Day by Day

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Found it...

The actual article that I was LOOKING for when I ran into the two "news items" that set me off. Not that this article is any better than the last two, as it highlights the idiocy, knee-jerk reactionism, and complete bullshit of the local politics in the Seattle area.

City may tie dogs' weight to label of 'dangerous'

In Auburn, they call it Fritz's Law - a proposed dog-control ordinance named in honor of a terrier-poodle mix killed by a neighbor's pit bull.

Designed to prevent further attacks by out-of-control dogs, if passed it could be the most restrictive measure of its kind in the state, declaring any dog weighing 30 pounds or more to be "potentially dangerous."

After an emotional debate, the controversial measure was passed out of committee yesterday afternoon, and the City Council took it up in the evening. More than 100 people turned out to oppose the measure, with more than 20 testifying against it. The council decided to return the measure to committee to review the 30-pound weight limit.

There is so much wrong here that it's hard to know where to start. So let's just start with three basic facts that these mind-numbingly stupid people need to have branded on to their foreheads.

Number One: All Dogs Are Social (aka: pack) Animals.

Dogs need a pack. They need that sense of belonging. Dogs require more social interaction than we do by a large margin. If you get a dog, and then do nothing but chain it up outside, it will go insane. Got it? It has nothing to do with the breed of the dog! You cannot keep a dog isolated and alone, and then expect it to behave in a polite and proper manner! You have prevented it from learning how to act in social situations, you have driven it nuts by neglecting it, and the dog's actions will reflect that!

If you were to take a human child and chain it outside, preventing any kind of interaction with other people or animals, what do you think that child would be like in a few years? Feral? Probably. Lonely? Without a doubt. Socially gifted? Not a chance. Multiply that by one hundred, and you have the effect of isolation on a dog. It's not some furry trophy, it's a living, breathing, social animal that needs attention and interaction! In this regard, BREED OR SIZE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

Number Two: All Dogs Were Originally Bred For A Purpose

Mankind didn't accept dogs just because they were cute and fuzzy when they're puppies, dogs had to be able to assist man in some form or another. Terriers were bred to kill rats, after people in medieval Europe killed off as many cats as they could (because they were a sign of witchcraft). Retrievers and Labradors were bred to retrieve game birds after the hunter shot them. Poodles (the standard breed, not the miniature or toy) were bred to be hunters. Did you know that? That's how a poodle's haircut came about - the fur was shaved off of areas likely to get wounded, so that the fur wouldn't get into the wound and cause an infection.

Shepherds and collies were bred to help humans herd sheep, cows, goats, ect. Rottweilers, believe it or not, were originally used by the Romans to herd cattle for the Roman armies (food on the hoof for the legions). The various hounds (Basset hounds, Beagles, Coon hounds, Blue Tick Heelers and many other breeds) were bred to flush game out of the woods, or to let hunters know where the prey was. Just listen to one of those dogs when it gets to baying. There's a reason they have such a loud voice. Spaniels and Springers were also hunting dogs. All dogs had a purpose originally, and just because we've been able to have them as pets for the past century or so doesn't mean that these traits have left the breeds. When dealing with a dog, you have to take into account what what the dog was meant to do.

Number Three: All Dogs Are Instinctual Animals

This ties in to Number Two a bit, but it can also stand alone - All dogs, despite a lot of training, operate quite a bit on instinct. In fact, quite a bit of training is simply refining the instincts that the dog already possesses, or teaching them out counter those instincts. Other things are ways you can communicate with a dog on his level. One instinct that most people are familiar with is the direct stare. Staring directly at a dog is a challenge. Their instinct says to respond to that challenge. With proper training a dog can just shrug it off, but if the dog hasn't been trained, it will either A) eventually look away, accepting you as dominant, or B) respond to the challenge in many different ways, some of them ending up with you leaking from several holes in your skin.

Running from a dog - a dog sees you run and thinks one of two things - Either "Play time!", or "Ooo, Lunch!". It's INSTINCT. Barking at intruders - it's INSTINCT. Fetching a ball - believe it or not, but that is also INSTINCT. Knowing what a dog will or will not instinctivly do under a certain situation goes a long way towards preventing any accidents or attacks by a dog.

So, keeping these three rules in mind, what does that say about Auburn's new dog law? It smells as bad as the trash can at a dog park. I have the perfect way to keep people (and their dogs) in check:

Make the Owner responsible for the actions of their dog.

Any trouble caused by the dog is a results of either lack of training (which the owner is responsible for) or neglect and abuse (also the owner's fault). I have yet to see a well socialized dog attack anyone without cause. I have yet to see a dog that was treated properly become mean. I have yet to see a trained dog freak out and bite anyone. In my five years as an MP, I never saw a dog that was properly taken care of become a "problem dog". In fact, my experiences with dogs reinforced the belief that so called "violent dogs" are anything but. German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, all of them are great dogs. Loving, playfull, and yes, gentle. My friend at Ft. Riley had a daughter who learned to walk by holding on to their Doberman's ears. (He hadn't had them cropped). Think about that. A dog that uninformed people consider violent allowed 20 pounds of wriggling toddler to grab on to it's ears and walk around the house.

I've had Rottweilers curl up in my lap. I've had pit bulls beg for a tummy rub. I've had German Shepherds take naps with me on the couch. So called "problem dogs" are not the problem at all. The problem lies with the owners. The people who get a big dog and then chain it outside 24/7. "Hey, look at my dog, isn't he big and mean?" Well, he's big alright, and if you continue ignoring him, he'll get mean. But not in the way you're thinking.

So Auburn, you get my "Worthless Dumbasses of the Month" award, for your lack of knowlege, knee-jerk reactions, and complete ignorance of anything on the subject for which you are pontificating. Thank god that people rose up to stop you, at least temporarily.

Make the Owners responsible for their dog's actions. And watch the problems with dogs go away.

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