I Chose a Child's Face Over My Dog
Jon Katz, author of A Good Dog, talks about aggression and the difficult choices faced by dog owners and shelters.
If you’ve ever tried to take a bone away from a typically placid, sweet dog, you may have found out the truth: All dogs can bite. It’s based in pure instinct—a natural, age-old response of protection and self-defense—but it’s unacceptable behavior to people. Most pet dogs learn that biting is a no-no in the human world, and good training can help a nippy dog figure out safer ways to relate to the people and pets he lives with.
But there are some dogs who never quite learn the rules.
Dogs who bite become the subjects of lawsuits, cause battles between neighbors, drive up insurance premiums, and sometimes turn individual victims and their families against dogs for life. A single bite by a dog of a reputedly dangerous breed—such as the pit bull—can carry an even deeper sting, driving legislation aimed at punishing the breed as a whole rather than curtailing the activities of the individual animal and his owner.
In the midst of all the arguments about whether to blame the breed or the deed, the dog or the owner, individual stories about the struggles of people and their pets get lost.