As many of you know, for the past few weeks, I have been busy and involved in many, many dog fires, all requiring immediate attention. I have sometimes seen things posted that I have wanted to respond to, yet I just can't make sufficient time to provide a detailed answer. I am rushed, typing my thoughts, but I feel IT IS IMPERATIVE TO VOICE MY POSITION.
People, understand this: more regulations will not solve the problem. Education and responsible ownership will solve the problem.
I know, as do many of you, the statistics concerning fatal attacks are very minute compared to the percentage of dogs and people within the vast expanse of our borders. Still, I want come here and blame the media, who needs sensationalism to sell their papers. I want blame extremists, who use the humane movement to catapult themselves to personal wealth and international recognition. I want blame a breed of dog or hold a type of person who owns this breed responsible.
I will hold myself accountable and move forward to be proactive to help dogs and their owners better adjust to society. You see if we, as a group, spend our time rushing around to put out a fire each time it starts, we will never solve our problems. Reactionary people are the most inefficient. We need to start educating ourselves on how to control a dog - now. We need to be true to ourselves and acknowledge how much dog we can handle for the life of that dog, as opposed to how much dog we can handle under our current situation.
Here is my call to action:
We need to train our dogs to respond to the most basic commands. We must ensure that after the formal course has ended, the dogs are still maintained. It isn't enough to get CGCs and Temperament Test our dogs to prove they are safe. It is just a good start. Let us LIVE THE LIFE OF A CANINE GOOD CITIZEN, and that goes beyond the basics of the test.
Let us not hold a victim accountable for whatever motivation triggered the attack. If WE ARE IN CONTROL OF OUR ANIMAL, THERE CAN BE NO ATTACK! As a group of people who earn our livelihoods from dogs, let us teach others how to interact with dogs. Today, it is too late to say if this person had been through a bite prevention class, they would have known how to more effectively deal with the situation. It is, however, not too late to start teaching others!
This is where we fail: by not understanding that WE CAN NOT CHANGE WHAT HAPPENED, NOR CAN WE PUT A POSITIVE SPIN ON IT. The truth will come out, as the truth deserves to be told. However, we can make a POSITIVE IMPACT to ensure that this does not happen - ever again.
First, let us examine why more legislation will not stop dog bites. There is already existing legislation that covers the containment of dogs, yet it is rarely enforced. Consider the case of Sabina Davidson of Kansas City, whose Rottweillers formed a pack and terrorized a neighborhood before killing an 11-year old boy. What would a law against Rottweillers have done to prevent this inexcusable attack? There was a leash law in Kansas City, already in existence, that required dogs to be on a 6-foot leash when off of their owner's property. Yet, Ms. Davidson's dogs routinely roamed the neighborhood - loose and unaccompanied, snarling, chasing other animals and scaring pedestrians. Calls were made to the authorities. One police officer, living in the neighborhood, testified that on one occasion before the tragedy, he had witnessed the dogs loose and sent his own children inside. He went to get his own firearm, but by the time he returned, the dogs had gone back inside their own fence.
The Davidsons did have a fence, yet it wasn't secure. In light of the escape of the Texas-7 from a government controlled facility in my home state, I don't really see how more legislation would have ensured that this fence, too, was better secured. You see the problem lay in Ms. Davidson's own actions and negligence. That is where the problem starts and ends. She blamed the children who "teased" her dogs behind the fence. No one saw the children "tease" her dogs, but even if they did, why not have a fence that was secure against the dogs' escape? And, why not have either a privacy fence or landscaping which would have made it impossible for the dogs to see the "teasing?"
The question posed here is simple: WHY WERE SABINA DAVIDSON'S DOGS NOT PROPERLY SOCIALIZED AROUND CHILDREN?
This was a case of predatory aggression in a pack situation; would socialization have helped the dogs to view children as more than prey? THE ANSWER, PEOPLE, IS YES!
Fences can fail. Privacy screenings won't stop the auditory stimulation that is received. But proper training and socialization would have prevented the accident. How could the government regulate Ms Davidson, who was in her bedroom asleep, scarcely 100 yards away, throughout the sustained attack? That attack was witnessed by a school bus full of terrified children, a driver incapable of stopping it, and a brother who refused to come down from the tree in the first place. The owner never even woke up after police arrived on the scene and fired shots killing 1 dog and wounding another.
