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Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Leash the hounds"

An editorial in the NY Post this morning discussed the danger of pit bulls. Evidently pit bulls bite humans more than six times as often as the next most aggressive breed of dog.

Some people are calling for their ban. Councilman Peter Vallone is quoted as saying, "People refuse to admit that pit bulls are bred to fight, they have higher pain tolerance, stronger jaws, and they do not have the instinct to back down — they refuse to submit.”

Not everyone agrees. Mario Merlino, of the NYC Health Department, says, "There’s no differential between breeds — we say everyone should treat their dogs well.”

Ada Nieves agrees: “Sometimes, it’s the owners with the bad temperaments.”

Ah, the old nature vs. nurture argument. Can't help but be reminded of the parallels with different breeds of humans.

4 comments:

Brian Fradet said...

Hi John,

I used to be petrified of pit bulls until I was introduced to a breeder who educated me otherwise. She told me that the "killer ones" were bred that way, much as any animal or even human. I met some of the sweetest pit bulls one could imagine. Yes, they are fiercely protective of their owners, etc., but in general, they are as harmless as any normal dog. Essentially they are great dogs that have been damaged by certain humans. Hope that helps. Brian

John Craig said...

Brian --
I tend to lean towards the "nature" side of the argument, meaning, I agree that the way an animal, human or otherwise, is raised affects its personality, but there are also strong genetic predispositions which tend to influence the outcome as well.

Anonymous said...

I once rescued a pit bull from a local shelter and couldn't have asked for a more docile, obedient dog. The downfall of the breed is that they are extremely loyal and have a strong desire to please their owner (ie pack leader), and will do what they are trained to do.

Though yes, they are naturally prone to agression toward other dogs and animals, (not people), they are even ok with other animals if trained properly. For the most part, they turn out to be a problem only when owned by someone who doesn't understand how to properly raise and treat them.

Unfortunately, some choose to promote the fighting instinct in the breed, giving it a bad name.

John Craig said...

Anonymous--
You are a better person than I am; I could never be bothered to go down to a pound to rescue an animal.

Although we're going to disagree as to what should be done (I think the breed should basically be banned), I will salute you as the more humane human.

BTW, I'm sure there are some mountain lions which if raised with great care and affection and the right training could be relatively docile, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be banned.