Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pitt Bulls

Yesterday morning I came up the driveway to find a black Pitt Bull trotting around my front yard. He looked quite young and still had the gangly look of an older puppy but he was clearly an intact male. The slightly glazed over look to his eye and his purposeful way of sniffing the ground as he trotted along told me that he was a virile young dog on the hunt for a girlfriend. I was concerned that one of my cats (who thinks that all dogs are friendly) might be outside and so quickly tried to assess his temperament before getting out of my truck to catch him. I rolled down the window and cooed to him, "What are yooou doing, sweeet little puppy booo!" His ear laid flat against his head and his tail scooted under as he lobbed his way over to my truck door. I tentatively reached out a fisted hand towards his nose and he immediately scooted his bum closer, licking madly away at my fingers. I had only planned on opening the door a few inches but he wedged his head inside smiled up at me, panting madly away. I patted my lap and he nimbly jumped up and over to the passenger seat. His manner was that of a sweet, goofy pup, thirsty and a little scared at where he had found himself.

I drove up the drive and managed to get him into the kennel without event. I breathed a sigh of relief that my cat was safe and that this sweet pup was off the street. I went in the house to phone animal control and came back out to find him relaxing in the shade. He no longer looked distressed and was eager for attention when I went in to give him some love. Animal control arrived to pick him up and I had the opportunity to talk to the friendly and no-nonsense lady that has run the local shelter here for the past 10 years. I had spoken with her many times in the past, when picking up my licences and had even rescued a dog from her facility. We had a very interesting conversation about the Pitt Bull breed and of her experiences with them and the other various breeds of dogs she has picked up over the years.

My town's Animal Control has only ever had 3 Pitties come in that were vicious towards people but had many other unsuspecting breeds that were dangerous. Almost all the Pitties were extremely friendly and loving dogs that went on to make excellent pets. She did say that this breed was developed over hundreds of years to fight other dogs and that a lot Pitties are dog aggressive. This is inherent in the breed. Other breeds were developed to be aggressive towards people and were selectively bred to be protective of person and property. In her opinion, no one breed is a problem, and most certainly not Pitt Bulls. The problem lies in the lack of responsibility of dog owners, the "cool" factor of owning fighting breeds among the young adult population and the fact that any large and strong breed dog is effectively a loaded weapon with no safety. Most dogs, big and small do bite in their lifetime. Personally I have only been been bitten by a large dog once before but have been bitten countless times by so called "ankle bitters". The problem is that larger dogs can not afford to bite even one time in their entire lifetime. What do you think would happen if ever Chihuahua that ever bit was put down? The breed would be extinct!

This morning I was headed out to the barn and caught a radio program that discussed current events and new issues. They were discussing a Pitt Bull attack that had happened last week and the governments discussion of putting a Pitt Bull breed ban in place as other provinces on the East Coast have already. The call back responses were varied, some heavily for and others against, each able to provide statistics to back their positions. The hosts were also able to give some stats that I found interesting. In our province the number one breed for bites reported in a year was by Golden Retrievers! Pitt Bulls didn't even make the Top 5 list. In Ontario a Pitt Bull ban was put in place in 2005 and there has been a 40% increase in the number of reported dog bites. The argument was that while Pitt Bills might not be as likely to bite as other breeds, the damage that they inflict when they do so is far more severe. I am sure that we have all heard any number of arguments for or against, some rooted in fiction, others in fact. The bottom line remains that Pitt Bull "attacks" continue to make the news.

Here is my two bits. Banning Pitt Bulls will do nothing to solve the problem. Ever heard of a Dogo Argentino? A Tosa? Presa Canaro? These dogs make Pitt Bulls look like poodles. How about a Shar Pei (wrinkle dog)? Or a Boxer? Both were developed as a "fighting breed". Did you know that Rottweilers were developed as herding dogs? Any dog with a bite big enough can kill. There are too many breeds to list, let alone ban. Criminals do not live by the rules of the law, as demonstrated in Canada's failed Gun Registry program. Responsible dog ownership is the answer. If you have a dog at large, make the owners hurt where it counts with heavy fines. If a dog bites a person, make their owners pay, big time! If they don't have the $$, have their property seized or jail time served. Make owning viscous dogs a liability! Lay criminal charges against people that fail to contain or guard the public against their animals. Impose REPERCUSSIONS that make people think, act, socialize and train their dogs!

