Going to the Dogs: Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and
A Canine Rant and Rave by Raymond Magliozzi
Right at this very moment, I'm on the hairy edge of going 100 percent,
completely ballistic. But, before I do, I'm going to take a deep breath,
slap on some Preparation R&R and start this Rant and Rave out on the right
foot (or paw, in this particular case) with an example of what I consider
to be responsible dog ownership.
Ralph, Bruno and Rambo
I have a buddy, Ralph, who owns a gas station in my neighborhood. Ralph
has two Rottweilers that are positively humongous. We'll call these beasts
Bruno and Rambo. Every few weeks, I drop by to say hello to Ralph and buy
some gas. Each time I go in, Bruno and Rambo are lying there, chained to a
block of cement that is permanently embedded in the concrete floor. The
chain that goes between the dogs and the anchor are not unlike the ones
that Cunard uses to keep the QE II from drifting around Portsmouth harbor.
The point is, these dogs are securely tied down.
Bruno and Rambo never make a peep when I approach them. They never wag
their little nubs of tails, and they're never happy to see me. Bruno and
Rambo have the canine version of the Timothy McVeigh blank stare. Ralph
always says, "Don't worry! They'll never hurt you. They're gentle as can
be." I, of course, can't help but think that they must be communicating
telepathically: "Yeah, that right butt cheek -- now that looks like a good
Bruno and Rambo are, for all intents and purposes, deadly weapons. Ralph
knows that these dogs are dangerous. At the end of the day, when he closes
the shop, he lets them have the run of the place -- knowing that anyone who
broke in would be quickly inhaled. And, quite frankly, Bruno and Rambo
would be well within their rights to take you out in that situation. I can
accept that, under those circumstances. Just barely.
Spike Comes Home
Here's what I can't abide: I can't abide the next-door neighbor who's
stupid enough to think that having a Bruno or a Rambo as an unrestrained
pet is a prudent thing to do -- especially when he has a couple of little
kids running around the house. It's just plain stupid, because these dogs
can be absolutely nuts. Any dog can be aggressive, but these dogs are so
powerful they have the potential to kill.
Sure, you can raise a Rottweiler to be docile, but what's going to happen
when something goes wrong? When this dog gets old and crotchety and his
brain chemistry goes completely haywire, he'll turn on somebody. And then
what? Congratulations. You'll have it on your conscience for the rest of
your life that your dog killed a neighborhood 4-year-old. To my way of
thinking, that's just plain ridiculous.
You want to own a dog that's a deadly weapon? Then, by God, you should do
what Ralph does: get your dog a metal collar and have it chained to a QE II
anchor that's bolted into bedrock, and make sure your property is plastered
with signs that say things like "Survivors Will Be Prosecuted."
Ray's Law: Your Dog Is Your Agent
I can only assume that people who buy dogs like rottweilers, pit bulls and
other huge dogs like mastiffs, get a certain thrill from having a dog
that's powerful and threatening. I don't have a problem with that. This
is America, and it's a free country. But, I think what the law should be
If you allow your dog to do something stupid, the law should interpret that
as the dog acting as your agent.
In other words, these irresponsible people deserve to be treated as if they
had committed the crime themselves, nothing less.
Now, don't get me wrong. We all know that every dog has the potential to
bite. Take, for example, my neighbor's Lhasa Apso. Sure, even that little
dog can bite. This dog might be able to do in your pet parakeet -- on a good
day and only if he was really, really mad. In fact, sometimes it seems
like it's the littlest dogs that are most apt to bite. It's the little
dogs that believe in the preemptive strike. (Hey, if I weighed 12 pounds
I'd feel that way too; at that weight you don't get a second chance.)
But, the Lhasa Apsos of the world aren't going to kill anybody. If you
have a dog that's a barker or maybe a little bit aggressive, fine. If he
bites someone, then, sure, you might get sued -- but at least you're not
going to have it on your conscience that one of the neighbor's kids died
because your 165-pound "best friend" had him for hors d'oeuvres. The
difference with dogs like Rottweilers and pit bulls is that they have the
potential to kill, with little or no provocation -- and that's what disturbs
me about them.
I have a dog. She's a border collie. She's never bitten anyone I know.
(She hasn't bitten anyone I don't know, either, for that matter.)
Philly's certainly had confrontations with other dogs, in which she has
snarled and bared her teeth. But, I never worry that she's going to take
down one of the neighbor's kids for a snack.
Smith & Wesson vs. Brutus
Owning a pit bull or a Rottweiler is no different, in my opinion, than
having your 5-year-old find a loaded gun in a kitchen drawer and shoot the
kid next door. You'd be criminally responsible for that lapse in judgment.
The same laws should apply for these dogs. Your dog gets out of the yard
and attacks somebody? Somebody comes into your yard when it's not properly
posted, and he gets chewed into hamburger? You're guilty. And you go to
jail. Or, maybe we feed you to the dogs and you see how it feels!
I think it's ridiculous that people want to defend themselves with a dog.
If you want to defend yourself, go buy a gun. At least you have more
control over the gun. If you don't want to use it, you can lock it up.
You don't have to feed it and it won't go to the bathroom on the
It's ironic that in many cases the people who buy these dogs and train them
to be vicious attack dogs end up losing a loved one to the very dog that's
supposed to be "protecting" them.
A Pattern of Inadequacies?
I'd like to close with one final observation. The sort of guy who goes out
and gets a pit bull or a Rottweiler is the same sort of
testosterone-poisoned person who buys the Camaro with the oversized engine.
Why do these guys insist on acting this way? All I can hypothesize is
that they're somehow making up for a deep-seated insecurity, which must
have its roots in an anatomical inadequacy.
I rest my case.
Thank you. I feel much better now.
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