Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Doing Right by Pit Bulls

The Jack Russell as mini man stopper.

I own a breed that is known to occasionally rip the bottom lip off of small children.

Does this happen very often?


Almost never, in fact.

But I tell this to people with small children who want a Jack Russell Terrier, because I want them to know the potential of the dog.

Not only do I tell people with very small children who want a Jack Russell Terrier this gruesome little vignette, but I also point them to the "Bad Dog Talk" section of the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America web site which very explicitly says "this is a hunting dog".

A Jack Russell Terrier may kill your cat, your kid's hamster, and your neighbor's chickens.

This is not "out of character" for the breed.

Please do not buy a hunting dog that was breed to kill rats and fox and then act shocked that it might kill your hamster or your neighbor's fox-like feline.

The genetic code can explode.

Will that always happen? Of course not.

Will it happen with your dog? Probably not. But I want everyone to know the potential of owning a breed that has been game-bred to go to ground for more than 200 years.

The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America -- the largest Jack Russell Terrier registry in the world -- wants you to know that potential too.

They runs picture ads in every major off-the-shelf dog magazine telling people NOT to get a Jack Russell terrier without doing real research on the breed.

The JRTCA wants you to know that this breed of dog is not "Wishbone" or "Eddie" or any of those other cute TV Jack Russells you might have seen.

The JRTCA does not apologize for what the breed is, not do they tell you it is something that it is not.

Most Jack Russells are fine (if energetic) family pets.

That said, there is a potential killer lurking in the heart of every Jack Russell Terrier, and anyone thinking about owning this breed should be prepared to meet that facet of their dog at some point, even if it is only after it kills a rat, or chases a squirrel.

On this blog, I do not sugar-coat Jack Russell Terriers or working terriers. I warn people away.

  • In a post entitled "Jack the Ripper," I detail a study showing how prevalent bites from Jack Russell Terriers are.

  • In a post entitled "Jack Attack," I detail the story of a woman in New Zealand who was seriously maimed by a Jack Russell Terrier.

  • In a piece entitled "A 15-Year Mistake," I have posted an article setting out the trials and tribulations that too often come from owning a Jack Russell terrier.

Why am I saying this? What's my point?

Simple: Anyone who tells you all breeds are alike is either a fool, an ignorant, or a liar.

A Jack Russell Terrier in not a Pug.

And yet, there's no shortage of people who will claim that all dogs are alike.

Just hang out with the Pit Bull community for a while.

On the one hand, these folks will tell you their dogs have been bred for hundreds of years to battle other dogs, catch wild pig and cattle, kill escaping slaves, and guard prisoners and farm stock.

On the other hand, they will tell you that every Pit Bull down at the local pound is as gentle as a lamb, and would never harm a fly unless it has been "raised wrong."

Eh? Really?

Surely, we can agree there is a mixture of nature and nurture in every dog?

Surely we can agree that a large dog that has been bred for 100- or 200-or 400-years for heightened prey drive might retain a small part of that personality bubbling away just beneath the skin?

And what if that breed is still being purposefully bred for prey drive and aggression, as is the case with at least some American Pit Bull terriers?

Surely, that too might enter the equation and give us "cause for pause?"

Why is saying this controversial?

And yet it is.

The Pit Bull community wants their breed to be treated like every other large breed.

They will agree that Pointers and Setters have been bred to be particularly "birdy."

They will admit that Retrievers have been bred for biddability, love of water, and a desire to bring things to hand.

They will aver that 12-pound Jack Russells and Patterdales have been bred to kill rats and go down holes after fox, badger and other wildlife and have real game drive.

But Pit Bulls? They are the same same as every other dog!

Never mind the illegal kennels that crank out line-bred fighting dogs like Pez from a dispenser.

Never mind the history of this dog as feral hog hunter, pit fighter, and junkyard protector.

To even suggest that a Pit Bull might come with a different genetic code than a Standard Poodle, a Wirehaired Pointer, or a Saluki is to be accused of being a breed biggot.

Standard Poodles? Wirehaired Pointers? Salukis? Those are the worst and most violent breeds, the bobble-headed Pit Bull owner will tell you.

Some of these folks will say anything, such is their desire to make the case that the Pit Bull is just like every other dog.

But facts do not cease to exist simply because they are inconvenient, do they?

A Jack Russell Terrier is not a Pug.

To hear breed-blind Pit Bull defenders tell the story, however, a Pit Bull is no more likely to savage the neighbor's dog or maim a small child than any other dog.

What? You have statistics that suggest otherwise? Well as George Lakoff notes,

If the facts don't fit the frame, the facts get rejected not the frame.

And so the Pit Bull apologists reject all data.

Pit Bulls cannot be maiming and killing more people in the U.S. than their proportion in society, because if they did that would mean that Pit Bulls are a particular problem which might require particular attention.

Pit Bulls cannot be particularly aggressive towards other dogs because if they were, that would mean the breed itself was part of the equation, and not just "bad owners" who have "poorly socialized" animals.

Of course, just as there are breed-blind Pit Bull owners, so too are there breed-blind Pit Bull haters. They are part of the problem too.

In fact, the Pit Bull is not a demon dog anymore than a Jack Russell Terrier is.

There are hundreds of thouands of Pit Bulls and Pit Bull crosses in the U.S., and most are perfectly fine dogs.

Ditto for Jack Russell Terriers.

Which is not to say that Pit Bulls and Jack Russell Terriers do not have serious problems.

They do.

The essential problem for Pit Bulls is that they are a Jack Russell Terrier on steroids.

And the essential problem for both Jack Russell Terriers and Pit Bulls is that they are both game-bred dogs.

Let us admit that these dogs were bred to do something. And here's a hint: that something has to do with teeth.

A Jack Russell is not a Shitzu or a Beagle or a Basset Hound.

A Pit Bull is a not a Pointer or a Setter or a Retriever.

As inconvenient and as uncomfortable as it may be, breed history and genetic code does matter.

Is a Pit Bull a bigger problem than a German Shepherd, a Rottweiler, a Doberman or a Cane Corso?

Well, funny enough, all of those dogs are man-stoppers bred for their ability to guard and, if need be, to maim.

I suppose one can argue endlessly about whether a .38 is inherently more dangerous, or less dangerous, than a 9-millimeter. In the end, however, we know that either gun will do the job, and we also know which one is mostly likely to be found on the street.

Does the gun on the street change from one era to another? Of course. That's why a 40-year look back at fatal dog violence in the U.S. does not show a particular problem with Pit Bulls. If you did the same thing with 9-millimeter handguns, the prevelance of .38 revolvers 30 years ago would obscure the current impact that 9-millimeter semi-autos are having in the street. The same is true for Pit Bulls in the world of man-stopper dogs.

Yes, any large breed can do horrible damage. But in fact, Pit Bulls are currently implicated in more serious bite cases in the U.S. than all other guarding and molosser breeds combined.

Surely that gives us cause for pause?

Of course the Pit Bull community hates this kind of talk.

They want the debate to be about discrimination.

They want the debate to be about "bad people" rather than bad dogs.

They want to argue that no one really knows what a Pit Bull is, and so no data can be collected and nothing can be known.

In short, they want to do almost anything except acknowledge the elephant in the living room.

And that elephant is this: Pit Bulls have been game bred for hundreds of years and are still being game bred in kennels across the U.S. and around the world.

In this sense, they are just like Jack Russell Terriers, but with one big difference. A working Jack Russell Terrier might weigh 12 pounds. An American Pit Bull can push 60.

In short, a Jack Russell is to a Pit Bull what a pellet gun is to a 9-millimeter.

Most Americans get this.

And so, when a breed-blind Pit Bull apologist tries to define the problem away, the caution flag goes up very quickly.

When these same apologists try to argue that their dog is just like any other non-game bred breed, the envelope of incredulity is pushed past the ripping point.

It does not help that so many Pit Bull defenders loudly reject all law designed to mandate increated owner responsibility.

Nor does it help that so many Pit Bull owners are irresponsible.

How else to explain the huge numbers of Pit Bulls that end up in shelters, the perptual over-breeding of this dog, and the fact that so many Pit Bulls seem to get out of the yard to do serious damage?

Jack Russell Terrier owners are singularly irresponsible too.

Here too we find too many "hump and dump" breeders, and too little attention paid to proper fencing.

Too many Jack Russell Terriers end up in shelters, and too many are put down for no other reason than they are adult dogs, rather than cute puppies.

But society feels a bit differently about a 12-pound Jack Russell on the loose than it does about a 60-pound Pit Bull. One may kill your chickens, the other may maim your child. Is either scenario likely? No. But it's not entirely impossible either, is it?

A few weeks back someone wrote me to say that she caught her neighbor's Jack Russell terrier trying to dig under the fence to get to her backyard chickens. The Russell was full of piss and vinegar and growling at her Retriever. Neither owner nor dog took the threat too seriously. But if it had been a Pit Bull? What then? I think the response would have been quite a lot different!