DOES ANYONE BELIEVE LEGISLATION COULD HAVE ENSURED THAT MS. DAVIDSON WOULD HAVE MUZZLED HER DOGS OR A FEE WOULD HAVE KEPT HER FROM GETTING A DOG? THE ANSWER IS NO!
She was not responsible enough to own a dog and was criminally negligent. You may be assured that she would have gotten a dog somewhere, of some breed, capable of doing similar damage.
Let's also discuss the inherent dangers of a powerful breed. Is one APBT, Rott, Presa, Cane Corso, or GSD by itself more powerful than a group of so called nice dogs, roaming through Nicesville, in the daytime, as a PACK? NO!
Even if every large, powerful breed were deemed a danger to society, there would still be an inherent danger. For a group of gentle-breed dogs could do damage, especially considering that numerous attacks are coming from predatory aggression.
Predatory aggression is somewhat of a misnomer, as there is no real hostility in the dog, yet it doesn't make him any less dangerous. I know everyone has seen a pack of wolves or pride of lions taking down a prey animal on some educational program. We all understand that the wolf or lion wasn't angry at his prey, yet the prey remains just as dead. So it isn't merely enough to say that guarding breeds shall be regulated. Any breed of dog is just as capable of a predacious encounter. A well trained and properly socialized guarding breed is less likely to be involved in a predatory attack than an un-socialized, untrained dog of any other breed.
Rules are often broken and safety plans can and do fail. As a trainer who offers group classes along with a myriad of other services, I instruct my trainers to inspect leashes in novice classes, routinely, as many people will bring an untrained dog out on a frayed leash. They are obeying the letter of the law even if they fail to observe its intent. I will say, however, that when they finish classes, they are more educated on proper care of equipment, as well as proper handling of their dogs.
If our officials cannot enforce existing leash laws, how will they inspect all leashes? Muzzles can and do fail, as well. Just ask any veterinarian who has been injured while treating a muzzled, wounded dog. Who will inspect these muzzles on a daily basis?
Some may say it is a start! Any trainer with experience knows that a solid leather lead is easier on the hands and gives you better control of a dog than nylon (which is probably next best) or chain. Yet I am constantly fighting ordinances which require a viscous dog to be on a CHAIN LEASH. Try just walking a dog that is quite friendly, yet pulls, on one of these leashes for a weekend. Then you will see what I mean. EQUIPMENT WILL FAIL UNDER THE CARE OF PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY IRRESPONSIBLE!
What will more laws concerning the secured measures of "dangerous dogs" do?
Give people a false sense of security and another reason not to responsibly train and socialize these dog. REMEMBER: RESPONSIBLLY TRAINED AND SOCIALIZED DOGS AREN'T THE ONES CAUSING ATTACKS AND PROBLEMS.
What else will result from these additional laws? I'll tell you:
THESE LAWS WILL MAKE IT EVEN HARDER FOR PEOPLE TO SOCIALIZE THEIR DOGS, AS YOUNG PUPPIES WHO CAN'T HARM ANYONE. PEOPLE WILL SEE A MUZZLE AND EQUATE IT WITH AN AGGRESSIVE DOG. SO THESE MEASURES WILL JUST ENSURE THAT DANGEROUS DOGS STILL REMAIN DANGEROUS. AND, THEY WILL ENSURE THAT THE SAME GOVERNMENT WHO HAS FAILED US THROUGH MULTITUDES OF PROGRAMS DESIGNED TO HELP PEOPLE, WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR REGULATING LAWS TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF PEOPLE BY MAKING IT YET HARDER FOR DOGS TO BE RESPONSIBLE AND SAFE MEMBERS OF SOCIETY!
Breeders will say that everyone has sold at least one puppy to a person whom they wished they hadn't. YET NO ONE ASKS: WHAT DID YOU DO TO ENSURE THAT THE PROBLEM WAS FIXED? The answer doesn't lie in telling that person how irresponsible they are. It comes from showing them how to be a better handler to achieve the dog they want.
Does this require the breeder to pay for some training with another trainer who is at a distance? If so, that is the cost of doing business.
Does it require the breeder to breed less and search harder (costing more money) to find homes? Once again, that is the cost of doing business responsibly. ALL BUSINESSES AND HOBBIES COME WITH A COST!
As I am running short of time, I will stop at this point of my discussion. Please, stay tuned for more.
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CROSSPOST THIS POST WHEREVER YOU FELL THAT IT IS NECESSARY!