The Truth About Pit Bulls

shutterstock_105631460With the amount of fear mongering that exists currently regarding pit bull-type dogs, I feel it's important to publish the truth about these dogs. Although most dogs labeled as pit bulls are actually a mix of different breeds with similar physical characteristics, anything that has the appearance of an American Pitbull Terrier is incorrectly labeled as a pit bull, even when there is no relation to the APT at all. For the purpose of this article, therefore, I will call dogs with similar physical characteristics pit bull types, unless I am referencing the American Pitbull Terrier specifically.

Since I came to the US fifteen years ago, I have worked with American Pitbull Terriers and pit bull types and have treated everything from minor to major behavioral issues in these dogs, including aggression. For the past 3 years I have also been working with my colleague and friend Jim Crosby, canine aggression expert and forensic dog bite investigator, on investigations where people – including children – have been mauled or killed by dogs. Jim Crosby has had his hands on more dangerous dogs and dogs that have killed people than anyone else in the world. There is no one more qualified when it comes to understanding why dogs aggress and why tragic incidents such as human deaths from dogs happen. Yes, some people have been killed by pit bull types and some have been killed by other breeds, but the correlation between the majority of these deaths, regardless of breed or breed type, is owner ignorance, recklessness and irresponsibility. Most of the human deaths from dogs he has investigated over many years could have been prevented if human failure had not been such a significant contributing factor.

My experience therefore qualifies me to write and talk about this breed type more than any journalist or scaremonger out there determined to instill fear. And to be clear, I’m not an American Pitbull Terrier or pit bull type advocate. I’m an advocate for all dogs. I’m also a realist and these are my observations.

Does Breed Type Predict Behavior?
Every dog has their own set of personality traits that make them unique, and it’s impossible to predict a dog’s behavior solely on its breed type, because the way a dog is raised and the environment in which he is raised in has a significant impact on behavior, regardless of breed. So while I do take breed predisposition into account when I’m working with any dog, I never rely on it solely as a predictor of behavior. The myth that all pit bulls are dangerous or 'bred to be violent' is simply not true, but myths like these continue to instill fear in the general public and cause devastating misunderstandings.

Do All Pit Bull Types Have Similar Behavioral Traits?
No. Some have a tendency towards certain behaviors, but not all. Their range of behavior defies any singular label and is as complex and variable as any other breed type, crossing the spectrum from the gentle and even-tempered therapy dog used to help children read more fluently in school programs, to the dog labeled a liability for biting or even causing a human fatality.

Are There Any Accurate Pit Bull Type-Specific Generalizations?
If I had to pick some tendencies and make a few generalization about pit bull types they would be the following:

  • Although there are always exceptions, pit bull types and bully breeds generally tend to mature earlier and show demonstrative behaviors from a very young age, with pups engaging in rough play and muzzle punching. They tend to get overly excited during play, (normal for many breeds) which can frighten other dogs. As the puppy matures, play can become rougher with adolescent and adult dogs becoming less tolerant and sometimes reactive. Overly exuberant play can provoke a negative response in other dogs’, which can quickly escalate into a squabble or fight. To avoid this situation, play should be supervised and controlled with human intervention to avoid negative behavior. This is the case for any dog that plays with other dogs, regardless of breed or breed type.
  • Pit bull types enjoy a zest for life that is often incomparable to others, but they can sometimes offend other dogs or scare people with their enthusiasm. Body slamming, jumping and sometimes grabbing an arm or piece of clothing is an exuberant (but usually non-violent) way of greeting, and can be interpreted or perceived as threatening or even aggressive. Because of their friendliness and willingness to engage, there are no parameters for some pit bull types when it comes to invading personal body space.
  • Like any dog, pit bull type pups need to be well-socialized from a young age and taught self-control. Teaching a pup to greet a person by sitting rather than jumping is a good way to start, and a pup should be removed when play gets too rough or when the greeting is too energetic. This will help set boundaries that will guide the puppy into making better greeting choices.
  • Pit bull types tend to be highly demonstrative and emotional dogs that think with their hearts rather than their heads. Some find it hard to control their impulses in different situations. Teaching any dog to think before acting helps to focus an emotional brain into one that is actively thinking and problem solving. For example, asking a dog to wait while his food bowl is put down and eat only when given a release cue, teaches valuable impulse control that helps focus attention. Pit bull types are exceptionally quick learners when given the right motivators.

