The 200th episode of the popular A&E reality TV series "Dog the Bounty Hunter" has caused an uproar in the pit bull community. In this episode, Dwayne "Dog" Chapman and his team encounter a pit bull at a home during a search for a fugitive. Some viewers are protesting what they see as an anti-pit bull rant from Dog. As someone fighting breed-specific legislation in Texas triggered mainly by one horrifically irresponsible owner, I see something else.
The episode was filmed in the Denver area, a world-famous hotbed of breed bans. If I lived in Colorado, no one would ever see or hear my dogs, and they would be venturing outdoors dressed as Standard Poodles because I would be terrified of losing them. I don't know if pit bulls are legal in the city where this episode was shot, but if they get banned there, now we know why.
Instead of exercising reasonable caution, the owners had a pit bull tied to a tire in an unfenced front yard, which even on a quiet day is a bad idea for any large dog, especially one targeted by bans.
When a bunch of cars and camera crews showed up, the prudent thing would have been to take the dog inside immediately. Instead, the dog dragged the tire effortlessly down the street and tried to bite Dog's crew, which from the animal's perspective is quite reasonable. The dog is thinking, "A bunch of people are running around yelling at my family and carrying strange objects! What the heck is happening?"
However, if your dog finds himself in an agitating situation, it is your responsibility to keep him safe and get him the heck out of there. Your dog's life depends on it.
Instead, when Dog and his crew returned to the house several times that day, the dog was still outside tied to the tire. The exception was when it was completely loose, with the whole neighborhood, including kids, outside on the streets watching the spectacle. The dog was extremely agitated, barking and snapping at the strangers, and although he seemed to be calm with his family, anyone could have sustained an accidental or misdirected bite.
In most cities in Texas, that dog would be declared dangerous even without biting anyone because: 1) It behaved in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to believe an attack was imminent. 2) It was not restrained or in an enclosure. 3) It was in the street. A dangerous dog declaration, unless you have an attorney and the means to comply with the restrictions, is a death sentence for the dog.
I wish Dog had made disparaging remarks about the owners rather than the dog. However, I have probably seen every episode, and while they encounter pit bulls all the time (some tethered, some not), I have never seen him say anything other than "watch out for the dog." This was the first episode I have seen in which a pit bull acted anything other than curious and alert, which is quite a testament for the breed considering that the dog is being filmed while a bunch of noisy strangers invade his territory.
Instead of directing our anger at Dwayne Chapman's heat-of-the-moment comments, let's hope that the owners have learned their lesson and now keep the dog properly confined. He didn't seem like a bad dog that deserves to die for trying to protect his family.