Bias against dog breed is the pits

July 24, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

Yeah, we had a dog once, but my dad had to shoot it.

Was it mad?

Well, he wasn't too happy about it.

That line, from a play whose name I've long since forgotten, has taken on new meaning, since now Hagerstown is having a go at the pit bulls. At least for the moment, that takes the pressure off of cruisers, taverns, landlords and homeless as the City of Hagerstown's crisis du jour.

Outlaw pit bulls and pit bull relations and all our problems will be solved.

This in response to the epidemic of a pit bull bite that occurred in 2002 and a concern that drug dealers are employing the dogs to guard their stash.

I don't have strong feelings on this one way or another, but you have to wonder about legislation that would make criminals out of Fred Astaire, General Patton, John Steinbeck, Woodrow Wilson, Helen Keller, Budweiser and the Little Rascals. Who knew that Fred Astaire must have had a stash?


Seems to me, if you're going to ban a breed of dog, do us all a favor and ban poodles. For that matter, ban any type of dog that requires a custom haircut - or at very least pass an ordinance requiring their owners to have their eyelids glued open and make them watch 219 straight hours of the stinkin' Westminster Dog Show.

If I want a dog, I want a dog, not some dustmop whose genes are so crossed up they get cholera every time they get a whiff of a Milk Bone.

Memo to Westminster: Crossed eyes are not a good thing. Neither is that smashed in the face with a frying pan look, sour or snotty personalities, hair by Twisted Sister or the pompous little high-step trot around the ring (And that's just the owners; don't even get me started on the dogs).

I can understand the police chief's concerns, though. When I lived downtown, I couldn't understand why so many people in their crack-house apartments had pit bulls. I thought "Isn't that sweet, even drug dealers, deep down, have a soft spot in their hearts for animals."

If I had thought about it more, I probably would have wondered why I never saw a drug dealer (alleged) with an Irish setter.

But if pit bulls are outlawed, what's to say the drug dealers won't just switch to another aggressive breed, like Dobermans, Rottweilers or the Dixie Chicks?

What would stop them from moving on to an entirely new species altogether, like cobras, or maybe a moose?

There are other problems, too. For one, right along with target practice and forensics, officers are now going to have to take courses in canine genetics.

You can't bust a dog down for being only part pit, can you? "But officer, this isn't a pit bull, it's a wit bull; they're like pit bulls, only funnier."

What if you can prove the pit bull's great-great-grand dam was Lassie?

The city's pit bull proposal did, however, deeply divide the newsroom and touched off a serious debate centering on the question:

Is the Target Department Store dog a pit bull? To settle the matter, I called Target, and seeing as how there was no "If you want to know the breed of the Target dog, press 3" voice mail option, I stayed on the line until a woman named Karen answered.

Unfortunately, Karen turned out to be the absolutely most courteous, friendly and professional customer service representative on the face of the earth. It took her about 20 seconds to check and find out that the Target dog is in fact a bull terrier named "Spot."

Nothing like a proficient customer service rep to ruin a humor columnist's day. "If we have an ad with a picture of a dog, lots of people will call in asking what breed it is," she added, helpfully.

"Yeah..." I grumbled, crestfallen that my merry pranksterism had been so unceremoniously floored through the fiendish simplicity of competence, "...Well - lots of people are idiots."

And I hung up.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. You can reach him by phone at 301-733-5131, extension 2324, by fax at 301-714-0245 or by e-mail at

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