The Mint Hill Board of Commissioners is currently looking into the possibility of adjusting its ordinances to help curb dog attacks in the town. This comes on the heels of a recent attack in Mint Hill in which a young boy was severely injured, and an attack in Waxhaw that killed a young girl.
Several supporters of animals, and particular pit bulls, spoke at Thursday’s meeting. Kathy Minter of Mint Hill gave a passionate speech about protecting the animals from unnecessarily strict laws.
“Keep in mind there are no bad dogs,” she told the board during the public comments time of the meeting. “There are only bad owners.”
She also told the board that if a resolution or bill gets passed that it should be for the benefit of the dog and that owners need to be held more responsible.
Also speaking at the meeting was Michael Davis, the President of the National American Pit Bull Terrier Association.
Davis lives in Charlotte.
The Mint Hill Times caught up with Davis later to ask him about pit bulls. Are they really “mean” dogs?
Q. You are the President of the National American Pit Bull Terrier Association. What do you love so much about pit bulls?
A. I found them to be the dog breed that I took to most. I found them to be a very misunderstood breed with a huge discrepancy between what I’ve experienced with them and how they are portrayed. They are a very loving, loyal breed of dog and want nothing more than to please. Unfortunately, people have used those traits for the wrong reasons.
Q. There have been several recent high profile pit bull attacks in the area. Are pit bulls more prone than other dogs to attack?
A. No, they are no more prone to attack than any other breed of dog. There are many other breeds of dogs that have incidents happen but they are not reported as sensationally. The ‘pit bull,’ because of their fighting history, was specifically bred to be Non-human aggressive since the owners had to be able to go and pick up their injured dogs and a dog is most likely to bite when scared or injured. Any human aggression in the breed has been put there by their owner either through poor breeding or lack or training and socialization. But that is true of any breed. Any dog of any breed not properly socialized or trained to behave in a way that adheres to the rules we place upon them has the potential to bite.
Q. Do pit bulls need any more special training than the average dog?
A. No, they are just like any other dog; every dog needs to have some form of training. Dogs do not come home like Lassie and Rin Tin Tin. You can’t expect it to come home and already know all the rules. Just like a child, from the day they are old enough to understand we start teaching them right from wrong. We praise them for the good and scold them for the bad. The same is required when you get a puppy. Think of them as a four legged child. They don’t know where to potty, not to nip, bite or bark. We have to teach them. We own/co-own titled dogs in Agility, Obedience, Rally Obedience, Dock Diving, Conformation, and Weight Pulling and a number of them are certified Therapy Dogs as well. This is a breed that is eager to please but most of all very smart and loyal. Obedience training by itself does not prevent the development of behavior problems. Socialization is key to any dog. A properly socialized/trained dog will learn to respond to people with confidence and not out of fear. We also need to train the dog owners. Teaching owners how to train their dogs and teaching children and parents proper behavior around dogs (whether their own or someone else’s) is important given the frequent contact with dog’s in our society.
Q. What would you recommend the Mint Hill Board of Commissioners do about people who own violent dogs? Should there be stricter laws?
A. First, enforce the laws you currently have. If that’s not working then look into Dangerous Animal Laws. Ordinances that don’t single out a breed but focus on the owner and actions of a specific dog’s behavior. It’s the responsibility of the owner to make sure that their dog /animal is trained, socialized and civilized when out in public places.