Do Pit Bull Types Suddenly Explode?
There are countless stories of pit bull type dogs 'suddenly exploding'. This seems to be the common layperson's explanation whenever there has been a bad bite or a fatality, but the actual incidents of true explosive rage in any breed of dog are very rare. Many bites are the result of a combination of environment and circumstance. The signs of discomfort might be subtle and easily misunderstood, ignored, or go unnoticed until they come together in a perfect storm that ends in a bite. Dogs never bite 'out of the blue' or 'for no reason.' There is always a reason for every behavior.

Can People Cause Their Dogs to Bite?
Yes. All too often people get pit bull types and fail to give them the outlets they need, or worse, turn them into loaded weapons. Their ‘gameness’ and desire to please tends to attract the wrong kind of people who use them to enhance personal image and status, or as protection for themselves or their families. Many pit bull types are kept in the yard tethered to a chain their entire lives, causing hyper-reactivity and fear which has on occasion led to disaster. Until authorities take more notice of the other end of the leash and hold people accountable for their dogs’ behavior, the situation will remain the same.

Can the Number of Dog Bites Be Reduced?
The key to reducing the number of dog bites and keeping people safe is not to ban an entire breed, but instead to make all dog owners accountable and responsible for their dogs’ behavior while encouraging them to raise their dogs appropriately. Good socialization and using only positive training methods creates emotionally balanced dogs, a fact that science has proven again and again. Force free training and humane discipline is more effective, less confrontational and therefore safer for any breed of dog.

Mandatory education in all schools to empower children with a clearer understanding of canine body language as well as educating parents and caregivers to be more aware when mixing children and dogs will also keep people safer.

Why Are There So Many Pit Bull Types In Shelters?
In some cities in the United States pit bull type dogs account for half of all dogs that end up in shelters, and the devastating reality is that very few of them make it out alive. All too often, owners have damaged and abandoned these dogs to the point where re-homing becomes impossible, and it’s because of human irresponsibility along with media hype that the pit bull and other bully types are now a breed type many people fear.

Do American Pitbull Terriers and Pit Bull Types Make Safe Family Dogs?
Yes. Any dog that is raised responsibly can be a great family dog including the Pit bull and pit bull type dog, but with a reckless or clueless owner, any breed or type can become an out-of-control liability that ends up either hurting somebody or on a shelter’s euthanasia list.

 

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Positively Expert: Victoria Stilwell

Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer best known as the star of the internationally acclaimed TV series, It’s Me or the Dog. A bestselling author, Stilwell frequently appears in the media as a pet expert and is widely recognized and respected as a leader in the field of animal behavior.


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111 thoughts on “The Truth About Pit Bulls

  1. Karen

    I'm not ok with any of them living in towns. The "overwhelming" (that was the headline) majority of people agree when the citizens are given a chance to vote on the issue. In both cases, the vote was OVERWHELMING - NO PIT BULLS IN OUR TOWN! The majority of citizens do not want these kid killers or their owners in their communities, neighborhoods, or living next door any more than they want the child molestors or rapists.

  2. Karen

    B-S! You do not need to breed "working lines" to keep the traits as plenty of people with show dogs can attest. My dog is a ratter. He has 22 champions in his pedigree, he was "raised right", and he's never been "trained" to kill anything. Yet at 8 weeks old, he was already grabbing his stuffed lion and shaking it violently, dropping it, nudging it, then repeating, Before a year old, he killed a rabbit. Yesterday, he found a small mole in a pile of leaves and quickly, efficiently, and bloodlessly, dispatched it. No training needed. Pit bulls are not true terriers and while the terriers bred into them to give them the tenacity gave them the shake to kill, they did not inherent the quick shake, drop, check, repeat if needed. They got the bull dog trait of NOT LETTING GO. Very few retrievers don't retrieve and there are very few collies that don't herd. Often herding dogs that have never seen stock, even at 3, 4, 5 years old, when finally given the opportunity, act on their instincts to herd. It is also a lie that the "man-eaters" were culled - one example is Zebo, who sired countless offspring. If a pit dog was winning, he was NOT culled, even if it meant extreme handling procedures.

