On the way to the park yesterday, we drove past a woman walking her Pit bull down the street. I actually did a double take as the traffic slowed for a red light. The dog was wearing a muzzle and I wanted to be sure that it wasn't just a face harness; and sure enough it was not, it was a full on muzzle. You don't see dogs wearing muzzles very often and it got me to pondering. I was impressed, very impressed that this woman was responsible to this degree. Not only was her dog on a leash but she took the next step and had her dog wear a muzzle. Obviously the dog is not friendly; I have no idea if it is just a dog issue or perhaps it is not people friendly either. But nonetheless she was not taking any chances.
My mind wandered to the other end of the spectrum as far as safety. The people who meander into dog parks and beaches with their dog; knowing full well that they are not friendly. One of the dogs that I was shooting for a magazine was attacked by one of these as we were about to leave a beach on day. As the scuffle finally ended and we were heading out; the same dog turned around and made a b-line to attack another unsuspecting dog. They are out there and sadly these dogs live with very bad dog owners.
It is a dismal thing when a dog is aggressive. Aggression can stem from many other behaviors, fear, dominance, guarding etc. etc. But the aggression is the problem, not where it comes from. There are different levels of aggression; everything from just hating others and trying to keep them away to full on wanting to kill other dogs. Dogs who growl and snap are common; it can be the dog itself or leash aggression. But what I'm talking about are the dog who will inflict damage on another dog or human.
Life is a day to day unfolding of events; many of which we have no control over. So if you have a very aggressive dog who will grab any dog within grabbing range; then a muzzle is a great thing. Yes, dogs are suppose to be on leash and yes any dog off leash should be under control but come on. We all know that people who have unruly dogs let them off leash. Those people who say "no he won't come," as you yell at them to leash their dog. It happens far too frequently.
There will be many people who see this woman with her dog and be angry. But when you look at it and assess the entire spectrum of what she has done they may change their mind. She could have been out walking her dog without any regard for others. Knowing full well that her dog will bite if given the chance and ignored the safety of people and dogs around. But instead she muzzled her dog for the safety of others. First off, the muzzle let's people know loud and clear. She does not need to say "MY DOG IS NOT FRIENDLY," to anyone. She is hopefully trying to rehabilitate the dog to some degree. She is not making the problem worse by locking her dog away. She is thinking of other's safety by putting that muzzle on her dog. The muzzle that the dog was wearing looked to be a very well fitted one as well.
I know too many people who have very aggressive dogs who will inflict serious damage to another dog who let their dog off leash. They know what their dog will do and yet they are so careless. Many people with dogs like this become angry people; some get a "my dog deserves," attitude. But I'm sorry, if your dog will hurt another dog or human for that matter; they can never be off leash, bottom line. No, they cannot. Not in the back forty, not down a hopefully secluded path or a quiet forest, never. If your backyard is entirely escape proof then yes but that's it. If you have a dog like this then get a very well fitted muzzle. Be sure when you walk your dog that there is no risk of, simply letting go of the leash. When you know your dog is dangerous; you cannot be willy nilly about it. You must take great precautions so that your dog does not hurt someone.
If you do not take extraordinary precautions then it is your dog who will lose out. A dog can only attack so many dogs or bite people so many times before their life is ended. Maybe considering the alternative will shake some sense into these people who are careless about their dangerous dogs. Yes, your dog has a right to enjoy life; but enjoying means creating a safety net for others out enjoying. Like this woman who had her dog completely under control and safely muzzled.
I have no tolerance for stupid people and in the end it is the dogs; who will pay for their human's stupidity.