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4 Legged Love - General Post regarding Pit Bulls

You are probably wondering why 4 Legged Love always seems to have Pit Bull puppies looking for homes. Well, whether you are aware or not the Windsor, Ontario area has had a Pit Bull Ban already put in place a short time ago. Now any Pit or Pit "type" dogs/puppies in the shelters, found as strays or dropped off by owners are now being put to sleep with no chance of going up for adoption. 4 Legged Love is working with an independent rescuer located in Windsor to try and transport and place some of these pups/dogs in to new, caring forever homes outside of Windsor so that they are not put down. Adopting one of these pups or any of the Pit Bulls you see listed with 4 Legged Love is truly saving a life. None of these dogs/pups listed have been turned in or abandon for negative reasons and all deserve a shot at life in a loving home. They are all happy, healthy, social and good tempered animals who do not deserve to die.

Please read the following article below "4 Legged Love - Against Ontario's Proposed Pit Bull Ban" and at the bottom of the page find out more information about the fight against the ban.

Please click here to find out more information
about adopting pit bulls in Ontario.

4 Legged Love - Against Ontario's Proposed Pit Bull Ban

The Ontario government and Attorney General Michael Bryant have recently announced they intend to ban “Pit Bulls” province wide. As an experienced dog handler running a dog rescue and adoption service called 4 Legged Love I am against breed bans of any kind “Pit Bull” or other wise. This decision to legislate a breed ban has been without any proper research or reasonable public input. Such a proposed breed ban will never work for numerous reasons and it is my firm belief owners should instead be held accountable for their dog’s actions using existing and strict legislation instead of breed bans.

It is important that you note that I have put pit bull in quotation marks, never in recent history has there been a breed so maligned as the grouping of dogs called pit bull. Pit Bull is not a specific breed but rather a generic term for any of several breeds and any mix of dog that is medium to larger in size, short haired, stocky and squarely built. The breeds often lumped into this generic term are: American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier and its smaller "sibling" the Miniature Bull Terrier. The American Staffordshire Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier is basically the same breed.

The breeds that have become the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier were originally what is called a "Catch dog." Catch dogs were used by farmers, butchers and hunters to grab and hold cattle or hogs or larger game like wild boar and bear. Eventually, people began to brag about the way their dogs could work and started holding events such as bull and bear baiting. The dogs were judged on how fast they could grab and hang, the tenacity in which they worked, etc. Dogs that were strong, tenacious, had a desire to work, courageous as well a good with humans were bred. The dogs were never developed to be human aggressive. It would be dangerous for a farmer, butcher or hunter to have a catch dog that was human aggressive. The owner has to be able to step in and remove the dog without worrying about risk to self. Eventually the dogs were pitted against each other. When the "sport" of dog fighting became popular, temperament was still key. A dog that could not be safely managed by the handler was risky and eliminated from the breeding program. The dogs were not bred to be aggressive to humans!

So, where did things start to go wrong? As with just about everything, popularity was the beginning of the problem. During the early part of the 1900's, the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier became very popular in the United States as companions. In the past decade or two, the breeds grouped into the heading pit have surged in popularity worldwide. The Bull Terrier and Mini Bull have not been as heavily coveted by the general public but are still feeling the backlash from the popularity of their cousins. The strong build and impressive looks of these dogs have made them popular status symbols with the wrong type of owners. These wrong owners may become bad breeders.

Human males (predominantly), to show their machismo, use cars, clothing, guns and now powerful looking dogs as both status symbols and weapons. A minority of undereducated people began breeding the dogs they felt were the most courageous and tough. However, these humans failed to understand courage is NOT how fast a dog will fight or attack or how human aggressive they can make it but how confident the dog is while working. A few bad people started breeding dogs that were overly dog aggressive and now human aggressive. Human aggression and dog aggression are two separate traits in dogs. Sadly, these people are a very visible minority in the world of the "bull" breeds. It is this visible minority that is the reason lawmakers call for breed bans.

What is the best environment for one of these dogs? First, the owner must NOT be looking for a dog as a status symbol. These people have no business owning any living creature. These are the people that are intentionally breeding poor temperaments in these dogs. Second, the home must NOT be looking for something to keep outside all day like a sentry. These people should get an alarm system installed. A well-bred one can also make a terrible sentry. It is more likely to beat someone to death with a wagging tail or drown in kisses! The various breeds lumped into pit thrive on human companionship. The best home for one of these dogs is with someone who has more than an hour or two a day to devote to a dog. A home where the dog will be properly chosen from a good breeder, trained and socialized. The best home is one where the dogs will be given a "job" to utilize their desire to work. These dogs can excel in Agility, Flyball, Weight pulling, and Obedience competitions. Some of these dogs are even being used as drug detecting dogs and search and rescue dogs.