  3. Karen

    Why would I do that? I don't need a dog to show how "tough" I am. I do not need a dog to make up for my "shortcomings" or to "make a statement". I don't need to prove to everyone that I can handle a dangerous dog. I don't get a sick secret thrill when I terrorize people. I'm not a dog fighter. I'm not a drug dealer. I don't live in the "hood". I have no desire to endanger my family, friends, and neighbors. Just NOT. MY DEMOGRAPHIC. In addition, I like being able to find housing fairly easily without having to lie. I like knowing I'll never have to decide between moving out of my town or getting rid of my dog. I enjoy being able to get homeowners/rental insurance without an issue. I have no desire to always have to convince people my dog is safe. I like to take my dog along when I travel on airplanes and like knowing I can take him into any country as long as his papers are in order. I like that if I decide to move back to Germany, I won't have to get rid of my dog. I a normal person who just has a dog as a companion. Normal people choose normal dogs - so no, I will never get myself a pit bull.

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_TQhn0TrPSbc3NwT0ttcHdlbEk/edit

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_TQhn0TrPSbLUxaS2ttRFpDZlU/edit?pli=1

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/200903/psychological-characteristics-owners-high-risk-aggression-dog-breeds

  4. Karen

    Well, I certainly can see why these mutants are your breed of choice! Spoken like a typical xtian and typical pit bull owner. A perfect example of why I'm an atheist and I hate pit bulls and their owners. You're all the same.

  5. Jasvb

    Mutants? Really? One can certainly tell how uneducated you are- ignorant twat. We're "All the same" because we all actually have them in our lives and know how full of love they really are. My pit is search and rescue certified and had saved ignorant bitches like you and it has certainly changed their opinions of these wonderful dogs. Go huff some muratic acid you negative trolling fucktard whore.

  6. Karen

    I just love when people like you comment! That way everyone can see the character of the typical pit bull owner! You do more to support BSL than I ever could! Is that the same mouth with which you pray to your imaginary friend?

  7. raynne storm

    I love it when BSL Karen comments,she's more vicious than any dog I've ever seen. Truly narcissistic because she tries to control people in the world from owning a certain dog breed and when they disagree with her she attacks. Talk about snapping! Lol, Everyone commenting here has tried to have a respectful debate but you can't do that can you? No, you can't and you alienate people on the fence when they see the crazy tactics you use. Sorry you are such an unhappy person and come here to take it out on unsuspecting people but that seems to be the norm for pro-BSL people.

  8. Julie Pittie Rescuer Branston

    You know Karen, you dbo culties all think that everyone who owns one of these dogs lives in "da hood" and deals drugs. I keep telling you freaks that it just isn't true. You stereotyping anyone who owns one of these sweet dogs is just total ignorance. I for one went to collage and majored in computer science. I am a computer geek. I can fix my own computer, and probably yours if it needs it. But you would never know that about me because you have already decided that everyone is something that they aren't. The same goes for these dogs. You know nothing about them and go on about them spout the never ending dbo slop. To the sane people out there: These dogs can be just like any other dog if trained and treated right. They are just regular dogs. They are funny, loving, and loyal. BSL needs to end and These dogs need to be treated right. END OF STORY.

  9. Karen

    And yet, you still chose a dog created and purpose-bred for centuries for violence and killing when their are over 200 other breeds to choose from. You chose a breed responsible for more disabling and fatal attacks than all other breeds combined. You chose the dog breed rated number 1 as the breed most likely to turn on its owner.You chose the dog breed rated "most dangerous". You chose the breed of dog that kills a human on average of every 14 days and rips off a body part of someone every 5.4 days. You chose a breed of dog that kills around 45,000 animals each year. You chose a dog breed known primarily for it's unprovoked, sustained, and brutal violence. Normal people choose normal dogs. For whatever reason, you chose this breed of dog from the over 200 choices of normal breeds - breeds that aren't inherently dangerous. There isn't a single positive trait in a pit bull that can't be found in dozens of other breeds, without the increased danger to society. This choice says more about you and what type of person you are than your words ever could. Narcissist personality disorder is spread across all demographics. So is antisocial personality disorder (sociopaths) - many very successful and well-thought of people are actually sociopaths. The fact you went to college and fix computers doesn't make you exempt for the type of people that are drawn to these dogs.

