Pit Bulls ‘R’ Us

The bad reputation pit bull have has more to do with nurture than nature.

The bad reputation pit bull have has more to do with nurture than nature.

lauren hertzler

Someone once told me nice people come in all colors. The same holds true that nice dogs come in all breeds.

A recent pit bull attack occurred June 10 when Kelly, a pit bull mix, attacked a carriage horse in Old City. Kelly was being housed at the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society at Second and Arch streets and escaped her leash while going for a walk with a PAWS volunteer. The incident made headlines, but while news organizations emphasized the pit bull being wrong, it was Kelly’s past environment that affected her reaction.

Kelly was brought to PAWS in April, after she was thrown out of a moving vehicle on Kelly Drive. During the June 10 incident, the horse startled Kelly, whose previously rough life did not prepare her for such circumstances and prompted her to react in such a dangerous manner.

In the two weeks following the attack, two pit bulls were viciously killed. First, a pit bull puppy was found hanged by its own leash at Barrett Recreation Center at Eighth Street and Duncannon Avenue. A week later, a pit bull mix was found lying in a puddle of its own blood after being tied to a fence and shot in the head.

Regardless of whether the killings are related to the pit bull attack, they represent a generalized ignorance toward pit bulls.

Abused and neglected humans can grow to become out-of-line, and so can pit bulls. A pit bull’s appearance is enough to incite fear with its heavy jaw, broad shoulders, deep rib cage and athletic back legs. The American Temperament Testing Society, however, reports that pit bulls are no more vicious than golden retrievers, beagles or other popular breeds.

Pit bulls that are treated properly can grow to become loving, affectionate companions like Sarge, the companion pit bull of Kim Wolf, a primary pit bull advocate in Philadelphia.

“Sarge is a certified therapy dog with Pals for Life,” Wolf said. “He interacts regularly with people, ranging in age from 3 years to 103 years.”
Even rescued pit bulls adapt and develop in a good environment when given the chance. Daniel Featherston, a visiting assistant professor in Temple’s English department and an animal welfare advocate, said he loves his 3-year-old rescued pit bull, Mazzy. Pennsylvania SPCA Humane Law Enforcement officers found Mazzy in an abandoned house in South Philadelphia. She was starving and had a severe case of mange, causing her body to lose its fur and become covered with scabs.

After she quickly regained her health, she became “the belle of the walk,” Featherston said, with her charming and social personality. Featherston said he and his wife, Rachel, looked to adopt Mazzy not only as an opportunity to save an otherwise unwanted life – and free up a kennel space for the next unwanted dog – but also as an “opportunity to reeducate people about pit bull-type dogs.”

Too often people confuse poorly bred and abused pit bulls that come from “backyard breeders” with the true friendly, trustworthy and gentle breed.
Pit bulls are often popular in communities with little access to proper treatment and care. The main issues include spay/neuter services, pet training and irresponsible owners. Visit an animal shelter in Philadelphia, and you will likely find the majority of dogs are pit bulls or pit bull mixes.

Last July, Animal People News reported that more than 50 percent of euthanized dogs are pit bulls. Once pit bulls are finally placed in shelters, many do not want them because of the profile or bad reputation associated with the breed. This underlines the focus of Best Friends Animal Society, an agency that challenges breed discrimination and works to restore the image of pit bulls.

For more than 25 years, pit bulls have been one of the most misunderstood and abused breeds in our society. But the bottom line is: The irresponsible owners should be punished – not the breed as a whole.

Lauren Hertzler can be reached at lauren.hertzler@temple.edu.

23 Comments

  1. More of the “misunderstood” pit bulls.

    If a person wants a dog, get a breed that will not kill you.

