The story of a pit bull dog being put down for attacking a child or another dog is sadly relatively common. These stories once riddled the news and helped cultivate an unfair reputation for pit bulls, characterizing them as being aggressive or even dangerous, when this is not the case. The main reason why dogs become aggressive is because of the way they are treated, not because they are predisposed to being violent. Animals should not suffer extreme consequences for being raised in poor environments. Instead of euthanizing an animal whose actions are based on what they are taught, we should implement a system similar to Child Protective Services (CPS). Such a program could rehome and rehabilitate dogs in order to prevent more animal lives from being senselessly lost.
It is not a stretch to say that dogs are born to love. In fact, pit bulls in particular are not usually inclined to harm humans or even other animals. In reality, the environment they’re raised in has the biggest impact on how their personalities develop. Sadly, some animals are not raised in an environment that allows them to gain the full range of interaction with humans and other animals in order to make them friendly. Even worse, if an animal is abused, it may be more likely to get aggressive. But a bad past should not mean that an animal must be executed for acting out. There are countless stories on the internet of abused pets being rehabilitated because animals are, at their core, loving creatures. Even animals who attack can be rehabilitated, avoiding the need for an unfair death.
As with all things, though, if we want to solve the problem, it should actively be prevented first and foremost. In order to keep dogs from feeling like they need to attack, dogs who appear aggressive should be reported to authorities, but not so that the animal can be locked away or put down. Instead, the living situation these animals are in should be evaluated, much like that done in CPS. There should be a specific group of people that can be dispatched to review the living situation of a dog that might seem at risk for attacks. Then, if the living situation is not up to par, then the dog can be removed from the home and fostered until the owners can improve conditions for their pets. Of course, enforcing such a system could prove difficult because even abusive owners are very attached to their pets and may not want them to leave their homes, but for the well-being of a dog in such a situation, removal is necessary and beneficial.
It could be argued that if one dog kills another, the punishment should fit the crime because the offending dog could attack or even kill again. But dogs are innocent creatures, and they are only acting on their survival instincts. Even dogs who have killed another dog could be rehabilitated if they are placed in an environment with no other dogs, children and only a few professionals who want to help restore the dog to its typical state of loving.
Dogs being unleashed and attacking others is not the problem. The problem is that innocent animals are being wrongfully punished for acting out on instinct after being raised in situations that did not allow them to become the loving animals they are meant to be. We need to enforce better animal care by removing animals from situations that may make them overly aggressive in order to prevent innocent animals from losing their lives.