The Pit Bull community properly rejects a breed ban. There are, after all, hundreds of thousands of fine, gentle, and well-mannered Pit Bulls in the hands of sober, sane and stable people across the United States.

The Pit Bull community properly points out that a child in the U.S. is far more likely to be killed by a poorly designed and assembled baby crib than to be killed by any dog, much less a Pit Bull.

Backyard pool kills far more people than dogs, as do cars. None of these items are banned.

What the Pit Bull community misses, however, is that all of the items named are heavily regulated.

Baby crib design, construction, and assembly inserts are at the very top of the U.S. Product Safety Commission's work sheet.

Every community has rules governing the size, type and quality of the fencing surrounding backyard pools, and every insurance company charges higher liability fees for a house with a pool than one without.

Cars? Is there any product with more safety features and oversight than an automobile?

In fact, it is because baby cribs, backyard pools, and cars are inherently dangerous that they are so heavily regulated.

But Pit Bull owners generally reject all regulation under the theory that their dogs are "just like every other."

Require an annual license for Pit Bulls, and special permission to breed? No!

Require mandatory spay and neuter for Pit Bulls? No!

Require that all Pit Bulls be owned by adults who have stable housing situations? No!

Limit the number of Pit Bulls that can be owned at any one property? No!

Require higher fencing and home-owner's liability insurance? No!

Lawmakers listen to all of this while simultaneously listening to the sobering statistics about the number of Pit Bulls crowding local shelters, and the hundreds of Pit Bulls a day being euthanized because Pit Bull owners could not, or would not, live up to their responsibilities.

At the same time, emotional and compelling testimony is sure to be give by someone who has been attacked by a Pit Bull, and that testimony is sure to be coupled to sobering statistics.

Yes, fatal dog attacks are rarer than fatal lightning strikes, but fatality is not the only (or even most likely) outcome of a dog bite, is it?

In fact, for each U.S. dog bite fatality, there are about 670 hospitalizations, 16,000 Emergency Room visits, 21,000 other medical visits (office and clinic), and 187,000 nonmedically treated bites.

To put the data another way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, based on household surveys, that there are 3.73 million nonmedically treated dog bites in the U.S. every year, and an additional 757,000 that are medically treated.

Of these 757,000 medically treated dog bites, 334,000 resulted in an emergency room visit, with a 4% hospitalization rate (over 13,000 hospitalizations), and an average mortality rate from dog bites of about 20 people per year.

As you can see, most dog bites are not too serious. In serious maulings, however, Pit Bulls are disproportionatelty represented. That is a simple fact, and police, public, press and politicians know it.

And so, after a litany like this, it's not too surprising that a lot of politicians simply dimiss Pit Bull advocates as crazy, irresponsible, and unappeasable.

And what is the result? A complete ban on Pit Bulls. Consider this list:

    Fultondale,Gurley, Gadsden, Hale County, Irondale, Lannett, Midfield, Orange Beach

    Beebe Gosnell, Hiawatha, Holton, Horton, Little Rock, Lonoke, Maumell, Mayflower, McGehee, Monette, Mt. Home, North Little Rock, Piggot, Sabetha, Sherwood, Siloam Springs

    Lake County, Santa Monica, Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, Point Hueneme, Ripon

    Aurora, Castle Rock, Commerce City, Denver, Fort Lupton, La Junta, Lone Tree, Louisville, Wellington


    Dade County/North Miami, Sunrise, Tamarac

    Kellog, Payette

    Beach Park, Buffalo Grove, Cahokia, Cairo, Central City, Chester, Cicero, Dixon, Effingham, Elmwood, Galena, Gillespie, Greenville, Johnston City, Lincolnwood, Lombard, Markham, Maryville, Morrison, Mt. Olive, Mulberry Grove, Oden, Peru, Rock Falls, Salem, Sandover, Silvis, Sparta, Stone Park, Streater, Westfield, Wheeling, Wilsonville

    Fowler, Gary, Lake County, Lake Station, Mishawaka, Walkerton, Williamsport, Winchester

  • IOWA
    Atkins, Alburnett, Altoona, Anamosa, Baldwin, Belle Plaine, Benton County, Blairstown, Buffalo Center, Charter Oak, Clarence, Conrad, Council Bluffs, Coutier, Carter Lake, Dallas Center, Dakota City, Marble Rock, Winthrop, Des Moines, Dexter, Donellson, Dumont, Durant, Fairfax, Fairfield, Forest City, Fremont City,Garrison, Hiawatha,Humbolt, Keystone, Lake Mills, Lockridge, Logan, Luzernne, Miles, Mt. Auburn, Mt. Pleasant, Malmo, Monticello, Muscatine, Newhall, Norway, Olin, Oxford Junction, Ottumwa, Palo, Pocohontas, Rake, Rockwell, Scarville, Shellsburg, Sigourney, Sioux City, Thompson, Urbana, Van Horne, Vinton, Walford, Wapello, Watkins, Wilton, Winterset

    Augusta, Arkansas City, Bonner Springs, Cheney, Cherokee County, Inman, Dodge City, El Dorado, Ellinwood, Fort Smith, Fredonia, Garden City, Garnett, Gladstone, Hesston, Jackson County, Junction City, Kansas City, Kingman, Leawood, Liberal, Lola, Maize, Marysville, Nickerson, Overland Park, Park City, Pittsburg, Preston, St. John, Salina, Stafford, Sterling, Ulyssas, Wilson, Worthington, Wyandotte County,

    Bracken County, Covington, Erlanger, Elsmere, Falmouth, Goshen, Ludlow, Mayfield, Newport, Southgate, Walton, Webster County

    Baldwin, Luling, Morgan City, Plaquemines Parish, St. Parish, Welsh

    Hagerstown, Naval Base, Prince George County

    Abington, Amesbury, Boston, Fall River, Holyoke, Medway, New Bedford, Rockport, Tauton

    Allen Town, Alma, Crystal City, Dearborne Heights, Evart Township, Grosse Point Parke, Grosse Point Woods, Hastings, Melvindale, Muskegon, Ramsey, Southgate, Springfield,

    Aberdeen, City of Shelby, Cleveland, Clinton, Greenville, Indianola, Richland, Ridgeland, Verona

    Airport Drive, Booneville, Buckner, Butler, Calverton, Camdenton, Carl Junction, Cameron, Chillicothe, Clayton, Edina, Fayette, Fenton, Ferguson, Florissant, Gallatin, Grandby, Grandview, Greenwood, Hallsville, Hazelwood, Kansas City, Liberty, Macon, New Franklin, Pagerdale, Pilot Grove, Salisbury , Senath, Shrewsbury, Springfield, Sugar Creek, Vinita Park, Wentzville, Woodson Terrace

    Ekalaka, Libby

    Falls City, Friend, Osceola , Wauneta

    Atlantic City, Clifton, Fort Dix, Highland Park, Millville, West New York

    Tijeras, Kirkland Air Force Base

    Binghamton, Hudson, Jamestown, Larchmont, Maybrook, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Newburgh, N. Hempstead, Sand Point, Village of Haverstraw, Village of Hemstead, Yonkers

    Bismarck, Bowman, Kenmare, Kildeer, Minot, Velva

  • OHIO
    Akron, Athens, Bay Village, Bellevue, Bexley, Cambridge, Celina, Cincinnati, City of Sheffield Lake, E. Cleveland, Defiance, East Cleveland, Fairfield, Franklin County, Girard, Golf Manor, Heath, Highland Heights, Louisville, Lowell, Lucas County, Ludlow Falls, Mansfield, Mayfield, Mentor on the Lake, Miami County, Middlefield, Mt. Vernon, Napoleon,New Albany, Newark, North Perry, Oxford, Parma, Perrysburg, Powell, Richmond Heights, Shaker Heights, Silverlake, S. Euclid, Southpoint, Springboro, St. Marys, Toledo, Warrensville Hts, Washington Court House, Wickliffe, Wooster, Yellow Springs

    Del City, Eufaula, Midwest City, Quenton

    Malheur County, Malin

    Clairton, Elizabeth, Port Vue, Reading

    Pawtucket, Providence

    Columbia, Dillon, Travelers Rest

    Chamberlain, Leola, Sissenton, Tea

    Brownsville, Dyer, Estill Springs, Fayetteville, Grand Junction, Greenbrier, Halls, Harriman, Henderson, Jackson, Jefferson City, Kimball, Lewisburg, Lynnville, Manchester, Milan,Morrison, Red Boiling Springs, Ripley, Rogersville, Smyrna, Somerville, South Fulton, South Pittsburg, Sparta, Springfield, Wartrace, Watertown, White Pine,

    Neilsville, Terrell

  • UTAH
    North Salt Lake, Smithfield, South Jordan, Springville


    City of Auburn, Buckly, Enunclaw, Everett, Inland, Issaquah Highland Subdivision, Kennewick, King County, Kirkland, Moses Lake, Moxee, Neah Bay, Oak Harbor, Pasco, Prosser, Quincy, Royal City, Seatac, Sunnyside, Tieton, Toppenosh, Wapato , Yakima

    Arpin, Dunn, East Troy Lake, Fox Lake, Hewitt, Juneau, Milwaukee, Neillsville, Oconto, Randolph, South Milwaukee

Here in Washington, D.C. our local shelters are awash in Pit Bulls. The same is true in shelters across the country, where 25-50 percent of all shelter dogs may be Pits and Pit mixes.

