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CON: Pit bull ban would be short-sighted, ineffective

By Melissa Crowe
April 1, 2012 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated April 1, 2012 at 11:02 p.m.

"I want to raise my daughter around animals and teach her about them," Ian Seran said about his 2-year-old daughter, Keira. Seran, who also has a 1-year-old son, Tristian, owns a year and a half old pit bull named Temperance. Despite the controversy with the animals Seran has no problem keeping Temperance around his small children.

Ian Seran, 30, of Victoria, raises his pit bull, Temperance, side by side with his two toddlers.

Seran and his wife intended for Temperance to be a guard dog and look after their new family.

"I wanted a dog originally to protect my home, but it didn't turn out that way," he said. "She's just a big giant lap dog."

In the wake of recent incidences involving pit bulls, including the mauling death of a 4-year-old boy, Seran worries his family might get caught in the crossfire.

"I love my dog very much," Seran said. "I'm scared the city is going to come up and tell me I have to get rid of her ... that I'll have to suffer that heartbreak just because one guy didn't watch his child."

Several cities and counties statewide have adopted ordinances and regulations regarding aggressive animals. Dog owners like Seran and even a national animal organization says it is not effective.

The Humane Society of the United States has taken a stance against pit bull bans and ordinances, citing studies that such actions are shortsighted and ineffective responses, not long-term solutions, for dealing with animals.

Inga Fricke, director of sheltering initiatives for the Humane Society, said the greatest risk factors for bites have little to do with breed, and more to do with whether the dog is spayed or neutered and the care the animal receives, including tethering or socialization.

"Just having a regulation or an ordinance based on breed doesn't really get to the root of why an incident might happen," she said.

Furthermore, breed-specific laws are illegal in Texas.

Pit Bull Rescue Central, a Missouri-based nonprofit, suggests several alternatives for dealing with aggressive animals.

On the top of the list is to enforce existing dangerous dog laws.

Victoria currently has only an anti-barking ordinance, pooper scooper regulations and a leash law.

The nonprofit also suggest criminally charging animal owners who deliberately train their animals to act aggressively toward people or other animals, or who use animals in illegal activity.

Finally, it urges local animal agencies to provide responsible dog ownership seminars and canine safety education.

Frinke said the focus needs to be on the primary goal: owner responsibility and providing low-cost or free spay and neuter clinics.

Locally, professional dog trainer Eugene Gonzales, whose specialty is working with aggressive and large breeds, said education for the owners, animal and the public is important.

"There are no bad dogs, just bad owners," he said.

Gonzales, who owns Bark! Dog Training, said parents would never think of not sending their child to school, but often do not give their animals a chance to learn good behavior.

From his perspective, the cry for ordinances and bans is not a solution.

"What it comes down to is the responsibility of the owner," he said.

Every breed has the opportunity for aggression, Gonzales said.

"If a child got bit by a poodle, it won't be on the 10 o'clock news," he said. "Of course, a pit bull can physically cause more damage than a poodle."



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