Sterling Heights is looking at some tough new restrictions on pit bulls in the city. Pit bull owners would be required to liability insurance of $250,000, embed a microchip in their dog, accompany the dog in their yard and spay or neuter it, unless there are plans to breed, and there may also be some requirements in terms of fencing.
(Read the story: Sterling Heights residents speak up for, against pit bull proposal)
All things considered, it's a whole lot better than flat out banning the breed — a route most communities take when the pit bull panic reaches pandemonium.
But even so, I'm just not in favor of these restrictions.
I look at it from my point of view. I have a pit bull and I'm definitely among the most responsible dog owners in my neighborhood.
|Pit bull owner sits at the Sterling Heights meeting.|
He goes out there, does his business as quickly as possible and lets out a single "Woof!" to let us know he's ready to come back in. In really cold weather, he makes that bark a bit more urgent by saying "Ah-woo-woof!" in this anxious tone of voice.
The cable itself is rated for 300 pounds and the hook on the end of it is rated for 350 pounds. He has enough range to give him lots of choices in where to potty, but he stays squarely in our yard.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm doing a lot more than most dog owners who take the attitude that their dogs should be able to "run."
I won't live in a community that bans pit bulls. I won't live in a community that forces me to purchase expensive insurance, build expensive fences and be by my dog's side whenever it's outside on property that I OWN.
I will be a responsible dog owner. I will take dog ownership seriously. I will view my role as a pit bull owner as an opportunity to change the stereotype the breed has.
But I won't allow a government to discriminate specifically against me when the person down the street who owns a lab or a mutt is spared from having to be equally responsible — especially when so many of those dog owners get away with making the irresponsible decision of letting their dogs "run" and defend the choice as if it's their dog's God given right.
Letting your dog, any dog, loose is risking your dog's life each and every time you do it, and yet I don't see anyone getting passionate about that — unless it's to defend a dog's right to 'run free.'
Here are my reasons:
- Very rare is a dog that is a natural born leader, meaning your dog likely looks to you for leadership. When you let a dog run, you are forcing it to put itself in a leadership position and it will, though it probably won't like it and won't be very good at it. This means your friendly dog may not be so friendly while out "running" and cause trouble for strangers and other peoples' pets.
- Along the same lines, your dog may make the ill-advised decision to enter the yard of a protective or aggressive pet — dangerous for your pet, for obvious reasons.
- Cars. Do I really need to say more?
- Wild animals — from coyotes to cougars, they're around here and they can threaten your pets.
- Dead animals and other dangerous but enticing finds — I knew a dog once that died from eating a rotting deer carcass. What else might your dog get into while out on its "run"?
- Lost. Yes, your dog could get lost and who knows what will happen from there.
- Respect for your neighbors. Lots of people like to let their dogs "run" so they don't have to pick up dog poop in your own yard, but come on folks, how do you think your neighbors feel about picking up after your dog? It's not cool.
So I say, if we want to get serious about making people responsible for their dogs, let's start there. We've got lots of good reasons to do so.