I am against breed bans (as noted here), and I am generally against mandatory spay-neuter laws as well (see here and here).

But, considering the number of Pit Bulls that are killed every day in shelters across this country, and the apparent shortage of sane, sensible and informed people willing to adopt them, is mandatory Pit Bull sterilization really a bad idea for this particular breed at this particular time?

Yes, folks can simply go outside their area to get a Pit Bull. But most won't. Most people are too lazy to even look up a simple news story, aren't they?

That said, at what point do we change a losing game? At what point do we say 100 dead Pit Bulls a day is too damn many in any one city?

At what point do we stand up and do right by the dog?

YES, let's try to place and adopt out every Pit Bull we can.

But let's be honest. A Pit Bull is not the same as a couch-potato greyhound, is it? We want the folks who adopt Pit Bulls to do so with their eyes wide open, don't we? A Pit Bull is not the right dog for every person.

Yes, let's try to rescue ever dog that is in a shelter.

But at what point do we say it's not enough to simply pull drowning babies from the water?

At what point do we run up stream and put restraints on those who are throwing babies in the river in the first place?

The core problem with Pit Bulls, of course, is that so many Pit Bulls owners and breeders are irresponsible, ignorant, and foolish.

To many are "hump and dump" breeders who think a litter of dogs might be a good way to make next month's rent.

Too many want a puppy and are alarmed to find out, just six months later, that they have actually acquired a dog. A big dog. A big dog that they cannot control very well, and which has big teeth which it uses on the couch cushions when the owner is away.

We can, of course, continue to shovel 100 Pit Bulls a day into the incinerator ovens of major cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Washington, D.C.

Or we can say enough is enough and recognize that it's time to change a losing game by trying to reduce the supply, even as we work to increase the demand for "slightly used" Pit Bulls.



Marie said...


My local craigslist is swimming in ads for pits and pit mixes, and I live in rural NJ. It is the most prevelent dog on craigslist. I am sure many of these are being shipped in from elsewhere. It's crazy.

Janet Johnson said...

The state constitution of Texas prohibits BSL. Pit bulls are not banned in any part of Texas, although there is a movement to change the constitution in order to permit BSL.

Unknown said...

Bravo, as a owner of two pit bulls, as well as working obedience with Jack Russells on a regular basis I could not agree more with this post. Too many bred-blind owners, and haters, and not nearly enough rational thought on what is actually best for the dogs themselves. Thankfully Jack Russell owners have the JRTCA to keep the facts of their breed front and center. While Pit bull owners are too busy trying to prove to everyone that our dogs are no different than any other dog and never realize that we own them because they are different from any other breed!
Fact is that game-bred breeds are not for everyone, whether they be 12 pounds or 60 pounds. I don't like the idea of the regulation of breeds, but if it could save millions of dogs a year from the needle while simultaneously restoring the breeds image I'll be willing to listen, maybe not agree, but certainly listen.
Maybe that's too rational, what do I know?

By the way — great blog, one of the few I make a point to read everyday.

Jacob said...

I almost totaly agree with you. I would only hope that ALL molasar breads will be regulated in the same way. All these dogs have the same hazard, only one of them is really popular. If we focus all of our regulatory efforts on that one breed it will surely become less popular, but the people who want that type of dog will become no less common. Then we will have to try all over again with whatever is popular next. Being extremely lazy myself I would prefer to do things once, correctly and lastingly.

Jacob L'Etoile

Anonymous said...


I don't completely disagree with your premise here....but I think there are a lot "misses" in your rationalization here.

When you talk about different breed characteristics, and genetics, it becomes very easy to cast a very narrow portrait of dog breeds. But the reaility is, there are very different genetic behavioral traits within breed groups -- and this is true across all breeds.

If you wanted a hunting Beagle -- would you get one from a working line? Or from a pet line of breeders? If you really wanted to use a terrier for hunting, would you use one from a hunting line? Or a pet line?

It's for this reason that very few Standard poodles are worth a nickle in hunting water fowl, even though historically this was the purpose of the dog (and a few are still used for that today).

We seem to recognize this in every breed of dog with the exception of 'pit bulls' -- which is even more problematic because it is a category and not even a singular breed.

So while yes, there are people out there that are breeding game bred pit bulls, there are also many others who aren't. There are lines of AKC ASTs that have not been from "game" lines for 75 years.

Like all breeds, the behavioral differences within the "breed" is quite vast -- and contrary to the perception, most of the dogs that would be classified as 'pit bulls' are no more from traditional working lines than the average Standard Poodle comes from it's traditional working line.

Which makes it very hard to classify the dogs.

Combine this with the reputation that pit bulls have, and even a basic warning can be seen as a knock against the dog. Hell, I could point to dozens of newspaper articles that have pointed pit bull rescue group websites that are trying to do what you suggest and provide fair warnings, and say "even Pit Bull Rescue Central says the dogs are aggressive" -- which isn't what they said at all, but it makes for compelling speech in front of city council.

The hysteria surrounding the dogs has made it almost impossible for people to even have an honest conversation. And that's a shame. I don't think it's because most people don't want to have honest conversations, it's just that the hysteria leaves no wiggle room.

You can say virtually anything you want about JRTs (or heck, have you visited any French Bulldog websites? They make them sound like Cujo) because no one is trying to eliminate them from the face of the earth.

It's different for the 'pit bull' owners.

Meanwhile, you criticize them for being against things like Mandatory Spay/neuter for pit bulls -- but still fail to note that one of the reasons many of them are against it is because of the lone exception in San Francisco, every other place that has tried it has caused an INCREASE in shelter killing -- not an improvment. At some point it needs to be about what will help solve the problem and not just doing something for the sake of doing something.

One other note -- be very careful about your "in serious maulings, pit bulls are disporportionately represented. That is a simple fact."

That really isn't a "simple fact". the simple fact is that there is no reliable data on this. The only place this "simple fact" has been portrayed is in the Merrit Clifton report (which is where I assume you got this). Keep in mind that Clifton gets all of his information (including the severity of the attack) from media reports -- not from actual statistics. His report is now covering about 2200 "Maulings" over the past 28 years. Now, according to your own information, there are 670 "hospitalizations" -- which if it requires an over-night hospitalization, that would start qualifying as pretty major in my book. Over a 28 year period, that would be nearly 19,000 hospitalizations. But Clifton's report only covers only 12% of those -- a tiny percentage -and not a random sample. So all his report really shows is that the media reports more pit bull maulings than ones by other breeds -- which is a different conclusion than what Clifton draws from it.

mnp13 said...

You have some interesting points in your post, but the overall tone is the same as every other piece of anti-Pit Bull propaganda. Half truths and hype make for interesting reading when you want to fuel the fire, but those of us who are the targets have weathered far worse and will continue to do so. I doubt you will allow this post to go up, but I'm going to write it anyway; and I'm going to post it on my forum - - so that it will be public even if you choose to pretend it doesn't exist.

“On the one hand, these folks will tell you their dogs have been bred for hundreds of years to battle other dogs, catch wild pig and cattle, kill escaping slaves, and guard prisoners and farm stock.”

I know of no Pit Bull owner who knows anything about the true history of the breed who states that they were used to kill escaping slaves or guard prisoners. Before they were pit dogs, they were farm dogs, butcher dogs, catch dogs, all around “general purpose” dogs.

Eventually, as people decided that their purpose was to fight other dogs, they were bred with that goal in mind – to be an athlete that didn’t know the meaning of the word quit, no matter what the odds. However, pit dogs were not guard dogs, they were not man stoppers; they were not even reliable enough to keep strangers from stealing themselves... and dog fighters usually had an actual guard dog to protect their fighting dogs from being stolen.

“To hear breed-blind Pit Bull defenders tell the story, however, a Pit Bull is no more likely to savage the neighbor's dog or maim a small child than any other dog.”

And here you are wrong… and right. You have a much higher chance of a Pit Bull being dog aggressive than many other breeds. However, it is the responsibility of the OWNER to keep that dog aggression in check, so if another DOG gets maimed, that owner is responsible. But no, a Pit Bull is NOT more likely to maim a small child than any other breed, no matter how much the media wants you to believe that. The CDC is the source of the statistics used to support that claim, and the CDC states that their own statistics are flawed.