    2010 USA DOG-RELATED FATALITIES

    22. AUG. 22, 2010–AGE: 69-PIT BULLS (2).
    Jerry Yates, Mountain Ranch, CA.
    21. AUG 19, 2010–AGE: 46-PIT BULLS (pack).
    Tracey Payne, Macon, GA.
    20. July 22, 2010–AGE: 2-PIT BULLS (3).
    Jacob Brisbee, Concord, Contra Costa County, CA.
    19. July 20, 2010–AGE: 71-PIT BULLS (2).
    William Parker, Memphis, TN.
    18. July 12, 2010—-AGE: 5- shepherd/wolf hybrid or Lab. mix (?).
    Kyle Holland, Lincoln Park, Michigan.
    17. June 16, 2010–AGE: 30-PIT BULL/Boxer Mix (3) Rott.Mix (1), Bullmastiff Mix (5).
    Michael Winters, Henrietta Township, OH.
    16. June 3, 2010–AGE: 33-Rottweiler.
    Eddie Lin, Oceanside, CA.
    15. June 3, 2010–AGE: 9-PIT BULL.
    Savannah Gragg, Kokomo, Ind.
    14. May 28, 10–AGE: 2-PIT BULL.
    Nathan Aguirre, San Bernardino, CA.
    13. May 20, 2010–AGE: 3- Sled Dog.
    Krystal Brink, Napaskiak, AK.
    12. April 14, 2010–AGE: 7 Days-PIT BULL.
    Thomas Carter Jr., New Port Richey, Florida.
    11. March 08, 2010–AGE: 9 Months-Rottweiler (2).
    Justin Lopez, Perkins, Oklahoma.
    10. March 04, 2010–AGE: 65-PIT BULL.
    Ethel Horton, Lee County, SC.
    9. February 28, 2010–AGE: 4-Rottweiler.
    Ashlynn Anderson, Astoria, Oregon.
    8. February 18, 2010–AGE: 10 Days-PIT BULL (attacked at 5 days old).
    Javari Garret (sp?), Conyers, GA.
    7. February 20, 2010–AGE: 3-American Bulldog.
    Violet Haaker, Ocala, FL.
    6. February 19, 2010–AGE: 37-PIT BULLS (6).
    Christine Staab, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
    5. February 18, 2010–AGE: 11 Days-Siberian husky.
    Robert Hocker, Independence, MN.
    4. February 12, 2010–AGE: 6-PIT BULL.
    Anastasia Bingham, Terry, MS.
    3. February 07, 2010–AGE: 63-Rottweiler mix.
    Carolyn Baker, Cleveland Heights, OH.
    2. January 17, 2010–AGE: 56-PIT BULLS (4-6).
    Johnny Wilson, Chicago, IL.
    1. January 09, 2010–AGE: 3-PIT BULL.
    Omar Martinez, Apple Valley, CA.

  2. “Too often people confuse poorly bred and abused pit bulls that come from “backyard breeders” with the true friendly, trustworthy and gentle breed.”

    ——————

    Let’s say this were the truth (and it isn’t) – are you trying to suggest that the dogs that wind up in shelters are the “friendly, trustworthy, and gentle” ones of good breeding? Not hardly, lady. And how about the fight-bust dogs being adopted out by groups like Best Friends – do you think those dogs are of impeccable lineage? You couldn’t find worse breeding, so if bad breeding makes for dangerous pits then what the hell are we allowing these groups to adopt these dogs out for?

    I do Labrador and Border Collie (and mixes thereof) rescue and I’ve seen a lot of horrifically abused dogs of both breeds. I can assure you that not a single one has ever, or would ever, attack a horse. Normal dogs run FROM large animals that frighten them, not TO them. And yet that dog is still up for adoption, the irresponsibility is sickening.

    The rest of the rescue community needs to look at the pit bull situation and start complaining loudly. This garbage is tainting every other breed and every other rescuer. Urgh.

  3. After reading the above coments I have a few arguments, OBVIOUSLY niehter of these ppl that posted know much about pits. I happen to own a very well tempered playful male pit and have been around the breed for the last 10years. While mutt posts nothing but the killings done by the animal they fail to rememeber one thing yes they have killed but when you have several hundred pounds of pressure in your bite and the ability to lock the jaws the results are almost always the same destruction of bone and the shreading of flesh, blood loss is almost always the deciding factor in the victims death.An as Libby points out yes the response of most animals is to run away from a larger animal but there is a problem with that line of thought. Pits in general were bred for a single purpose to hunt down larger animals such as wild boar and bear, also where do you think the comcept of a ring in a bulls nose came from?? DUH! its there so that a pit-BULL has a spot to grab in order to bring the LARGER animal down without harming it. Really it disturbs me how the media has alway put a spin on the pit issue that always fails to bring up the crucial facts about the breed its self and that is that these brave and powerful animals were designed as hunting/work animals, not as killers that is a trait the HUMANS focus on an even in some cases promote.

  4. The death toll caused by pit bulls far out numbers any other breed. All the fatalities didn’t involve any other dogs, they were totally Human Aggressive attacks. The latest victim is the only one documented as dying from blood loss, most of the others died from crushing bites and two from heart attacks as a result of being attacked.