  10. Karen

    A few pits barking at a smoke alarm or licking someone's face (like *that's* unusual for a pit) or doing what they do best - attacking someone or something, does make up for all the carnage the do.

    This is "the truth about pit bulls".

    http://www.news4jax.com/news/woman-loses-part-of-leg-after-dogs-attack/29581792

    "Her opinion now, much different about a breed she used to adore. I would have argued with my dying breath, that it's how you raise a pit bull, but I would uh-uh...nooo."

  11. Karen

    So how many people have to die or become permanently disabled at the jaws of these killers before the number is "good enough" to do something about it? GM recently recalled almost a million vehicles based on I believe 13 deaths. Child carseat, baby carrier, crib, and stroller manufacturers have removed millions of products from the shelves in highly publicized recalls due to only 1, 2, or 5 deaths. Why is it our product manufacturers will pull billions of dollars of product off the market with only a handful of deaths, and we fully expect this, yet pit bulls can maim someone every 5.4 days and kill someone every 14 days (that was 2010-actually more often now) and yet that "product" is still infesting our communities? That is f-ed up! So you tell me, *how many* people have to die before the number is enough to warrant action? What is that magic threshold before we can pull that dangerous product from our shelves?

  12. Jasvb

    Oh yeah, I just made all pit owners look so hateful, didn't I? LMFAO! It's hard for people to like ignorant animal killing people like you. Don't bring God into this because I said Id keep you in my prayers.You certainly need to be in someone's thoughts. It's a good thing you are Aethiest, even though a black nothingness is still too good for you. May you die slower and in more pain than any of these beautiful animals have- because its definitely stupid fucking people like you that make it happen. If I saw any dog attacking you I'd sure as hell let his ass finish you off. I mean, I'd have to make sure to give them a treat, although I'd probably give him an entire ham after taking one of you idiots out... GOOD BOY! Lol'z

  13. Cristina

    You are one stupid person...That's not what all pit bull dogs do is attack. I have had 5 pits in my life they have never hurt anyone..Now the only ones I have is my 5 year old girl pit and my puppy and they are the sweetest loving dogs! My boys ask me mom why do some people say pit bulls are bad....Because our dogs aren't not and I love them..I Just tell them that are people in this world that just like to judge and it's because they never had owned one to see how sweet they can really be...

  14. Jeanine Lowe

    Just read your wonderful article! Thank you for writing this! It confirms everything we've experienced with our pitbull type dog. We live in Canada and our city just omitted one of our dog's breeds (she is Staffordshire Terrier/Boxer mix) off the breed specific legislation and we couldn't be happier. Our dog Echo is an incredible and loving dog, but we often get scared looks when we walk her because she "looks like a pitbull." My husband even had a woman in our neighbourhood stop her car, roll down her window, and shout at him that our "dog must be vicious" because she wears a shearling-lined Gentle Lead when we walk her. We do our very best to be responsible dog owners and know that she gets excited when out walking and looking around at everything and everyone, so a Gentle Lead is a great and gentle tool to help us have a great walk to together every time. Anyway, I just wanted to comment and say thank you for further dispelling myths about pitbulls and pitbull types. We are so grateful to have adopted Echo into our lives a year and a half ago. Life would not have the same beautiful texture without her! One of my yoga instructors told me some of the most beautiful stories about two pitbulls his brother and family (they have two young children) own as part of the family. In the winter or whatever season the children need more outerwear, she goes over to their mitts and toques (winter hats for non-Canadians...lol...) and brings them over to the children and sets them down. He told me how their family has experienced pitbulls as caretakers. This story has stayed with me for many years and I hold on to it when I get fearful looks from people I pass by. It is unfortunate that when they pass my loving dog, they give in to media-fueled fear. Anyway, thank you again! Absolutely lovely article!

  15. Diana Nodora

    Marce, you're my HERO! I love this breed, I have 2 pit bulls and what you said is absolutely true - THANK YOU!

  16. Gucci Goldstein

    So True! There is more to the story.We are not privily with how the dog is being raised and other issues.