“Yes, any large breed can do horrible damage. But in fact, Pit Bulls are currently implicated in more serious bite cases in the U.S. than all other guarding and molosser breeds combined.”

You keep talking about inconvenient facts, but here is one that you are keep alluding to. Pit Bulls are actually NOT implicated in more bite cases in the US, the statistics (flawed as they are) group “pit bull type dogs” as one group, meaning any dog that resembles a pit bull or has pit bull characteristics or might be a mix of pit bull. That would be like lumping Jack Russell Terriers, Fox Terriers, Parson Russell Terrier, Airedale Terrier and every other Terrier that looks kind of the same in one big group. I’m guessing you’d have an issue with that.

mnp13 said...

“But let's be honest. A Pit Bull is not the same as a couch-potato greyhound, is it? We want the folks who adopt Pit Bulls to do so with their eyes wide open, don't we? A Pit Bull is not the right dog for every person.”

Yes, let’s be honest. A Pit Bull is not the right dog for every person, any more than a correctly bred Jack Russell is. I don’t know what the answer is, but those of us who own the breed responsibly don’t appreciate people like you who want to legislate our rights as responsible dog owners away.

Personally, I don’t particularly like Jack Russells. I know someone who breeds the real deal, and though I appreciate them for what they are, I wouldn’t take one if it was a gift. However, I don’t begrudge her – or you – the right to own them, as long as you own them responsibly. If you lived next door to me, I would expect my cats to be safe from your dogs, just as my neighbors dogs are safe from my Pit Bulls.

No matter what breed of dog someone owns, it is that person’s responsibility to handle their dog appropriately. Personally, I have no issue with mandatory spay and neuter laws – for ALL breeds. I have no issue with very strict breeding regulations – for ALL breeds. I have no issue with very strict laws regarding ALL sales of domestic animals, private and retail. I think breed registries should stop thinking of the bottom line and start thinking about the quality of the dogs on the papers.

But it’s easy for you to point fingers at the “bad” breed and pretend that there is nothing wrong with any other dogs out there, isn’t it?

Viatecio said...

Before you got to the pit bull part, I was originally thinking of ways to "unsell" the flat-faced breeds! I'm so sick of seeing bulldogs EVERYWHERE in advertising now!

Very well-written on all accounts. Although, I do have to argue, if we're going to do mandatory spay/neuter for one breed, why not do them all? Purebreds abound in shelters and rescue systems all over, as well as the mixed breeds and Heinz-57s that no one appreciates or wants. I am NOT a "one generation and out" person, and I do support sterilization on a reasonable level because unfortunately, a lot of people who choose to leave their dogs intact for whatever reason do not have the knowledge or responsibility to handle or own an intact dog. There's no way to fairly weed out these people, so everyone gets to suffer to some degree.

(I have a question on one of my homeworks about dog breeds and the AKC that asks "what was the terrier group bred for?" My response started out "With the exception of the American Staffordshire, the Staffie Bull, and the Bull terriers...")

PBurns said...

In some of the comments, the talk continues to be about the rights of Pit Bull owners (people) rather than about the welfare of the dog, or the responsibility to the dogs.

Sorry, but dogs are more than property. They are not a shovel, or a gun, or a wheelbarrow. They are sentient beings, and thousands are being killed every day because of chronic irresponsibility on the part of too many Pit Bull owners who have no idea of what they are getting into when they acquire a large molosser breed.

The irresponsibility of Pit Bull owners is susstained by those who treat every canine welfare issue as a property rights debate rather than a canine welfare issue.

"Who cares about what's good for the dogs," say the property rights people -- they should be able to do whatever they want, no matter if it harms dogs and burdens communities. As far as these folks are concerned, the entire debate is about them and their rights as property owners. The welfare of the dogs is rarely mentioned.

The result, of course, is both an unending parade of dead dogs, and the spread of more and more Pit Bull bans across the country.

That is called a FAIL in my book. It is certainly a fail for the dog.

Yes, there is a lot of variance in Pit Bull lines. That is true in Jack Russell Terriers too. But so what? Any breed that has a significant percentage of game-bred animals in it, needs to be treated as if they are all game bred. On this point, the Jack Russell community makes NO distinction between AKC "Parson" Russell Terrier and Jack Rusell Terriers, hunting lines, show lines, pet lines, or crosses. All Jack Russell terriers or Jack Russell crosses are presumed to be fully capable of killing the pet hamster, rabbit, or cat, and quite likely to do so.

Pit Bull owners, however, seem to have a hard time understanding that every breed of dog comes with a different set of genetic codes within it, and that those genetic codes do not wash out in a generation, or evaporate due to wishful thinking.

Rules and regulations governing a 10-pound pocket beagle might not be the same ones we want to have in place for a 70-pound molosser dog such as Pit Bull. This is just common sense, as is the notion that we might have different laws, rules and regulations for a BB gun, a 22 rifle, a shotgun, and an anti-tank missles. Lord knows we treat bicycles, motorcycles, cars, short-bed moving vans, cargo 18-wheelers, and haz-mat vehicles carrying flamable or explosive liquid chemicals differently!

"You cannot discriminate" the Pit Bull owners say, forgetting that discrimination between risks and potential harms is the core concept underwriting most rules and regulation.


PBurns said...

The argument that we do not know what a Pit Bull is, or that we do not know that they are a particular problem, is nonsense.

Go to any shelter and ask them how many dogs they are killing, and what type of dogs they are.

There's your problem.

Look at the annual fatal dog mauling accounts, and the breed types described and pictured.

There's your problem.

I have challenged the Pit Bull community to document the non-molosser breed fatalities and show where Pit Bull-type dogs do not ALWAYS come out on top. No takers there, even though the data is really not that hard to assemble (about 60-80 dogs for the last 3 years) and has already been assembled by others. Instead, the Pit Bull community closes its eyes, puts its fingers in their collective ears, and chants like small children who do not want to hear bad news.

And the result? Dogs die by the thousands, and breed bans spread like wild fire. And why? Because Pit Bull owners will not describe the true potential of the dog, will not shoulder any increased responsibility for their breed, and will not try to "unsell" their dog even as their breed continues to be over-sold, over-bred, and under-cared for.

Viateco has it right that Pit Bull are not the only dogs that need to be "unsold." Flat faced breeds need to be unsold too, and I could name quite a few other breeds with serious health issues, as well!

As I have noted in the past, "unselling" by truth-telling is not that hard. Society has "unsold" the cigarette in my lifetime. What was once seen as cool and sophisticated, is now seen as pathetic, anti-social, and uneducated.

What changed was that society no longer saluted the Big Lie told by Big Tobacco that there was no "established" link between tobacco and cancer. What changed was that the right to be free of second-hand smoke and mounting lung-cancer and emphysema costs trumped the supposed "right" of smokers to light up anywhere under any circumstances.

We did not ban tobacco; we simply unsold it, and by doing so we have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and hundreds of billions of dollars.

If we did the same for Pit Bulls, the lives saved would be canine.

But, of course, putting the dogs first means this dog debate is not about individual property rights; it's about our collective responsibility to the dogs.


Pai said...

Viatecio -- S/N rates for pets is already at around 75% (according to the ASPCA). That's already at saturation level. The minority of people are responsible for the majority of the shelter population, and that minority of owners is mostly low-income folks. So passing mandatory S/N laws seems like overkill -- especially when the main reasons for pets being relinquished in shelters is for behavior problems or economic/time issues on the owner's part. Most relinquished pets are 1+ yr old, not puppies (according to shelter studies from The National Council on Pet Population). That's right around when the 'cuteness' wears off and behavioral issues are at their peak. That's not a coincidence. It's not a simple 'dog overbreeding problem'.

Shelters need to start doing more than just 'warehousing and killing', they need to get more proactive about raising adoption rates. More people get a new og each year than the total number of dogs killed in shelters -- the problem to solve here is, how to get them to go to the shelter for their dog instead of buying.

Staff of the Mendocino County Library said...

I live in Lake County, California.
I am on the Lake County Animal Care & Control Advisory Board. I am not aware of any BSL or pitbull restrictions.

Eliza Wingate

Anonymous said...


Your last comment is really far off the mark.

Yes, when you look at dog bite fatilities, 'pit bull type dogs do come out on top. The question then comes, is it because 'pit bulls' are a problem? Or because there is a small portion of the people in the US who should not own a dog of any breed? The attacks always fall into a couple of different categories:

1) A young toddler that wanders up to an unsocialized dog unattended.

2) A loose, stray or otherwise unattended dog that is roaming a neighborhood. Often this ends up being a group of dogs.

3) Someone trying to break up a fight between two dogs.