My DB and I owned two Rhodesian Ridgbacks (a hunting breed) that would absolutely bite anyone that posed a threat to their family. They lived to be eleven years old and never once had the opportunity to unwarrantably bite a person and were contained, well socialized and friendly in public places. They were a massive responsibility and required an extremely diligent owner, as does every dog with "stopping ability" (the physical ability to bite or stop a human.) There are clubs all over the country for people with protection trained dogs that rarely, if ever pose a threat to the community because their owners are responsible and their dogs are trained. Personally, I would not buy a Pitt Bull or any other breed that was bred for fighting. I appreciate dogs that were selectively bred for trainability, athleticism and temperament. There you have it, my two bits!


  1. This is a hot topic for me because of my employment, where I live AND for my dogs. This may be a little lengthy, but I like reading your blog and like to comment when I actually think I have something to say (lol). Here goes.

    Employment: I work for lawyers and my one boss actually went before the Ohio Supreme Court to argue this case for one of our clients. He owned a pit bull that had bitten someone that had entered his property without permission. He was guarding his territory. He was hooked up. He was up to date on shots. He had no prior bite record. He was seized by the dog warden and thankfully hadn't been put down yet by the time our client got downtown to retrieve him. He owned more than one pit bull. Which brings us to point#2.

    Where I live. I live in a larger city, with lots of crime, where the head of the Dog Warden's office DESPISES pit bulls. If your dog has .5% pit bull and 95.5% poodle, it will be labeled a pit bull and will be taken and destroyed before you even get a court date. Back to my work. We have had countless number of people who call in distraught because the warden came without any warning and "seized" their dog because it LOOKED like a pitbull and was running loose IN their fenced in back yard and was destroyed by the time they were able to get to downtown to claim the dog. That is how ridiculous it has gotten. The case that went to the supreme court was interesting because the warden deemed the dog viscious and that was the issue of the case. The client brought the dog along with his other ones in to our office, where it knew no one, and the dogs just kept rolling over and laying down, being submissive. I think there is no way these dogs were viscious. This brings me to my #3. Ohio Law states no more than one viscious dog is allowed to be owned and if the viscious dog has puppies, they are to be weaned and sold or "gotten rid of" by age 6 months. Who's to say what a viscious dog is? The dog warden. And they say pit bull.

    #3 My dogs. I own two small/medium herding dogs and a mastiff akita mix that weights over 150 lbs. Mastiff's aren't known to be horribly viscious, but akita's are well known for it too. My father in law had one that he had to hold by the collar when we were there or lock him in a room, and we would tear apart the room to try to get out to get to us. Scared the bajesus out of me. but who am I to tell him he cannot have it. To tell you how gentle my girl can be though, my 4 year old tries to ride her like a horse and she lets him with a smile on her face. She also lays on the ground while he pours dirt on her so that she'll stand up and create a "sand storm" only to lay back down and let him do it all over again. Now, that's how she CAN be. But believe you me, if someone isn't introduced properly to her upon entering HER property, she will become a viscious dog. We have to properly introduce people to her in order for them to be allowed onto the property and be accepted by her. This wasn't the case when we first got her, but since people and kids walking through the alley like to tease and torment her by putting hot dogs on the other side of the fence where she can't get it and like to throw things (sticks and rocks) at them over the fence, she has gotten very aggressive with outsiders. On the other hand, when we take her to the vet, she is not aggressive at all with other people and dogs. She's not protecting her family and home.

    This whole issue irritates me and I believe all dogs are innocent until human intervention leads them one way or another and all their behavior is caused by humans and their good or ill will.

    Ok, sorry about the long comment (and my spelling I'm sure), but that is my $200 worth :) I think it's great you did not prejudge that pit bull and call the animal control whining that there's a rabid dog on the loose as most people would do.

