Dogs of WarPublished 14 March 2006 10:32 am
In Canada, specifically the province of Ontario (where I live), and in the USA, specifically the state of Ohio, various dog-attacks have caused the respective legislatures of these places to enact laws specifically forbidding the ownership of Pit-Bulls. Clayton Ruby, Canada’s wanna-be equivalent of either Ralph Nader or William F. Kunstler, or perhaps both, is now contesting the Ontario law that bans ownership of Pit-Bulls. In every direction, I deem this wrong: the ban in the first place, Ruby’s grounds for contesting it in the second place, and failure on both sides to recognize the issue in the third place.
A little background… several times, in both Ohio and Ontario, Pit-Bulls have assaulted and/or murdered children, and in one case an adult postal worker. The knee-jerk reaction is to blame the dog in question. As someone who has helped train German Shepherds for utility-grade duty (i.e., work as a guard dog in various places such as wrecking yards), I can testify that it all depends upon how the dog was educated. This leads necessarily to a discussion of the educator of said dog. Some educators choose to have a particularly vicious dog; some choose to have a selectively vicious dog. A case in point. I once hosted a party, to which my friend Paul and his dog Bette attended. Bette lounged in the corner while the humans chatted. At one point, Paul said, “There’s someone in the room who shouldn’t be here”, and because Paul was looking at me, Bette leapt out of the corner and lunged directly at me, jaws wide and teeth ready. She did NOT bite me; she merely stated that one more move would result in a bite. (Paul chose to look at me for this demonstration because I was acquainted with the turf; others might have soiled their pants.)
Paul is in my opinion a supremely good educator of dogs. I have seen many of his dogs, and without exception they are wonderful companions, excellent frisbee players, and when necessary, they will die defending you.
Back to the legal issues.
1. To ban a species of dog is equivalent to banning a race/nationality from immigrating.
2. To terminate the life of a dog because he or she seriously wounded or killed a human is to miss the point in the most fundamental sense.
On the first point, there can be no rebuttal. Statistics convincingly demonstrate that the dogs responsible for most attacks are not recognized as breeds such as Pit-Bull, Weimaraner, Shepherd, etc., but rather that vague category known as “Other” or “Mixed”. Therefore, to ban a breed is equivalent to saying, “Jamaicans are the source of all crime; therefore ban them.”
On the second point, assuming that a dog has been found guilty of the offence, the fault lies with the owner of the dog, not the dog. It would be most interesting to hear the dog-owners respond to this argument. Either they would agree, or deny that they have control and authority over their dogs. Should they agree to the latter proposition, then they have no grounds to object to the eradication of their loved ones. Should they agree to the former, then they should have no objection to my real proposal here:
The owner of a dog should be charged with said dog’s crimes as if the owner him/herself committed them. Your dog attacks and kills or maims a person, and it is as if you did it.
This, I suggest, is the intelligent way to handle the problem of canine violence. You, as “owner” (actually I prefer the term “responsible companion”) of a dog, are responsible for all said dog’s actions, and legally accountable. Your dog attacks or maims or kills a postal-person, and you pay the price.
This echoes Confucius, who argued that when a child commits a crime, hold the parents responsible. On that dictum, I have no issues either.