The vast majority of the attacks happen in economically depressed areas.

Does pit bull type dogs' leader of this list indicate that 'pit bulls' are more likely to kill? Or that they find themselves in these situations more often than other breeds?

The last thing we need to do is "unsell" these dogs. "Unselling" the dogs will not lead to more people adopting the dogs from the shelters that will prevent more of them from dying there.

And "unselling them" will certainly lead to them being more attractive to the people who shouldn't own a dog regardless of breed (which is how we got here in the first place).

If we "unsell" them, no responsible owner would ever want one - in who's hands they are perfectly great dogs. The only people who will want them are the people who want an undesireable dog...which will create an entirely new cycle.

Nope, what needs to be done here is to "sell" the dogs on their good qualities (and there are many) to the public at large. As more people become exposed to them as just dogs, with their own quirks like other breeds, instead of only viewing them through the lense of the media as vicious killers, then we'll begin changing their image. When the image changes, it will become even more obvious that the problem isn't the dog -- it is the people who probably aren't responsible enough to own a dog of any breed.

And once we start dealing with THAT problem -- we'll actually start coming up with a solution...instead of pretending it is the dogs that are causing the problem.

PBurns said...

BT -

Your essential argument, if I might paraphrase it, is that "the dogs are not bad, just a significant number of people who own them."

This is a variation of the line used in the gun debates, which is that guns don't kill people, bad people kill people.

And, for the record, I agree with that.

The problem IS people. Or, to be more precise, the problem is a combination of a morally neutral but inherently dangerous thing (a gun, a swimming pool, a car, a Pit Bull) in combination with a stupid, cavalier, untrained, and uneducated person.

So what do we do with swimming pools and cars? We REQUIRE insurance. With guns, pools and cars, we restrict ownership. If you have a fish pond that is only a foot deep you do not need fencing, but if you have a real swimming pool, it must have a 6-foot solid fence all the way around it and a gate with a lock on it. If you own a car, you must get it inspected ever year, you have to show you know how to drive it. If you want a gun, you have to have a background check, you have to take a gun safety course course in order to hunt, and for certain weapons (such as automatic weapons), you will have to get a federal firearms license, have a criminal background check, and pay a pretty high licensing fee.

And guess what? ALL of those regulations and restictions have worked to save lives and reduce harm!

Your argument that the dog has NOTHING to do with the problem is emblematic of what is wrong in the Pit Bull community. ALL dogs are a COMBINATION of nature and nuture. Do you really disagree with that? I bet not.

To deny the size, history, and genetic code that is present in most molosser breeds is to deny the dog. It is to lie.

You want the debate to be about people and not the dogs.

OK, let's make it about people.

Let's make it about not lying to people about the responsibility and problems that come with owning any large dog, and a molosser breed in particular. Let's make it about what will be required to own that breed, and let's make it about required responsibility.

Fencing is about people.

Insurance is about people.

Home ownership or landlord permisson is about people

Licensing is about people.

Criminal background checks is about people.

Spay-neuter is about people, and is also a nod to the fact that intact male Pit Bulls are far more likely to bite other dogs and people than neutered animals.

You seem to think "unselling" dogs has something to do with demonizing them, but if you read the original piece you will find I rather explicitly say it is not.

Unselling means telling the COMPLETE truth. The notion that a Pit Bull is a perfect dog for every person is a lie. Pit Bulls require people to pick up large craps and excercise their dogs every day if they do not want the dog to eat the couch. Can we talk about that? The idea that Pit Bulls do not require certain heightened responsibilites such as very secure fencing is a lie. Can we talk about the cost of fencing? The notion that Pit Bulls are rarely dog aggressive is a lie. Can we talk about what that means in terms of neighbor relations and prospective veterinary bills? The notion that Pit Bulls are going to be embraced by every landlord and community is a lie. Can we talk about the fact that you may find it more difficult to find rental housing, so you might want to wait until you own your own place before you get a Pit Bull?

Pit Bulls are stacked up in every shelter in this country and most of those dogs were failed by people who were surprised to find that the dog they got was not the dog they wanted or were promised, or imagined.

You want to rescue dogs from the shelters, which is an admirable thing. I, on the other hand, want to prevent those dogs from ever getting in those shelters. That starts, I think, by talking about the heightened responsibility that comes with Pit Bull ownership. Failure to talk about that is to fail the dog a hundred thousand times a day. And that is exactly what is happening.


elegy said...

"Pit Bull owners, however, seem to have a hard time understanding that every breed of dog comes with a different set of genetic codes within it, and that those genetic codes do not wash out in a generation"

Heh. If you think pit bull owners have a hard time, ever talk to working Border Collie people? They absolutely believe that those genetic codes come out in the wash, and I believe they are largely correct. When's the last time you saw a conformation bred Border Collie working sheep in any meaningful manner?

I think the idea that "the perfect dog for every person" is a laugh and I think you must not be serious when you insist that "the pit bull community" believes that. Most pit bull people that I know (and no, not all, but you get whackadoos in every group) believe that pit bulls can work in many families provided that the owners are willing to learn about the breed, learn about what they need to do to keep their dogs safe, and accept the responsibility for doing that. There are a lot of dog owners who have absolutely no business owning a pit bull, but then again, there are a lot of dog owners who have no business owning a dog of any breed.

PBurns said...

Elegy, I don't know if you have working dogs, but working dogs are partially made and partially born. It's not either/or, which is why some AKC show Border Collies do OK at trials, and why a properly sized Parson Russell Terrier could work if its owner would take it out into the field and give it real field experience built up over several seasons. With these two breeds, the problem is still mostly at the top of the leash, even as it begins to creep downward over time.

So NO, the genetic code does not change overnight with a piece of paper and a registry. Does it change over time? Sure. But those generations are not yet there with Border Collies, or Parson Russell Terriers, or a lot of Pit Bulls where so many breeder are still breeding for a wanna-be macho clientele. Cruise the Pit Bull breeder sites and see the posture and the language. These folks are selling PIT Bulls, not "Pet Bulls." People who brag about Boudreaux lines are not bragging they have Pet Bulls, are they? No, they are proud to have dogs that eat other dogs; that is the claim to fame and what it is all about, whether the dog is actually fought or not. Swagger is sales.

As for folks who believe Pit Bulls are just like any other dog, those people are as common as corn and are all over the Internet and selling dogs everywhere they can. They downplay the problems that come with Pit Bulls. Breeders know that their current crop of puppies is "spoiling" on the vine with every passing week. Pit Bull litters are big, and demand is low. What to do with all those "extra" puppies with the not-so-cute coat patterns? Give them away for next to nothing to anyone who will take them, and for God's sake do not do too much follow up! If those dogs subsequently end up in a shelter, well no names, no responsibility, and no fault, right? It's all a MYSTERY how those dogs got there!

Do I see the Pit Bull community doing very much to "unsell" their breed and talk about the problems of ownership and the need to unsell their breed? No, I do not. In fact, they say they need to sell their dog harder! That proposition has been put forth, exactly like that, in a previous comment.


Viatecio said...

Pai - Like I said, a lot of people who actually do keep their dogs intact, shouldn't. Many people who are qualified to own intact dogs don't, either by their own choice or that of someone else. Completely understand what you mean in your paragraph though, especially concerning the low-income areas. The market is saturated and where I used to live, the dog pound only has so many pens. :P

Just a thought: If pit bulls were "just like any (every?) other dog," they would not only be good pets for those who want them, but also natural: hunters (retreivers, pointers, sight- and scent-hounds etc), herders, guards, draft/sled dogs, livestock guardians, and terrier (by definition, not name), to name a few.

Anyone know a breed that does ALL of that?

Then (breed bistory aside), why should the pit bull be "just like any other dog"? It is it's own dog, with it's own set of drives and instincts that may be right for someone, while someone else might find them overwhelming and look for more of a couch potato dog. However it was used in the past is how it was bred to be, and we have to live with that now. I think someone mentioned here already that even "pet" and "show" lines haven't had all the drive bred out of them...I'm sure beauty queen Border collies can still herd, as fumbly as it would be!

Michelle - surprise. Looks like your comment was posted, to the great shock of everyone else. Might want to let them know.

I love pit bull threads. It's like training discussions: brings out everybody on all sides and pits everyone against each other. Long Live Freedom.

Anonymous said...


I think it is curious that you used guns and swimming pools as your examples.

Last year, 16,272 people were murdered in the United States -- the number one weapon used? Guns, by a large margin (about 70%).

Meanwhile swimming pools remain the 3rd leading cause of accidental death among children.

So have all the restrictions helped? Or have they made a series of hoops to jump through for people who would have been responsible with their gun, pool, etc in the first place?
Meanwhile, there is a certain segment of the population with evil or careless intentions that have no intention on obeying the law.

