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Ask a Vet: Breed-specific legislation a faulty ideal

POSTED: October 20, 2013 1:00 a.m.

Since Halloween is right around the corner, consider the following:

The “Monster” is not Frankenstein, but Frankenstein is the monster.

Now that may sound confusing at first, but it’s the heart of the classic tale of science and horror. A brilliant but misguided doctor puts his talents to use with an idea of bettering the world. But through human frailty and hubris, he creates a situation he cannot control. Suffering occurs for many, not just the person at fault.

We all know what’s paved with good intentions, right?

This may not seem to be related to pets, but consider it in the aspect of breed-specific legislation. This is the notion that government (hey, stop laughing) can create laws designating specific breeds as dangerous, then ban or heavily restrict the ownership of such breeds.

This depends on several huge leaps of faith, namely that you can:

1. Name a breed truly dangerous by default (an impossible task).

2. Accurately and reliably identify this breed.

3. Trust government has any real ability to use science to back this up.

The news and Internet will flood you with pit bulls gnawing on the neighborhood, sometimes resulting in horrible injuries or death. But tell me this, what is a pit bull? How do you legally define it? Is there a blood test? Only dogs with a breed registry of “pit bull?”

And know what? An angry pit bull can certainly be dangerous. Just like an angry Labrador retriever, or an angry Siamese cat.

In my experience, the breed of dog most often in favor of killing me in the exam room is the chihuahua. Seriously. The average pit bull I see is more likely to sprain my knee trying to get me to scratch her butt.

Vicious dogs are a threat. Large vicious dogs are a larger threat than a chihuahua. But dogs with this personality are created, not bred.

The most common reason I’ve seen for a pit bull being dropped off at a rescue facility? “Not mean enough.”

The government has better things to do.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at mattsisk2003@yahoo.com.


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