I was so excited when an acquaintance from another dog sitters’ page announced that Denver has lifted its ban on pit bulls!
(I realize pit bull isn’t an official AKC recognized breed, but is the common name for a group of breeds. But just give me this.)
As the article explains, for about three decades now, Denver had banned people from owning pit bulls. Yet in Tuesday night’s election, that ban was finally lifted with 64.5% of voters casting their ballots in favor of welcoming the breed back into their homes. The decision includes some provisions, such as requiring a special permit, a microchip, and as another article mentions, if there are no issues for a period of three years, then the individual dog can then be registered just like any other dog.
Most of us who walk, board, or train dogs for a living recognize how ridiculous it is to outright ban any breed of dog. While the saying sounds trite, it’s true: it’s not the breed, it’s the owner.
Yes, some breeds tend to be easier to handle than others. And yes, you need to be aware of how confident a leader you can be, because dogs are pack animals. They listen to their Alpha. YOU are the Alpha. That doesn’t for one second mean you should be abusive in any way, only that you are the one who sets the rules, training, and boundaries. You must be consistent. But NEVER mean or aggressive.
Sadly, there are many pet owners who don’t understand how to properly train. Or they haven’t done their research before choosing the right canine companion for their lifestyle and temperament. Or both. THAT creates a perfect storm for behavioral problems. And of course, there are also situations in which terrible human beings have used these animals in rings to bet on fights.
But back to our sweet pit bulls. They are a smart, active breed that needs lots of exercise with both physical and mental stimulation. They are incredibly loyal and snuggly. The ones I’ve known can jump pretty high (I had one jump right up onto the counter when I was filling her water dish!) — and will do so as often as possible, on everyone possible, if allowed and not trained to have manners.
Agility work could be fun for both the dog and for the owner. They’ll get lots of physical and mental stimulation and get to jump! But in a controlled manner where they learn when it’s allowed, even encouraged.
Once you tire these sweethearts out, they will cuddle up as close to their human as possible for movie night. Just like most family dogs, they are intuitive and seem to recognize when their family members need extra kisses and pittie snuggles, and they are happy to bountifully dole them out.
It’s wonderful news that the people of Denver recognize that banning a breed isn’t the answer. Yes, they still have a few extra hoops for pit bull owners to jump through. But this is a fantastic start.
You can read more about the history of banning pit bulls in this National Geographic interview with Bronwen Dickey, author of Pit Bull: the battle over an American Icon.