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COLUMN: It’s control that needs to be legislated

It’s easy to say “ban them” when referring to pit bulls, or any other inherently aggressive dog. But where do you draw the line?

It’s easy to say “ban them” when referring to pit bulls, or any other inherently aggressive dog. But where do you draw the line?

I have had, for the past 16 or so years, standard poodles. Beautiful, gentle and very large, but you wouldn’t want to have messed with me when my big black dog was in his prime. Neither would you want to enter my fenced property unannounced at night. He was very protective.

Otherwise he was about as friendly as you could find a dog. He just had his aggression triggers. Another of my poodles wouldn’t hurt a flea. Yet I was and am always wary when small children are on the property.

Dogs, at least the ones I always have, are big, boisterous and even if they aren’t aggressive, always need to be kept under control.

And that is the problem that happens far too frequently with pit bulls and their various approximations. Many of their owners don’t have them under control. They’re often untrained, other than perhaps not to crap in the house, off-leash and unmuzzled when accessible to other dogs and people.

I must admit only sporadic contact with pit bulls. One was a lost pup that showed up on my doorstep, the sweetest most gentle little guy you ask for. And when we found his owner, I’m sure he probably stayed that way. The other occasions were contact with extremely aggressive pit bulls on the next door property when it was going through its various iterations of grow ops and chop shops. Fortunately, the cops took care of them, the operators and, along with them, the nasty dogs. In those instances, the animals were there for a purpose: to keep people and prying eyes away from the nefarious activities of their owners, and the aggression towards others was intended.

Not something you want next door, nor should you feel the need to carry a shotgun while raking leaves in the back yard.

So while I am uncomfortable with pit bulls, I also am a little wary when approached by a rottweiler, cane corso or doberman, though the latter has always held a bit of an appeal to me and is, I have been told, one of the foundation breeds along with the Portuguese waterdog used to develop the standard poodle. Never been able to confirm that, though I do know it was developed in Germany as a hunting retriever.

Certainly the poodle has a long, tooth-filled snout and it, on the negative-positive ratings available on the Internet, not particularly good around small children. My dogs have, to some extent, borne that out.

So because of that my dogs, even on my own property, are often collared and leashed when small visitors arrive.

And if I feel that responsible within the confines of a fenced yard, should not those with even more assumed ‘dangerous’ dogs, regardless of the breed, be required to be as responsible when out in public?

A short leash, a muzzle – they are not cruel to the dog, and in fact will protect it from incidents such as the one that happened in Vancouver when a man stabbed to death a pit bull as it was attacking his pug. Maybe the pug started it all, it was off-leash while the pit bull apparently was leashed.

The point therefore, is that all dogs should be leashed – from tiny ankle biters to the large aggressive ones – when they are in the public domain.

To do otherwise is not responsible pet ownership.

To solve that, rather than banning a breed or an entire host of breeds that is considered to have been developed to be aggressive, any legislation (municipal or otherwise) should be aimed at the owner, and the absolute requirement for control, which means leashes and muzzles when not confined in a secure residential setting. Anyone found not in compliance should receive a stiff fine and immediate seizure of the animal.