The question you need to ask is: have fencing and insurance requirement laws "worked" in other places. Many places have enacted them -- heck, the entire state of Ohio has enacted it -- are people safer in these areas because of the laws?

There appears to be little evidence that they do -- because there is, and may always be, a segment of the population that is a problem and will not play by the rules. And it is the same segment that would have been a problem if no rules had been in place at all. I think it's important to make rules that will deliver actual positive results - and not make rules for the sake of making them.

Meanwhile, in fairness, there needs to be some recognition here about the 'pit bull community's" role in this. There are MANY great breeders out there that carefully screen their new homes. There are many GREAT rescue groups out there who carefully screen their adoptors (and try to be a person in a rental situation and adopt from a 'pit bull' resuce -- it will be virtually impossible).

So let's at least acknowledge that there is a large population of people who are trying to do right by the dogs.

Like breeders of any group of dogs, there is also a portion of the population that is in it to make a quick buck -- who could care less about the temperament of the dogs, the health of the dogs, or who ends up with the dogs. And they exist across the board for all breeds.

It just becomes a bigger issue for the bullies because a) their popularity among people who want them for negative purposes and b) we have more rules in place for 'pit bull' owners across the board that make it harder for people to comply when they need to move for whatever reason.

Putting more restrictions on people who are solid owners in the first place won't make any more difference in the pit bull world than it does with gun ownership.

PBurns said...

BT, please do the research.

Seriously. Gun laws work to keep guns legal and safer. Ditto for swimming pools. Why not actually research the issue?

The number of accidental gun deaths has plumetted to the point that they are as rare as hens teeth, due to rules and regulations that make guns safer than they have ever been, and that require hunters to take hunter safety courses, own trigger locks, get screened for past criminal problems, etc. Do the research. I have -- and some of it is actually on this blog. The research is there for swimming pools too. You do not mention cars, but here too the research is clear. I would rather be in a wreck in a Toyota subcompact going 40 miles per hour than a 1957 Chevy Four Door with a cast iron iron straight six, and I have owned both of these vehicles. What changed? Rules and regulations govering construction, and the requirement that all cars have safety belts (and now airbags). We have not banned cars, guns or swimming pools, but we HAVE fenced up to fence out irresponsible people. And that has not only saved lives -- it has also preserved backyard pools, the Second Amendment, and the car.


Anonymous said...

We're talking two different issues with guns.

You're talking accidental deaths.

I'm talking murder.

Sure, laws will help people who want to do the right thing and want to be law-abiding citizens to take safety courses, etc.

They don't help much when people are purposefully using guns for ill-will as they are still by far the most popular weapon used in murders. And while the murder rate is going down, it is going down proportionately the same for all weapons used, not just guns.

So I guess this begs the question, is the pit bull's problem that people who want dogs for undesirable purposes gravitate toward pit bulls? Or is it that people who are too stupid to own dogs gravitate toward pit bulls?

It's most likely some combination of the two.

Dog laws won't affect the peole who want the dogs for undesirable purposes.

While it could help in the case of stupid people (these are the ones who let their 2 year old toddler wander up to the dog chained in the back yard) -- will it solve the problem if all of these people end up with German Shepherds instead? Most likely not.

And now you've used cars, swimming pools and guns to "prove" how regulations work, and have now covered off on two of the top 3 causes of accidental death in this country -- and the #1 cause of purposeful death as examples of laws working.

PBurns said...

BT, when Pit Bulls attack humans or dogs outside of a pit, it is always "accidental," and so the comparison between accidental gun shots and gun deaths, and accidental dog maimings and dog deaths, is the right one.

Swimming pool deaths are always accidental deaths as well; ditto for car crashes.

The dogs that are put to death in shelters are almost all "accidents" as well -- dogs acquired by people who were unprepared for the responsibility and the trouble of a Pit Bull. It is an "accident" they "fix" by abandoning the dog or turning it over to a shelter.

As for Pit Bull responsibility laws, they are not designed to make dog fighting illegal. Who said they were? Dog fighting is already illegal, which is why it is so rarely done compared to boxing, hunting deer, bull riding, or drag racing. Yes, that's right; the law that makes it illegal to fight dogs discourages most people from fighting dogs. The law works as intended!

Pit Bull responsibility laws are designed to discourage young, foolish, and ignorant people from getting in over their head with a dog they are likely to abandon to the shelter system, or are liable to have so little control of that it ends up doing harm to self or others.

We already have laws govering exotic pets like tigers, lions, elephants and monkeys. You can own these animals, but you must have permits and training and the proper facilities. The purpose of these laws is to prevent people from owning animals they will mistreat through ignorance, and to prevent the animals from being a danger to themselves or the community. These law work quite well -- there are very few tigers, lions, and monkeys in local animal shelters, and very few lion, tiger or monkey maulings in most neighborhoods. The animals themselves are well-served by the restrictions, which serves to keep both idiots and petty criminals and young thugs off of the ownership roles for exotics. A smart drug dealer does not want to attract police attention by housing an unlicensed tiger in a cage in his backyard, and if Pit Bull responsibility laws were put in place, they would take a pass on Pit Bulls too. And would would benefit if that happens? Both the dogs and the community.


Anonymous said...

Ok, but we're not talking tigers, lions, elephants and monkeys here. We're talking about domesticated dogs. When you start making comparisons to the same laws we use to deal with non-domesticated animals like tigers, you start to sound like one of the fear-mongering lunatics out there.

If you feel like a law would "prevent people from owning animals they will mistreat through ignorance" -- then that seems like a pretty good law that would make sense for all dogs, regardless of breed, no? I mean, if we really care about the well-being of the dogs, doesn't it make sense to care about the well-being of all of them?

PBurns said...

BT, a Pit Bull is NOT the same as every other dog. That's what this post is about. A Pit Bull is
a large dog that is too often game bred, and it is as cheap as dirt because they are overbred. The failure of Pit Bull owners to acknowledge that their breed has special problems, special characteristics and especially high euthenasia rates is why breed bans are put in place. Why would anyone in a City Council even bother to listen to a Pit Bull represenative that would not acknowledge those facts? They wouldn't, which is why breed bans are so often put in place.


Anonymous said...

But Patrick, you've even spun yourself around on your own argument.

Yes, all breeds are different from other breeds.

Are pit bulls larger and stronger than other breeds? Some yes, but certainly no in many aspects. There are many larger and stronger dogs than 'pit bulls'.

Are they more dog aggressive than other breeds? Some yes, some no. According to the AVMA aggression study, pit bulls were well above average in friendliness to strangers and owners. And although, as one would expect, they did trend higher in dog aggression and dog rivalry, they did trail several other breeds, including JRTs and Akitas.

So, are we to believe that if Akitas -- which are larger and more powerful dogs -- and apparently more prone to aggression -- were to be as popular as pit bulls are, they wouldn't cause the same problems?

The thing that seems uniquely different for pit bulls is their attractiveness to people who shouldn't have them -- or idiots in general - -in no small part because they are cheap.

So what happens if we make it impossible for these people to get pit bulls -- then what? Does the problem go away if they move on to Akitas, or Chows, or Rotties, or GSDs?

If we think we have a viable solution -- then why not prevent the mess that has become of 'pit bulls' on someone else's preferred breed of dog by enacting the law to be all-inclusive?

If licensing, training, special permission from landlords, mandatory spay/neuter are all so great, why not enact them across the board to prevent the problem from just moving to a different type of dog?

But we know these things don't work when passed for all breeds. So you don't want them -- even though most evidence points to it not working for 'pit bulls' either.

The reason so many cities pass all out bans is not so much that they think they solve the problem -- there is no evidence that can lead them there -- but because politically it gives them the appearance that they've done something. And unfortunately, we can't get the entire canine community on board to fight against legislation that is not helpful to the dogs.

PBurns said...

Yes, apparently Pit Bull owners ARE uniquely stupid, slow witted, knuckle-draggers. Look at what a wonderful job they are doing shoveling their dogs into the ovens, over-breeding the dogs, over-selling the dogs, lying about the statistics, and turning up the flame on breed bans across the country.

Nice work! Good job! Keep it up!

Keep on doing what you've always done and you are sure to get more of what you have got, which is dead dogs and breed bans.

I salute your achievements.


Anonymous said...

And until we get the entire animal welfare community on the same page as to what the actual solutions are (ie: based on SUCCESS not rehashing failed policies) we will continue to do it. And thanks for your efforts at prolonging this by rehashing failed policies like breed specific language and mandatory spay/neuter -- even if only for particular breeds.

Seahorse said...

I live in a small, rural, affluent county outside Washington, D.C. We're not urban, we're not poor, but we've had our pit bull problems.