The breeds of dog lumped into the generic pit bull heading are a wonderful, hardworking, affectionate, devoted and even silly group of dogs. They are not the best dogs to take to your local dog park. They may not start a fight but neither will they back down from a perceived challenge. If a group of dogs is chasing a ball and the pit wants it, the pit will get it. If another dog approaches a pit in a menacing way, the pit will often rise to the challenge. Owners have to realize this and understand that these dogs are great with humans but may not be so with other dogs. However, this trait is found in many dogs, not just pit bulls. Understanding the background and temperament of any breed of dog is vital to being able to properly manage the dog.

The majority of these dogs are not the vicious killers the media and many lawmakers want us to believe. The problem is strong dogs that have strong work drives are falling into the wrong hands. A very visible minority of people who have no business at all owning another life is destroying the public perception of these breeds. This is where we end up with problem dogs: when any breed or cross of dog falls into the hands of the wrong owners.

Breed specific bans fail to target the problem: bad dog owners. Those who are causing the problems with their dogs will not care about the law. Either these owners will continue to own the breeds mentioned in any breed specific ban or will dump the dogs, get a new breed and continue the cycle. Or, a restriction will make the breeds more attractive to those who get a feeling of power by intentionally breaking the law. Some owners are simply poorly educated and do not know what it takes to properly raise, train, socialize and manage any dog. Owners who are intentionally bad/negligent or owners who are undereducated and irresponsible are the problems that need to be addressed. Also, breed specific bans are tough to enforce, expensive and often very vague with their descriptions and how to identify a dangerous dog.

Attorney General Michael Bryant’s proposal is a knee-jerk reaction who wants to say the Government is "doing something", after a few highly publicized dog attacks. Pit Bulls are being targeted now because they are an easy scape-goat. Politicians and the general public do not take the time to learn the truth behind Pit Bull breeds. Instead, they believe hype and information from under informed and unreliable sources. It looks better for politicians to ban a breed than to target the true source of the problem with supposedly killer breeds: often young, unsupervised, poorly raised kids or the irresponsible adult looking for another status symbol to prove machismo. There is very little personal accountability. If something is being used for a bad purpose, they would rather take it away from all as opposed to targeting the source of the bad purpose – the human. As it is now there is very little personal accountability, laws regarding criminal responsibility of owners are weak and rarely enforced. Owners of vicious dogs rarely even get a “slap on the wrist” when an attack does happen, at most the dog in question is euthanized but what stops that owner from going out and getting another dog? Personal accountability should instead be the main focus.

It is obvious how little research Attorney General Michael Bryant and the Ontario government has done with not only pit bull breeds but also the history of breed specific bans as well. A good example as to why breed specific bans do not work is to look at England where they passed its Dangerous Dog Act in 1991. It became an offence to own, breed, sell or give these dogs to anyone. The intention was to eliminate all pit bulls in one generation of 10-15 years and it empowered the police to enforce it. Offenders had their dogs euthanized. The problem with enforcing this ban was that police couldn’t distinguish between pit bull terriers, a bastardized breed, Staffordshire bull terriers or Staffie mixes. It was a total mess with thousands of wonderful pets euthanized by mistaken identification or while their dogs were placed in kennels while owners contested the law. The law in England was eventually changed so that owners could defend their dogs on an individual basis. Ultimately after more then 10 years of the ban being in effect in England the number of dog bites per year has not changed which proves breed specific legislation is ineffective.

It is for all these reasons that a breed specific ban should never be put in place especially when it is based on such a broad generic description, Attorney General Michael Bryant shows his own ignorance and lack of research on this issue with one of his public statements, "From my perspective, if it looks like a pit bull, and barks and wags its tail like a pit bull, it's a pit bull”. It is not fair or reasonable to condemn a generic breed of dogs based on a few specific highly publicized incidences. Another overlooked fact is there is absolutely no statistics that show the ratio of “good” or “bad” pit bulls. By condemning a broad range of breeds that are grouped as pit bulls they are assuming all of these dogs are evil and bad which is simply not the case. At the very least there should be a process for exemption on an individual basis, anything less is discriminatory towards owners of good temperament dogs. I urge the Ontario government and Attorney General Michael Bryant to reconsider its approach and to do proper research into this matter. Simply receiving thousands of solicited emails the majority from those who also have not done any research into this matter is not proper research. Instead the Government should be seeking input from public (not just by private email), recognized canine organizations, veterinary organizations, canine experts, health authorities, Statistics Canada or other valuable sources, they have failed so far to seek any proper input to base such a decision.

Kris McIndoo,
4 Legged Love

Website: www.4leggedlove.com
Petfinder: www.petfinder.org/shelters/ON135.html
Email: dogs@4leggedlove.com

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