If I were Empress of the United States, what--if anything--would I do about the question of whether certain breeds should be eliminated as too dangerous? I do not know. I would want to see as much as possible about what the effects of various actions would, long-term, be for communities and dogs before making such a decision.
You can't escape the discussions of this topic if you spend much time in dog communities online. Some feel that no one needs such a dangerous breed. Some feel that if the breed (which by the way is NOT a "breed," but rather an amorphous group of dogs that is vaguely defined by people who don't know much about any of the dogs they include) were eliminated by breeding bans, those who misuse these dogs would pick another breed or breeds to misuse. Doubtless that is true.
Would it be Presa Canarios or the like? I'm thinking not. One appeal of the "pit bull" type dog is that they can be easy to handle. The people who want a dog to go after other people or who ignorantly choose one that will do so are not looking for a dog they would have to train or struggle to control on a day-to-day basis. "Pit bulls" are not that big and not inherently aggressive to humans. The injuries to humans seem to be more about prey drive gone awry than about aggression toward people.
Another statement constantly made is that it will be other breeds next. Maybe, maybe not. What would happen next is speculation.
The real problem is that communities don't want to spend the money to enforce the dog laws already on the books. A prime example is something that happened today in my area. A three year old boy was in his back yard, apparently alone, and stuck his arm through the chain link fence alongside his yard, through the hole where a slat was missing from the stockade fence on the neighbor's side, and three or four (I'm not sure which number) of the neighbor's ten "pit bulls" tore up the child's arm so badly it had to be amputated.
The owner was not sure whether the dogs' rabies vaccinations were up to date or not, and he cooperated in having them put to sleep. It is legal to keep no more than four dogs where he lives, so now he has to get rid of some more, too.
The fence situation between my house and the house next door is exactly the same, except there are currently no dogs on the other side of that yard's tattered wood fence, and my dogs are let out to potty inside a third fence that is several feet back from all the property line fences. They're only out in the whole yard when one of us is with them. I've had scary dreams about what dogs might move next door in the future. I'm not afraid of dogs hurting me and I don't have children, but I don't want my dogs to get hurt, and dogs, not humans, are the main target of "pit bulls."
I feel that everyone should be entitled to have a companion animal of some kind, but not everyone can handle some of the more potentially dangerous dogs. The facilities you have for your dogs are definitely a factor. Complying with the law is a factor, and this fellow had far more than the legal limit of dogs, probably more than he could afford to keep vaccinated. At any rate, he didn't do so, which is also illegal.
The child wasn't being watched, either, but was in his own fenced backyard with two fences between him and the dogs. Most people would probably consider that adequate, if they don't realize how easily a motivated dog can go OVER a fence. In this case a curious, active child stuck his arm where it didn't belong, and the dogs weren't biting a "person," but what to them was more of a disembodied arm.
We have to hold dog owners accountable because no one else can go in and control a dog if the owner doesn't do it. In terms of accountability, why didn't any of the neighbors report that the man had ten dogs? People who want ten dogs need to move to locations that legally allow that number. Dog owners don't want to hear that. But it's true just the same.
Does outlawing "pit bulls" prevent something like this from happening again? No. One thing that will likely happen to that dog owner now is the loss of homeowners insurance to cover liability for the actions of his dogs. I don't think owning too many dogs or not having them vaccinated is sufficient for him to have to worry about jail, but he'll be on the hook for 100% of the child's expenses at the very least. That could be a huge figure, because it's a permanent disability. But if he had had only the legal number of dogs, four, and all had been vaccinated, would it have prevented the injury? In this case, probably not. Sticking his arm in through the fence at even one dog could have cost the child an arm.
For the sake of the dogs and the humans, I'd like to see a set-up such as mine become a lot more common. My dogs exit the back door into a fenced area that is well back from the property line fences. No one can reach them and they can't reach anyone who is outside the yard. It literally provides a wide margin of safety.
By contrast, many housing divisions these days don't allow homeowners to have any fence at all. That is madness. I hope some huge lawsuits put a stop to such covenants. Perhaps it won't be lawsuits, but rather changes in local laws when the need for fences around dog yards is more recognized.
The wrong dog is the problem much of the time. A strong dog with strong drives is the wrong dog for a casual owner not interested in putting forth a great deal of effort to train and manage a serious dog. There are plenty of mild dogs that fit these situations well, if people would stop choosing dogs based on frivolous things such as looks or what the guy up the street has or some romantic notion of engaging in an activity they never actually follow through on. It's too easy to get a dog. People do it impulsively, and their neighbors bear the consequences.
Getting a dog from a shelter or rescue versus a breeder is no help at all in winding up with a dog you will be able to handle. It may be a detriment if the dog has undetected problems, or it may be pretty much the same either way, if you don't go to a responsible and knowledgeable breeder. Responsible dog ownership starts with choosing a dog you will be able to handle.
If we want to keep our freedoms with dogs, we need to do a better job of keeping up our end of the responsibilities. We need to insist that communities enforce the laws on the books before they pass more restrictive laws they aren't going to uniformly enforce either. We need to find ways of holding people accountable at an earlier point of irresponsible dog ownership, before someone gets hurt. One thing that needs to happen is citizens stepping up to report violations such as numbers of dogs that exceed the legal limits, dogs running loose in violation of local laws, and children being left in dangerous situations. It is just as dangerous to leave a preschool-aged child alone with a dog as to leave the child alone in a car. Parents need to know that.
This was a tragedy spawned by ignorance. Neither party thought such a thing could happen to them. And yet again, responsible dog owners and their dogs are at risk of paying this price for this ignorance. I bought a house in the first place so I could have the animals I wanted. I don't want ten, or even five. There might be a time I would want four, if one or two are very old and/or sick. I hope the laws don't become more restrictive because of people not obeying the laws already in place and failure of the community to enforce those laws. It's too easy to pass laws. And it only hurts those who sincerely try to obey them. The people breaking the current laws can just as easily violate the new ones, too.