My Dog Teaches
… about Pets, Lies and Videotapes
Freedom is a fragile thing. If we are not alert, we lose it.
This doesn’t happen all at once, but piecemeal, bit by bit so that we barely
notice. It sometimes takes a very personal experience to jar us into action
to protect it. And so it is with me.
I had lived in England for several years until 1981. Last
year, I returned for a few days to visit my son who is playing professional
hockey there. And I had a rude awakening.
I brought a video camera with me to film some of his games.
To my astonishment, I was prohibited from doing so. Not for property right
or copyright reasons, but because of "child protection laws". Because there
were people in the crowd who were under the age of 18, filming became
illegal. (I learned later that parents are not even allowed to video their
own child’s birthday party if it is held at a public venue.)
Here in Ontario, dog owners have had their freedoms
seriously trampled upon with the Dog Owners’ Liability Act. Especially
owners of "pit bull" type dogs such as my Staffordshire Terrier, Hunny.
Simple freedom to play with our dogs. To find a bit of greenery in which to
let our dogs run unhindered as nature intended. (And no, we have never had
the freedom to let our dogs run uncontrolled and to harm people or other
animals – that was already covered under existing laws.)
Based on lies and misinformation, the Attorney General
Michael Bryant, rammed the "Pit Bull" legislation through despite the
objections of every dog expert organization in the hearings. (To demonstrate
the shallowness of his insight and the depth of his ignorance on the subject
– Mr. Bryant actually identified the wrong dog when asked to pick out a Pit
Bull from several photographs.)
In the last Petitorial, we looked at some of the distorted
statistics that were used to justify this draconian law. Now we will look at
some of the myths and false information broadly disseminated through the
media and which made their way into the hearings.
Lie #1 – Locking Jaws: Pit Bulls are dogs, not
alligators. Referring to studies that have been done on the subject, Dr.
Lehr Brisbin of the University of Georgia comments, "There is absolutely no
evidence for the existence of any kind of ‘locking mechanism’ unique to the
structure of the jaw and/or teeth of the American Pit Bull Terrier."
Lie #2 – They are Aggressive Towards Humans:
Generalities founded on fear and ignorance can be the most dangerous. While
it is true that, over a hundred years ago, Pit Bulls were bred to fight
other dogs, they were also bred to be very stable, loyal and reliable with
people and children. Contrary to the common perception, because Pit Bulls
are so friendly towards people they are known among dog experts to generally
make rather poor guard dogs. (In my own case, when a stranger comes to the
door, Hunny does not even bark, wags her tail excitedly and runs to get a
ball to play with the new person.) It actually takes a considerable amount
of brutal treatment to turn a Pit Bull into an aggressive animal.
Lie #3 – Pit Bulls are Unstable and Can’t be Trusted:
One of the most pernicious myths promoted about Pit Bulls is that they can
"snap" and go berserk at any time. (I could state that the Attorney General
might "lose it" some day and no one could prove me wrong, being about a
hypothetical future.) Vets and dog experts generally acknowledge stability
and evenness of temper as among their best traits. Because they can take a
considerable amount of rough play with equanimity, many dog experts consider
these breeds excellent for families with children.
There is nothing wrong with sensible laws. But when
governments fashion laws based on lies and false information, the individual
loses and freedom diminishes. When completely innocent activities like
filming your son’s hockey game or playing with your dog become illegal,
freedom is in trouble. It’s not a healthy situation for the honest and
responsible citizen to be continually looking over his shoulder wondering if
"Big Brother" is watching his every innocuous move.
Previous "Petitorial" articles
by David McKague: