Letter to the editor: All breeds of dog worthy of love

The recent Front Porch Forum postings about the dogs missing after the house fire in Middlebury have been a cause of sadness to me. First and foremost because we know now that all four dogs perished in the fire or shortly thereafter. My heart goes out to the family that has endured this loss. The loss of a home and the belongings in it is sad, but the loss of the love of your dogs is unspeakable.
The postings also made me reflect generally on our love of dogs. More specifically, it makes me think that this love is too often biased and I hope my words will open some hearts and minds. We were all overjoyed this past holiday season when Doug Anderson’s golden retriever was found after a cold and scary week on his own, and we were all brought closer together by the way the community pulled together to find Willie. I couldn’t be happier for Doug and Debby and Willie, and I was proud to be a part of the community that worked toward that happy ending.
I’m just sad because all dogs deserve to be championed like Willie. In contrast to the community outpouring of support in the search for him, pleas for help in finding these four dogs, Labrador/pit bull mixes, was met with silence. Well, not complete silence. There was an alarmist FPF post that encouraged people to take “precautions” with their children and livestock because these four dogs were on the loose. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the Labrador part of their heritage that inspired this scare-mongering, prejudiced post.
Breed bias and breed discrimination is as dangerous as any other kind of social stereotyping. There is no scientific basis on which to believe that pit bulls are any more dangerous than any other type of dog. The physical appearance of a dog has no basis in determining whether a dog is likely to harm someone.
With advances in science and our increased understanding of the relationship between appearance and behavior, we now know that a dog’s breed is a complex issue that does not neatly translate into predictive behavior patterns. Instead, breed-neutral factors such as whether a dog is well socialized, spayed or neutered, receiving veterinary care and other similar issues are significantly more predictive of the likelihood that a dog may be dangerous.
I hope these reflections inspire your readers to open their minds to all different breeds of dogs and to try to respond to them unconditionally, as all dogs, regardless of their genetics, strive to love us.
Jessica Danyow
Executive Director, Homeward Bound
Addison County’s Humane Society

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