Letter: Evaluating breeds

Editor: Regarding your recent editorial regarding Ladysmith’s dog breed bylaw, you’re on the money in calling for consistency. But your comments on breed traits need a closer look. The line between animals bred “to kill’ and those bred for other uses is a hazy one. A little research about dog breeds at the American Kennel Club’s online site AKC.org and Purina.com reveals that dogs from the ‘herding’ group, for example, were bred to defend their flocks from wolves and other predators. Something else every breed has in common is its essential DNA. Tests can determine an individual animal’s direct lineage from a known parent, but they cannot distinguish a Rottweiler from a Chihuahua (two more breeds bred originally for their willingness to attack other animals.) Genetically all dogs are indeed created equal. To achieve “consistency” on the basis of breed, should Ladysmith declare all of the above breeds inherently “dangerous”?   That would at least be more consistent than the present bylaw. Certainly our bylaw should be proactive—and it is. It states very clearly that an animal control officer can designate ANY dog as dangerous without waiting for it to maul someone, based on its demonstrated disposition.If we’re going to muzzle every dog with biting somewhere in its breed history, then “consistency” demands that we clamp them on most dogs in town—or at the very least on the breeds that actually lead in bite statistics. An easier way to be consistent is simply to do what the law (minus its breed language) already does: Let authorities identify and restrict those animals that really do present a danger, whatever their parentage.Chris and Beverley Wood Ladysmith