The hit parade: German Shepherd Dog, American Pit Bull Terrier and a Great Pyrenees puppy with the potential to weigh well over 100 pounds
At last, it has been said and it was said right here in the Show Me state of Missouri. Let's not just automatically designate ALL Pit Bulls as vicious, let's go after everything over 100 pounds. This sentiment was voiced on December 5, 2011 at the second reading of proposed ordinances being considered by the city council of Slater Missouri. Second reading means this has been presented to the council at one other meeting. That is how simple it is to slide an ordinance past an unaware community of dog owners. You just have to be quiet about it and hope no one notices.
In this case, the town of Slater has an estimated population of just over 2,300 people. Their claim to fame is being the hometown of the late actor Steve McQueen. They are located in the north central portion of Missouri and they are a Mecca for RC plane enthusiasts. There is only one reason a town this size decides to ban Pit Bulls and while they are at it, ban all the other scary dogs. Someone has allowed his or her dog to become a problem.
From what I could find on-line, there have been no incidents of Pit Bull attacks reported in the local news. That means either 1. A dog is running loose or barking at the town folk, 2. Someone moved into town with a dog or 3. Someone got a puppy. Whatever the circumstances that have led a tiny Missouri town to get upset enough to "ban 'em all"; someone has done something to upset the apple cart.
This is also how a precedent is set. It only takes one town to enact a ban such as this one, mentioning dogs over 100 pounds, to start an avalanche of similar ordinances. Just like the Pit fanciers tried to warn the other breed fanciers of the dangers associated with breed specific legislation, so too does an ordinance specifying weight. Once the 100 pounders are targeted, it is only a matter of time before it is the 75 pounders, then the 50 pounders and so on and so on.
Slater may be a tiny speck on the Missouri map but this is an ordinance that has the potential to devastate the rest of the large breeds in exactly the same way Pit Bulls have been damaged. Stop for a moment and consider how many breeds have the potential to reach 100 pounds, breeds that have so far been relatively safe from being legislated to death.
One of the finest members of the working dog group, in my opinion, is the Great Pyrenees. There is a reason these dogs are named after a mountain range. Despite their size, they have remained relatively untouched by breed restrictions. If a weight restriction is introduced, these gentle giants could easily become a victim of man's latest insanity. The type of insanity that inspired one member of the town of Slater to be quoted as saying "Pit Bulls can bite your arm off".
I am not a large woman and I admit to having had my arm, which is the size of the average 10 year olds, in the mouths of two Pit Bull males, on separate occasions. The first time I did something I preach to people never to do and that is, I reached down and scuffed a six-month-old puppy while he was engaged in fighting with his sister. Yes, it happens, puppies do scuffle when they are in the training stage. I reached down without thinking and he came around and got me by the forearm. The pain was excruciating and it was a lesson I never forgot. The second time was a nasty dog that needed to be put down and he did not agree with that evaluation. I held him for the vet to euthanize while he was clamped down on my arm. Again, the pain was excruciating but at no time was I in any danger of having my arm bitten off.
Statements such as the quote from the Slater resident are an example of how ignorance and misinformation are presented as fact. Not only has this man been deluded into thinking what he is saying is true but some other simple minded individual is going to read that and share it with some one else. This is how rumors are started. It is how that notion that Pit Bulls have locking jaws and if you feed them gunpowder, it makes them meaner became more factually accepted than the truth. People want to believe in monsters and demons and that is a mentality I simply do not understand. It was pointed out to me one time that this is the same thing that happens when we pass an accident. No matter how bad we may not want to see carnage, we are powerless to turn away. What is happening to our humanity?
Breed Specific Legislation is bad enough but this is one case that needs to be stopped before it is allowed to spread its poison. I cannot stress enough that this is not a Pit Bull issue and it never has been. Any legislation that takes away from your basic right to live responsibly in a free society is dangerous. If we allow something as simple as our right to responsibly keep the dog of our choice, whether Pit Bull or Pyr, what will the government dictate to us next?
The next scheduled council meeting for the City of Slater is January 16, 2012. Their email contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please take a moment to share your input with this council. Do not become adversarial in your commentary. The council is not the problem. Misinformation and dog owner irresponsibility is. It is up to all of us to work toward a solution, not become embroiled in more conflict.