Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pit Bulls In the River

A slightly modified tale:

One summer in the village, the people gathered for a picnic. As they shared food and conversation, someone noticed a Pit Bull in the river, struggling and yelling. The dog was going to drown!

Someone rushed to save the dog. Then, they noticed another yowling Pit Bull in the river, and they rushed in to pull that dog out. Soon, more dogs were seen drowning in the river, and the townspeople were pulling them out as fast as they could. It took great effort, and they began to organize their activities in order to save the Pit Bulls as they came down the river. As everyone else was busy in the rescue efforts to save the dogs, two of the townspeople started to run up the shore of the river.

“Where are you going?” shouted one of the rescuers. “We need you here to help us save these dogs!”

“We are going upstream to stop whoever is throwing them in!”

And who is throwing them In?

Not Pit Bull haters. Pit Bull lovers.

Almost a million Pit Bulls a year are being killed in animal shelters across the U.S.

All of these dogs were bred by people who said they loved Pit Bulls.

All of these dogs were bought or acquired as puppies by people who said they loved Pit Bulls.

And almost all of these dogs were relenquished to the pound or "shelter" when their owners found out that an adult Pit Bull comes with a lot of responsibility.

Pit Bulls are not being pushed into the river by breed specific laws.

Cities that do not have such laws are killing dogs wholesale.

In fact, some of the cities with the lowest Pit Bull kill rates are cities that have banned the dogs, such as Denver.

Others, like San Francisco, have not banned Pit Bulls but have seen a marked decline in Pit Bull euthanasias after implementing a mandatory Pit Bull sterilization law coupled to free Pit Bull spay-neuter programs.

One thing is clear: Pit Bulls have breed specific problems.

Perhaps their biggest problem is that so many Pit Bull breeders and owners are young, irresponsible adults who have unstable lives and who are acquiring their first dog -- a Pit Bull -- for much the same reason that they might acquire a big-bore motorcycle, a sports car, or a "hummer".

Is it an accident that Pit Bull owners are much more likely to have problems with the law than the average dog owner? I don't think so, and neither does Stanley Coren.

The responsible people who are adoping Pit Bulls from shelters deserve unending applause for their efforts.

But have no illusion: the good work they do will never be enough so long as so many people stand silent while so many people breed Pit Bulls, and so many others are acquiring puppies from these breeders only to "thrown them in the river" in just a year's time.

Pit Bulls have a breed specfic problem.

At what point, do we begin to recognize that these dogs need a breed specific solution?

At what point do we say we are sick and tired of killing nearly a million Pit Bulls a year?

At what point do we agree that if we want something different, we need to do something different?

At what point do we run up the river bank, and start at least talking about all those people who are throwing the dogs in the river?



LMW said...

"Pit Bulls have breed specific problems."

Actually, as you are well aware, they don't have a breed problem, they have an ERA PROBLEM. Each generation of humans has created the tough/scary dog of their choice. Previous generations chose GSD, Dobies, and Rotties. These breeds became an easy dog to sell, specifically to the under-educated masses at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid looking for a dog to place in their backyard as a crime prevention measure and/or status symbol.

The Pit Bull type dog has been experiencing the SAME PROBLEMS as all the breeds listed above.

I remember working at an EVet in the late 80s before all the "Pit Bull Problem" began. Pit Bull type dogs were a rarity and therefore not feared to the extent they are today.

It is a shame that you've chosen to vilify this breed, rather than the people who've destroyed the health and the reputation of this type of dog.

I read your blog and enjoy your views on many topics. However your passionate, but misguided, writings concerning Pit Bulls are indicative of someone with no hands on experience.

Is this the case?

PBurns said...

LMW, this is the kind of poor thinking that plagues the Pit Bull community.

Here's a hint: an "era" is not not something that get gassed and shoved in an oven.

An "era" is not bred.

An "era" is not taken out the back door in plastic bags by the TON every month at every shelter in the country.

An "era" does not wag its tail.

As for Rotties, yes, there was a brief boom, but it collapsed in short order due to responsible breeders and a decent education campaign -- the kind of thing the Pit Bull community has simply NOT none.

