Friday, February 1, 2008

Banning Pit Bulls

Or, “How to try and Legislate Morality”
Or, “How the Rich make Rules only the Poor have to Follow”
Or, “Another way to Pander for Votes”
Or, “I’m paying my Senator for this?”

I could keep going all day with this. It seems Nashville and the State of Tennessee are again trying to ban Pit Bulls and other “dangerous” dogs. Like the war on drugs and prohibition, this approach never works. You can’t tell people something they want to do is wrong and just ban it. It doesn’t work.
For starters, let’s say you want to protect yourself. (I won’t say you are a drug dealer. This assumes that everyone who owns one of these dogs falls into a certain category: criminal and poor. In my example you are a country music singer who lives in a 1 million dollar Nashville home, has a wife, who volunteers at the local food bank and two kids in private school.) You don’t want a pit bull, those dogs are dangerous! You’re going to pay $2000 for a German-bred German Sheppard. Then, you’re going to spend $3000 for someone to train the dog, Schitzen-trained, of course. Life is good and you haven’t broken any laws. Until the neighbor who always comes over to borrow some tools in the garage comes over. See, he told you he was coming over a couple of days ago, but you were so busy you forgot. Now you hear a strange noise and give the dog the attack command. As you rush to follow the dog and find him on top of your neighbor, you forget the release command in your panic. Eventually you grab a 2x4 and beat the dog off the poor soul, but it’s too late, your neighbor is dead. Are you now a criminal? Would this scenario be any worse if the dog was a pit bull? Or, the owner of the dog was a black drug dealer?

People tend to fixate on the fact that most fatal dog-bite attacks are perpetrated by pit bulls. ( and ) But if you look closely at this study, it reports only fatal dog attacks and the incidents are culled from media reports of dog bites. If I get bit by a dog, it causes an abscess and die 3 days later, what are the chances of a reporter showing up to cover that story? Ok, I’m willing to concede that most dog bites that result in fatalities are covered by media, but you have to concede that “Pit Bull Bites Child” makes a much better story than “Yorkie Terrorizes Veterinary Office”. Of course more big dogs will be represented in the fatal bite statistics. The bite from a 100lb Rotti will always cause more damage than a 10lb Teacup Poodle, but which one occurs with more frequency? Come to my office and stick your hand out, see which one is more likely to come and get ya’. I’ll take my chances with the Rotti all day long.

Now I’m not saying that people shouldn’t take responsibility for their pets. But, most dog bites are from large breed dogs that are kept for protection. ( Banning one breed of dog will just make these people got out and get another dog that is not on the “banned list”. You would have to be an idiot not to see that coming. How about enforcing the laws already on the books? If you cause someone’s death, by gun, by car or by dog, you should be punished. That law already exists. Can’t handle your gun? We take it away from you. Can’t drive your car safely? We take away your right to drive. Can’t handle your dog? You shouldn’t own one. Period.

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