    Pits started out as family pets, then were bred for bull baiting (a practice of attacking bulls to get the blood into the meat before slaughter). From there they were cross bred for fighting in pits, thus the term Pit Bull. The genetics of the breed isn’t even close to the original breed as far as temperament is concerned.

    Now due to backyard breeding and dog fighting, pits have crossed the threshold of just being animal aggressive to being Human Aggressive.

    The ring in the nose of a bull is a way control and to lead the animal not for the use of pit bulls to bring it down. Try Google “rings in bulls noses”.

    PS. Well said Libby.

  5. Thank you Lauren for a wonderful article! I have been a licenced vet tech for 20years and have had the opportunity to handle a great many dogs in widely varied circumstances. I love all the animals that I meet in my professional life,and i love each breed of dog for their own character and strengths,but if i HAD to pick a dog to snuggle with me and my kids…yep..it would be a pit bull. Shayna Rodriguez,LVT

  6. I had a black lab who I adopted when I was in college. He was dog-aggressive and disliked children. Not as big a problem as it sounds: when you have an aggressive dog, just keep him away from potentially difficult situations.

    My current dog is a pit bull who was rescued by the PSPCA humane officers from neglect. She’s a certified therapy dog who is friendly to everyone and she makes weekly visits to a nursing home. She runs away if other dogs act aggressively. As I type this, she and my cat are curled up together, sleeping.

  7. Pit Bulls that attack only do so when trained to attack by humans. Please stop blaming a human issue on the breed. When will people start to realize the problem is the humans who are dog fighters and abusers… not the Pit Bulls. Just like every other species, Pitties, like all living things, are born with a clean slate and they learn by those that raise them. You teach them to love, and they will love.

  8. To Mutt: Those “statistics” citing breeds are entirely subjective — no organization (not even the CDC) tracks bite statistics by breed. The report of breed is usually made by the bite victim, or the police, who identify a breed based on visual observations, which are usually wrong. Can you identify the pit bull on the first try? http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/findpit.html

    To Ryan: If you’ve owned a pit bull and have been around the breed for the past ten years, then why are you spouting breed myths, like those of the locking jaws? Pit bulls do not (nor do any other breed) have locking jaws. No studies have ever been conducted to measure their bite pressure. Please read all the myths on this site: http://www.pitbulllovers.com/american-pit-bull-terrier-myths.html

  9. “And how about the fight-bust dogs being adopted out by groups like Best Friends – do you think those dogs are of impeccable lineage? You couldn’t find worse breeding, so if bad breeding makes for dangerous pits then what the hell are we allowing these groups to adopt these dogs out for?”

    @Libby: So you’re obviously deeply involved in the breeding of fighting dogs, no? Exactly what characteristics are they supposedly bred for that make you say that you couldn’t find worse breeding? And how do you define “worse breeding”? How many of the Vick dogs have you recently spent time with that makes you qualified to judge? To the best of my knowledge, actual information on where the dogs came from isn’t exactly public knowledge.

    I’ve also lived and worked with rescued Labs. And I’ve had a few of them try to chase my horses. Fortunately, they were on leash. I still loved them, they just weren’t allowed to be around horses. That’s fine.

    To the others of you, please cite the sources your statistic on Pit Bull related fatalities instead of just making the claim that more fatalities are related to Pit Bulls (I’m assuming you mean more proportional fatalities, because if you don’t, you’re claims hold no water). If you’re citing statistics provided by the media (and did you know that even CDC studies are based on media reports?), prepare to be asked to back those up with actual evidence. Media bias and misidentification play a key role in these “statistics”. Retractions and corrections are hardly ever widely circulated, for example. That list in the first comment? Where did it come from, because it doesn’t match other data reports for 2010 dog bite fatalities.

    @Ryan: Pit Bulls do not have locking jaws. No breed does. Pit Bulls do not exert more pounds of pressure while biting than other larges breeds of dog, and have been shown to exert less on average than German Shepherds, for example. These are facts. They’re difficult to argue with.