Instead it has anonymous fools like you who shrug their shoulders and try to minimize the problem.
In fact, Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are NOT interchageable. Surely you know that? Surely you also know that the Rottweiler boom did not last nearly as long or get nearly as big as with Pits, and Rottweilers never saw their shelter kill numbers rise to such a jaw-dropping levels that separate kill statistics were kept for them, as is the case with Pit Bulls today, where 40% or more of all shelter dog deaths are Pits -- as much as 80% in some cities without any Pit Bull BSL laws.

You want the numbers? Here they are: In 1996 the AKC registered 89,867 Rottweillers, but by 2007 that number had dropped to 14,211 -- a decline of 84%. And yes, the AKC will register ANYTHING as we all know.

Of course, by 1996, America had been ass-deep in Pit Bulls for more than 15 years, and it's still ass-deep in Pit Bulls, 14 years later isn't it? Thirty years of dead Pit Bulls, however, and the Pit Bull community is still just shrugging it shoulders. There is not better character and intelligence test for the community. And like so many in that communtiy, you fail on both counts.

In fact, while the total number of canine euthanasia's have been going down across the country for more than 30 years, the number (and percentage) of dead Pit Bulls has only been going up.

And you know why? Because of people like you, who shrug their shoulders and say "So what? If it's not Pit Bulls being killd it will just be some other dog."

But, of course, that's not true is it? Every other breed has seen a decline in euthansasias. Rottweillers are not even a top 20 breed anymore. German Shepherds and Dobermans are not being shoved into the ovens by the ton every day, AND NEVER HAVE BEEN.

But of course, the Pit Bull community does not really care about its own breed, does it? That is how it is different from Rottie, Dobie and GSD owners. What the Pit Bull community cares about is not dogs, but theory -- their theories about what "game bred" dogs are and their theories about property rights.

As for Pit Bulls, I know how to make and use a break stick. How about you? Are you an expert in Pit Bulls because you have helped create some of the nearly one million dead Pit Bulls that are heaped into land fills every year? Or are are you an expert in Pit Bulls just because you own one, like the fat matrons at dog shows who tell me they are experts because they walk one around with a dog on a string lead? What part of the ONE MILLION DEAD PIT BULLS A YEAR are you an anonymous expert on?


LMW said...

1. You never answered my question.

2. I own a break stick. I have used it to break up fights. They are an effective and safe tool that every gripping breed dog owner should own and know how to use. {It is a rather simple tool to make and since I do own enough carpentry tools to make one, I probably could. But I don't think making one would make me an expert in Pit Bull type dogs and the guy who made mine has much better wood carving skills than either you or I.)

3. I never said I was an expert, only that I had experience with the Pit Bull type of dog and that from your writings it seems you do not.

4. I have never bred dogs as there are plenty of very nice ones of all breeds in the shelter system. Plus, I'm not into show dogs.

5. Regarding your stats. Where are your stats for PB type dogs? There are none, because there are +15 breeds that fall under this category. If you throw in the fact that the vast majority of shelter workers can't identify a Pit Bull, you start to understand why the stats are so overwhelming. I've walked the shelter and seen hounds labeled PB, I've seen Labrador mixes labeled PB and many +80lb mastiff mixes labeled the same way.

You cannot put your faith in statistics without tactical experience. You will never know what those numbers TRULY mean unless you've been in the trenches. {And I say this from having NIH level research experience and knowing the posturing and politics skewing published results, even at a prestigious level.}

Are there too many BYB Pit Bulls, yes. Is it the fault of the "PB community"? Probably not as much as you'd think.

The Rott, GSD, and Dobie communities never had the Gangsta Rap / MTV / etc. backing to promote their breed's mythology. Look at the last 30 years and the visual images repeatedly played before our eyes. Was this volume of succinct messaging available to any of the previous breeds? No. Modern mass media is as much to blame.

Does the PB Community, you referenced, have the hundreds of millions needed to combat this message to effectively emasculate the breed? No.

Has the HSUS or the ASPCA worked to provide "Nanny Dog" messaging within the communities producing so many of the BYB dogs you speak of? No.

A "real deal" American Pit Bull Terrier is a small to medium size terrier dog with a gushing softness for humans and in some cases a large coffer of dog aggression.

My guess is still you've never experienced the real deal. Maybe if you spent a little time to get some hands on experience you'd understand how this happened and how the next generational era's breed of choice is already being bred.

