In case you haven’t heard, PETA has recently announced that they are in support of banning the breeding of Pit Bulls. In an article they have released on the Huffington Post, they make the argument that by banning the breeding of these dogs they are not supporting anti-pit bull legislation, but rather they are actually supporting a way of protecting these dogs. My understanding of this article, as well as PETA’s claim, is that by enacting breeding bans on the specific breed of dog that represent the majority of dogs in shelters, are used in dog fighting, and most often are the ones found in abuse and neglect cases, then the aforementioned problems will be alleviated. By not allowing these types of dogs to exist, then it will deny abusers and dog fighting rings the ability to take advantage of them.
It is a noble thought that by simply getting rid of a single dog breed problems like abuse, neglect, and dog fighting will be eradicated. As a society we wouldn’t have to worry about dogs being hurt, brutalized, or forgotten about. In short, the world would be a better place.
Yet…then reality hits me in the face like a cold shot of water.
Unfortunately, (in my humble opinion) PETA is wrong.
Abuse, neglect, and dog fighting rings are not going to end just because we stop breeding Pit Bulls. Things might slow down for a little while, but then other breeds of dogs are just going to take their place. Dog fights are still going to happen, abusers are still going to abuse, and others are still going to get dogs and leave them in their backyard because they’re too much of an inconvenience to take care of. Violence, abuse, and neglect don’t discriminate. These plagues on society aren’t going to stop just because one breed of dog is eradicated. Rather, other types of dogs will be abused and neglected instead, and then what? Will PETA (as well as others) ban the breeding of Boxers (since they have been used as fighting dogs historically)? German Shepherds? Bulldogs? Heck, even Chihuahuas when we’ve run out of large breeds to ban? Even more importantly, where will it end? When do we draw the line at punishing the victims, and really try to end the actual problem?
These problems aren’t going to go away. As long as we continue to punish the victims of these crimes, and not the perpetrators nothing’s going to change. Instead of punishing the bullies in these situations we continue to limit the victims and hide behind the argument that by removing the victims from the situations we are really protecting them. However, are we really protecting Pit Bulls by committing genocide? Why aren’t we sending the message that dog fighting rings and the act of abuse and neglect of dogs (and all animals actually) is in no way, shape, or form acceptable in our society?
Let’s not be those people that say those women wouldn’t have gotten attacked if they hadn’t have been wearing such skimpy clothing. Let’s stand up and say violence perpetrated against another is not okay.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand why PETA is supporting such a decision. The abuse and neglect of dogs in general is a big problem. Too many dogs just get left out in the backyard with little to no interaction of any kind. Too many dogs gain fame these days in internet stories written about the abuse they have lived through. Furthermore, backyard breeding is certainly a big problem. For instance, a couple of months ago when my family took Simon to the dog park we met a couple who had brought in their new puppy who was from a backyard breeder, and the conditions he was found in were deplorable. Every morning the puppies were given a few minutes to drink some water from a hose and then once it was gone that was it for the day, and their food was whatever was put in a kiddie pool. There was no shelter, and they were left in the sun for most of the day. Generally, I’m sure stories like this aren’t exactly new, which is actually pretty upsetting, to say the least. The worst part though, is that it is these puppies that end up getting abandoned, neglected, used in dog fighting, and turned over to already full shelters. Dog fighting rings are definitely a big problem. Dogs are treated horrendously, and as nothing more than a commodity that is thrown away when they’ve been all used up. So, I do understand the logic behind PETA’s explanation. Frankly, I just don’t agree because their solution doesn’t actually target the source of these problems.
So, here are my proposed solutions: wider access to spaying and neutering services, perhaps even making it mandatory for all household pets to be fixed unless someone is a licensed breeder; getting rid of housing discrimination practices since one of the main reasons dogs get surrendered to shelters or abandoned is because people can’t find housing that accepts pets; more severe punishments for abusers, neglecters, and especially people that are involved with dog fighting rings (because seriously, there is no way Michael Vick should even be allowed in polite society after what he did). It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be a quick fix. However, I firmly believe that one breed of dog should not have to pay for simply existing.