The two instances of death by pit bulls here were a horse, attacked IN it's own stall, and an adult human, attacked by his own dogs in his own home. No other dogs have killed a horse around here, no other dogs have killed a human around here. The human was no unattended toddler. According to what I've read, a pit bull is unique in that they are as likely to attack an adult human, a being far larger than itself, as they are a child. Clearly, horses are not too large to attack, either, even in their stables. Additionally, many serious attacks and/or deadly attacks have reportedly been the first time a pit bull has ever bitten. Even if you don't believe that (and I see it argued each time this issue comes up), can anyone seriously argue that the bite of a pit bull is not more likely to result in a more devastating injury than most other dogs? When they bite they MEAN to bite, and I've never seen the Conibear Trap Illustrated Guide to getting them to let go. They let go when they want to.

I was called in to assist after the horse attack, and I did all I could to help the horse and the owner, so I know whereof I speak. Unless you've seen the carnage in person, it's all a little too easy to dismiss.


Seahorse said...

And on this morning's front page of our local paper, The Calvert Recorder, a report about pit bulls and an attack here this summer on an oil delivery man. No link up on their web site yet, but the synopsis is that the man was making a scheduled delivery, was handing the property owner her bill through the front door, when the dog raced up the stairs, past the owner and attacked the man. 100 stitches to his face and a lot of lost work time later this man now has fear on the job. The article profiles some other cases in Southern Maryland, pit bull attacks on humans and other dogs, and talks about what the local jurisdictions are doing about dangerous dogs.


J. Smith said...

PBurns, usually I can agree with a lot you say in your blog and I have learned a great deal from it but with this post I have to disagree.

PitBull owners are very well aware of the fact that our dogs are dog agreesive and very prey driven. We constantly try to stress this point to new owners that this breed isn't for everyone

and you should think carefully about wanting to own a very driven, active and dog aggressive dogs. Whoever thinks that these are just "any old dog" are very mistaken and would think that about any working breed.

I don't, however, believe that these animals are human aggressive (as a majority) there are a few true game bred dogs that are man biters and you have people raising their animals for protection that teach them human aggression but as a rule these dogs were breed to absolutely love humans.

These also aren't large dogs. 30-60 pounds is a medium sized breed and when you begin to get consistently larger animals you are no longer talking about an APBT.

PBurns said...

Josef, I am familiar with the history of the Pit Bull, and the simple truth is that this is not a breed, but a type. Some are in registries, some are not, and size varies widely depending on intent and purpose.

For the history, see here >>

The effort of the Pit Bull community to define the problem away by saying "that's not a Pit Bull" fools no one and does not serve the interests of the dog. People who know dogs know a Pit Bull when they see one, just as they know a Jack Russell when they see one. Some may be better or worse examples of the dog, and some may be larger or smaller or fall under a different name (a Parson Russell Terrier or a Russell Terrier for JRTs), but there is no denying the dog, is there?

Yes, I know that some Pit Pull owners admit the game-driven nature of the breed, but many do not. Only a few years in dogs, and based on a sample size of one, these folks have decided that all Pit Bulls are as gentle as lambs and all are safe unsupervised around the family chihuahua and the family baby. What happens next, in a small but predictable number of cases, is told in statistics and story.

All dogs are capable of biting other dogs and other people, and the same aggressive strand (which is partly fear-based it should be said) that makes a breed dog-aggressive is the same exploded code that can make it human aggressive as well. Again, we do not have to guess about this; what happens too often is told in story and statistics.

A Pit Bull web site notes that "for every 1 Pit Bull placed in a loving home there are 599 killed. Shockingly, that statistic unfortunately does not exclude puppies!" This site goes on to note that more than a million Pit Bulls a year are killed in the U.S, and that more than 200 a day are killed in Los Angeles alone.

So please, let's NOT talk about responsibility in the Pit Bull community. There is far too little of it, and the piles of rotting dog carcasses tell that tale. This is a dog that is over-bred and over-sold, and which the Pit Bull community has failed for far too many decades.


john said...

Mr. Burns - First time to your blog and found your pit bull comments both refreshing and disturbing. I happen to fall into the camp of let's advance the debate from "Are pit bulls inherently dangerous" to "What can we do as a pit bull community to reduce the number of unwanted incidents?". My Amstaff is of course well bred, properly trained & socialized, and holds damn near "hero" status in my neighborhood ... But I need not travel far to find some idiot redneck or inner-city punk mishandling his poorly bred, untrained, & undersocialized K9 status symbol. Remarkably, many of those dogs still turn out ok (a testament to the breeds), but several do not, causing problems for the rest of us. On this point, we probably agree. The question is ... what to do about it.

Your solution seems to be along the lines of let's make an exception and go ahead with breed bans and mandatory fixing. Sort of "the pit bull community can't police themselves, so we need to do it for them" solution. You're right, there is not enough responsibility in the PB Community, but I'm surprised a man with your intelligence would believe the solution is so simple. At the root of the "pit bull problem" is entire class of humans with generational ignorance and/or criminal motivations ... I'm afraid your breed ban & neuter laws aren't going to fix that. In this case, the pit bull breeds take the fall, but, hypothetically, what if Jack Russells became the new fad ... tenacious as shit and easy to hide from the law, overbred, oversold, increasingly represented by the worst low-lifes on earth. What then? Are you going to be receptive when I fire off a blog about how Burns & the rest of the Jack Russell community can't police itself? Let's round up Burn's JR's and kill them (or chop off their nuts) because he can't keep the criminals, thugs & hillbilly breeders out of the breed ... Just a temporary solution until we "get the supply down". Come on, is this the best solution a man with your intelligence can come up with?

I genuinely want to explore ways to reduce pit bull incidents, but most of the problems are NOT coming from educated, law abiding dog owners ... rather they stem from an element of society whose problems are much greater than what kinda dog they own. Your solution seems to ignore this reality and would likely not even work as a stop-gap measure. Please don't mistaken my comments as "the criminals will break the law no matter what we do" ... I'm simply asking whether you, upon further reflection, might have some creative solutions to a rather complex problem.

PBurns said...

I don't have the answer for Pit Bulls, but I do know what the answer is NOT: doing what we are doing right now.

What we have now is breed bans AND lots of dog bites by Pits, AND a million dead pit bulls a year.

And what is the Pit Bull community's answer for THEIR breed?

So far, it's to talk about what NOT to do, rather than what to do.

And the result, of course, can only be described as a FAIL.

I think if you read a little more on this blog, you will see that we DO have fools in the Jack Russell and Patterdale Terriers communities, and that we DO patrol things pretty tightly.

Click on the link in this story to go to the JRTCA web site and see what they say about NOT getting a Jack Russell terrier.

The JRTCA also runs print ads in EVERY major dog publication every month saying the same thing: a JRT is NOT the dog for you.

Where is the analog for Pit Bulls? Not there!

Instead, it's page after page of Pit Bull breeder ads, each selling swagger and testosterone.

Instead its web sites that say Pit Bulls are a perfect family dog and are no different from a Standard Poodle. Anyone who says different is a dog-racist!

And what is the result? Simple: a million dead pit bulls a year, scores of thousands of serious bites a year, and a push for breed bans from coast to coast.

Go to the Pit Bull bulletin boards and web sites and see what you get. What you will find are folks selling break sticks, bragging about fighting lines (yes, I know what I am reading) and otherwise celebrating the worst. Is everyone doing that? No, of course not. But no one edits it out when some do, do they? This kind of sly celebration of dog fighting is not just tolerated in the Pit Bull community, it's considered the norm!

Go to Google and type in "Pit Bull Breeder" or "Pit Bull Kennel" and see what you see. There's the macho crap again, the chained dogs, the celebration of fighting ("purely for historical purposes"), the chest-thumping graphics, the wannabe dog fighting community, etc.

Pick the first 10 pit bull breeders and write down the laguage used and clip the graphics. What is being said? Who is this designed to attract?

This is YOUR dog and YOUR community.

So the question comes back to this: What are YOU doing to fence up and send out a different message?

In the JRT community, we beat people hard when they need it. I do it on this blog as regular readers know. See this post as an example >>

Did that post work? It did -- the pictures are gone, and that fool (a wannabe dog fighting man in a small town in Iowa) is marked and (more importantly) a positive culture has been framed.

In the JRT community, we teach people how to treat the dogs, and how to talk about them too.

But what about the Pit Bull community?

Not so much.

Pit Bull folks seem to be waiting for others to clean up their culture.

And I assure you that they will.

There are too many dead dogs and there are too many mained people for society not to step up.

The short story is that your canine community has failed in a spectacular way, and your community's response has been timid, ineffective, and accusatory. Instead of accepting responsibility, you have denied it.

And so the question is turned back to you: What are YOU going to do to protect your breed and change the culture?


john said...