Oh, and BTW I'm zaftig, not matronly ;)

PBurns said...

You say you know how to use a break stick? I doubt it. If you have not made one, you probably do not own one, much less know how to use one.

Have you ever put a ripped-up dog back together yourself? I doubt it.

Based on the nature of your question, I am willing to bet I have known Pit Bulls longer than you have been alive.

The short answer is YES, I know Pit Bulls. If you read this blog you would know I used to live with one (adopted by a roommate) who survived what I was told was a head-on impact with a bottle truck at the age of about 9 months. Later, he got in a fight with a smaller dog, and I picked up all 60-70 pounds of him by the tail and threw him off a dirt dam into the weeds.

Your question suggests your lack of knowledge about dogs in general. I have owned terriers for 45 years and been around a LOT of dogs (Pits, Labs, GSDs, Lurchers, Border Collies, Corgis, Pointers, etc.), but I would never ask the kind of question you are asking because it is not germane and not meaningful. Here's a question: What's a Jack Russell Terrier like? I have no idea! What a stupid question! Anyone who knows dogs, knows it's a stupid question. A breed is not any one thing or any one dog -- it is many things and always with great variety. The only thing that can be said reliably is that small dogs tend to have small shits, and big dogs have big shits, and dead dogs have no shits.

Is it true that Jack Russells, like Pit Bulls, are often problem dogs? Sure. I have NO PROBLEM with anyone saying that whether they have owned one or even *seen* one. If you actually read this blog you would know that. Nor does any of this have anything to do with dead dogs in the shelters, which is the topic of this post.

As for the ASPCA's messaging on Pit Bulls to the "bad people" in the ghetto, why don't you look that up? Or just go here >> Woops! So much for Ms. Pit Bull expert!

As for your claim "no one has any stats on Pit Bulls because there is no definition of a Pit Bull," I simply have to laugh. Every shelter in this country knows what a Pit Bull is because they are unhappily killing nearly a million of these dogs a year. You think you know more about Pit Bulls than someone who houses and is forced to kill 300 a month? I doubt it! If you think no one else knows what Pit Bull is, you are a fool, and if you think all Pit Bulls are 40-pound dogs, you are an AKC ignorant.

As for euthanasia statistics for Pit Bulls, they are there for anyone to look up. Look up the stats for Los Angeles, New York City, or any other city or major town. The bottom line is that more than 40% of all shelter dogs killed in this country every year are Pit Bulls. In fact, some have criticized my numbers as being too low, noting other research puts the number at well over 50%.

As to your notion that "It's all the fault of "back yard breeders," I have to call "bullshit." Every breed in this country has "backyard breeders" (including commercial puppy millers), but NO OTHER BREED IS bred and abandoned to the extent Pit Bulls are.

The problem with Pit Bulls is people like you. You cannot admit the obvious, preferring to try to define it away rather than look in the mirror.

You are "ZAFTIG," you say, not fat.


Get naked and look at yourself in a full body mirror. That's what you are, no matter what you want to call it.

Want to post again? Then be sure include to your real name and email address. As a general rule, I do not waste my time with zombies and anonymous cowards. See the post entitled >> "Zombies, Time Wasters and Anonymous Cowards" on this blog.


Jennifer said...

I think this was an excellent article. BTW, "zaftig" doesn't only mean "fat" but also refers to a woman being buxom, but I understand your point.

As for other dogs not having such a bad rap (per LMW's remarks), how many movies were made with Rottweilers being evil, or used as attack dogs? Several, & that breed is still paying for it. The opposite problem - popularity due to movies or celebs - has plagued several breeds, notably Dalmations & more recently Chihuahuas. Dobermans also went through a popular-for-the-wrong-reason phase that still affects the breed today (remember "The Doberman Gang?). I wonder if the APBT became so popular partially because they were less-known initially (so less expensive to acquire) & their intimidating appearance, as well as their natural willingness to please their owners. Regardless, it's all very tragic, & the ignorant people who insist on breeding their dogs "just once, to experience motherhood" or another bogus reason won't accept logic. I've tried explaining overpopulation to them, the fact that so many pits end up in shelters, being euthanized, etc. Might as well talk to a brick wall most of the time.

