Yellow Ribbon colleges in Texas
One of the memes making the rounds on Facebook urges dog owners of shy or skittish dogs to tie a yellow ribbon onto the dog’s leash. The idea is to alert other people that the dog is afraid, so they will give it space. But that isn’t the effect it’s having in many parts of the U.S.
American juries (urged on by plaintiff’s attorneys) are using the yellow ribbon the same way they’ve been using the “Beware of Dog” signs for years: as an admission that the dog owner knows he has a dangerous dog. And your dog could pay with its life if it’s labelled as a “known dangerous dog”. The dog doesn’t even have to bite anyone. In Texas and a number of other states, it’s legal to shoot a dog if someone is “reasonably” afraid of it.
People already use laws like that as an excuse to shoot some breeds on sight — but a police officer in one Texas town shot a Lhasa Apso when serving a warrant for unpaid traffic tickets at a house that had a “Beware of dog” sign on the fence. He heard a dog barking, and simply shot towards the sound of the bark since the owner had labelled their own dog as dangerous by posting the “Beware of dog” sign.
The DogKnobit blog recently carried a post on this subject that perfectly sums up my thoughts. “On one hand, I think we presume too much ‘dog savviness’ on the part of the public. I’ve been a dog fancier for thirty years, but if I’d never seen this poster on Facebook, wouldn’t have known the significance of a yellow ribbon on a dog leash. Because I am a dog fancier, however, I also know there are better ways to deal with the situations listed on this poster than using a ribbon to ask for ‘space.’
“Responsible dog owners have control over the environment to which their dogs are exposed, as well as the degree of ‘saturation’ in that setting. If a dog has health issues that require minimal contact with other dogs, should the dog even be in such an environment? And is it me, but if a dog doesn’t do well with other dogs, should he even be around them until he’s become trustworthy in a controlled setting? And finally, isn’t it just plain common sense and courtesy to keep one’s dog from getting in another dog’s face?”
I love my dogs, and I love taking them places. Three of my four dogs are friendly, get along well with other dogs, and adore children. The one that doesn’t is the smallest and cutest of the bunch. No one seeing her would assume she could bite. She’s so adorable that children (and adults) feel the need to rush towards her to “cuddle”. A stranger rushing toward her scares her, and she instantly stiffens and begins to growl low in her throat, but that doesn’t deter some of the would-be cuddlers. (Idiots. If a dog growls, back off, no matter how little and cute the dog is.) So, while I adore Suchi, she doesn’t accompany us to public events.
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