  2. Ezra- that you for your comments! I think you made some good points. People often think that my dog (a purbred Australian Cattle Dog) has Pitt Bull in him. In fact the breed did have some bull terrier bred into their mix of herding dog, dingo and dalmation to add size and strength. I love dogs and hate the way that small dog owners think that it is okey for their small dogs to bite and freak out when they see your larger dog coming near. Thanks for reading!and I always like to hear back from people.

  3. You are right! Dogs are not the problem, people are the problem. If we all took resposibility for our actions or lack there of, a lot of problems would cease to exsist. I have a pitt mix that I rescued from the pound. He has his issues, but we know what they are and compensate for them. He has never offered to bite and I guarentee that if he ever does, we will deal with it accordingly. I like the "protection" his look provides, but will not tollerate unwaranted aggression from him. I also have a papered border collie, that I actually worry about more around strangers than my pitt mix. I know they tend to be nippers, yet no one else looks at her as a threat, just him. She is small and cute, he is not.
    I also have to jump on the small dog band wagon...a bite is a bite! And yapping is annoying! Both of my dogs know what no barking means...wheather someone elses dog is barking at them or not, if told to close it, they do!
    Great blog!

  4. Nikki,
    Yes we used to have a border collie/chow mix. Talk about people being scared. She was tentative about people, but she was one of the best dogs ever.

    Adventures, I was going to mention about the dingo being part of some herding dogs' backgrounds. We have a blue heeler and a catahoula leopard, I believe both have dingo mixed in. And I also agreed with your point about Rottweilers. They weren't originally for being junk yard dogs or watch dogs. Way more bites from the little snippy ankle biters. We've had people come in to our office for little dogs bites like from chihuaha's too. Pitt bulls just get way more press. They say it's because of their jaw strength when they bite. But they compared it to other dogs and even smaller dogs and there's no real argument that theirs is worse than any other dogs. And I'm SO glad in the Michael Vick case that they didn't destroy all of those dogs and actually tried to rehab some. I would say about 98% of the time if a Pitt bull shows agression, they will destroy it rather than even attempt to rehab it.

    Great blog :)

  5. Nikki and Ezra- I totally agree. Everyone is scared of my ACD and he is only running at you to see if you have a ball for him! He jumps in the pizza guys truck. lol

    Thanks! Love to hear back from everyone.

  6. I like how you think girl, its refreshing to see such logic.

    If everyone went through a thought process like that when deciding on matters, society either up north or in the states wouldn't be so messed up.

    Its always been my opinion that we cannot protect people from themselves. We cannot stop people from being stupid via the law.

    Forcing retarded laws on people and depriving them of what could be a beautiful relationship with a dog is not going to solve the problem and as always its a slippery slope - what's next? No German Sheppards? No Rotties, No Mutts with the following mixes? It's just silly.

    We have a rottie and a book I have said they started as heading dogs then in Germany they banned horses from the public street because they were destroying them - so they bred this massive front-end on the dogs so they could pull carts as they were the only breed big enough to do so. People rode around in carts powered by rotties! Must have been something to see.

    Since then the breeding has been re-directed toward military and police use, and unofficially there were lots that "improved" that military breeding to breed a fight dog. I have been around tons of rotties and its obvious to me which ones come from fighting lines and which ones come from military or service dog lines.

  7. Case in point, I just now got a call where the dog warden killed the pitt bull while someone on the other line had just told her it was off the kill list. The dog warden told her, "it's history." How great is that? She was told the dog would be killed before a judge would even have time to hear her case.

  8. I agree with your thoughts about pit bulls. My husband and I own 2 female boxers. I am sure that if anyone was trying to hurt us they wouldn't get very far because the dogs would tear them up. But, they are a loving breed just like the pits. It is a shame what people do to make certain breeds of dogs reputations so bad. Back yard breeding is not regulated AT ALL. There are a lot of pits around my part of Kentucky that are bred with their mothers and sisters and that is when you get into lots of trouble. There has to be a better way to do it.

  9. I admit it--I am prejudice against pits. They scare me! As a mother of four, I was always worried the neighbors pits were going to some day end up in our yard and attack my children. I can believe that there might have been more Golden bites, but I bet the Goldens did not cause the mauling that pits are known to do. Sorry, I probably should not have chimed in. I'm sure you're right--I just wanted to admit that I am one of "those" people. ;)