have doubts that she would even go after an intruder in our house - she would be the one cowering behind us! OTO, she has behaved very badly towards dogs who displayed hostility towards her- on that account I am pretty sure of her pit-bull ancestry- but we keep our suspicions very, very quiet, lest we draw the wrath of jerks like the above noted.

Sgt. Mom   ·  May 31, 2008 3:33 PM

John said: “Pit Bulls, Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepards, and even Golden Retrievers are great dogs if raised right.”

And if they’re not, and they tear some five-year olds face off? Do the parents get an apology: “Aw shucks, sorry about that, but the dog wasn’t trained right.” I don’t see how that’s going to be any consolation.


Brian: I’m not sure what to make of that statement, so I’ll just leave it where it was.


OregonGuy: I own two dogs, a standard and a giant Schnauzer.
OregonGuy Said: “The type of thinking being displayed here would tend to support the argument that if the father is a criminal, we must execute the children”
Okay, I’m going to have to stop right there. I have dogs, they’re great dogs, but they are not people. I don’t do analogies that anthropomorphize animals.

My point is simply that, unlike a gun that will just sit there and do nothing if nobody pays attention to it, the same cannot be said for a pitbull. If left to their own devices (i.e. “not raised right or trained”) they’re dangerous without a person even being involved.

Joel D.   ·  May 31, 2008 5:12 PM

Joel D

You said: "And if they’re not, and they tear some five-year olds face off? Do the parents get an apology: “Aw shucks, sorry about that, but the dog wasn’t trained right.” I don’t see how that’s going to be any consolation."

No then that dog ought to be put down, and the owners sued for the care of the child. The thing is that, if raised wrong, a Pomeranian will also attack a five year old.

You said: "My point is simply that, unlike a gun that will just sit there and do nothing if nobody pays attention to it, the same cannot be said for a pitbull. If left to their own devices (i.e. “not raised right or trained”) they’re dangerous without a person even being involved. "

Now who is anthropomorphizing? I gun is an inanimate object, a dog is not. I think a better analogy would be raising a child to raising a puppy. If left alone, both will die. Raised wrong both will be dysfunctional, raised right, both will be loving and kind.

I own a Shetland Sheepdog, aka a miniature collie, this dog is the absolute best dog in the world, hands down. If she wasn't loved and cared for as a puppy and as an adult she would be mean and snap at anyone that came near her. It is that way with any dog.

John   ·  May 31, 2008 5:43 PM

John said: “The thing is that, if raised wrong, a Pomeranian will also attack a five year old.”

Okay, tell you what. Take your child and put them in the room, alone and unattended for say half an hour, with your choice of either a) a Pomeranian that wasn’t raised right or b) a Pit Bull that wasn’t raised right. Which would you choose and why?

By definition to anthropomorphize is to place human traits on non-human things. Neither the dog nor the gun is human, so I don’t understand your argument.

What I mean is that it takes a human being to make a gun dangerous, and (only my opinion) I don’t think it takes a human to make Pit Bull dangerous.

Joel D.   ·  May 31, 2008 5:56 PM

Well, I wouldn't leave my child in a room with either because they were both raised wrong.

The gun is not human, and neither is the dog, but the dog is an active member of the family. A dog takes orders, and can be trained to do right or wrong.

I hate to say this, but your opinion is wrong, it takes a human to raise a puppy into a dog. Depending on how the puppy is raised will be the way the dog reacts to different situations. If the dog is a wild dog, then the pack raises the puppy, to survive in hostile surroundings. The owner of the dog makes the difference in how the dog is raised. If the dog is raised poorly then the dog will revert to thousands of years of behavior. The same could be said of humans.

John   ·  May 31, 2008 10:56 PM

“Well, I wouldn't leave my child in a room with either because they were both raised wrong.”

That’s kind of a copout, and a bit disingenuous. The point is, a dangerous Pomeranian is nowhere in the same ballpark of dangerous as a Pit Bull.

I never said it doesn’t take a human to raise a puppy into a dog. I said it doesn’t take a human to make a Pit Bull dangerous. Conversely, it does take a human to make a gun dangerous.

“If the dog is raised poorly then the dog will revert to thousands of years of behavior. The same could be said of humans.”

Well, if we can just quit trying to drag humans into a dog’s behavior, I think your saying something similar to what I am. The difference is I’m “stating” that Pit Bulls can become dangerous, whereas you seem to be “excusing” that Pit Bulls can become dangerous. Excuses don’t fix problems.

Joel D.   ·  May 31, 2008 11:17 PM

I'm not excusing anything. The government wants to tell you what type of dog you can own. I do not like that, it smacks of the type of micromanagement that ruins democracy one little block at a time.

If some one wants to own the biggest meanest dog around, no matter what type, that is fine with me. If that dog is charging me then I will take appropriate action. The government shouldn't have any say in this.

So some state and local governments are making laws for, specifically, Pit Bulls, why? Because they are meaner than other dogs? Any dog can be mean, any dog can bite and many can kill, so why only Pit Bulls? Why not Doberman's or Rottweiliers?

If this bill becomes law, as it has in many other states, then how much longer until they come after dogs that bark to loud for noise pollution?

