Another day, another life lost due to irresponsible pet ownership.
The question I pose today is: Should we ban "dangerous" breeds of dogs, and in particular the pit bull (a term encompassing several breeds of dogs)?
Let me preface my opinion with the fact that I am a pit bull/Labrador mix and pit bull owner. They are the sweetest dogs on the planet and get along with people, dogs, cats, children, etc.
When discussing pitbulls and breed specifics, excluding the very valid statistics involving incidents of bites, maulings, unpredictable behavior, etc, it is my personal opinion that pits are like any other dog in their instincts, their loyalty to their owners, their response to firm pack leadership, their intelligence, etc. Anyone who has ever came across a pitbull owned by a responsible dog owner knows they can be great family dogs capable of much love and affection.
The issue with pitbulls, and I'm sure this will be debated, is not the breed itself, and not even good/bad owners, but the types of people attracted to pitbulls in the first place. They are seen as a status dog, much like Rottweilers and other larger, stronger, more brutish, intimidating looking animals. And for that reason, many people seek them out and own them for the wrong reasons.
Any dog can have a good/bad owner. Bad ownership usually implies a lack of understanding towards the establishment of a pack leader, not honing in and nipping negative traits while fostering positive traits (laziness), not exercising the dog enough, allowing aggressive behaviors to manifest without addressing them, not taking advantage of puppyhood to socialize and train them, etc.
However, most people don't SEEK to be bad owners. They just don't understand or take in all the responsibilities that owning a dog entails.
Pitbull owners in many communities across the country SEEK to have a badass, intimidating dog. That's why their associated with ghetto black and white trash communities (coincidentally where pit attacks happen most). You don't hear of cocker spaniel maulings or maulings from many other breeds to often because these dogs aren't sought out as a status symbol. These maulings usually come from bad pet ownership because of the reasons listed above. Pitbulls have a bad wrap because of the types of owners they attract.
Are pitbulls dangerous? Like other large breed dogs, they are more muscular, heavier, and can inflict much more harm to someone than a Yorker terrier. In this regard, all large dog breeds are dangerous.
It's people that are dangerous. Irresponsible, stupid people who don't take their role as a pet owner serious enough. And for that reason, pitbulls suffer from unfair criticism and stigmatism in this country. Pit owners like myself face apartment discrimination all the time, and have to deal with negative perceptions (quite deserved) from people who don't understand the breed.
So to sum up - should pitbulls be banned? My answer is neither yes nor no. I think enough irresponsible people out there in the world seek out pitbulls that it's to be expected that I may have a tougher time having certain communities accept my dogs. With owning a pitbull comes different sets of challenges, mainly public perception that you must be willing to accept and deal with. And that perception is definitely justified, though unfair to the breed as a whole.