CommunityPam's House Blend

NC: Cumberland County proposes breed ban, instead focuses on better vetting of owners

Thank dog. As a long-time advocate for pit bulls, a much-maligned breed that has been abused, turned into dog-fighting machines and demonized as killers, I’ve said time and again that it could be your breed next.

Well, in Cumberland County, NC, last night there was a proposal to limit adoptions of certain dog breeds, rendering several as “first kills” — In October, the Cumberland Animal Control board recommended to county leaders that “Rottweilers, American Staffordshire terriers, pit bulls, chow-chows, Presa Canarios or any mix of those breeds.” Why?

Each day, Lauby said, Animal Control receives more than 200 calls from residents complaining about dogs running loose, preventing people from getting into their cars or behaving aggressively, Lauby said.

“We have an inordinate number of pit bulls in the county that are chasing people, chasing dogs, they’re on school grounds and generally bother people,” he said. “The reality is that about 80 percent of our calls are related to that particular breed.”

Since April, Animal Control has taken in nearly 1,300 pit bulls, but only 124 have been adopted, Lauby said. It’s the same problem for other “bully breed” dogs, he said.

The shelter has taken in 180 Rottweilers since April and only 26 have been adopted. Fifteen of the 96 chow-chows received at the shelter have been adopted, Lauby said.

The problem here is that whoever is breeding and adopting the “problem dogs” is not being held accountable and following Animal Control guidelines — and spaying and neutering their dogs and properly containing them — and I don’t mean tied or tethered or chained. That’s cruelty to a social animal like a dog (of any breed). By the way, chaining is against the law in Durham County. Cumberland needs to get with the program.

Last night a public hearing was held, with over 100 residents there to oppose a breed-specific death sentence, and the County Animal Control board backed down from its misguided proposal.

Instead, the board directed Dr. John Lauby, the animal control director, to look into ways the county can more carefully vet the people who adopt animals from the shelter to ensure they’ll be responsible owners.

By Monday night, Lauby said he had received more than 18,000 emails on the topic, many from activists who erroneously were told the county was to start euthanizing all such breeds Monday.

…Those who spoke included pit bull owners, rescuers, trainers and groomers. They told of being won over by so-called dangerous breeds, and how breed-specific policies don’t work.

“Some of the best dogs I groom are dogs that are on the list,” said Karin Miller, a Hope Mills groomer. “We can’t categorize the dogs any more than we can categorize people.”

This is a sea change; there are many cities/counties across the country that have banned specific breeds, in spite of the facts.  It’s the deed, not the breed, people. By screening adopters more carefully and making the flagrant backyard breeders pay significant fines, and making fenced yards, outdoor runs mandatory for owners you’d see a drop in dogs on the loose. If the county made affordable spay and neuter accessible (and mandatory), this would reduce the numbers showing up at the shelter in the first place.

Bottom line: dog ownership should be taken more seriously than it is. We cannot save every dog from being taken to a shelter where it will likely face euthanization, but we can take the problem seriously by holding the human beings responsible for unethical, and in my mind, immoral abuse of dogs.


The Pit Bull–American’s Sweetheart – how soon we forget…

During the first half of the 20th century, the American Pit Bull Terrier was the closest thing the United States had to a national dog. Pit bulls were the dog of choice for famous personages such as Helen Keller, Laura Ingalls Wilder (of Little House on the Prairie fame), and President Theodore Roosevelt.

Meanwhile, pit bulls were chosen as mascots by the Buster Brown shoe company and by the United States itself, which featured pit bulls on American propaganda posters for each of the first two world wars.

Fittingly, the first dog decorated with medals by the armed forces was one Sgt. Stubby. In the first world war, Sgt. Stubby not only survived being twice wounded in combat, but captured a German spy and saved his entire platoon from a poison gas attack.

In 1903, an American Pit Bull Terrier named Bud became the first dog to travel across the entire US via car. He accompanied the first humans to make a non-stop journey cross country by automobile, but his fame eclipsed theirs, as newspapers in cities across America featured a goggle-wearing Bud.

After WW II, pit bulls retreated to relative obscurity, accorded neither more nor less notoriety than other breeds. Surely, underground fighting took place, but this was only a small percentage of pits. Others were used for herding, hunting or guardian purposes, but most were bred and kept primarily as companions.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding