As regular readers know, I admire Great White sharks. I admire grizzly bears. And I admire the larger molosser dogs such as the American Pit Bull Terrier. But I don’t think any of them should be kept as pets. These dogs have been bred for fighting. They’re good at it. And when they go bad and attack (and even kill) humans, we shouldn’t be surprised.
It doesn’t help that men who are trying to compensate for their own feelings of inferiority are attracted to these dogs. And according to the ASPCA, “His intimidating appearance has made him attractive to people looking for a macho status symbol, and this popularity has encouraged unscrupulous breeders to produce puppies without maintaining the pit bull’s typical good nature with people.” So we start with a breed that has a violent nature, appealing to macho assholes, causing breeders to make even less domesticated dogs.
I don’t know how we got to this point. We should never have accepted any kind of pet that was not entirely submissive to humans. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have character, but serious injury should not be on the list of “common accidents.” The ASPCA article is largely an apologia for pit bulls. But even it notes, “[T]hey tend to bite harder in play than other breeds.” And, “They’re easily excited and, when in an agitated state, they may have little control over their behavior…” Just great!
The website Dogs Bite produces lists of fatalities from dogs each year. Their list from 2013 includes 29 victims thus far. Almost all of them are pit bulls or other larger molosser breads. And I know: this is a small number of deaths compared to other causes. But these are completely preventable deaths that occur primarily so that some people can keep the most badass dog breed around that is responsible for the vast majority of dog on human death.
I bring this up because yesterday in St. George, Utah, a child’s face was half ripped off by a pit bull. He almost certainly would have died except that his 6-year-old friend pulled the dog off him until help arrived. The story is pitched from the perspective of the heroic 6-year-old. And indeed, he is a hero. But the bigger question is why his dog was being kept as a pet.
This isn’t about pit bulls. Whenever a dog attacks someone, there are always people who want to forgive the dog and justify what happened. I don’t care. I don’t think the dogs are evil; they are just doing what their genetics and environment dictate. But violent dogs should never be pets. And breeds that are known to be violent should not be acceptable pets. See that picture above. That is Nephi Selu, another 6-year-old boy who was killed by the family’s pit bull mix (also in photo). The dog was a male and had not been neutered. The owner was a police officer. According to the family, the boy and dog were best of friends. Until they weren’t.
It’s not acceptable to have dogs bread to fight as pets. It’s like having our children play in mine fields. We try to clean up mine fields; we should try to clean up our pets’ gene pool. Pets add so much to our lives, they should never be allowed to be a mixed blessing.