If you heard that one kind of dog was responsible for 92% of fatal attacks on humans, you would most certainly want that kind of dog banned. Even those who generally judge dogs as individuals will tend to err on the side of human safety when people’s lives are at stake. That’s the very reason that breed-specific legislation (or BSL) has become very common in many jurisdictions, where stereotypically vicious breeds of dog, such as the pit bull terrier, have been outlawed. With 4.7 million dog bites occurring in the United States every year, it’s time that we crack down on vicious dogs-but the solution isn’t going to be in banning dogs because of the shape of their heads. We need to start banning dogs because of what’s underneath their tails.
Banning the ownership of unaltered male dogs could save hundreds of lives every single year, and it would prove to be far more effective than legislation against specific breeds or mixes. Each year, of the people killed by dogs, a shocking 92% were butchered by males, 94% of whom were unneutered. Unneutered male dogs are much more aggressive toward both people and animals than neutered and female dogs, and it shows in the statistics of fatal dog bites. An unneutered male of even a “docile” breed, statistically, is much more likely to kill than a female dog of an “aggressive” breed, even if he is owned by a loving family.
As with breed-related stereotypes, there are other factors that come into play in these statistics. In general, responsible pet owners are much more likely to have their pets spayed and neutered. The same owners are more likely to focus on issues like training and socialization, and to know not to leave children or strangers unsupervised with their pets. On the other hand, irresponsible owners and people with poorly trained “guard dogs” and “outside dogs” tend to be less likely to have them neutered. It’s still clear, though, that an unneutered male dog is much more aggressive than an unsprayed female from the same environment. At least part of the problem is in the nature, and not the nurture, of unneutered male dogs.
Banning unneutered male dogs would not only prevent as many as nine out of ten human deaths caused by dogs, but it would also help to bring a stop to the epidemic of pet overpopulation, which is claiming the lives of nearly three million innocent cats and dogs every year. Laws mandating neutering of all male dogs, perhaps with the exception of a few licensed breeders whose facilities have been inspected, would cut down tremendously on pet overpopulation and wouldn’t be as difficult or expensive to enforce as laws mandating both spaying and neutering.
Advocates for banned breeds often proclaim that we blame the wrong end of the leash when it comes to legislation to reduce the number of aggressive animals. While that part certainly rings true, it’s time that we stop denying that it’s not just irresponsible ownership that leads to aggression: it’s also the presence of unaltered male genitals. If we’re going to get serious about ending dog-on-human violence, we need to start cracking down on people who own unneutered male dogs.