Surviving the loss of someone who is taken from us in a traumatic way is never easy. When that trauma is something we think could have been avoided, we wonder “What could we have done to avoid this?” Often, change in our society comes from one person’s trauma.
Mother’s Against Drunk Driving started from a group of women who lost people close to them to drunken drivers. They created a grassroots organization that changed the way our society deals with driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. In my opinion, it was a positive thing for everyone involved.
Due to owner negligence, there has been a rise in dog bites and some groups want to ban certain dogs. The ability to label a specific dog breed vicious has been fought in many communities and my hope is we don’t need to do that here.
Here is my take on this: Who decides what a vicious dog is? Will the decision be based on past behavior? Breed? Appearance? Size? Sound? Potential to do harm? The city of Killeen has an ordinance on the books now that when enforced should be sufficient. Bringing awareness to the current laws and working to spread the word about those would help.
Requiring owners to attend training by offering obedience training through the city could be a step in the right direction. Local dog trainers could offer discounted classes in exchange for space at community centers to teach other classes. It could be a win for both the city and the dog trainers.
When do we hold the owners accountable for their dogs?
Having been in the rescue world for a number of years and trained hundreds of dogs, I’ve been bitten quite a few times and none of those bites were from a “vicious” dog. None of those bites were from a bully breed. None were from a dog that I would find banned from any military installation.
In fact, my first bite that required an emergency room visit was from a Labrador retriever, the No. 1 family dog in the United States.
My goal for readers of this column is that you stay aware of the politics surrounding this issue. Cities determining the dogs we can have is the start of a slippery slope or rules and regulations that don’t keep us safe, but instead take our freedoms away. This hot button issue will not go slowly into oblivion.
Kathryn Leisinger is the “dean of wags” at School of Wags, a nonprofit dog rescue organization.