    I rather service than fight

  17. Chris Hagen

    Karen (and anyone else who agrees with BSL) you may be interested to read this article: http://blogs.denverpost.com/fetch/2010/07/18/the-media-takes-its-lumps-over-reporting-about-pit-bulls/1387/
    Basically, it a so-called "pit bull" does ANYTHING, even just a light bite it gets reported in tons of newspapers, but another breed can severely injure or even kill a baby and it's mentioned once or twice. So you hear about "pit bull" attacks a lot? No wonder. Doesn't mean they attack most often or always most severely.
    Plus, Karen, do you know that dogs have been accused of being "pit bulls" (which isn't even a breed) that are actually totally other breeds? I know of a purebred Labrador Retriever that was going to be targeted by BSL until his owners took it to court and showed proof of his purebred status. Relatedly, numerous times dogs attack and are reported as "pit bulls" when in reality they are nothing of the sort.
    And as for a retorical question you asked about have poodles killed anyone- I don't know of any poodles because I don't generally keep track of dog bites / deaths in the news, but I do know of Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, Old English Sheepdogs, and a Keeshond mix off the top of my head because I was familiar with those stories- yes, toy breeds, so-called friendly breeds have killed too. It's not just "pit bulls" especially since a pit bull is not even a breed.
    That's all I'll say for now. If you're not willing to see the truth and believe the facts, the science, then I'll not waste my time on you.

  18. Mandi Merlenbach

    So what you're saying is, you never properly socialized your dog with cats or small animals and waited till he was showing aggressive behaviors before you sought training.

    Shelters test dogs to see if they are safe with small animals, other dogs, children, are resource guarders, etc. They state CLEARLY if a dog does not do well with other dogs, or has other issues. Again, DOG AGGRESSION IS NOT THE SAME THING AS PEOPLE AGGRESSION. Even if a dog IS aggressive towards dogs that does not mean they will ever be aggressive with people.

    That is like saying your border collie wants to eat cats so one day it might eat you.

    You still aren't taking in to account that most "pit bulls" are nothing but bully mixes. Mutts were bred for nothing and mixing breeds of dogs throws genetics whack. So unless the dog has a pedigree, it wasn't bred for anything.

  19. Kyle Kaker

    In my town yesterday a Stratford Terrier (aka Pit Bull) seriously injured 3 family members; two teens and a toddler. The dog reportedly mistook rowdy play for fighting and intervened. One of the kids had to be airlifted. A good number of articles I've read defend pit bulls as sweet, friendly animals. I know from experience that's true. I also see debunking comments for myth-prone neophytes like "pit bulls don't have locking jaws" and other such drivel. Those comments miss the heart of the matter. Most dogs are naturally friendly. But even lap dogs have the potential to be mistaken and to overreact, if just once in a lifetime. When lap dogs overreact, no big problem. The problem is that when extremely muscular dogs are mistaken and overreact, people get hurt. I'd like to see leaders in the canine world (AKC, ASPCA, etc.) steer urban dog owners away from the most powerful breeds toward less risky choices, rather than continuing to defend breeds that are frequently involved in the most serious attacks.

  20. Carma

    At fist a little background, then a story about my dog:

    My dog is a female American Staffordshire Terrier, many people think she is a Pit Bull. They just don't know the difference. When this breed has been accepted from the AKC the breeders made clear they don't want this dogs to fight, the 3rd president of the Club started to exclude every breeder who was known to let any of his dogs fight. So there are about 10-30 generations between my girl and accepted dogfighters in her familie. Besides other jobs as protecting and minding the animals, rescuing people or work as service dogs, the dogs were even used as Nanny dogs, since this dark days. Even when used for fightings (as Bull&Terrier bevor they became the AST), the dogs had to be nice to people. Or would you like to stich a monster without anaesthesia? Or stand beside two of them while fighting? Or live in an appartment as big as some of todays livingrooms with them and your children?

    I am from Austria and 24 years old, so between me and the Nazis are 3 generations. Human beeings have done terrible things, without another species forced them to do it. But nobody blames me for this, nobody said I shoudn't be allowed to become a doctor, nobody said, that my voluntary services are less good because of what my forebears have done.