John   ·  June 1, 2008 10:14 AM

This reminds me of a horrible story I read several years ago. The Public Housing authority in some city (I think it was NYC) was plagued by drug dealers, with vicious dogs, living in their facilities. Their solution was to ban dog ownership by residents. They made arrangements with the Animal Control division so that people could have their dogs picked up and killed at their convenience.

Imagine the impact on children living in the facility, many of whom probably had pretty difficult lives and strong emotional connection to their dogs.

This story brought home to me very clearly the casual brutality of bureaucratic liberalism.

david foster   ·  June 1, 2008 11:23 AM

"A mountain lion can be expected to behave as a mountain lion, and mountain lions are not dogs. Dogs are domesticated, and what they're loosely calling "pit bulls" consist of several breeds originally bred for fighting against other dogs."

Ah, the "wild animal" comments...I think its funny that I, someone who does keep "wild animals" (birds, snakes, lizards, and a large-ish alligator) bump into the all around safety bans and ignorace that face what I do constantly. I was actually forced to move because of my animals (or give them up)

A cougar will indeed behave as a cougar, and if one has the resources and capability of safely keeping a cougar, why shouldn't they be allowed to ? There are USDA requiremnts already on the books regarding this. When you look at the statistics of "dangerous animal" attacks by peoples "captive wild animals" the resulting statistics simply do not prove that keeping these animals is in any way a "crisis".

Dogs are indeed "domesticated", but they still behave like canids. A few thousand years of domestication does not override millions of years of evolution. Dogs can indeed kill, and all dogs still have thier prey drive intact and all of the right equipment to tear out a throat. Size has some play in it (obviously a 80lb animal is more dangerous to a person then a 10lb animal) but a badly kept dog, or an ill socialized dog behaves like the predator mammal (canid) that it is. If you actually examine fatal attacks and bite statistics, the breeds one would "expect" to be dangerous are not nesacerraly so.

With pits, its simply more likely at this day and age for them to end up in the hads of fighters because they are the "dog of choice". Take them away, the scummy folks who do those things to dogs will move on to some other breed, and then that will get banned...and so on...(Mind you, this is coming from someone who is not a fan of dogs, and was attacked and almost killed by a saint bernard as a child)....who do I see as responsable ? The dogs owner for not having control over his animal.

"If some one wants to own the biggest meanest dog around, no matter what type, that is fine with me. If that dog is charging me then I will take appropriate action. The government shouldn't have any say in this."

Exactly how I feel.

Laws like this are based on ignorance and bias, and general lazyness, followed by fear mongering. These assinine regulations that would take a mans dog/snakes away to be destroyed, simply do not have the facts behind them.

Granted, Im sure lots of folks who would read this will think that I have no "right" or place owning and working with the "wild animals" that I do, like the person above said about the cougar.

Kaw   ·  June 1, 2008 4:47 PM

Any animal can be dangerous. Surprisingly the cougar, even a young one at 8o lbs can be really dangerous to a 250 over 6-foot man. The muscle strength in a dog, even a little terrier of 15 lbs, can drag a child of 50 lbs quite easily.

Boxers and mastiffs and bull terriers have extremely strong jaw strength. Once they latch on it is very hard to remove the teeth from an arm, or any toy. Others dogs are more slash and bite. Fast leap and bite and let go. Shepard’s are trained to latch on the arm by police. Natural instincts are more a slash and leap away. Dobermans go for the throat. Small dogs like to go for the leg. A leg bite is less dangerous than a throat bite.

Pitt Bulls are extremely strong for a dog and even though they are not large, can do a lot of damage to a child or even and adult. Every Pitt Bull I have encountered has been very friendly. The most vicious dog I have run into was a black Labrador, which is a very friendly breed. The black lab was not trained to be mean and was very friendly when he was a pup. However he was not socialized well. He was fenced in and not interacted with strange people and dogs and became mean. I have a neighbor that got his thigh torn from the lab. However one time it got out and attacked my border collie who was loose when being walked. My border collie was fine, it is hard to get a bite through the neck fur, and just rolled over and ran. The lab then came for my son who had our German Shepard on a leash. The Shepard would have defended or attacked since she is very strong alpha dog. But my son never allowed her to do so, he just kicked the lab in the head when the dog charged. My son is not scared of dogs and very dominant personality. The lab quickly backed upped and the owner then got hold. No damage done to any dog or person.

My next-door neighbor has an English Bull Terrier, one of the breeds that the Pitt Bull was created from. Very friendly to dogs and people, strangers or people he knows.
The point is any dog can be dangerous if not trained, socialized and handled correctly.
Pitt Bulls are no more dangerous to humans than any other large breed dog. The actual facts on dog bites indicate that other breeds have a higher incident of dog bite problems.
If localities make a breed illegal or ban them then there is nothing to stop them from banning any animal.

I used to ride past on horseback a farmers kennel that had two cougars and he used them in an act. People can have dangerous animals, but strict liability applies if any injury results.

This is a stupid law and engenders anger and resentment from citizens. Any time a local city thinks they can just destroy another’s property without just cause then that incites rebellion and contempt for the law or police. That is not a good policy.

RAH   ·  June 2, 2008 11:58 AM

I would like to remind everyone that before it was pit bulls it was rotweillers and before it was rotweillers it was dobermans. Right now pits are just the most popular and prevelant. In a couple years it may be Chows or akitas. The problem will still be the same, just as with people you cant judge on breed alone.

shortbus   ·  June 3, 2008 11:14 PM

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