For over half a century now, governments around the globe have legislated against specific dog breeds for various reasons, particularly based on the vicious attacks on human beings and other domesticated animals. The increasing dog population up to about 68 million in the United States has escalated the fear of dangerous dog bites amongst the Americans.
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According to Hussain (2849), children are the most affected with almost half of all American children experiencing dog bite by the age of twelve. In addition, the rising incidences of dog bites have affected the insurance sector with most companies rephrasing their insurance policies on cases related to perceived dangerous dogs such as pit bulls. Most cases of dog bites have been reported to happen within the owners’ premises.
The enclosed or rather caged dogs have been observed to be more violent as compared to those kept under free range. A troublesome or dangerous dog is furious and it can cause injuries or kill without being provoked (Hussain 2849). Due to the outcry from the public, most governments have been compelled to enact legislation against specific breeds, which are defined as dangerous. This paper argues that apartments should ban dogs based on breed as a step forward to curbing bite-related cases by specific vicious breeds.
Breed specific legislation has been hit by several controversies with one group encouraging the enforcement of such laws as an immediate solution to the fatal attacks linked to specific breeds. This aspect does not necessarily alleviate the fears and attacks from the dog breed not covered in the legislation, but it reduces the prevalence of dog attacks acting as preliminary measures to finding permanent solutions. Critics argue that bans aiming at certain breeds infringe on the owners’ rights to equality (Campbell 56).
Proponents and particularly lawmakers argue that certain dog breeds such as pit bulls are restrained on the rationale that they have caused substantial damage and fear among the members of public, and thus it is legitimate for the welfare of the majority to regulate the fatal breeds (Hussain 2862).
In the eyes of the opponents, this argument is erroneous as the perception that the ban is rational is inconsistent and in a bid to rationalize it, the categorization must not be overestimated or underestimated. However, as much as the situation might appear to be rambling, the cases of dog bite prohibitively transgress and injure humanity and efforts to alleviate such dangers are worth this kind of legislation.
Both the proponents and opponents agree that dog breeds classified as dangerous are indeed aggressive. The two sides agree that the categorization is determined by the lawful governmental concerns in outlawing violent dogs for the good of members of the public.
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According to Hussain (2862), the issuance of ban on fatal dog breed in Greenwood sought to regulate pit bulls as dangerous pets. Pit bulls’ owners refuted the law by arguing that it was biased since it classified these dogs and other few breeds as vicious, yet there was sufficient proof that other excluded breeds were potentially dangerous and aggressiveness is not a certain breed trait.
The court agreed that viciousness was not hereditary trait in pit bulls and other breeds not included in the law were as well substantially dangerous. Nonetheless, this aspect does not stand the chance to demean the essentiality of the legislation against specific breeds since claimants have been unsuccessful in showing that the categorization has failed to adhere to the expectations of the law and the majority public.
The opponents argue that the legislation has acted erroneously with no adequate research to support the decision, as medical studies do not state breed as an influencing factor of viciousness. On the contrary, research shows that hereditary traits, sex, quality of handling, and the victims’ response towards the dogs are the main causes of aggressiveness (McGreevy et al. 7).
Probably, this assertion holds since male dogs are more aggressive and stronger as compared to their female counterparts regardless of the breed. In addition, an experiment on early socialization based on handlers who present various stimuli linked to desired experiences to a dog, has shown minimal vicious behavior in a dog’s later life in case of fear or anticipation.
For instance, a study by Berg et al. (884) shows that Golden Retrievers and other groups falling under the regulation displayed anxiety and aggression as key determinants of dogs’ reaction rather than breed classification. Apparently, these claims are valid, but the current statistics indicate that specific breeds such as pit bulls dominate the cases of dog bites in the United States, and this factor cannot be overlooked (Hussain 2863).
Since the issue of legislation is not a short term agenda whilst the magnitude and acuteness of the danger is given priority, the legislation takes one step at a time and deals with the situation that requires prior action holding on other factors that are not regarded as emergencies.
Secondly, opponents argue that legislation against few specific breeds does not reduce substantial attacks or eliminate dog bites. For instance, in 2001, Diane Whipple died after being attacked by the Presa Canario breed, which is not under the legislation of the specific dangerous dog breeds (Hussain 2847). Breed specific legislation might not contain all violent breeds, but the prevalence of their attack has been identified moderate as for the restrained breeds.
Perhaps, this case is one of the many examples, but it is understandably clear that the law is open to contain the breeds that show potential threats to individuals in the long term. A wholesale legislation merely to bring equality among dog owners cannot be achieved since governments do not intend to eliminate dog pets, but they respond legitimately to the outcry of the public on what disturbs their lifestyle and the challenges in finding alternatives. The leveling ground should be focusing on what benefits the welfare of humans and at the same time encouraging the adoption of alternative dog pets with fair reactions towards human beings and other animals.
Thirdly, opponents claim that the enforcement costs are very high. For instance, many cities have revoked breed specific laws based on the costs, which are very high. This assertion holds due to the high costs of recruiting trained staff to handle the dogs and veterinary services for the caged dogs.
The costs of holding dogs, especially awaiting determination of cases by courts, are high and in most cases, governments do not anticipate such cases, and thus they fail to allocate enough money to cater for such expenses (McGreevy et al. 7). However, cases dealing with life of human beings are highly complicated and anything less than prioritizing the welfare of humans is unthinkable.
According to Mann (45), foreigners and gang members intentionally own the outlawed breeds. Since the law enforcers rely on self-reporting and neighbors’ claims, reaching these individuals becomes a challenge. The argument that restricting specific breeds does not reduce dog bites is highly unsubstantiated since restriction happens after certain breeds show consistency in aggressiveness.
