Like an untrained puppy led astray by a hopelessly lost owner, Paul Ruffins’ cover story (“Dog Days,” 11/23) was pulled in the wrong direction by the supporters of breed-specific legislation, such as the Washington Humane Society’s Michelle Otis. Had Ruffins taken the time to research the real cause of “dangerous dogs,” instead of regurgitating the same clichéd tripe spewed by the misguided advocates of breed-specific legislation, he might have stumbled on the truth that most responsible dog owners have long been aware of: No breed monopolizes aggressive behavior. Thus, any dog can be dangerous, not just “pit bulls.”
A dog’s temperament and behavior are shaped by how it is bred, socialized, and trained. The good news is that humansnot the dog’s lineagecontrol all three of these factors. The bad news is that humans frequently fail their canine companions by ignoring one or more of them. Unethical backyard breeders churn out unstable, unsocialized pups for financial gain; inhumane owners fail to train their dogs, or, even worse, they teach their dogs to be aggressive; and purveyors of dogfights promote and profit from animal cruelty.
If the District is serious about preventing the type of tragedy that happened to Hoss, it must shut down the backyard breeders, eliminate dogfighting, impose animal-cruelty laws, enforce leash laws, and create stiffer penalties for owners whose dogs attack people or animals unprovoked. Breed-specific legislation won’t bring the city any closer to addressing these fundamental issues.