We stopped by the SPCA yesterday to drop off some donations we had picked up and, naturally, took a few minutes to cruise through the animal housing area to deliver some special toys and treats directly. The cat room was as packed as it always is, but we enjoyed some good play time with several very friendly cats, and provided some fun toys to help distract the ones who still had that “Wait … how’d I end up here?” look about them.
The dogs were all in their “outside pens” getting fresh air, so we headed out to visit with them next. My heart sunk. Of the 16 dogs there, 14 of them were pit bulls. Incessantly barking their heads
off at one another, they paced back and forth, growling and gnashing at pen neighbors who got too close for their liking.
Pit bulls are among the most abused domestic animals on the planet. And try as the rescue groups may, it seems that their fate hasn’t improved much…at least not in our area. Touted as “macho image” builders, many spend their lives outside at the end of logging chains or being torn to shreds in a dog-fighting ring. Those who are “lucky” enough to be “surrendered” to—or confiscated by, as is often the case in our area—the SPCA once their “coolness” has worn off, they’ve become too expensive to keep or too old to fight often arrive scarred, worm ridden and starved, angry and unsocialized. How, HOW can we stop this?
A year ago, “Justin’s Law” was proposed in Texas which, if it passes, would make it a third degree felony to even own a pit bull. Because it was proposed as a result of a 10-year-old being mauled to death by a pit, part of me understands where the idea comes from; it would—without question—prevent any future pit bull maulings in that area and, by default, would prevent the breed from suffering cruelties by ill-intentioned owners…because no one would be allowed to own one. But then I think of pits like Dog-Whisperer Cesar Milan’s “Daddy,” and loving families who have responsibly raised pits and, as all “pet owners do,” consider them a part of their family, and think of what a travesty it would be if this breed were to cease to exist on our planet. So where does the answer lie? Does an answer even exist?
In researching this highly-debated topic, I found a Huffington Post article that I practically could have written myself, as it makes many good points: from “punish the deed not the breed” proponents, to the ban supporters like “Animal People” editor Merritt Clifton who compares pits to pumas: “the humane community doesn’t encourage pumas for cat adoption, because it is clearly understood that accidents with a puma are frequently fatal. For the same reason, it is sheer foolishness to encourage people to regard pit bull terriers… as just dogs like any other, no matter how much they may behave like other dogs under ordinary circumstances.”
Ultimately, while I’m still left torn about what the “perfect” solution might be for pit bulls, I continue to be dead set on the fact that spaying and neutering is the best thing we can do to help all domestic animals, regardless of the breed. And in that vein, I think the best point made in the piece was in regards to a breeder ban; as activist Matt Miner puts it: “…
put a moratorium on breeding and stop this nonsense. There are too many dogs in our shelters, and we need to give our rescues time to catch up with the sheer enormity of the problem.”
Perhaps such a ban, when coupled with a nation-wide law requiring the spaying and neutering of every pit bull adopted out, followed by a strict interview process that potential adopters would have to go through, may begin to make a dent. And as bad as things seem to be for these poor animals in our area, it would at least be a good start.
I’d love to hear your ideas on solutions to this crisis, so take a moment to comment with your thoughts!