Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, has announced that he plans to introduce legislation next year that will ban five breeds in Minnesota. Under the proposed law, anyone owning, housing, training, or breeding Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Chow Chows, Akitas, or wolf hybrids (or any mixed breed with any of the above traits) would be committing a crime subject to fines and jail time.
Apparently, Rep. Lesch has bought into the notion that specific breeds are inherently vicious and banning them would drastically cut down on dog attacks on humans. "You never hear stories about roving packs of golden retrievers attacking children in our streets," Lesch has said, "But you do hear about the pit bulls." It is my understanding that Minnesota dog attacks have been on a decline in the past few years, but Lesch has chosen to focus on a couple high-profile cases just recently in St. Paul that happened to involve pit bulls.
Here's the main problem with this proposed law: Any dog can become dangerous when bred and/or trained to be aggressive. It's ridiculous to think that restricting ownership of five breeds will stop or even cut down on dog bites, because the former owners of individual dogs who were bred or trained to be aggressive will simply acquire another breed of dog and train it in the same way. If they choose golden retrievers instead of pit bulls, and those dogs become aggressive, which breed do you think breed-specific legislation (BSL) proponents will target next?
Another problem with any BSL is that a lot of people can't positively identify dog breeds, and "pit bull", for example, is used by citizens as well as police and lawmakers to include a wide range of different breeds. I seriously doubt that John Lesch could tell you the difference between an American pit bull and an American Staffordshire Terrier, or the difference between an Akita and a Siberian Husky, for that matter.
I believe our state representative is just buying into the propoganda, perhaps even thinking his actions are noble. But how many of his family and friends own dogs, ANY breed of dogs? My understanding is that Minnesota law prohibits cities from enacting their own breed bans, and this is good. As far as statewide BSL, this proposal has many, many opponents; responsible dog owners who refuse to be punished and lose their best friends because of the irresponsibility of a few. Just because you may be (like me) the proud owner of a goofy, loveable, and extremely gentle dog, don't kid yourself. Great Danes can, and do, bite, and these few incidences speak volumes more about the breed from a lawmaker's standpoint than the thousands of sweet and well-behaved Danes in homes all across the nation.
Please take a few minutes to contact Rep. John Lesch, and in your own words, urge him to reconsider his stand on dog breed bans. Ask him to instead consider better enforcement of dog laws already in effect, including leash laws. There are laws regarding "dangerous dogs", and enforcement of these could prevent dog bites more effectively than breed bans. When Lesch announced his proposal at the Capitol on Friday, with him was a 5-year-old St.Paul girl who had been attacked by a "pit bull" last month. As Lesch called for support for his breed ban, the fact that that individual dog had previously been declared "potentially dangerous" by city inspectors seemed to get lost in the shuffle.
Following are a few links regarding breed-specific legislation. Not surprisingly, pit bull organizations are leading this fight. The Real Pit Bull site explains BSL thoroughly and gives alternatives to breed bans, as well as a petition to stop John Lesch's proposed legislation.
As always, Trail Center's website has pages of information for dog owners, and Sarah's views on BSL (as a Rottweiler owner).
An important, and truly eye-opening, exercise is the Find The Pit Bull test from Pit Bulls On The Web. I encourage everyone to take this short test and then visit this site's BSL page. There are also quite a few great articles under "Related Links".
The dogs pictured in this post are friends and acquaintances of Savage, and with the exception of the Brittany Spaniel, all dogs that would be illegal to own under the new breed ban. In descending order, the puppies are Savage and Mason, Wally, Roger, Mason, Elvis, Jones, and Savage, Willy, and Mason again. And yes, we do love our rotties!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Bed Of His Own

Whenever Savvy and I need to rent a motel room I always get one with two double beds so he has his own to sleep on. I particularly like Days Inns because many don't charge extra for pets, and there is no weight limit on dogs.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Savage's hospital visit went well, and the doctor gave him a prescription for 20mg prednisone in case he got into any more hornet or bee situations. Her directions to me were to give him a dose of Benadryl as soon as he got stung and then the prednisone if symptoms presented themselves. So now we are well prepared. Also at the vet's office, he received his rabies booster, and seems to be doing fine; no vaccine reactions at all. The whole visit cost only $69.66.
I talked to his vet about getting him neutered soon, and she printed me out an estimate. The procedure itself will cost only $125.15 (I believe this figure is based on his weight), but the heart monitor, IVs, drugs, etc. altogether raise the price to $381.06! Which is a LOT of money for me to be spending at this time.
But it has to be done. Even though my puppy is the sweetest, mellowest boy with an excellent temperament, I've noticed him getting a little more of an "attitude" with other male dogs. Lately he's not as likely to back down when another dog growls at him, and even though this is completely normal, I don't ever want to see him involved in a full-blown dog fight. As far as neutering to curb roaming tendencies, Savvy has never strayed and still stays very close to wherever I am, so that's not an issue at all. Another clue that he's maturing is that just a month or so ago he began actually lifting his leg to pee, instead of squatting, especially when other male dogs are near. My little (!?) puppy is becoming an adult!
It's strange to feel this way about a dog, as opposed to a child, I guess, but I almost don't want him to grow up because it forces me to face the fact that someday I will lose him. Hopefully that's many, many years in the future, but whenever that happens will be too soon. Of course, I'm also very proud of him; all the things he's learned in the last year and a half, how well he's now responding to training (especially how attentive he's becoming), what a truly "good dog" he's growing into. He's really turning out to be an amazing boy. And the really cool thing is that he and I still have so many new experiences to go through together. It gives us both so much to look forward to.