Pitbulls: loved and feared (a response to the potential banning of pitbulls in T&T)

Vivek Charran, a local businessman, reacts to news about a law banning pitbulls in Trinidad and Tobago in this opinion piece for The Express.

If reports from the Express are accurate, certain dogs such as pitbulls and dogs derived from pitbulls, fila brasileiro and the Japanese tosa, are to be banned and persons who are the owners of said dogs have to have all dogs neutered—that is rendered infertile—so they cannot breed and have pups.

This in effect makes the pitbull extinct in Trinidad and Tobago. Why the Government would wish to impose such a draconian measure as the destruction and banning of a breed? It shows no proper reasoning and research on their part as regards the incidence of fatal dog attacks upon humans.

Dr Brady Barr of National Geographic conducted bite tests to measure pound per square inch pressure from bites and on average the psi of the bite from an alsatian, rottweiler and pitbull averaged 320psi. There was no considerable difference between the bite forces of the breeds despite what the urban myths tend to portray.

Dogs can only inflict significant injury by its bite. It is the bite from the dog that can cause grievous harm or death.

It is therefore relevant that if the bite force of the dog is a factor in whether it can cause the death of a human then all dogs with a particular bite-force range should be banned. This would then logically lead to the banning of all large dogs. So why ban and basically commit genocide on all Trini pitbulls?

Firstly, the ownership of a dog is itself a great responsibility, particularly dogs that have a protective instinct. The events that lead to attacks upon people are caused by ignorant owner scenarios, such as the inadequate or nonexistent structural containment or restraints of the dogs. That is, no proper, covered kennels with draw bolts or latches. Low kennels with no roofs. Dogs jump over walls, break cheap, low-grade aluminum dog chains or run into the road any time the gate is opened.

Owners with no relationship with the dog: They cannot control their large dogs because they were bought as status symbols or expected to simply guard the yard in the night when they are “loose”. No socialisation with other members of the family. It is then beaten continually because it won’t listen to its owner who it has not bonded with.

All large dogs with protective instincts have an innate, aggressive instinct and some owners pay a trainer to train the dog to attack people. This is called aggression training and is very popular. How does the dog differentiate between good people at the gate and bad people at the gate? If you know you have an aggressive, large, protective dog your responsibility is to everyone who is at your gate.

Consider an owner in a community with lots of children who play in the streets; yet the owner does not have a sign that warns people that he has protective dogs nor does he tell his neighbours or has someone to restrain the dog when he opens his gate.

No child can restrain a large dog with a protective instinct. An adult dog is always an adult’s responsibility. Why make your 10-12 year old the owner and keeper of a large protective dog?

It is said that the temperament of the large protective dog, like the pitbull, is that they are stupidly aggressive. All dogs have the innate nature to be aggressive. Whether they are large or small. I’ve been bitten by a pompek myself.

The innate capacity or instinct for aggression is a trait they share with humans. If our youth were to grow up to embrace violence and aggression through training, influence or negligence or else be nurtured in an aggressive environment controlled by those who are violent and aggressive themselves, then it is more than probable that the youth would tend to have the same characteristics.

The Express classifieds for Sunday has 11 adverts for pitbull puppies. Estimate five puppies per litter which means 55 puppies for sale. The larger the population of a breed of large, protective, potentially aggressive dogs the higher the mathematical probability that there will be dog attacks on humans from this breed, particularly when these pups are priced at varying levels from free to a few thousand and also when their ownership is unregulated so there are no barriers to obtaining a pitbull .

The demand for these types of dogs stem from the basic need of the populace to protect their family and homes. The crime situation in Trinidad and Tobago is terrible, period. Not everyone can afford CCTV cameras, 12ft-walls, alarm systems, body guards, and electric fences. The populace does not have the confidence in the protective services to prevent violent crime or burglary from happening to their families at their homes. Dogs have and will always be a deterrent to criminals, particularly the pitbull. Why deprive us from protecting our families from the onslaught of crime? I guarantee that the horrible incident of the pensioner who was beaten to death for her cheque it may not have happened if they had a pair of pitbulls in their yard. Who was going to simply walk into their home when faced by two pitbulls standing guard, protecting them?

Please don’t ban the breed. Regulate ownership by the issue of licences contingent on the fulfilment of conditions such as containment of the dogs. Increase the cost of a licence and make it renewable yearly. This is not so that only the wealthy can own the breed but because the ownership of any large protective dog is an onerous thing because it is the ownership of a potentially dangerous animal and all large breeds are potentially dangerous without exception.

We the population of Trinidad and Tobago are under siege from crime — rape, burglary, murder — on our property and in our homes. The police are overwhelmed as it is. The day when we can have a police squad car 10 minutes or less away from every victim’s call is very far away and the day when every citizen should have a firearm to protect himself would never come.

In the interim, what we do to contain our fears and concerns over the safety of our loved ones is to entrust it to Man’s Best Friend in addition to the thousands of dollars that can be spent on home security.

The reality of the strength, protectiveness and love of the pitbull for its family is legendary and it is one which every bandit in Trinidad knows and fears.

The purpose of the Act should be to regulate the ownership of the dogs, protect our freedom of choice, and protect others from the stupidity of bad owners, and to help good owners work within a framework of laws and regulations to remove entirely, the incidence of fatal dog attacks.

For the original report go to http://www.trinidadexpress.com/commentaries/Pitbulls__loved_and_feared-148820295.html

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