Breed bans are all the rage in many municipalities across the U.S. And they get under my skin. But will banning a breed make you safer or even limit dog bites and reduce rabies transmission?

So far these laws have proved ineffective. The fighting dogs go underground. The good dogs are targeted. And the whole darn mess is expensive to enforce and hasn’t been shown to reduce dog-related violence against anyone. 

Of course, we worry for our children who live near pit bulls. We also don't appreciate unsavory thugs who wield these dogs on thick chains like weapons, intimidating intruders and neighbors alike. And yes, we know these dogs commonly end up in criminals' hands––those who would bait them with raw meat and train them to commit acts of violence.

But you and I both know that banning pit bulls doesn’t curb reprehensible human behavior. Laws that prosecute those who would abuse them in this way do. 

Remember Michael Vick? These days, he’s the poster child for pit bulls. His community service goes to the dogs: He mops up feces, champions responsible pet care and tries to prove that he’s really just a misunderstood, has-been miscreant who never got the ghetto gangsta out of his system until he was taken to task. But now he’s cured. 

Sure, Mikey, I believe you. Jail is a great come-down for a bad boy like you. 

Anyway, back to the pits ...

I grew up with one. An overzealous boyfriend gave her to me my first year of high school. Though no one thought a pit bull a good idea for a three-child family who had just lost their Lab to cancer, this was in the days before pits were vilified to such an extent. 

Halfway through her life, however, Miami-Dade County (where I live) decided to ban them based on a couple of recent attacks. Luckily Targa, the most bed-cuddly dog I’ve ever owned, was grandfathered in. Though we’d wisely upped our homeowner’s insurance to cover the risk of pit bull-related legal actions on the part of nosy neighbors, she got to stay.

These days, though, pit bulls in my locale are owned almost exclusively by the young and thuggish. Their ability to flout the law is made possible by their easy transience and their dogs’ ready transport to another location. Those of us who would enjoy the breed’s renowned smarts, resilience, loyalty and cuddlesome demeanor in stable homes? Impossible where I live. It’s a non-starter. Why risk the law’s bite?

But it’s an unfair approach. And one that does no one any good. After all, these dogs are made oh-so-much-more attractive to the sick and twisted by virtue of their illegality. And there will always be some of these losers in our midst, no matter which breed is abused and outlawed...no matter what. Breed bans? They only serve to make any breed badder. 

 

Dr. Patty Khuly