I’ve been thinking more about the New Yorker article about banning aggressive dog breeds that I blogged about yesterday. Gladwell concludes the article by listing the series of steps that government officials could have taken–or arguably should have–to prevent the one dog attack that he profiles.
But even if authorities were prepared to take such measures, it would not prevent many dog attacks. The main problem, I believe (and Gladwell says this to some extent), is people who think of themselves as bad-ass and who have dogs whom they view as extensions of this projected personality. Identifying such people and somehow preventing their dogs from hurting others would be a thorny, and probably impossible, sociological task.
To generalize, it seems to me that flagrant disregard for the well-being of others is an integral part of this tough-guy persona, and, as Gladwell mentions, such people often have a history of violence. Since we, as a society, don’t have a problem with limiting the rights and behaviors of convicted criminals (e.g., convicted felons can’t vote), then maybe it would be effective just to not allow people who have been covicted of violent crimes from dog ownership. But even that doesn’t seem like a very targeted means of avoiding dog attacks, which are actually a relatively uncommon problem. Just thinking out loud here.

Categories: Intellectual