  10. The worst thing about pit bulls? They somehow prompt ignorant people who have no experience with the breed to spout a whole mess of ridiculous “statistics.” They think it’s okay to scream and curse at me and my dog. Today, a lady yelled at me for going around here (into the street) while running with my dog. (WTF?) My girl doesn’t have the drive or ability to fly off of the leash and run backward and go after this strange woman. She didn’t even look that tasty. Anyway, the jaws don’t lock. There isn’t something in their nature to make them “turn” at any time. There are many other breeds that have higher instances of bites resulting in hospitalization. I’ve worked with all kinds of dogs for over 20 years. The worst bite I ever had put me in the hospital for 3 days. It was a miniature poodle. Did I have “pit bull” bites? Yes, but they were never intended for me, they were A. me not knowing how to react to natural dog behavior or B. me trying to get another person from doing the same. Honestly, I don’t know if I should be afraid of the dog sleeping behind me, because I am not arrogant enough to even know if she is a pit bull. There is a lack of clarity here, in the fact that many say there is no such thing, and it’s just an umbrella term for a certain look, not a definite breed. Regardless, people who judge like this about a breed? It’s just a different manifestation of the ignorant mentality from which racism emanates. So- all we can do is prove them wrong, rise above, etc. And show the people who will learn and listen that judging a dog by its looks is as blatantly stupid and dangerous as judging a person in the same way. It’s their loss. And I love Sarge and Mazzy!!! Their gentle natures and sweetly silly dispositions are two of the best examples of what really are typical personalities of these types of dogs. And if I had a muzzle? It would be for a different kind of mutt altogether. At least mine knows when to shut its yap.

  11. @Jennie: The list that I posted is from attacks published by multiple news medias. Google any of the names and you’ll be supplied with the articles about the attacks. My “2010 USA DOG-RELATED FATALITIES” is a ongoing list the “I” compiled from news and TV accounts of deaths caused by “all” breeds. I do agree (that as we all know),news medias publish the facts they receive and sometime this information isn’t totally correct. If you look at my list you’ll see that I’ve included all the victims names, I’m not aware of any of the other keepers of statistic doing so (I have done limited research). The main reason that I keep track of the fatalities is so people are aware that dogs are killing innocent people and that something needs to be done to prevent future attacks. And yes I am bias against pit bulls because one tried to kill me and left me with permanent damage to my body. Pit bulls account for the majority of deaths caused by dogs.
    It’s hard to keep the list updated because I am not a documentable keeper of statistics, I don’t pretend to be, but I do my best. Here are two more that I hadn’t updated to my list.

    Update of fatalities.
    2010 USA DOG-RELATED FATALITIES

    24. August 25, 2010–Age: 7- PIT BULLS (3), mixed breed (1).
    Jason Walter, Verna, Ill.
    23. AUG. 25, 2010–AGE: 4-Boxer
    Taylor Becker, Hustisford, Wis.

    22. AUG. 22, 2010–AGE: 69-PIT BULLS (2).
    Jerry Yates, Mountain Ranch, CA.
    21. AUG 19, 2010–AGE: 46-PIT BULLS (pack).
    Tracey Payne, Macon, GA.
    20. July 22, 2010–AGE: 2-PIT BULLS (3).
    Jacob Brisbee, Concord, Contra Costa County, CA.
    19. July 20, 2010–AGE: 71-PIT BULLS (2).
    William Parker, Memphis, TN.
    18. July 12, 2010—-AGE: 5- shepherd/wolf hybrid or Lab. mix (?).
    Kyle Holland, Lincoln Park, Michigan.
    17. June 16, 2010–AGE: 30-PIT BULL/Boxer Mix (3) Rott.Mix (1), Bullmastiff Mix (5).
    Michael Winters, Henrietta Township, OH.
    16. June 3, 2010–AGE: 33-Rottweiler.
    Eddie Lin, Oceanside, CA.
    15. June 3, 2010–AGE: 9-PIT BULL.
    Savannah Gragg, Kokomo, Ind.
    14. May 28, 10–AGE: 2-PIT BULL.
    Nathan Aguirre, San Bernardino, CA.
    13. May 20, 2010–AGE: 3- Sled Dog.
    Krystal Brink, Napaskiak, AK.
    12. April 14, 2010–AGE: 7 Days-PIT BULL.
    Thomas Carter Jr., New Port Richey, Florida.
    11. March 08, 2010–AGE: 9 Months-Rottweiler (2).
    Justin Lopez, Perkins, Oklahoma.
    10. March 04, 2010–AGE: 65-PIT BULL.
    Ethel Horton, Lee County, SC.
    9. February 28, 2010–AGE: 4-Rottweiler.
    Ashlynn Anderson, Astoria, Oregon.
    8. February 18, 2010–AGE: 10 Days-PIT BULL (attacked at 5 days old).
    Javari Garret (sp?), Conyers, GA.
    7. February 20, 2010–AGE: 3-American Bulldog.
    Violet Haaker, Ocala, FL.
    6. February 19, 2010–AGE: 37-PIT BULLS (6).
    Christine Staab, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
    5. February 18, 2010–AGE: 11 Days-Siberian husky.
    Robert Hocker, Independence, MN.
    4. February 12, 2010–AGE: 6-PIT BULL.
    Anastasia Bingham, Terry, MS.
    3. February 07, 2010–AGE: 63-Rottweiler mix.
    Carolyn Baker, Cleveland Heights, OH.
    2. January 17, 2010–AGE: 56-PIT BULLS (4-6).
    Johnny Wilson, Chicago, IL.
    1. January 09, 2010–AGE: 3-PIT BULL.
    Omar Martinez, Apple Valley, CA.

