29 July 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “States Try to Weigh Safety With Dog Owners’ Rights” (news article, July 23):

Any law that deems a dog as dangerous or vicious based on appearance, breed or phenotype is unfair and discriminatory. Canine temperaments are widely varied, and behavior cannot be predicted by physical features. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

As an organization comprising dog trainers, behaviorists and other animal professionals, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers is aware that any dog can bite, any dog can maim and any dog can kill. A dangerous or vicious dog is a product of a combination of individual genetics, upbringing, socialization and lack of proper training.

Designating certain breeds as inherently dangerous implies to the public that behavior is not effectively influenced (positively or negatively), by training, and also encourages the faulty perception of other breeds as being inherently safe.

The solution to preventing dog bites is the education of owners, breeders and the general public about aggression prevention through selection, socialization and training.

Richard Spencer
Executive Director, Association of Pet Dog Trainers
Greenville, S.C., July 24, 2007

Note from KBJ: Pit bulls and Rottweilers account for the vast majority of dog bites, including the most serious ones. See here. Are we to ignore this fact in order to avoid the charge of "discrimination"? It seems to me that discrimination against pit bulls and Rottweilers is eminently justified.

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