    But people think my dog is bad just because of her breed. Some just don't know better. I don't blame them, I try to inform them. Some don't care what you try to tell them, they have made up their mind. As a medical student I count on statistics and studies, not on what a newspaper or TV show says. If you know how many dogs bite, you know only a few stories will show-up in newspapers. When I got bit in my face, as a child, from a shepherd (the owner was to blame for it) or when the labrador in our neighbourhood attacked over 5 people (one a child) and still didn't wear a muzzle or leash, no newspaper wrote about it. When the little child, left alone with a rottweiler and a shepherd, got bitten to death, the rottweiler got putdown without even expecting that the shepherd (that has been reported by neigbours) could have done it.

    Most people don't know that the OECAST (Österreichischer Club für American Staffordshire Terrier) has decided, that dogs have to pass a character test, less then 2 years bevor they get puppies, to be allowed to reproduce. My girl had contact to children from the day she was born and got well socialist. I first met her mother when she herself has been a little puppy. I called my girl Carma, because I like the idea of Karma: do good and you earn good. But for a Pit Bull type this doesn't work.

    In Vienna we got a low, that listed dogs (always called "fighting dog", wich is just a toning-down of what real fighting dogs are going through and bolster fears) have to pass a character test and owners have to answer some questions, to be allowed to own them. I don't think that this test is a bad idea in generell, but everyone should have to pass it, because it's about reading body language, knowing laws and how to keep a dog appropriate. But beside the discrimination there is the problem, that the dogs have to be at least 6 months old, dogs who haven't pass the test already have to wear a muzzle and a leash, there is no official excemption for puppies.

    This is why the following happend:

    I didn't put my 8 weeks old Carma the muzzle on, on the first day or let her wear it everytime I walked her, but we started to get her to know it in a positive way early. With 12 weeks she started to wear it outside for short periods of time and was happy. Although we walked along a street suddenly a little white dog, without a muzzle or leash on, ran to us and barked at her. I knew this dog showed aggression because of its body language and would bite if I or Carma did something wrong and I couldn't see the owner, so I didn't touch her or put her near to me, so she could communicate herself. And it worked, the dog ran back in the direction it came from. For a moment I thought about putting Carma up. I should have done it. But I thought it was over and wanted to get away as soon as possible, so I turned and walked away. But when Carma turned her back on the other dog, it ran back to us and bit her. When the owner arrived she just took the dog and walked away, she didn't even excuse. Altough I blame myself for what happend: My dog became a victim while obeying a law, made up becauce of wrong information and fear.

    To Carmas body nothing happend, it was just a warning bite, but she became afraid of little white dogs. Some owners would be afraid themselfs and keep distance to other dogs, but I knew better. We met a lot of other dogs, especially little white ones and Carma isn't afraid anymore, two of her friends are little white ones now. Other dogs often bark at or even show aggression against her, she doesn't even bark back she is just friendly. But if I didn't do that, such a situation could create an American Staffordshire Terrier who is afraid of white dogs, that are about as big as its head and one day out of this fear bites one, when it barks at her.

    So why is she the monster while still beeing nice?

  21. smartguynyc

    My corgi has never seen a cow, sheep or steer, but he still runs circles around a rolling ball while my neighbor's golden retriever runs directly at it and tries to pick it up.

  22. smartguynyc

    Why did they have to write a book about the breed being harmless if it is so obvious. Do they write books about golden retrievers being harmless? Sounds like a PR campaign book to me.

  23. Angela Slawny

    My dog is a Stafordshire Terrier mix. His DNA showed 50% Staffie, 25% Boxer and 25% American Bull Dog. Unfortunately he had a horrible start to his life. He was severely neglected and possibly abused. I openly admit that he is not what I call a good example of the breed but has nothing to do with his genetics. It is the fault of the people who owned Him before his rescue. He is great with other dogs and good with cats. Strangers, especially men and children he is terrified of. With me he is a great dog. It is just sad that what should have been a wonderful dog now has emotional scars because of people.

  24. Mary Thompson

    Very few dog breeds weren't specifically bred for violence....why do you think humans have a long standing relationship with dogs.... Do you think people a thousand years ago kept dogs for the fun of it? No, they all had a purpose, hunting, blood sports, guarding, herding so name me a dog that hasn't been at sometime for violence? Whether it me animal or human.....I hate that arguememt.....pitbulls were bred to kill.....well what about beagles and the lil bunnies they were bred to rip apart?