  12. I have a pitbull that is almost 3 years old. She is the sweetest dog ever. I also have a rat terrier and a kitten. My pitbull loves the kitten and is very gentle, but our rat terrior we have to keep away from the kitten untile it gets bigger. People Pitbulls are how you raise them. Anyone can come in our house and she greets everyone. Also she loves other dogs.

  13. Thanks for covering this issue! I’ve worked and volunteered with animal rescue groups for 10 years and what I’ve learned is that pit bull type dogs (of which there is no set standard) are just dogs. They are all individuals.

    Sadly the hysteria and misinformation about bully breeds just makes people who want them for the wrong reason covet them more thus putting more dogs in substandard situations.

    I highly recommend The Pit Bull Placebo by Karen Delise for anyone who is interested in the history of breed scapegoating and media coverage. This is not a new phenomenon — from blood hounds to dobermans to german shepherds to “pit bulls.”

    In my mind, the tragedy behind all the hysteria and misinformation is two-fold: it leads to further abuse and neglect of these types of dogs because people want them as something other than family dogs and it discourages great potential adopters from adopting bully breeds because they are fearful of the stereotypes. Luckily, the tide is turning and their are so many great people adopting bully breeds… many of whom are chiming in above.

  14. Here is one more fatality that wasn’t included in my list.

    August 02, 2010–AGE: 2-German shepherd mix
    Aaron Carlson, San Diego, Ca.

  15. First off, animal rescues don’t deny that pit bulls do sometimes attack, nor do they deny that many pit bulls who have behavioural issues are surrendered to shelters. However, the “statistics” posted in the first comment are misleading for two reasons. First, one point that the article emphasizes is that pit bulls who do develop aggression towards humans usually do so because they have been abused, neglected, or trained to be intimidating and aggressive. A pit bull who is raised by a responsible guardian is no more likely than any other dog to become aggressive. No one says it can’t happen, but these “statistics” wouldn’t exist if people would stop breeding and purchasing pit bulls to fight other dogs, guard their property, act as a deterrent in a rough neighbourhood, or make their “owners” look more “macho.” On that note, the first poster missed the point of the article entirely. Second, pit bull attacks are much more likely to be reported to authorities and made into a large story by local and national media. You can’t base your judgement solely on reported incidents.

    As for Libby’s assertion that pit bulls who show up in shelters aren’t the friendly ones rescuers push in front of cameras, nobody said that they all started out that way. Many of them, like Mazzy, were neglected, and like other neglected dogs, serious neglect doesn’t always result in aggression. Furthermore, those that do arrive at shelters with a series of behavioural issues aren’t necessarily lost causes. That’s also the point of the article. They can be rehabilitated, just as other dogs who’ve been raised and abused as guard dogs or fight dogs can be rehabilitated. “Good breeding” (which, frankly, doesn’t exist) has nothing to do with it.

    I’d also like to point out that the article makes the point that while the media (and the public) is ravenously hungry for the next report of a pit bull attack, pit bulls are also likely to suffer physical abuse or death at the hands of cruel humans. I don’t care what any of you say: No pit bull is as dangerous as the tens of thousands of sick and twisted people who, every year, get away with inflicting the most unimaginable pain and suffering on these and other animals.