Perhaps, cases may be over-reported, but this assumption can reasonably be revoked in the sense that why should people over-report on certain cases, but not others. Foreigners and gang members owning these vicious breeds deliberately undermine the efforts by the government to safeguard the lives of its citizens.
Huss (70) suggests that pets perceived as companion animals develop emotional attachments with the owners and act as therapeutics when the owners are stressed. In addition, all pets should be trained as companion animals, but not service animals since they will always provoke conflicts.
The move to have incentives on government spending by avoiding extra expenditures on kenneling dogs and staffing is refutable; however, it is hard to figure out the economic importance of these dogs that surpass the welfare of human beings. Those who oppose the move to specific breed regulation are biased since they rarely mind the welfare of fellow residents.
However, the government should not relent in finding more solutions to protecting the wellbeing of all people. Those that fancy dog pets should show the resilience and skills to contain them not only in the parks, but also within the apartments (Jackson 255).
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According to Mann (6), an article in the Washington Post indicated that attacks and killings of people by specific breeds have caused unimaginable fears amongst Germans. Legislating against certain breeds is a possible solution as well as enacting laws that prohibit dogfights.
However, the media has caused hype, thus exacerbating fear by occasionally reporting every case showing details and discouraging people to avoid such breeds. This move is plausible, but it does not help to solve the problem as it increases tension among the public. Nelson (12) talks of how people abruptly changed their moods when talking of the pit bulls that they owned in their families. Nonetheless, the tension is real and the government needs to incorporate laws that encourage dog owners to adopt friendly breeds.
On the creation of social conflicts, Mann (7) argues that some people confront pet owners on the streets and express their fears. In essence, dog owners should be careful when handling their pets. For instance, in the case of Dianne Whipple in 2001, the two dogs executing the attack overpowered the owner before launching the attack (Hussain 2847).
This case is complex and it is unfair to argue that the owner failed to demonstrate his capability to handle the dogs. Therefore, in a bid to avoid such cases, it is appropriate to restrain the breeds that are perceived as dangerous at the same time ensuring that the responsibility demonstrated by dog owners in public premises is maintained or even bettered in private areas to avoid conflicts between pet owners and other people (Jackson 255).
The argument on minimizing cases of fatal attacks and deaths lies within a common ground, but the opponents go ahead to claim that when the specific breeds are restrained, dog holders train the perceived mild breeds to learn aggressive traits and serve their intended purpose of defense. Not all people fancy keeping pets and even most people do not have any attachments to pets, but everyone should appreciate the value and relevance of human life.
This assertion highlights the need to restrict some breeds and avoid potential dangers. Corduroy (22) suggests that outlawing dogs based on breed cannot eliminate dog attacks, since the law does not address the matter sufficiently. At least, Corduroy (22) acknowledge that matters of dog bites have reduced albeit unsatisfactorily.
Supporting the argument of this paper
Banning dogs based on breeds may not be the only way to finding sustainable solution for the dog bite menace, but apparently, the government and the courts have shown that it is the most viable means to protect the members of public from dangerous attacks.
However, the governments should understand that there is still fear amongst the public due to rising cases of intentionally trained dogs by their owners to become aggressive. All dog owners should be trained skillfully to avoid dog accidents just as drivers are trained to manage their cars (Mann 11).
Jackson (267) indicates that during his study in a public park, a huge dog knocked a man, after which dog owners within the park reiterated that while at the park, it is the mandate of owners to ensure that their dogs’ insurances are valid. This assertion means that dog handlers understand the potential damage that dogs can cause.
Given that not all dogs can cause fatal accidents, then the baseline should be agreeing on restraining dog breeds that demonstrate viciousness causing fear to the people. Going forward, the government should uphold its primary duty, which is to protect citizens, whether from terrorists, gangs, or hostile dogs. Therefore, apartments should ban dogs based on breed.
Berg, Linda, Matthijs Schilder, Han Vries, Peter Leegwater, and Bernard Oost. “Phenotyping of aggressive behavior in golden retriever dogs with a questionnaire”. Behavioral Genetics 36.1 (2006): 882-902. Print.
Campbell, Dana. “Pit Bull Bans: The State of Breed–Specific Legislation.” GP-Solo 26.5 (2009): 52-57. Print.
Corduroy, Amy. “Newsmaker – The Pitbull. The Sydney Morning.” The Sydney Morning Herald 3 Sept. 2011: 22. Print.
Huss, Rebecca. “No pets allowed: Housing issues and companion animals.” Animal Law 11.69 (2005): 69-129. Print.
Hussain, Gray. “Attacking the dog-bite epidemic: Why breed-specific legislation won’t solve the dangerous-dog dilemma”. Fordham Law Review 74.5 (2006): 2847 – 2887. Print.
Jackson, Patrick. “Situated activities in a dog park: Identity and conflict in human-animal space.” Society & Animals 20.1 (2012): 254 – 272. Print.
Mann, Judy. “Dogs as scapegoats for social problems.” The Washington Post 7 Jul. 2000: 48. Print.
McGreevy, Paul, Dana Georgevsky, Johanna Carrasco, Michael Valenzuela, Deborah Duffy, and James Serpell. “Dog behavior co-varies with height, bodyweight and skull shape.” PLOS ONE 8.12 (2013): 1 – 8. Print.
Nelson, Kory. “One city’s experience: why pit bulls are more dangerous and why breed-specific legislation is justified.” Municipal Lawyer 46.6 (2005): 12–15. Print.