Ok, wrong kind of earnest. I decided on a “somewhat but not too controversial” subject for my 2nd prepared speech. For my evaluation, I was told that it was an “eloquent and well-written argument for a controversial subject.”
Of course my voice wasn’t very convincing – my speaking talent is still pretty iffy, but at least I can write, right?
Speech content after the jump.
Man Bites Dog
Sixty years ago a delightful gang of kids romped across movie screens accompanied in their antics by their faithful dog Petey, a sturdy white pooch with a colored patch over one eye. Petey performed a remarkable array of tricks to help the kids in and out of scrapes — all in all, he was the consummate childrenï¿½s’ pet.
The original Petey was Lucenay’s Peter, a purebred dog registered as an American Pit Bull Terrier with the United Kennel Club and as one of the 50 original Staffordshire Terriers accepted into the American Kennel Club. Whichever breed name is claimed for Petey, one thing is certain; today this dog could not be kept within many city limits without facing arrest and euthanasia. American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers are outlaws by city ordinance as vicious dogs.
Would we ever think to ban the very existence of Petey, or Nipper (the RCA Dog) simply because some dogs who share their breed name have been bred to be violent? What if we were talking about people? Would you refuse someone a job, or an opportunity, or access to any public place because they happened to be related to a criminal? Or can we look at it like banning guns entirely? Should we penalize all responsible hunters, target shooters and Bi-Athletes for the irresponsible actions of a few? Banning Pitt Bulls will not eliminate the problem, yet this is exactly what has happened in States and Provinces all over North America, and is being proposed in Vancouver.
Iï¿½m sure we all remember the story of Sheneka White from last year, who was attacked and critically injured when two Pitt Bull Cross dogs jumped out of their fenced yard and mauled her. Those dogs were notorious in their neighbourhood for being violent, but because they werenï¿½t abused, the SPCA couldnï¿½t confiscate them. More recently, a dog witnesses said they believed was a Pitt Bull Cross leaped upon a woman jogging in False Creek. This is a prime illustration of how the public scare and outcry regarding Pitt Bulls has gotten so built up. Nobody can say unequivocally whether or not the dog jumped in excitement or attack ï¿½ and nobody can even say definitively whether it was indeed a Pitt Bull cross; a breed whose appearance is regularly confused with Bull Mastiffs (known as gentle giants), boxers, or even a large Shar-Pei. Yet pressure to enforce a ban in Vancouver remains strong.
The problem with banning anything outright is that it wonï¿½t entirely eliminate the problem. There will always be those who are determined to find alternatives that bring with them a whole new set of similar problems. Owners who set out with the intention of having an aggressive or vicious guard dog will take their pick of any number of potentially vicious breeds: Rotteweilers, Akitas, Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, or German Shepherds, and breed them specifically to maximize desirable qualities. This is done to maintain AKC breed standards throughout all breeds ï¿½ however unscrupulous breeders will breed to maximize aggression and violence to suit their needs.
There are many solutions that would be preferable to an outright breed ban, and would improve living conditions throughout the proposed ban area for both residents, and their pets. Some of these include:
-Increased enforcement of ensuring all dogs are licensed in Vancouver
-Increased licensing fees for breeds that have been classified as ï¿½viciousï¿½
-Licensing fee reductions for owners who obtain vicious breeds from reputable breeders
-Increased fines and pet-owning prohibitions for repeat offenders of vicious animal claims.
This last point is one of the most important, and could be the most effective deterrent to dog attacks. Responsible pet owners properly socialize their animals, and ensure they are safely confined at all times ï¿½ usually more for the safety of their dog more so even than for public safety. Irresponsible pet owners, or those who own dogs as violent guard animals do not take any of these precautions. In fact they are likely to do exactly the opposite, to ensure the animal does its ï¿½jobï¿½ in effectively guarding their property. I used to live next door to a family that owned a shepherd cross that was so mean they wouldnï¿½t let their own children into the yard with it. And as is inevitable, it got out a few times, and hurt some neighbourhood children ï¿½ luckily not seriously, but there were some definite scratches and a few surface bite marks left behind. Unfortunately, there arenï¿½t serious enough laws in place, and those that are werenï¿½t enforced ï¿½ and they were allowed to keep that dog. As far as I know they still have it.
And it wasnï¿½t even a Pitt Bull. The intent behind a breed ban is of course to eliminate vicious dog attacks. Unfortunately, it doesnï¿½t take much to see that itï¿½s an ineffective solution to a much greater problem. Bad owners create bad dogs. We should try banning them instead.