    Finally, I’d also like to say that looking to what pit bulls were (and often still are by a sick few) bred for is misleading. How many other breeds of dogs are out there who were bred to carry out equally gruesome and aggressive acts on behalf of humans? Elk hounds, wolf hounds, and bear hounds are a few that come to mind, yet they have now become suitable family companions. Others have less obvious breed names: Chow chows, great danes, and mastiffs. These dogs have no less power than a pit bull, and many had been bred for the purposes of taking down large animals or attacking intruders for hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of years longer than pit bulls have been, making them no less likely by default of lineage to attack than a pit bull is. Furthermore, consider the breeds that, in the past, have encountered the same negative press as pit bulls: German shephers, dobermans, and rottweilers. All of these have, through the dedicated efforts of rescuers and those with an open mind and rational approach, managed to escape their undeserved reputations to become some of the most loved family dogs of our day and age.

  16. Mutt, since you’re fond of statistics, you probably already know most serious dog attacks are by unneutered males.

  17. @mutt: First, I’m sorry to hear about your attack. I know from experience it can be terrifying and leave long lasting damage.

    So you’ve compiled a list of reports from the media, who you admit often don’t have all the facts and are biased? And you claim that because the media says it is so, that it is? Would it interest you to know that criminological media studies show the media reports far more attacks on white people by people of color? Do you now live in fear and want to ban people of color? Or do you feel upset and offended that such a media bias exists and that’s its not justified?

    The media often gets it wrong. They often do not report dog breed in attacks involving dogs not identified as Pit Bulls. They often do not report AT ALL on dog attacks involving dogs not identified as Pit Bulls, or at least do not pick up stories. By the way, you’re not the only person compiling these reports. At the end of the year a complete list, including circumstances, will be released by many sources.

    Even if your media reports are 100% accurate (which given that the media does a poor job reporting, they are probably not) that doesn’t take into effect that correlation does not equal causation, meaning that just because two variables are related doesn’t mean one causes the other. So, pretending your “statistics” are accurate, the difference in attacks by dogs identified as Pit Bulls could be linked to population (more Pit Bulls in general = a higher number of bites by them, although not a higher percentage of bites). Or the vilification of Pit Bulls, supposedly making them a hot commodity for people who chain them out and don’t supervise them, could be a third variable. Indeed if you actually look at substantiated evidence from 2009 dog fatalities, you’ll see that two things, unnuetered male dogs and chaining are more prevalent than any breed. You can see them here: http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/2010/01/2009-dog-bite-fatalities-final-report.html. I’ll also point out that these are media compiled as well and the same criticisms applied to yours apply to mine.

    I’m very, very sorry you were injured by a dog attack. I’m very sorry that dog was identified as a Pit Bull. Pit Bulls are not saints, they do bite and cause injuries. However, so do all dog breeds. Larger dog breeds cause a lot of damage. The only way for no one to be attacked and killed by a dog is to eliminate all domestic dogs. Your experience was bad, but it’s not an acceptable reason for you to take our your fear and anger on thousands of dogs who have never hurt anyone and probably never will. Your logic makes no sense. How many dog fatalities are acceptable from a breed of dog then, before you target them? One, two, 10? How will you tell the family of a child mauled by a Great Dane or a Husky that you don’t think their child was important enough for all dogs to incur your wrath.

    I’m not asking you to own or adopt a Pit Bull if you’re afraid. I’m not asking you to interact with one. You have the right not to. I’m not asking you to let your kids play with one, or your dogs. You don’t have to do any of those things. Maybe it would be good for you to meet a dog like Sarge, who is gentle, docile, sweet and amazing. But no one is forcing you to. All we’re asking is that you get your facts straight.

  18. @Jennie Thank you for your condolences on my attack. The dog that attacked me was a Staffordshire which falls under the general category of pit bull (even I have mixed feelings about categorizing breeds). The dog was neutered, unlicensed, unvaccinated, owned by negligent idiots (who replaced it with another neutered, alleged pure pit that also had to be put down because of subsequent attempted attacks on others). All the variables you stated do play into attacks and fatalities. And, yes, owners are part of the equation. I’m in total agreement with you that the media doesn’t always get the facts correct, they reported that I was fighting the dog off with a 2X4, there wasn’t one even there. I do realize that the media isn’t accurate because they don’t have all the final facts when they break a story. They also use sensationalizing language to sell papers. As time moves on the rest of the story comes to light (and sometimes those facts are wrong).

