Breed Bans: An odious topic

Last week I was called to the Massachusetts State House to testify about “dangerous dogs.” I agreed to go because it was just an information gathering session and anyway, Representative Vincent Pedone, who invited me sounded like a reasonable guy on the phone.

When asked about breed bans I lead off with the statement that the breed bans were odious. I guess I should have used the word hateful because a lot of people misunderstood and sent me hate email (“How could a person in your position …”etc).

One of the least eloquent dissenters was a pitbull owner who called me and in a pronounced Irish brogue proceeded to tell me I was completely mistaken about the history of the pitbull breed, which I had been asked to recount. He informed me they had been nothing to do with pits or bulls and were, in fact herding dogs that had been used to hunt deer. His own fine specimen, he informed me, had reverted to its roots and chased a deer one day.

Next he lectured me about the history of the Thoroughbred horse and was moving on to other subjects despite the fact that I told him I was at work and needed to “see a man about a dog.” Unperturbed he continued on and on until I insisted, at which point he became quite rude. “You had three hours to spend testifying …” he said. But before he got onto the next topic I was forced to hang up on him, a thing I almost never do to anyone.

What was reinforced for me though this experience was how emotionally charged the breed ban issue is and how careful one has to be in choosing words when talking about the subject. Some people listening to the testimony heard what they feared I might be going to say and not what I actually said. Fear not, fearful ones, the breeds are here to stay. It’s irresponsible owners who should be concerned.

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