TRUST Kim Aranha to talk some sense.
There has been a lot of talk in recent times about pit bulls – a lot of it sounding very much like a kneejerk reaction.
The discussion has come about after a very real, and truly severe incident. A woman in Grand Bahama was left hospitalised after being attacked by pit bulls – with two of the dogs euthanised after the incident.
That prompted FNM MP Adrian White to call for a ban on breeding and ownership of pit bulls to be considered. Even he did not sound convinced. He said: “I know it’s not an incident where every dog is a problem, but there are dog owners that continuously are not taking the proper precautions to secure their animals.”
He did point up a disparity in the law – where importation of the breed is banned but not the breeding here in The Bahamas, and that is a fair concern to highlight.
Mr White found support across the political divide in Keith Bell, the Labour and Immigration Minister, who warned that crossbreeding with potcakes is making our traditional Potcake more dangerous.
He said: “When you look around at the dogs now, at the Potcakes, you notice their feet are huge, that means they’re mixed. So when you have some of these attacks, it isn’t from the traditional Potcake any more.”
He offered no further proof beyond big feet, but he appeared to share the concerns.
The point that Mr White nearly makes is that the problem is more the dog owners than the dogs themselves – and that’s where the good sense of Ms Aranha comes in.
In today’s Tribune, she says that dog owners who fail to train or restrain their pit bulls properly should be heavily fined – rather than banning the dogs themselves.
She spoke after another attack – this time a potcake being attacked by a pit bull that escaped its leash.
The owner of the dog, a 13-year-old potcake that had its stomach torn open in the attack, described it as looking “straight out of a horror movie”.
But as Ms Aranha said, “the wrong people are handling these dogs, and they’re actually encouraging them to be aggressive. And so, if you have dogs that are being encouraged to be aggressive by being tied up, by not being fed regularly, perhaps being teased or taunted, sometimes they’re even being beaten, it makes the dog aggressive.
“An awful lot of the people who own pit bulls want them to be aggressive, so they’re sort of creating a monster, and they’re being totally irresponsible with keeping that monster behind a fence.”
The truth is, that with owners like these, any dogs can be made to be aggressive – and banning pit bulls will just see attacks carried out by other breeds instead.
Keeping a dog is one of life’s great pleasures – but it is also a responsibility. Those irresponsible owners whose animals are not controlled and end up attacking another animal or a person are the ones who should be held accountable.
We shouldn’t be banning the dog – we should be banning some of these owners from being able to keep them. If they can’t be responsible, they should not be trusted with any animal.
Ms Aranha encourages “huge enormous fines”, and she is right. Put enough of a disincentive on the owner and they might think twice about the way they raise their pets – and in making sure those animals do not get the opportunity to attack anyone.
So thank you for the wisdom, Ms Aranha – we hope that people will listen to you.