A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

24 July 2006

K.M. commented below that the dog involved seemed to have attacked the bear only in response to the bear becoming aggressive, and that the dog may have been under control (though not, I assume, leashed) until that happened. Possibly true, but what was the cause of that aggression? I still don't believe dogs belong in bear country.

I read the link K.M. sent me, and have culled the following quotes:

"Most dogs fight as a last resort, when staring and growling fail. A pit bull is willing to fight with little or no provocation. "

"[...] pit bulls try to inflict the maximum amount of damage on an opponent. They bite, hold, shake, and tear. They don't growl or assume an aggressive facial expression as warning. They just attack."

"In epidemiological studies of dog bites, the pit bull is overrepresented among dogs known to have seriously injured or killed human beings"
So can we agree that this is a dangerous dog? Not everyone thinks so:

"The way a lot of these laws are written, pit bulls are whatever they say they are," Lora Brashears, a kennel manager in Pennsylvania, says. "And for most people it just means big, nasty, scary dog that bites."

"A mean pit bull is a dog that has been turned mean, by selective breeding, by being cross-bred with a bigger, human-aggressive breed like German shepherds or Rottweilers, or by being conditioned in such a way that it begins to express hostility to human beings."
I agree about 50%. Humans do have a part in the development and management of their pets. But the trainer has to have something to work with.

"Ah" you may say "but we agree that it's the owner, not the dog, who's the problem?"

Not quite. Since there is unfortunately no responsibility check, no criminal record check, no licensing procedure to verify who the irresponsible idiots are, then I think that as with guns so with Pit Bulls (or any dangerous pet).

"If we ban people from owning dangerous things, why do we allow them cars?" you ask. Simple: there's a licensing process in place. People who drive cars have been trained, for the most part, to a minimum standard of responsibility. Besides, dogs are a luxury for almost every owner save the blind and a few shepherds. Cars are all too often a necessity.

But further, traffic violations are watched for by the police. The city of Vancouver doesn't have half the number of animal control officers required to keep up with all the yuppies who think a German shepherd looks nice with a VW Jetta and a 750-square foot apartment.

But I'm willing to offer a solution that will make me entirely confident in all pet owners:

1) All dog owners must take a responsibility course. Topics covered would include keeping one's animal leashed in public spaces, proper care and feeding of dogs, and how to clean up after your pet has just shat in the neighbour's yard or the playground (a course in deperate need of implimentation).

2) All dogs must be licensed, said license to cost some appropriate fraction of your property taxes, vehicle insurance, or provincial income tax. Monies collected would go toward hiring more dogcatchers, spaying and neutering programs, and creation of pet-friendly areas.

3) Unlicensed animals will be immediately confiscated, likewise unspayed and unneutered ones.

4) All pets must be spayed or neutered unless the owner is in posession of a dealer's license and has had his or her mandatory six-monthly inspection by the SPCA.

I have yet to hear of any dog (or cat, or goldfish) owner agitating for a responsibility syatem, they all just seem to want fewer rules (except those trying to add a rule to force all apartments to rent to pet owners).

Under the current system I'm supposed to trust the owner as to the safety of his or her animal--even when the animal is clearly hostile or dangerous.

Just as I have to take the word of a man who took an aggressive dog into bear country that a black bear--not known for its level of aggression, attacked first.

And yes, I'd be perfectly happy applying my rules to cats, guinea pigs, rats ... politicians--now that's an idea!


At 8:45 p.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

Nothing I read indicated the dog was being anything other than defensive of its owner. It was hardly a bear-crazed lunatic.

I've dealt with pitbulls, and you have to be a strong handler but they are not by nature vicious. The reason they're the fighting dog of choice is that once they start they do not stop, and they can really do a lot of spectacular damage. But it takes neglect or active work to turn them vicious.

Montreal had a much simpler system for taking care of people who let their pets outside, unaltered and uncontrolled. They made everyone whose unspayed or unneutered cat or dog they picked up work 8 hours as a volunteer, helping them put unwanted pets to sleep. There was NO, repeat, NO recidivism.

At 8:49 p.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

Really, the trouble in this case happened not because the dog was off-leash but because the bear was. A leashed pitbull would only have been delayed in giving the warning to his owner, as he wouldn't have been able to range far enough to have detected the bear in advance.

At 1:21 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

So are you saying you're opposed to spaying or neutering politicians?

Have a heart! Think of all the lonely and unwanted politicians out there...

At 7:29 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey! Nice selective quoting. :)
Also from my link:
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."

My point being that the problem with the bear may have happened with a Jack Russel but I don't think you'd be quite as upset about it in that case.

I agree with raincoaster that, given what we know about this case (which isn't much), it hardly seems like either an agressive dog problem or an off-leash/out of control problem.


At 9:08 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

Sorry, K.M., quoting in blog posts--or anywhere else--is neccesarily selective.

I chose the statements I did 'cos they support my point--silly to do otherwise, really.

I notice that most comments about the Pit Bull breeds agree with me that it's the owner as much as the dog that's the problem.

As for the bear/Pit Bull incident, the presence of dogs is known to aggravate bears. I accept the owner's story that the bear attacked first. I just question his judgement in bringing the animal in the first place.

The problem would then again be the human. The nature of the dog is just another complicating factor.


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