N.C. County Approves Background Checks for Pit Bull Adoption

Should potential owners of certain dog breeds be subject to background checks? The Animal Control Board in Cumberland County, N.C., met a few weeks ago over the issue and decided to limit pit bull adoption through background checking all who want to own the dogs. Presently, the shelter is full and holding several pit bulls, and its board wants to do better investigations to make sure the dogs end up in the right hands.

Many argue, however, that pit bulls – and their owners – shouldn’t be discriminated against, and that background checks, or other measures like muzzles or liability insurance, single out the breed and make it seem more dangerous than it actually is. But, no matter if you think the owners make the breed malicious or the dogs are inherently prone to attacking, they have the potential to, as writer Brian Anderson detailed in his piece for the City Journal in New York. Anderson describes his experience living in the Bronx, across the street from a park that was informally transformed into a training ground for pit bulls.

About the greater threat pit bulls pose, Katherine Houpt, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell, said:

“Different breeds have genetic predispositions to certain kinds of behavior, though that can be influenced by how they are raised. The pit bull is an innately aggressive breed, often owned by someone who wants an aggressive dog, so they’re going to encourage it.”

Yet, contrary but in the same line of thought, breeders do have a significant influence on the animals. Geneticist Zawistowski stated:

“Irresponsible breeders have let the dogs’ block against being aggressive to people disappear. They’ve created a kind of pit bull with what I call `undifferentiated aggression.’ “

Because the dogs pose such liabilities, should all owners and breeders be screened? Do you think this approach would cut down on pit bull-related injuries and deaths?