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A teammate of mine and I were talking the other day about breed bans and how they relate to SAR dogs. The FEMA team canine coordinators and search team managers are aware that pit bulls and some other breeds are banned in various jurisdictions (particularly in hurricane-prone areas in Florida and along the Gulf coast). We've been told that a FEMA USAR certification will not allow us to circumvent any local breed bans. I have nothing against pit bulls (in fact I really like them a lot) but given the public attitude towards them and the breed bans, I'd never choose one for a USAR dog. It would be pretty darn disappointing to put a ton of time and effort into training a pitbull, only to be turned away during a deployment. Of course, in times of need, it seems to me any trained dog regardless of breed would be welcomed.

Anybody else have thoughts on this? For those of you doing wilderness SAR, have you run into similar issues?
 

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I can understand the reasoning, although I don't agree with the reason. Being in law enforcement we have the same problems. I had a pittie as a drug dog. The department wasn't happy at all and while they allowed the dog to remain working, they limited the assignment of the dog to rural counties. I also have a Rottie as a working drug dog. They aren't real sure about that either. they would not allow a Rottie as a patrol dog. Sometimes, even though it may not make sense, we do have to be concerned about perceptions. When you deal with the public and the administrators are politicians, they are, as you well know, very sensitive to perceptions. Doesn't make it right, but it is reality.

DFrost
 

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To be honest, I have not seen the issue come up.

I have seen a few Rotties but they did not have the drive. Not saying that is indicitave of the breed but it was of the ones I saw. They seem harder to *read* to me too. Like I said - you don' t see many of them so can't really generalize.

Have not seen anyone try to work a pit bull. There are plenty of dog aggressive GSDs out there. [I know a dog aggressive GSD is usally just snarky about its space and not typically a real fighter though]
 

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Pitbulls & Other banned breeds

We have 2 pitbulls that are currently training with us. The owners started when the pups were just 3 months old so they were socialized heavily and trained using positive reinforcement. They are not dog nor animal aggressive and have good hunt & play drives. They are training for air-scenting and the only problems we've encountered with them are crittering and bonding issues as they tend to leave their owners so they can play with the other dogs. I am aware of the breed's issues and the owners have been very careful not to encourage any behavior that would jeopardize their SAR training. Our group consist of 2 male rottweilers, 1 male gsd, 1 male labrador, and 2 female pitbulls. None are neutered.

Stabilty & obedience exercises


"Banned breeds" during night training




Here is a typical training hike. Our dogs are off-leash and also follow low-impact practices by walking singlefile. Some dogs prefer to stay behind their handlers while others prefer to be ahead. You can barely spot the rottweiler (male), followed by the brindled pitbull (female) and the german shepherd(male).


Regarding public perception, our pitbull owners opted not to have their dog's ears cropped so they have a "softer" look. People tend to be surprised when finding out but are more accepting of them after they have seen how well-behaved the dogs are.
 

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Carmela, the single file hiking is really nice to see. Most of the time dogs off leash hiking act like it's play time, certainly not the single file result you have. That's great.
 

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... the single file hiking is really nice to see. Most of the time dogs off leash hiking act like it's play time, certainly not the single file result you have. That's great.
Thank you Liz. Some of our handlers with very playful dogs do not off-leash them until they have walked some distance. This "settles" the dogs. It also helps that we have older, more experienced k9 trailwalkers who act as models for the pups. It could also be that our day hikes are usually 10 kms. so the dogs know better than to waste their energy. :lol:
 
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