I just hope that, sometime soon, pit bull "enthusiasts" who ignore the facts will wake up, hearing what true advocates of the breed are saying & will act accordingly. I hope that BSL will be overturned everywhere as legislative ignorance is defeated. I also hope that the penalties for dog-fighting become so severe that it's no longer worth the risk for anyone to even attend these bloodbaths. May that day come soon!

PBurns said...

Now that you mention it, I think I might have to do a "Gregory Peck is getting eaten by dogs again" video retrospective blog ;) I do not think anyone, in the history of movies, was attacked by more dogs. There was "The Omen" and "Boys From Brazil" and I think at least one more. Can anyone remember?


PBurns said...

I remember! A rabid dog attacked him when he played Atticus Finch in "To Kill and Mockingbird," and he has to shoot it.


richter_Kuymal said...

There is the same issue of “bred by people who said they loved ---“bought or acquired as puppies by people who said they loved ___ etc, could apply to Chihuahuas – who incidentally are the #1 breed in the Los Angeles county & city shelters. And it’s quite true that are young, irresponsible adults who have unstable lives and who are acquiring their first dog are very likely to abandon a dog, or fail to manage it so that it becomes a problem, but that isn't breed specific. The “fad bad dog” is particularly at risk, regardless of the current “breed of the day”. You state Dobermans don’t have the problem they had – but that is because a breed club organized and tried to address the issue when Dobermans became the fad “junkyard dog”, something that hasn’t happened for the “pit type” dog or the Chihuahuas. And as for Rottweilers, this breed has been banned from military bases right along with the “pit bulls” because too many who want a “bad dog” are going for these dogs. If the dogs need a “breed specific solution” it is one that needs to consider the fact that it isn’t the BREED that is the issue, it’s the “culture of the owners” that is the issue. People who think little of breaking one law tend to think little of breaking others – including dog fighting, which brings in a lot of money via gambling. People who want to “rebel” by having a “bad dog” will go to whatever dog is the “bad dog of the day”. Gangs who think nothing of shooting anyone wearing the wrong color are hardly likely to obey leash laws. Going after pit bulls isn’t a solution. The solution is to go after the irresponsible person and to remove the profit incentive in illegal activities.

PBurns said...

No real name and no real email address? No post. Was I unclear about this? No, I don't think I was ...

PBurns said...

richter-Kuymal --

You seem to think those million Pits Bulls a year that are being killed in shelters are dogs being fought, or dogs owned by criminals or gan members. It's NOT true. They are dogs bred by people who have that right, and they are bought, as puppies, by people who have that right, and they are dropped off at the shelter or turned loose at age 9-18 months by the same people who bought them as puppies. You have an unfettered right to breed dogs in this country, and you have an unfettered right to abandon dogs to the shelter in this county, and they have an absolute right to kill those dogs if they cannot (or will not) place them.

What you seem to be saluting is the military's policy of saying "enough is enough" and restricting ownership of certain breeds by individuals who are young and have unstable lives (folks in the military who may be asked to relocate or be called into service at a moment's notice). What the U.S. Military has imposed is STANDARDS of ownership. Will the Pit Bull community salute that? Will you?

Or is that against your principles, while killing a million Pit Bulls a year, year in and year out, is not? Something to think about ....


Amanda S said...

In the UK and Australia it's Staffordshire Bull Terriers that suffer the overpopulation issue. I found this website which campaigns in the subject in the UK. It combines the anti BSL aim with the responsible ownership message. I wonder whether they are having any success in reducing the breeding rates?

PBurns said...

A "Staffy Bull cross" is just another name for Pit Bull.

Demiandogs said...

Negative Rottweiler movies
The Omen,Dogs of hell,The Rottweiler,Play dead,The people under the stairs,Amores perros(to a lesser degree).
Other movies and shows their showed violent in are Snatch,Gingersnaps,King of the hill,Family guy,American dad,Brotherhood of the wolf,underdog,Animal farm,Candyman,whitegirls,ferris buellers day off,Garfield 2,Needful things...

Negative Doberman movies:
The Doberman gang,They only kill their masters,Zoltan,Doberman patrol and I`m sure many more. The list could go even longer then the Rottweiler one.

