I was on the John and Ken Show just now (September 21, 2017), and the discussion was about pitbulls. Specifically, whether an animal shelter should tell potential adopters that a dog is a pitbull. Some shelters go so far as to give a FALSE BREED NAME for pitbulls — for example, there was a time when New York animal control called them “New Yorkies.” The justification is that if people know that a dog is a pitbull, they won’t adopt it. So let’s not tell them, these officials say.
OF COURSE people should be told the truth! There are so many reasons: All pitbull owners will tell you that pitbulls are highly energetic and need a lot of exercise. They also need a lot of attention. To be fair to the dog, it’s new family should know these things. So they need to know it’s a pitbull.
All pitbull owners are aware that their dogs require keen supervision and restraint around other dogs because pitbulls were bred to kill them. A pitbull’s new family might already have a dog that they don’t want harmed, and certainly won’t want to endanger their friends’ and neighbors’ dogs. To be fair to everyone, a pitbull’s new family should know these things. So they need to know it is a pitbull.
We all agree that one of the top goals of government is to protect us from injury. Therefore we expect fair warning from a hazard. We get warned about cigarettes, aspirin, pillows, electrical cords, bags from the dry cleaner — just about anything that could be dangerous. But warnings do not prevent people from smoking, taking aspirin, sleeping on pillows, using electricity, or taking clothes to the dry cleaner. We decide what to do based on the whole picture.
Everyone would agree that if a dog has a history of viciousness – not the breed, but that particular dog – a potential adopter needs to know it. When it comes to pitbulls, breed information is very important too. Medical studies and municipal records have clearly established that pitbulls do the most biting, inflict the most damage on people, and are the dogs that kill people the most often. It is important to realize that 50% of the people killed by pitbulls are their owner, their owner’s children, and their owner’s parents.
I’m not saying that every pitbull will bite, or every pitbull is vicious. When People Magazine did its article about me, their photographer posed me with a pitbull, and it took 18 rolls of film and a lot of effort on my part to make that dog look even slightly interested in me. What I’m saying is that the risk of injury is higher around a pitbull. So a potential adopter needs to know it’s a pitbull. It’s only fair to give the whole picture about anything we are selling or giving away.
Soda cans and cereal boxes have a list of ingredients. Movies have ratings. We abhor propaganda, liars, and people who conceal the truth. The government should not hide important facts from people. A goodhearted person who wants a nice dog for her children or for himself is entitled to the real facts, the whole picture, the inconvenient truth – especially when it concerns the safety of their family and the well-being of their other pets.