Always and never. Both are very definitive words that are all-encompassing when referencing a situation; no exceptions. Can one truly say that every dog from an entire breed will always act in the same manner or never act in another? A growing number of Home Owners Associations, (HOAs) and property managers seem to think so.
Define “aggressive breed”.
For starters, let’s begin with a simple English lesson and break down the phrase into its two simple components:
Aggressive: tending towards unprovoked, offensive, attacks, invasions, or the like; militantly forward or menacing.
Breed: relatively homogenous group of animals within a species developed and maintained by humans. Lineage, stock, strain.
So when making the reference to “aggressive breed” collectively, one is, by definition, labeling an entire group of animals in the species as having the characteristic of tending to attack offensively and unprovoked. Pit Bulls are often the target, (amongst a few other misunderstood breeds) of this derogatory term.
What about the Pit Bulls who currently serve our country as Search and Rescue Dogs? What about the Pit Bulls who are war heroes, service assistance dogs to the handicapped, or therapy certified and help children with literacy challenges learn to be more confident in their reading skills? These are not dogs that are boldly assertive or likely to attack, but in fact the opposite. If there is a breed ban in the neighborhood; these life saving dogs are banned too.
Here is a good question to ask these discriminatory associations: How are they determining which dogs are actually Pit Bulls? Nine times out of ten, (by personal and other research) when asked to identify a Pit Bull out of a group of pure bred dogs, people answer incorrectly. A dog may be a mixed with Pit Bull, be a full-blooded APBT, or be 0% Pit Bull but just have a big head and stout body; according to breed biased apartment managers and HOAs, they are all the same. Pit Bull or not.
The all-encompassing term doesn’t seem so all-encompassing after all. Truth-be-told, the term “aggressive breed” is an ignorant conglomeration of words which only reflects poorly on the user as an inadequate attempt at the English language and a poor example of a quick fix to an issue they don’t have the first clue as to how to solve.
As a parent, would you be content with a Band-Aid over a stab wound? Would you rather raise your children in a neighborhood with no Pit Bulls, so that your child can’t have an accident with a Pit Bull specifically, or would you rather raise your child in a neighborhood where they have the smallest chance of a bite or attack from all breeds? It is not okay for any dog to attack a child.
The answer is proactive, responsible action on the part of not only the HOA, but the entire neighborhood as a whole.
Let’s try a different approach to labeling; how about “responsible owner”.
If an HOA, property manager, or Insurer is truly concerned about safety, then why not take a more tactical approach? Any breed of dog can exhibit an aggressive individual in the group, be they Lhasa Apso, Golden Retriever, or Viszla. Perhaps instead of singling out groups, why not single out irresponsible owners? To do so is not overly time intensive or taxing on HOA or management members.
· Check veterinary references.
· Are there any bite reports or continuous complaints filed with Animal Control?
· Is the dog licensed if required by the county?
· Enforce leash laws.
· Start a responsible dog club within the community and hold Saturday training classes for CGC certification.
· Put out bite free/accident free reports in the neighborhood newsletter or website.
· Recognize a responsible owner of the month.
Another consideration is that discriminating against a specific group of dogs is essentially discriminating against a specific group of owners. When did discrimination of any sort towards another human being become socially or morally acceptable? How is singling out a specific group of people and not allowing them to be housed in the same neighborhood not highly offensive to more than just those affected by the discrimination?
HOAs need to tackle the problem from a positive approach and work on improving the overall responsibility of the owners in the neighborhood; not enforcing Band-Aid approaches while using terribly improper terminology.