Is breeding a dog to fight animal cruelty?

My son has been bit by a dog twice. And Musiani’s border collie was attacked by a pit bull in front of his Calgary home. Pit bulls, he tells me, aren’t a specific breed but a series of breeds selected for fighting tenacity and mandible strength.

Sometimes it’s easy to bond over shared pain.

I’m speaking with Marco Musiani, a canine scientist at the University of Calgary.

My son has been bit by a dog twice. And Musiani’s border collie was attacked by a pit bull in front of his Calgary home. Pit bulls, he tells me, aren’t a specific breed but a series of breeds selected for fighting tenacity and mandible strength. “If you want to have dog fights, buy aggressive dogs,” he says matter-of-factly.

Which brings us to this week’s animal turn of events. A dog was thrice Tasered this week by police as it attacked its arguing owners.

There are approximately 110,000 dogs in our city, and our bite rate is low, just 145. It’s down from 2,000 bites in 1985. The city fines owners every time, and pursues known aggressive dogs and owners. Eight dogs were put down last year.

Musiani won’t say whether there should be a ban on certain types of dogs. But he lays out some facts. Dogs are bred for certain traits. His border collie, for instance, was bred to obey commands. But others are bred to attack at any sign of aggression.

Some argue there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. Musiani nods. “I agree there are no bad dogs, but bad people who selected these aggressive dogs. Dogs are the victims.”

Animal cruelty begins with this artificial selection process.

The problem for us humans, and for our police, is that certain breeds of dogs are hard-wired to fight — and fight hard.

In my son’s case, both owners of the dogs vigorously defended them. One was a dog from the United States brought up through animal rescue; the other had been taken in by our former nanny because it bit her grandkids too many times! Like some parents, some dog owners aren’t rational.

We need to decide if breeding to fight is animal cruelty. If so, a ban on certain breeds makes sense to quell the market for these animals.

 
 
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