Wednesday, November 8

Time to Offend Pit Bull Owners: Get Rid of Your Dogs

I wrote a post on Nextdoor this summer that mentioned my fear of Pit Bulls. I grew up in a big city with some pit bull problems, mostly in suspect neighborhoods. The truth is that I never saw one or visited any homes with one. I just knew I didn't like them because of stories I'd heard from other kids at school or on the news. Scary stories.

So we move south, and now there are Pit Bulls everywhere. I don't claim to understand it, but the fact that these dogs are all around, even in well-to-do neighborhoods, is surprising to me. I see people from all walks of life with these dogs, and I really want to wake them up. Mostly, I wonder what in the world made them choose to own the one dog breed that tends to turn on family members and often attacks strangers, too. I'm sure it has something to do with looking tough, but I'd rather people put annoyingly loud mufflers on their cars or wear muscle shirts.

I don't even watch the news every night, but in less than six months, I have seen at least five reports of Pit Bulls attacking people or pets in Northern Florida. Tonight, the report was about these killers menacing local cats.

If you don’t want you or your loved ones to be mauled by a dog, then don’t buy, breed, adopt, sit, or pet a Pit Bull. The facts for 2016:
31 U.S. dog bite-related fatalities occurred in 2016. Despite being regulated in Military Housing areas and over 900 U.S. cities, pit bulls contributed to 71% (22) of these deaths. Pit bulls make up about 6% of the total U.S. dog population.
My questions about these facts: why aren’t all Pit Bulls banned in Jacksonville? And why are they still 6% of the dogs? Along with these stats, I also found that a surprisingly high percentage of Pit Bull attacks are on family members and by dogs who have no history of violent attacks. Another trend is multiple dogs, so if you are irresponsible enough to own one of these dogs, at least don't own two or more.

Before Michael Vick, most of us knew about Pit Bulls. Dogs are bred, generation after generation, in order to elicit certain traits. A Retriever will go and fetch any stupid-ass toy you throw at it. That’s what it was bred to do. A dog that was bred over and over to be a bull in a pit is not a family dog and never will be.

Have you ever gone to the Jax Humane Society website? I've been there several times looking for a possible adoptable pet, but all I ever see is photos of dogs I don't want.  The last time I was on the site, there were 96 dogs, and over 90 were Pit Bulls, even though these were all reported as "mixed breed." The scariest part is that on the recent free adoption weekend, most of these dogs were gone by the following Monday, meaning nearly 100 more dogs no one should want were now in homes again. 

The woman who owned the Pit Bulls that attacked the cats agreed to put the dogs down, but the story I'd seen of a young child in Lake City area getting mauled by his neighbor's Pit Bulls resulted in nothing happening. Maybe the news story led to charges and a few less Pit Bulls to worry about.

Florida does not allow bans on certain breeds. The two states I'd lived in previously both did, and maybe that's why I got used to not seeing the breed very often. Ironically, there are a few communities in Florida that do have Pit Bull bans that have been grandfathered in, and one of those is Miami, hometown of hip hop artist Pit Bull. I just thought that was funny. Despite the bans that are in place nationwide, these dogs (and the artist) continue to thrive in America. Bans seem to have mixed results, so I'm not advocating it necessarily. I'd rather just see people make wise decisions without government having to enforce it.

To be sure, these dogs are members of the families that own them. And it's true that I've seen quite a few murders in Jacksonville perpetrated by loved ones, so I suppose it's similar, as long as those dogs just attack you. I'm mostly OK with that. But the problem is that I have to live near you. 

Pet owners are fervently dedicated to their dogs. Some of you hate me for writing this article, and you probably think I'm discriminating and stereotyping, but that's the point, since that's exactly how breeders made these dogs what they are. 

Some of you might want to explain how wonderful these dogs are and how you've owned them for years with no problems. And it's just bad owners, etc. It won't work on me, but feel free to write an article and post it online (I'm not posting comments here, unless it's something I need to expose as hostile. And please be careful with your dog. 

And here's one last statistic for you to chew on from the authority on pit bull attacks: 
Historical research has subsequently found that pit bulls have killed half or more of all human dog attack victims in every 10-year time frame since 1844, while never accounting for more than a small proportion of the total dog population.

If you want a feel-good story about Jacksonville, learn how Floridians are NOT the worst drivers
Or how we may NOT have the worst water in the country.
Or how Jax is NOT the home burglary capital of the US.  

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