Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German shepherds and countless others have been labeled as “dangerous” by the media. Current statistics show approximately 4.7 million bites per year in the United States, with 1-2 dozen resulting in death. Dog bites send nearly 316,200 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (866 per day!). Some breeds never manage to leave the bad news section, plus some just look intimidating.
According to the American Kennel Club, 178 dog breeds are officially recognized, but there are more than 400 breeds worldwide. Scientists agree that dogs descended from wolves tens of thousands of years ago. The big mystery is when humans domesticated these mystical creatures.
Ancient humans recognized that dogs can be used as tools for survival. Many bred their tamed beasts for features such as a loud bark, to fend off enemies, or a heightened sense of smell to find prey in the wilderness. In modern times we have bred dogs to herd sheep, sniff out illegal substances, even to look extra fluffy at a dog show. German shepherds for example, were bred from shepherding dogs for their strength, courage and intelligence. Later on, different traits were emphasized in their use as police dogs. Add all the countless combinations and you get a plethora of breeds.
The biggest misconception about dogs is that some are simply too dangerous to own and post a grave danger to their community. Furthermore, many believe that just because you own one of these breeds, it is just a matter of time before someone gets bit. As stated above, dogs have been bred for their traits. The problem that we see today is people take traits such as a strong bite or incredible strength and use it to crate illegal dog fighting organizations for profit. Criminals from all around the world seek “dangerous” traits then breed only the vicious winners that over time create profitable killing machines. Some of these poor animals make it back to shelters with their vicious reputation, wreak havoc on the general population and unfortunately make the headlines.
The point is simple. Like humans, dogs react to their environment. If you raise and abuse a Chihuahua, chances are that that “little” dog will become a vicious devil. No one fears a little cute Chihuahua when it’s angry but if you place that mindset into a large breed then you might lose a limb. Would you rather have Mike Tyson, boxing heavyweight champion, or a youth trying to hurt you? Yes, some dogs have better sense of smell, others may be stocky and strong, some may be fluffy and cute, but their behavior is forged by the environment. It’s up to YOU! to ensure that your dog does not end up on the wrong side of the news. Remember, for thousands of years humans bred dogs to live and work side by side each other. It’s the criminals that look for bad apples.
BSL stands for breed-specific legislation. It refers to laws that ban or restrict certain types of dogs based simply on their appearance, usually because they are perceived as dangerous. With every shelter visit we notice that the majority of the dog population is in the pit bull family. Landlords all around the nation ban dogs simply because of the way the look. Some insurance companies are refusing to issue homeowners who own large breed dogs, claiming the dogs are a potential liability.
This nonsense must end in order to truly fix our shelter issues. Dogs are more likely to become aggressive when they are unsupervised, unneutered, and not socially conditioned to live closely with people or other dogs. Banning a specific breed can give a community a false sense of security, and deemphasize to owners of other breeds the importance of appropriate socialization and training, which is a critical part of responsible pet ownership. We must inform the public that pit bulls are amazing family companions and inspire them to adopt from overcrowded and underfunded shelters.
Although dogs are not vicious from birth, some are easier to own than others. Sasha, DoggyCrap’s “vicious” German shepherd is a show line dog. Breeds such as German shepherds were designed to work all day and will require hours of stimulation or risk turning your home into a giant chew toy. Keep in mind that a non-socialized and non-stimulated animal can over time become aggressive. Sasha has been bred to compete at dog shows so she is very friendly, submissive, and requires little stimulation. For some, a big dog may be a bit much. Breed type really makes no difference although some may show traces of their selected traits. Affection and training will create a bond like no other. Just remember, if your puppy grows up vicious, blame the person standing in the mirror and not the breed. If your pet develops unwanted behavioral problems, simply use positive reinforcement and in no time, your pooch will be as good as new.
Humans are as dangerous as any dog breed. Some may look scary and others might carry a vicious reputation. Just like humans, it’s all about how you raise the animal. Dogs depend on people for survival and it is their duty and obligation to serve and love us. We understand children that come from abusive homes have a much greater chance of becoming a bad person. Dogs that are socialized, loved, trained, and cared for will become affectionate and submissive. When choosing a dog for adoption, chose a breed that suites YOU! and not the stigma that is attached with the breed.
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