Animal Control Officers: Don’t Judge Breeds, Judge Owners

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Meet Rocco – a one-year-old pup who enjoys car rides, treats, and most of all, people.

“He has a great personality. He loves to give hugs, he loves other dogs, he loves kids. He’s just a great big goofball,” said Frankie Dennison, executive director of the Humane Society of Harrison County.

Arguably one of the most enthusiastic residents of the Humane Society of Harrison County, Rocco is known as a “Pit Mix,” a notorious classification that is considered to be aggressive.

“Rottweilers, even Huskies, are considered to be an aggressive breed. There really is no reason for it,” said Dennison.

“The dog, Petey, from Little Rascals is a pit bull. He’s the sweetest, nicest dog. They were nursemaid dogs back in the ’40s and ’50s,” said Elizabeth Keough, director of Harrison County Animal Control.

“A dog becomes what its owners trains it to be. So really, we should never be judging the animals, we should be judging the owners,” said Dennison.

But that sentiment isn’t shared everywhere, most recently proven in Canada. Last week, Montreal City Council voted to ban pit bulls in the city. The proposal *would have made it illegal to own and keep the three different types or crossbreeds of those dogs that share that share their physical characteristics.  

“When a dog is considered a brindle, they automatically assume it has pit bull in it, and that is not true,” said Dennison.

“A lot of times, people get Plott hounds confused with pit bulls because they both kind of have a little square head,” said Keough.

A judge has temporarily suspended the ban, but Montreal’s mayor vowed to appeal that decision, saying that the city will always put citizens’ safety first. Enforcing the proper safety protocols also resonates with local animal control officers, dealing with the dogs that are aggressive.

“Generally, we can tell, as we approach the dog, what kind of temperament they have. We use safety precautions like catch poles or ‘Snappy Snares,’ which are just tricks of our trade. Or, a lot of times, we use big giant dog traps,” said Keough.

And those tools can be used on just about any breed, according to Keough.

“The only time I’ve only been bit by a dog was an 10-pound Pomeranian that attacked me,” said Keough. “Pit bulls are one of my favorite breeds, but it is how they are raised.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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