The amount of negative fictional media on these dogs way surpasses Pit bulls,and they also never got any positive TV shows like Pit boss either.
It doesn't warrant excuses.

RSM said...

As usual, pit bull people never come to offer solutions, but instead nit pick, deflect, and deny, what are such overwhelmingly obvious, PB problems.

We need BSL because PB people won't even see the problems, let alone FIX them! We simply cannot wait for PB lovers to come around. Too much trauma, misery, pain and death are happening right now to do nothing.

And this doesn't even touch on the level of sheer violence and death these animals are bringing to our communities. You can add up all other breeds and types, and mutts, and the attack rates won't even come close to just PBs alone. Open your eyes, there is no missing this!

We may disagree on the solution, but doing nothing is not a wise choice.

Seabrooks said...

Is it terrible that I think that the pitbull problem would be easier to deal with if only pitbulls were a little more /broken/?

Many breeds have very successful "these are not everyman dog breed campaigns" and it would be lovely if the pitbulls had one.

However, there are a lot of breeds seem to fall out of public favor despite the lack of such campaigns.

Dalmatians spring to mind; their brief stint of popularity fixed them firmly in the public's mind as mean, dumb, and deaf. Everyone I knew who owned or even met one quickly came away with that impression.

Real life experience quickly trumped sensationalist media, even breeder propaganda couldn't compete.

I know a lot of pitbulls in the hands of responsible and dedicated owners who are EXCELLENT dog citizens. And most of the time, these owners have no idea how special and unique they are. They see the attack on pitbulls, as some sort of personal attack on themselves.

Meanwhile, the irresponsible lack the self-awareness to admit fault or and refuse to shoulder an ounce of blame.

(Psych study: The more competent you are, the less competent you think you are).

If only, there was something wrong with /the dogs/.

Tom C. said...

"In fact, Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are NOT interchageable. Surely you know that? Surely you also know that the Rottweiler boom did not last nearly as long or get nearly as big as with Pits..."

Good point, but the Rottweiler population remains quite high and their "bad days" are fairly rare compared to fighting breeds. They have little in common with the breeds which were designed to fight and kill. According to the AKC the Rottweiler remains the 9th most popular breed in the US as of 2013. Rotty's can be found in shelters but their numbers are very low.

PBurns said...

AKC only registers about 13 percent of all dogs in the U.S., and of the less than 500,000 dogs registered every year, more than half are in the top 10 breeds (where Rotties are at #9 in 2013 and 12, but are lower down in 2008 and 2003.

See >> and also >>

Rotties are probably moving up only because of breed loyalty, as AKC registrations are plummeting across most breeds as folks desert the registry.

Rotties, Pit Bulls, and Boxers are all variations on -- "butcher's dogs" dressed up for the ring with different names. A Rottweiler is a "Rottweiler Metzgerhund" or a butcher's dog from the town of Rottweil.

A Boxer is simply a "Bullenbeisser" or "bull biter".

A Pit Bull is pretty self-descriptive -- it is a stock catching "butcher's dog" of the oldest and most basic kind.

The difference is that Boxer and Rotties were brought into the "pure pet" arena earlier and the Rottie and Boxer clubs have more responsible people in them than the "average" Pit Bull owner who tends to be young and with insecure lives.

Jenn said...

Better add Chihuahuas to that solution, whatever it is. The pound is full of pit bulls and chihuahuas down here in Phoenix.

Rick said...

I'm with you, Patrick. I don't breed, work, or show dogs, but I have taken a few of them off the streets of San Antonio. About half the dogs here are pits and pit mixes, and by here I mean the city, as well as my own backyard. They are a little harder to take care of, because of their nature, but they are great dogs, also because of their nature. I see the knuckleheads who get one because it's cool, and I see the multitude of stray dogs on the street. It broke my heart the other day to see a mature pit at a busy intersection downtown, walking up to strangers and cars, looking for whoever dropped him off or let him loose, or who just couldn't keep him in. He had scars on his head and a gentle pleading look in his eyes. I had some of my dogs with me that day, so I couldn't take the chance of a dog fight in my car, and when I returned an hour later with an empty car, he was nowhere to be found.

I usually wear my blinders in situations like that, and it's just as well, because the 11 I now care for now is twice as many as the local law allows. But it breaks my heart a little each time.