I should let you know that this isn’t a typical “Mayzie” post. But it’s important and I hope you’ll understand.
Last week, a 2 year old child in Texas lost his life when he was attacked by one of 30+ dogs that were chained in a back yard.
I am heartbroken. And I am also very angry.
I am angry that this baby was left to wander outside alone.
I am angry that, unsupervised, he encountered a dog that spent its life outside on a chain, unsocialized.
I am angry that this child’s life ended because of neglect (both of the child and of the dog).
I am angry that the media has made this out to be a DOG issue and not an irresponsible human issue.
I am angry that, once again, the DOG will be blamed.
And I want to know why. Why do we blame the dog when this is obviously a human failure on all counts?
As adults, it is OUR responsibility to protect those in our care. Whether it be a child or an animal. And yet, both suffer so often and so needlessly because of our shortcomings.
As I’ve mentioned before, dogs are individuals. There are some that are born with such solid temperaments that they will be friendly and safe no matter their background. By the same token, there are others that are simply born with a screw loose and even the most loving, caring, responsible owners can’t handle them.
And then there are all those in the middle. All those that depend on US to teach them how to function in human society. Dogs are not people. They operate by their own set of canine rules and have their own language. It falls squarely on our shoulders to socialize them and to teach them what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to our world. And it is to their great credit that, when properly and lovingly taught, they so willingly comply with rules that must seem more than a little odd to them.
Yet, when a tragedy like this happens, it is all too convenient to lay the blame on the dog, rather than hold the mirror up to ourselves and ask how WE failed this dog, how WE failed this child.
WE are the ones with the (supposedly) big brains and we need to learn how to use them.
Sadly, there are other ramifications of this tragic event. Texas currently prohibits cities from enacting BSL (Breed Specific Legislation). However, there is a lawyer who is trying to get a bill passed which would make owning a pit bull or pit bull mix in Texas a third degree felony. It’s not surprising since BSL is almost always a knee-jerk reaction to a highly emotional event. It bypasses facts in favor of what many believe to be a quick fix. However, the fact is that BSL has NOT worked to reduce dog bites in any city or country it has been enacted in. For example, the United Kingdom is in the process of repealing its Dangerous Dogs Act which bans pit bull-type dogs because the law has not worked. On the contrary, visits to the hospital from dog bites have risen 66% in the last ten years and dog bites overall have risen 43% in the last five years. The only proven and time-tested way to reduce dog bites is educating owners and putting tough laws into effect that hold owners of aggressive dogs of any breed accountable – and then enforcing those laws. The FACT is that when you legislate dogs, you legislate the wrong end of the leash.
For the life of me, I just don’t get why people can’t understand this.
Your voice matters. If you are in Texas, please contact Senator Kevin Eltife and Representative Chuck Hopson as soon as possible and voice your opposition to breed specific legislation. (They are the legislators who are receiving the ban proposal.) If you are not in Texas, please help spread the word by sharing or tweeting this post. As this list of banned dogs in the U.S. proves, BSL is not limited to pit bull-type dogs. It is a slippery slope that may start there but rarely ends there. It has the potential to affect all of us. That’s why it’s so important to stand together and remind our legislators and city governments that we expect them to enact laws based on facts – not emotion.
And as individuals, we must demand more from ourselves and others when it comes to our dogs. Lives (human and canine) literally depend on it.
Stop BSL: The Facts About BSL
Love-a-Bull: Help Circulate Petition to Stop BSL in Texas (scroll to bottom)
KC Dog Blog: Information on the UK’s Failed Dangerous Dog Act
Best Friends: Calgary Dog Attacks Fall to Lowest Level in 25 Years – without BSL!
Game Dog Guardian: Dept of Justice’s Ruling on the ADA and BSL
National Canine Research Council: Causes Behind Dog Bite Fatalities in Texas