  25. Erin E James

    I worked with many pit bull types when I volunteered at the local SPCA, I found them to be smart and willing to learn. Their enthusiastic and "exuberant (but usually non-violent) way of greeting," was a bit daunting at times but I loved watching them 'get it' as we trained and played with them. Sadly, the shelter was, at times, over populated with pit bull types, and, as you've noted, many did not and do not make it out alive. That's part of the reason why I simply could not continue to volunteer at a shelter. But I do continue to advocate for pit bull types AND especially for reward based training for all dogs.

  26. Cheryl Aisoff

    Quote from article "crossing the spectrum from the gentle and even-tempered therapy dog used to help children read more fluently in school programs, to the dog labeled a liability for biting or even causing a human fatality." Love this sentence as it's the same for any individual dog!!
    My question is how to get some fear mongers to understand this. I approach all dogs based on the behavior not breed. I am trying to attach a picture of my service dog playing with the 'granddaughter' of a neighbor. My dog is the small white terrier. She is submissive to other dogs, scared if approached fast which Rae was and is enthusiastic player. She was scared of Rae, but getting to know her easiest way now is to undo her leash and let them run and play. She's also made friends with some 'pit
    types' that the owners were cautious as their dog did not like many small dogs.
    Yes some of any breed types can have wires crossed making them dangerous. I find more people are dangerous to others, do we so lock all people up?

  27. Sophie

    Several Poodles have, in fact both mauled and caused human deaths, as have plenty of German Shepherds, Labradors, Goldens, and even Pomeranians, among many, many other breeds. In fact, he world's very first full face transplant was performed on a woman in France whose Labrador Retriever she'd had for many years ripped off her entire face. You can Google that and find a plethora of articles about it, along with plenty of other dog attacks not related to pit bull type dogs at all. Your statement is comprised of opinion and conjecture, and not based in genetics or science, especially the ridiculous implications you throw in about pit bull type dogs specifically - "Decapitated someone? Eviscerated someone? Eaten someone's body parts?" These ridiculous claims are obviously gleaned from sensationalized news stories or scaremongering websites like the extravagantly embellished negative information about "pit bulls" found on the patently falsified "dogsbite" site. I'm posting as someone who has spent the past 8 years studying Animal Cognition and Behavior, Genetics, Evolution, Training, Physiology, Psychology, Ethology, with experts like Ian Dunbar and Temple Grandin, and am still involved in studies involving the current work on Canine Cognition being done over the past decade by scientists worldwide including the program at the Center for Canine Cognition at Duke University. If you're going to make claims about physical science it's important to know the actual facts as determined by those who are conducting the research and who are eminently qualified to do so rather than rely on news reports or what you think may be "common sense." "Sheesh," indeed.

  28. Sophie

    Clearly you failed to read the article - no dog is "created and purpose-bred" specifically for violence, and that includes any dog that may be considered a "pit bull" type. Remember, "pit bull" is NOT a breed, therefore it's simply not possible that any of these dogs could have been "bred specifically for violence" or anything else. As another poster has suggested, why don't you perform actual research instead of relying on opinion, conjecture, and word of mouth?

  29. Sophie

    How do you "GUARANTEE" that border collies "STILL have herding instincts?" Please cite your sources or provide your professional credentials that qualify your "guarantee." Odds are that you have never studies genetics in general or canine genetics specifically. With respect to your dog's propensity to lunge or stalk at cats, that is NOT "herding instinct" typical of any breed; it's your particular dog's trait that he's simply not good with cats. As an aside, I'm wondering exactly how you "train" your dog if you say he can "NEVER be trusted" with "ALL OTHER ANIMALS." First, that's your dog's personality, not a breed trait, and second, it's doubtful whether you've used relationship-based training with your dog, else "trust" would not be an issue.

  30. Sophie

    "It turned out" and "I heard later" - that's not exactly admissible evidence, nor does it prove anything except that you are spreading information that you have no idea as to whether or not it's true, meaning it's simply malicious gossip, and certainly not "proof" of anything.

  31. Sophie

    Marce posted her credentials. Where are yours, "smartguynyc"? Where exactly did you receive your degree in Genetics, Animal Husbandry, any of the physical sciences, anything???

