I listen to debates on the matter of Pit bulls and I have difficulty understanding why we still speak of banning the breed. There is a much simpler solution that could benefit not only dogs, but also cats and pets in general, and that is why I want to bring my voice to the debate today.
Many people compare Pit bull advocates to pro-gun lobbyists saying that it is not the “Pit bull weapon” that is dangerous, but the person who holds the leash. In their opinion, the solution would be to outlaw the “weapon”. But for me, banning only Pit bulls would be akin to banning, say, AK-47s amongst all available firearms. So, if we ban Pit bulls, those who want a burly animal will turn to a different breed and, in a few years, Mastiffs or German Shepherds would become the object of the same debate.
Why, then, don’t we ban all strong dog breeds like we would ban all firearms? It is a societal debate and, whether you agree or not, this argument is valid. Outlawing something dangerous because man does not know how to use it properly is, historically, the right thing to do… except when that thing is more useful than harmful to man, the best example of which is the car. Of all the inventions of mankind, it is the one that harms and kills the most people. Then, why don’t we ban it? Because it is too useful to mankind to be straight outlawed. Instead, we regulate and frame its usage and we impose licenses to drive it. Can you see where I’m going? I believe that a majority of people will agree to say that pets are as useful, if not more, to their owners than a car. So, why don’t we apply the same logic?
A mandatory course in animal behavior and care and a mandatory “driving license for animals” for anyone who wishes to own a pet seem to me solutions so easy and obvious that I can’t fathom why it is almost never mentioned in this debate. We are ready to spend money on laws and inspectors to control Pit bulls, but not on a long-term solution that would have major impact on the animal field? Hard to understand. There are enough animal educators, veterinarians and animal health technicians to meet the needs of such a regulation.
Granted, those people will have to be certified to make sure we eliminate “alpha trainers” and unqualified people, but this part of the job would be, in my opinion, very easy to do. Such a regulation would create jobs and people like us, your faithful Cat Educators, would at long last be able to make a living out of our trade, like several other of our colleagues in the animal behavior field.
Here are the potential effects of such a regulation:
- Major decrease of abandonments, hence shelters that would be better suited to help animals and spend money on education programs;
- Significant decrease in the number of stray cats;
- Significant decrease of cases of behavioral issues (that often result in the abandonment or euthanasia of the animal);
- Decrease in the number of animal-caused injuries;
- Decrease of cases of animal mistreatment;
- Job creation (veterinarian, AHT, animal educators)
- Quebec would cease to be the world’s laughing stock, always coming last in all statistics related to abandonment (puppy or kitten factories, etc.).
Some will say that such a regulation would result in less people adopting a pet and they are partially right. But with today’s technology, it would be easy to take a mandatory online class PRIOR to the animal adoption, which would inform people of what to check at a breeder’s and what would be a good and a bad choice of animal in function of his needs and his environment. All of this would help eliminate bad breeders, since people would be informed. Imagine… We could at last get rid of education methods based on punishment and dominance that cause so many problems.
People that aren’t ready to invest a few hours to learn how to care for an animal are probably the people who contribute to the problems listed above and that make us the world’s worst state in terms of animal treatment.
However, I am not suggesting that we impose such a regulation on current owners out of the blue, which would bring forth an incredible wave of abandonments. I am aware that some control measures are needed, that new regulations need to be implemented step by step, probably starting with large dogs for which an evaluation of the animal would be included, and that all of this is a long term project. But some countries, Switzerland for instance, have gone through it, without a major decrease in adoption numbers, and it works really well.
What I ask of everyone discussing the issue is to stop talking about and spending money on ineffective short-term measures and to debate on sustainable solutions that would help all animals and would really change things in Quebec.