Don’t Treat all Pit Bulls Like Criminals

Target: City Councilman Sheldon Neeley, Flint, Michigan

Goal: Rethink ineffective plan for breed-specific dog registry

A city councilman in Flint, Michigan has suggested that all pit bull owners be required to register their dogs with police. Not only will the idea cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, but there is no evidence that such registries do anything to counter attacks by large dogs. Moreover, the bill would only add to breed discrimination which can exacerbate aggression problems due to poor socialization.

The proposed ordinance states that every pit bull must be registered with local police. If a registered dog is linked to an attack, the owner can be fined $500 and face a 90-day jail sentence. The registration, which will cost between 20 and 30 dollars per dog, will prove useless against those who do not register their pit bulls.

Breed-specific legislation is unfair to well-behaved dogs and responsible owners. It is commonly believed by animal experts that a dog’s aggressive behavior is mostly due to the training and treatment they receive from their owners. Many of the kindest and most affectionate dogs are of breeds considered to be aggressive, it simply depends on socialization and proper exercise.

It is important that any dog be introduced to humans other than their owners at a young age so that proper behavior toward humans is learned. Exercise and play is a constructive way to release energy and aggression, improve a dog’s mood, and promote well-being.

More than 70% of dog bites and attacks reported to police involve unsterilized male dogs. This is linked to hormones such as testosterone, which is responsible for aggressive behavior, and is converted to estrogen, which causes rapid mood changes.

Raising awareness about sterilization for all large non-breeding males would be a far more effective solution, and may actually prevent attacks rather than simply punishing owners afterward. Sterilization is also beneficial to animal rescue communities as it reduces the amount of unwanted pets born annually.

Your signature will tell Flint City Council that breed-specific registries are ineffective and a poor use of taxpayer dollars. Ask that instead, an awareness campaign be launched to promote knowledge about proper socialization, exercise, and sterilization that can help prevent an attack before it happens.


Dear City Councilman Sheldon Neeley, Flint, Michigan,

Recently, an idea was proposed to introduce a breed-specific registry for pit bulls in Flint. The ordinance would see that owners of a registered pit bull involved in an attack are fined or sentenced to a three month jail term. In other areas, such ordinances have been found ineffective at preventing attacks in the first place.

Breed-specific legislation is a punishment for responsible dog owners and their dogs. Dogs that are properly trained, socialized, and get proper exercise are far less likely to demonstrate aggressive behavior. Moreover, since 70% of dog attacks involve unsterilized male dogs, a far more effective solution would be advocating sterilization, which is also beneficial to the community in other ways.

Instead, I propose that the money be spent on educating owners of proven and effective methods of reducing aggressive behavior and attacks. Awareness should be raised about proper socialization and training for all large dog breeds. Play and exercise should be encouraged as a constructive way of releasing extra energy. Sterilization of male non-breeding dogs should be encouraged, perhaps with a discount as an incentive.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Steph Skardal via Flickr Creative Commons

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  1. Michael Guest says:

    You’re wrong. Animals have no faults of their own. They must be treated with respect. Keep that in mind.

  2. debbie kelly says:

    Animals deserve our respect and love. Humans are the cause of all the things wrong in this world and it is time we took responsibility for it.

  3. Edna Anderson says:

    It’s not the dog, it’s the owner that need to be policed. The dog only does what it’s taught. If it’s treated well, it won’t be as prone to bite or hurt anyone.

  4. This is wrong. Instead of treating this wonderful breed like criminals they need to focus on animal abusers and register. What ignorant people. Get educated.

  5. It’s not just pits. Rottweilers and other powerful dogs are just as vilified. My rescued Rottie, Minnie, is a graceful and elegant lady. My rescued Pittie, Dudley, is a galumphing, smiling goofball.

    My children will never be in danger, as long as these 2 are around. The dogs are my children’s staunchest protectors, and best friends. No good hearted human need ever fear these 2 huge hearted animals. No person who intends harm will ever fool these two beautiful, intelligent, wonderful dogs.

    Both came to us as victims of abuse. Both were easily rehabilitated with love, kindness, rules, and a firm hand. I trust them both with my own, and my children’s lives.

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