Military bans so-called aggressive breeds of dogs - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

FRIDAY, September 25, 2009

Military bans so-called aggressive breeds of dogs

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The most decorated canine war hero in U.S. history was a pit bull, but now the military has banned them from Marine Corps bases, along with other so-called aggressive breeds of dogs.

The move is not sitting well with some pet owners, since it's their dogs being booted from military housing. But there is a chance some of the dogs could stay.

For Marines on base who already own a pit bull, Rottweiler or wolf hybrid, their canine will be put to the test to verify they are not a threat. It's a policy that has many dog owners anxious they may have to give up their pets, and animal rights activists angry that this may do more harm than good.

Marine Caleb Hearn and his wife Amy recently moved to Marine Corps base housing from Texas, brining with them their "baby" - eight-month-old Titan, a pit bull mix. But Titan may find himself booted off base if he does not pass a special canine temperament test overseen by the American Kennel Club.

"If he passes, he can stay. If not, he has to go," Amy said.

Last month the U.S. Marine Corps enacted a new rule banning pit bulls, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids from Marine Corps bases for safety reasons.

"Obviously a dog who is aggressive to other dogs or to people won't be able to pass it," former Marine and certified canine educator Liz Palika said.

Palika, who works for Kindred Spirits Dog Training, is offering her services at a discounted rate to Marines and their families who want to keep their pets, helping train potentially banned pooches in everything from sitting politely for petting to walking on a loose leash to pass the AKC's Canine Good Citizen Test.

The Marine Corps' new rule has its critics. Animal rights activists are concerned this new ban will mean more abandoned dogs that have nowhere to go, which they say could pose an even greater danger.

"We don't want to see them ending up in shelters or ending up in rescues," Palika said.

Local animal protection non-profits like Pit Bull Rescue San Diego are working to help find housing for Marines who choose to live off-base with their pets.

Marines have until Oct. 11 to obtain the waiver to keep their dogs with them on base.

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