Judge the deed, not the breed
In Hawaii, military bases and some home insurers have policies that deter ownership of certain dog breeds. This fear, coupled with media hype, reinforces a popular urban myth that breed is a good indicator of a dog's likelihood to attack.
The Hawaiian Humane Society is opposed to breed bans because the facts show that dog bites represent a very small number statistically and should not be considered as a basis for such bans.
There are far more responsible and caring dog owners in the community than not. Humane society officers investigated 146 cases of dog bites in 2005 -- out of an estimated 210,000 dogs owned on Oahu and a human population of nearly 1 million.
How the animal was trained, level of socialization, perceived threats and a person's reaction to a dog's warning signs are much stronger indicators of whether a dog will bite.
Dogs most likely to bite are un-neutered males at the end of a chain, says Marty Hutchins, the Society's Animal Behavior Program coordinator.
Hutchins' program of positive-reinforcement training helps more than 500 animals improve their behavior and socialization prior to adoption.
"All dogs require responsible, attentive guardians who are capable of understanding and effectively managing their pets' behavior," says Hutchins. "And canine discrimination is an ineffective means to deal with irresponsible pet owners, because dangerous dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Restrictions placed on a specific breed fail to address the larger problems of abuse, aggression training and irresponsible dog ownership."
Join the Hawaiian Humane Society in encouraging others to look at each dog as an individual. An owner is by far the most important and influential figure in a dog's behavior. Taking a proactive role in a dog's life to properly train and tend to its needs can significantly shape the behavior of any canine companion.
THE TOP 3 THINGS EVERY DOG NEEDS:
Oahu has more than 40 dog-friendly parks and 121 beaches where dogs on leashes are allowed. For a guide, visit www.hawaiianhumane.org and touch the link Dog Parks & Beaches.
Off-leash fun can be found at four dog parks:
» McInerny Dog Park: Next to the Hawaiian Humane Society in Moiliili; open during shelter hours, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends and holidays.
» Bark Park: At Diamond Head Road and 18th Avenue, open during daylight hours daily. Visit www.barkpark-honolulu.org.
» Moanalua Dog Park: At Moanalua Community Park off Puuloa Road; open during daylight hours daily (except Tuesday mornings when it is closed for maintenance). Visit www.moanaluadogpark.org.
» Mililani Dog Park: at Mililani Mauka District Park at the Park & Ride, 95-1069 Ukuwai St.; open during daylight hours daily (except Wednesday mornings when it is closed for maintenance).
Training: Classes are a great way to socialize your dog at any age. Choose a trainer who uses positive-reinforcement techniques. Negative physical discipline can adversely affect your dog's attitude. A Hawaiian Humane Society brochure helps pet owners sniff out a good trainer. Leave your name and address on the voice mail at 356-2223 to request the brochure by mail, or pick one up at the society.
Affection: Dogs normally can't be happy tethered outside or restricted to a fenced yard. As pack animals, they enjoy being with their families, so being kept apart from their human "pack" can make a dog timid or anxious. Allow your pets inside the home with the rest of the family.
By showing your dog respect, you will gain its unconditional love for a lifetime.
COURTESY HAWAIIAN HUMANE SOCIETY
Tuxes & Tails is probably the only black-tie event in which canines greet guests during cocktail hour. At last year's event, a guest offered a treat to Maka Koa as the dog's owner, Patty Osaki, looked on.
Tickets are available for the Hawaiian Humane Society's annual Tuxes & Tails evening affair. "Come to the Catsbah" will capture the charm and cuisine of the Mediterranean on April 8 at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
Guests will be welcomed by special guest canines during cocktail hour, and can bid on exotic novelties and adventures in the Marketplace Bazaar. The evening will include a gourmet dinner, entertainment and silent and live auctions.
Tickets to this black-tie event are $250. Table sponsorships are available at $3,500, $5,000 and $10,000.
Proceeds will go toward protecting animals from abuse, placing homeless animals with families and teaching children about compassion for animals. The Hawaiian Humane Society receives no funding from national organizations or the State of Hawaii. Call 356-2225.