Our hearts go out to the 8-year-old Amsterdam boy who was recently attacked by his 5-year-old pit bull/boxer mix while walking his dog.
The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society works tirelessly, thanks to the generosity of our community, to keep companion animals safe and to support our community in doing the same, without bias towards type or breed. The Daily Gazette’s Aug. 27 editorial suggesting restricting or prohibiting the ownership of “dangerous dogs” by families with young children, highlights erroneous, old-school thinking regarding breed restrictive legislation and, in particular, pit bull-type dogs. The Gazette’s assertion that, “No one hears the word ‘pit bull’ and thinks ‘cuddly little bunny,’ is a biased statement that is simply untrue. We are fortunate to have many safe, well-trained and affectionate pit bull-type dogs adopted through our organization, happily living with their new families throughout our community.
There are many environmental factors, in addition to genetics, that can contribute to the behavior of an individual dog. Targeting an entire breed with Breed Specific Legislation provides a false sense of safety for our communities and can result in the punishment of thousands of innocent dogs. Furthermore, the report cited in this editorial from the Annals of Surgery is misleading. This study reviewed the records of only 82 patients over a 15-year period. Of those 82 incidents, 29 involved “pit bull-type” dogs. The actions of 29 animals over 15 years should not dictate the treatment of the thousands of dogs in our community.
Breed Specific Legislation isn’t the answer to ensuring living with pets in our communities brings comfort and joy, not fear. We believe that spaying and neutering, conducting careful adoptions of all dogs, and educating on responsible pet ownership, regardless of breed, are the real solutions to keeping all members of our community and their families safe.
The writer is president and CEO of the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society.