    As far as lists goes, I see that you are using KC DOG BLOG (pro-pit bull) as a reference list. I also check his list, as well as;

    Dogsbite (anti pit bull),

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_killed_by_dogs_in_the_United_States,

    Harrisonburg Animal Control (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=246937753049&id=133549255268&ref=mf),

    http://www.dogexpert.com/FatalDogAttack/Fataldogattackhome.html, and others.

    All these sites that track dog attacks/fatalities include their own slants to their lists, I capitalize pit bulls in my list. I like the wikipedia one because they supply links. Even their list (as well as others) don’t cover all the facts eg: Violet Haaker’s name, who was killed on February 20, 2010, by her mothers prize bull dog (all sites list her as Jane Doe).

    The list that I’ve compiled has nothing to do with attacks, just fatalities of “all” breeds of dogs. There is no way to even come close to tracking attacks. Though I can’t be sure, most fatalities are well publicize through the media, and easier to track. Although my list only covers the date of the fatality, victims name, age, alleged breed(s), and city/state, I believe that it is fairly accurate based on all the information available. This list is my own personal list that is not affiliated with any of the other lists. The reason that I post this list is so people have a condensed version of fatalities with the hope it will prevent future horrific deaths caused by dogs by creating awareness.

    Better animals laws such as; preventing convicted felons from owning aggressive breeds or any dog, mandatory spay/neutering of dogs that have attacked, higher fines, insurance requirements, ect. would help prevent some of the attacks. I’m on the Animal Control Board in the largest city in the state. We’ve spent the last year amending the ordinances to close loop holes and strengthen the laws covering negligent owners and dangerous dogs. Nowhere in the ordinances is there a mention of any breed. I will post the link to it after it passes the required city meetings. One of the “many” reasons for amending it was that 75% of all animal calls were pit bull related, not all but some of these calls were for unproved animal and human attacks. All our meetings are open to the public, not one pit bull owner ever showed up to help write any of the changes. All of you pro-pit people need to start helping on the local level to help solve the crises pit bulls are causing by attacks, killing, and over breeding.

    You are right, I will never consider owning or getting close to a pit bull. Until a person goes though a unprovoked, non-stop attack by a pit bull that has only one thing in its mind, killing, they will never understand how it effects a person mentally, physically, and financially.

    Maybe mandatory spay/neutering of negligent owners would be a place to start.

  19. also, having known “Kelly” the dog (she was, and still IS an AWESOME dog) personally, – the only thing even remotely “pitbull” about her is her stocky appearance. Her face is much like a labrador – as is her fur and her tail.
    And to further clarify, she was not only placed back up for adoption, but adopted. Just another reason why “pitbull” is a generalization.

    I own a “pitbull” (I put this in quotations because I am not an expert on the breed, and I do not know her lineage – I adopted her from one of those shelters that supposedly has all of those evil pit bulls in them). She is docile and loving. Her only downside is that she constantly wants to be on top of me, licking my face and getting pet. She will groom kittens and play with chihuahuas. Is she ever left unsupervised with any of these animals? No.
    Not because I do not trust her, but because I love her too much to even consider putting her in a situation where she even had an ounce of a chance to fail. I would do the same if she was a great dane, a greyhound, or any other dog whose natural ‘lineage’ had possible small or large animal chasing/aggression in them, no matter how good they were around me.
    I guess I hold onto the idea of “when the cats away, the mouse will play” thing…

  20. @Jennie I responded to your post. But like you said “Or do you feel upset and offended that such a media bias exists and that’s its not justified?” My comment to you was removed. Should I feel that there is bias pertaining to my opinions and responses? Nothing in my comment was derogatory or offensive, just facts and my input. If you or any of the other readers of this site had a chance to read it, please post why you believe it should have been removed.

  21. I think this is a really good article that speaks the truth about pit bulls. There are too many ignorant people that seem to think pit bulls are vicious animals that attack people all the time when in fact, most pit bulls are just as docile and sweet as any other breed. I think that because pit bulls have the physical capability to cause harm (due to their size and strength), people unfairly stereotype them. In addition, the media does a poor job of portraying pit bulls for their true personalities. It seems that we only hear about dog attacks, not about the friendly pit bull next door that is a cherished member of the family. I really hope more articles like this get published because it’s time to change the way people think about these wonderful dogs.

  22. Excellent article for pointing out some of the ignorant myths people cling to regarding breed stereotypes!
    I pity the misinformed hysteria of people like Mutt. It’s obvious her blather is not about dogs but a cry for attention. She needs help…and therapy.

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