By JASLYN FELLOWS, Student Intern
Have you ever heard of “breed restrictions?” If you own a dog and rent property chances are you have. Breed restrictions prevent owners of “aggressive dog breeds” from renting a property due to safety and insurance issues. Depending on where you rent, different places will have different breeds on their breed restriction list. The most common breeds on the list tend to be: Pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Chow Chows, and German Shepherds.
Many consider dogs like the aforementioned to be aggressive mostly due to media accounts. In the past, you could see these breeds engaged in dogfights, serving as guard dogs or in the middle of a dog-bite controversy. Today guard dogs have been replaced by electronic security systems, dog fighting has been banned almost universally. That has resulted in a decline in dog bites by these breeds but the stereotypes still linger.
Dog breeds do not determine aggression
Cases of attacks by so-called aggressive dog breeds have been intensified through the media in stark contrast to say, attacks by Chihuahuas, and every incident has spread exponentially. Fear of the breeds has been spread far and wide.
I have news for those who are afraid, something you may have heard before. Dog breeds to not determine aggression. In fact, there aren’t any existing studies correlating dog breed to aggression. The individual aggressive dogs within these breeds are caused by bad owners, unique neurological problems or other medical issues.
Pit bulls and other stimatized dogs like Rottwiellers, German Shepherds, Chows, and Doberman Pinschers are not naturally born aggressive.
The belief that an entire breed of dog is aggressive is preposterous and infuriating to responsible dog owners of a maligned breed, causing problems for those who may be seeking a new residence when told by property owners and realtors their dog is aggressive. These restrictions have made it next to impossible to locate a new residence.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it.
Homeowners planning to rent their home and allow dogs should be open-minded to any breed of dog prospective renters might have. To determine aggression, the homeowner should personally conduct a meeting with the owner and dog or consult a dog expert trainer to inspect the dog’s behavior. Homeowners should also refuse to work with insurance companies that deem any breed of dog aggressive.
Future dog owners should not exclude dogs deemed aggressive from their options when choosing to acquire one unless personal problems prohibit them. They should instead judge any dog they consider over temperament, requirements, ability, etc. I also encourage future dog owners to go to reputable sources.
Those who are afraid of one of the aggressive breeds should socialize with a friendly dog of the breed, or work their way up to doing so.
Everyone else should socialize with friendly dogs of the specific breeds and educate themselves and others on the mistake of deeming an entire breed aggressive. You can even take part in the selection of ordinances and laws where you live and fight them legally.
My uncle has owned pure-bred pit bulls and a pit bull-mix that were never aggressive toward people. My cousin has a non-aggressive German Shepherd.
Being informed on the matter and being a dog lover, I personally do not believe in naturally aggressive dog breeds, and I encourage you accordingly.
Jaslyn Fellows is a student intern in the Compton Herald “Write Adventure Journalism Program” for grades 9-12. She is senior at City Honors College Preparatory Academy in Inglewood, Calif., where she has consistently earned recognition on the Academic Honor Roll and has maintained a 3.5 – 3.8 GPA from freshman through her senior year.