January 19, 2017 • 82 views
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Around 1.2 million dogs are killed every year. 40% of those dogs are pit bulls. But why are so many people afraid of certain dogs just because of their breed? The answer to that question will change depending on who you ask. Some people believe that certain types of dogs (such as pit bulls) are born violent and need to be put down for the safety of others. However, others believe that the personality traits and mannerisms of the dog depend on its upbringing.
This controversial topic has gone so far in Montreal that the city has banned anyone from adopting any pit bulls or “pit bull type” dogs after a woman was killed by one this past September. The new law began this October, banning anyone from acquiring a new pit bull or a breed similar to pit bulls. The law also states that if someone already owns a pit bull or a dog that looks like a pitbull, the owner must get a license, perform a criminal background check on the dog, and keep his or her dog muzzled on a mere four-foot leash at all times in public.
Olivia Corvelli (‘20) owns a dog named Lexi (whose breed is unknown) that her family adopted four years ago from a pound. The pound told Olivia’s family that they found the puppy roaming the streets in the Bronx. Lexi can be frightened easily and, on rare occasions, resort to growling or biting if she feels threatened.
“The pound said she was probably neglected or abused,” Corvelli said. “And in the pound she was with a bunch of pit bulls and she would get scared.”
Pit bulls have had a bad reputation for a long time because of their history with violence. In a 2015 study, pit bulls, American bulldogs, and rottweilers made up 97% of dog-bite related fatalities, according to dogsbite.org. Yet some of these dog breeds are very nice and gentle and are homed with families who have babies or children. Clearly these “violent” dog breeds are very controversial.
According to Corvelli, Lexi has been known to not be trusting of others. She is fiercely loyal to her family. When she believes that there may be danger, such as strangers in the house or a doorbell ringing, Lexi “goes crazy”.
“If a family member is in the house and someone she doesn’t know walks in, she goes crazy. But if no one is home and someone she doesn’t know comes in the house, she gets scared and hides in the attic,” Corvelli said.
Corvelli says that her defensive nature could be a result of how she grew up. Corvelli believes that if Lexi were treated differently in her youth, she would have different temperaments than those in which she possesses today.
“I think she is a sweet dog and she’s really just scared of everything so she acts really tough,” Corvelli said.
Lillie Daschil (‘20) is very familiar with Corvelli’s dog. Although she has known Lexi ever since the Corvellis adopted her, Lexi still hasn’t quite warmed up to Daschil, along with any other frequent guest at her home.
“When you enter the Corvelli household, Lexi makes it very apparent that she is there and she will fight you if you try to pull something sketchy. I think her goal is to intimidate and make sure that you’re not a predator,” Daschil said.
According to anyone who meets Lexi, she is not a mean dog. Many believe that she just had a troubled past that resulted in her being defensive and timid now.
“Lexi is a very intimidating dog, and although I believe that she truly is a kind soul, she definitely puts up walls to make it seem like she is scary so no one will hurt her,” Daschil said. “You can tell Lexi has been abused in the past. I think all of the trauma she experienced at a young age has really damaged her and shaped her into the defensive dog she is today.”
Even though she is not a pit bull, Lexi represents many dogs around the world who are discriminated against. She is the way she is today because of her upbringing, yet her family wouldn’t want her to be any other way. However, this may not be the case for many other dogs across the globe. This creates a very difficult question: Are certain dog breeds really born violent, or have they just gained a bad rep?