  32. windyblue

    People need to do there homework before getting a dog, and see how the dog temperament is. And there life style. and also teach the children how to act around the dog. Some things just will set a dog off. and they also need to teach the dog to. right from wrong. There are dogs yea that on a list of losing your home owners insurance IF you own that breed of dog. So look that up to one can find that on line. But also a person has to be a responsible owner too. have a fenced in yard, at least a 6 foot fence, or put the dog on a tree tied up but yet they can walk around good too, not bake in the sun. Watch the dog, I have seen to many nasty pit bulls, and also more German Shepherds, which I was attacked by one. I have NO trust for those dogs. Check the laws to about owning a pit bull. In some state the police will shoot and kill them.

  33. Sophie

    No, they are closer to 12 pounds and up. You insist on providing more and more evidence of your ignorance - we get it, ok? You know absolutely nothing about dogs of any kind.

  34. Sophie

    It always astonishes me when the BSL advocates make "statistical" claims about the number of people killed by pit bulls in a year, when the CDC, the official agency that tracks EVERY DEATH in the nation, always lists FEWER deaths by dog bites in total for that same year than these zealots assign specifically to pit bull type dogs alone. Further, reliable verification of the breed of dog in fatal attacks is only possible in 18% of incidents while the media sources reported conflicting breed attributions for 40.2% of all fatal dog attacks - meaning nearly half the time they don't even report the correct breed of dog involved. Obviously this isn't surprising if breed identification is only possible in 19% of cases, whomever provided the media with the information is only guessing 82% of the time. That hardly "proves" the propensity of any particular breed to attack; it doesn't even prove the breed of dog was what they thought they saw!

    These statistics are the most recent available in the United States today and come from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) study on dog bites in the US over a period of ten years ending in 2009. The bottom line here is, the false claims made by BSL advocates about pit bull type dogs are so ludicrous it's shocking that anyone would even consider taking them seriously. If their zealous scaremongering weren't so damaging it would almost be amusing to see them making such fools of themselves with their ridiculous myths and cherry-picked "statistics."

  35. Sophie

    Darla Napore's dog did NOT "rip her to shreds." More false information. You do not have the facts on that case, either. I lived there, in her neighborhood in fact, at the time of that incident. I strongly recommend that anyone who insists their personal belief is the only "truth" in the world and refuses to even acknowledge, much less even consider the actual facts and hundreds of years of scientific knowledge over dozens of areas of study is very dangerous to society and as such, should be kept separate and apart from any other humans. Kind of like a "ban," as it were. ;o)

  36. Sophie

    Remember, the BSL trolls cut and paste their information from their goddesses' website - the very one created and operated by the extremely twisted and hate-driven Colleen Lynn. They're all the same. None of them has an original thought of their own, nor are they capable of one, apparently.

  37. Miss Cellany

    Well I didn't personally see the attacking dog (only the victims) due to my point of view from above, but my sister who was just down the road and walking past the groomer's to my office at that moment did. When she came in she immediately started talking about it and described the attacking dog as a staffie (hence I said "turned out" not "I saw" because I didn't personally see but I have no reason to doubt my sister's word on this).
    I heard later from the shop next door to the groomer's who had also witnessed it (admittedly this could be false since I have no reason to implicitly trust their word other than they've never done anything to make me think they are deceitful before) that the staffie was the groomer's own dog (not a client's) and that it was normally sweet natured and never did anything like that before.

    But we aren't talking about "admissible" evidence here, the internet is not a court room. I stated an anecdotal story about an attacking staffy. You can disregard it if you like. It's no more or less evidence than those photos of pit bulls with babies / children.
    However the fact that staffies were originally bred for dog fighting is not disputed. It's stated by the breeders and breed clubs of stafford's themselves. They are also well aware of the inherent dog aggression in the breed, and though the better breeders try to breed away from it, most are breeding for looks and ignore temperament.

  38. Miss Cellany

    Herding dogs aren't typically violent (torn apart stock is useless). Gun dogs aren't typically violent (the hunters want to eat the game they shoot - they don't want it torn up). Companion dogs (those bred solely for companionship like almost all of the toy breeds) aren't typically violent (they don't need to kill anything - just look pretty and be docile and small enough to carry around).

    Not all dogs were bred for violence, although being predators of course, all dogs have the capability for violence.

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