Appreciate the response, PBurns. Quality dialogue on the subject is hard to find. A few responses to your comments:

1. You say you don't have the answers for pit bulls, but in fact your previous posts suggest you do -- your de facto solution is heavy regulation (breed specific bans, mandatory this, required that, etc.) ... Make everyone jump thru a series of hoops and eventually every thing will work itself out, right?

2. The problem I see with your solution (aside from the mountain of evidence that says it doesn't work) is that worst offenders either don't care, won't comply, or simply stay one step ahead of an under-funded, under-enforced, and sub-harsh code. Meanwhile, guys like me (who aren't part of the problem) become burdened with paperwork, fees, and the anxiety of knowing the city could order a Denver-style round up on us on the whim of some f#@king politician. Sorry, bro, I'd rather donate a $1000 to HSUS, then pay a $30 pet registration (which now puts my dog on the death rolls). People really need to stop with the "you got nothing to worry about as long as your dog is ok" argument.

3. As my original posts reads, the problem largely rests with a group of people whose faults reach well beyond pit bull ownership. So, let me get this pro-BSl logic straight: We as a society have failed to break generations of ignorance, poverty, criminal activity, drug use, human & animal abuse, and general disregard for the law ... BUT all of sudden a new pit bull law and AC officer Barney Fife are going to clean up the pit bull problem. This is what I mean when I said you're oversimplifying the solution and why BSL is so misguided.

4. I applaud your efforts to keep the JRT bad apples in check ... Unfortunately, our opportunity to nip that in the bud has come & gone. We might legitimately be able to shut down some websites or shame people into backing off all the macho crap, but again we (unlike you) are dealing with a criminal element, or at the very least a damn defiant one; there's also the issue of that pesky Constitution, property rights, and freedom of speech. I'm wondering if there are possibly some lessons learned from what the Dobe or Rottie crowd did years ago?

If you wish to continue this dialogue, I'd be happy to post some of my own solutions ... My original intent was to see, under a hypothetic JRT scenario, if you'd revisit your BSL position and offer some more constructive solutions, but it sounds like you're pretty dug in.

PBurns said...

John your core argument is an old one: that we can do nothing about X problem until we solve some (much larger) Y problem.

For examples, some folks suggest we can do nothing about illegal immmigration until we deal with all of the hunger, poverty and unemployment in the developing world.

Others suggested we can do nothing about street drug markets in our inner cities until we deal with all of the poverty, hopelessness, joblessess, and broken culture in in our cities, and strengthen crumbling families to boot.

But you what? Neither of those are true -- these were just convenient lines to take solvable problems and toss them into the abyss of unsolvability. Every country in the world controls its borders and does a pretty good job of it compared to the US. Changes in US immigration law enforcment made after 2002 are only now being implemented, but illegal immigration is now going down for the first time in history. Similarly, changes in law enforcement in the 1990s resulted in decline in the number of street drug markets in most of our inner cities. No you never eliminate anything (including murder and rape), but you can reduce the numbers.

We can do the same for Pit Bulls.

Instead, Pit Bull owners could not be bothered with doing anything to save the dogs from the killing chambers. They could not be bothered with preventing people from being lacerated by these dogs placed in the wrong hands.

Most of the anti-breed specific legislation arguments are nonsense.

You want to know what is breed specific? I will tell you: the deads dogs at the local shelters are breed specific -- most of them are Pit Bulls. No one wants them, and most of the cages are full of them. More and more dogs are coming in every day, bred by fools who claim they have rights and no responsibilities. That is very breed specific

You want to know what else is breed specific? I will tell you: the dog that rips the face or seriously savages the legs and arms of someone is breed specific. And to be more specific, more than half the time the dog doing the damage is a Pit Bull type dog.

Both of these are breed specific problems, and everyone in the "gets it."

The failture of the Pit Bull community to patrol its own breed and to suggest real solutions for these real problems means that others are stepping in to fill the gap.

Sorry, but no one is waiting for a magic wand to appear which we can wave to get rid of all povety, knuckle heads, and fools.

Clearly, such a wand is not needed anway; we did not have Pit Bull problems in the 50 or 50s, did we? No, we did not. Back then we had enforcement. Back then people knew they had responsibilities and they were not yet making fanciful rights claims in order to try to escape them.

So yes, the comments section is begging: What are YOU DOING to change the problem? What are you doing to change the culture of your Pit Bull community? What are you doing to keep Pit Bulls out of the death chambers at the local shelter?

Don't just tell me your theory of change: Tell me what you are DOING to create change. Because if you are not doing anything then you either: 1) don't really care, or; 2) are simply trying to derail what others are doing in order to return to the status quo of doing nothing (which means one million dead Pit Bulls a year and thousands of ripped up people).


john said...

Patrick - It's your blog, so you can say what you want, but I came on here to express my thoughts and hopefully learn from someone with an opposing viewpoint. What I got instead was a recurring lecture on how bad the pit bull community sucks and an off topic lesson on immigration.

First, I never said X couldn't be solved until Y was fixed, nor did I say the problem was "unsolvable", nor am I one of those apologists who "can't be bothered" with the all the euthanizations & maulings (I suppose even the hard-working pit bull rescue groups don't get your respect). Your repeated attempts to paint us in such ways is offensive and frankly unhelpful to your credibility as a blogger (if that matters to you).

I did say that YOUR solution (i.e. BSL, etc.) seemed misguided & oversimplified given what we know to be other societal & political factors at play. Not even your own previously posted beliefs appear to reconcile with this position. In your haste to condemn the PB community and eagerness for change, you seem now to have drifted into the "let's throw shit on the wall and see what sticks" camp. This I find perplexing and suspicious.

I, like many pit owners, would like to be part of the solution; but I can't change how we got here nor do I have the man-power or legal authority to do what I think really needs doing. At best, I can work within the system we have and maybe have some impact on the multitude of f#@cked up things that culminate into a pit bull incident. Banning a host of breeds and regulating responsible owners are not on my "good ideas" list, and never will be.

You apparently have some magic tough-guy way of policing your own, but I'm still waiting to hear how you would do it were you in my shoes (i.e. as a pit owner in 2009, not in 1950). I do know that that many PB advocates have drafted and pushed for comprehensive, behavioral-based legislation coupled with targeted education and enforcement, only to see those sensible solutions summarily dismissed ... why? well that's another story, isn't it.

To answer your last question, Yes, I do care, and No, I don't enjoy the status quo. Admittedly my first priority is raising an exceptionally good dog (which I have by every measure) and protecting him from political ass-wipes and their followers. Beyond that, I advocate where/when I can and am educating myself on what actions can be taken to fix a very complex problem plagued by competing interests & rampant ignorance. Maybe not the type of activism you respect, but I'm not exactly sticking my head in the sand either. Wherever this all leads, I will have a voice, it will be intelligent, and it will be heard.

PBurns said...

John, you've typed a 1,000 words on here and still have offered NO solutions or suggestions.


You have indeed cast the solvable into the abysss of the unsolvable.

I do not need to characterize the Pit Bull communuity -- it is a caricature all its own. As noted earlier, just Google "Put Bull Breeder" or "Pit Bull Kennel" and see what you get. I have. Let me know what you find when you do it.


john said...

Yea, 1,000 words from me with no solutions VERSUS an entire Blog from you with no solutions.

Oh, wait, your solution is BSL, just with no data on how/why it's going to work and no explanation for why your current position wholly contradicts your 1/12/09 post (where you flatly reject BSL against pit bulls). Hmmm ... what's going on, Pat?

But since you asked about solutions ...
1. How about ENFORCE dangerous dog laws already on the books? OR
2. How about comprehensive, behavioral based dog legislation already proposed and endorsed by multiple animal/vet organizations.
3. How about actually removing, rehabbing, relocating, putting down (you pick) dogs that actually show a history of aggression ... Neighbors know which dogs have the behavioral problems, but amazingly years can go by without AC ever investigating ... can't happen.
3. How about targeting the source of the problem instead of the entire pit bull owning population.
4. How about empowering police to make arrests or issue citations based on something other than witnessing a dog fight, or granting an officer permission to investigate other potential violations based on suspicion of dog violations.
5. How about forbidding ex-criminals from housing dogs.
6. How about requiring teenagers who wish to handle dogs publicly retain a permit/ID, showing that they have no history of jv and have passed a basic dog ed test. Could even make it an "endorsement" on their school IDs, which they often carry with them anyway.
7. How about a hotline or reward program for whistle-blowers (with protection against habitual whistle-blowers).
8. How about introducing mandatory "dog bite" education into school curriculum ... as simple as a 30 minute CD ... explain why kids are susceptible to bites, demystify the pit bull, explain the penalties, attempt to break the cultural ignorance.
9. How about stiffer penalties for irresponsible ownership ... if they can't pay the fines, make them serve time or do community service.
10. How about introduce Prison Dog programs into the community ... Win-Win-Win ... maybe even do school field trips to witness the program.
11. How about require mandatory offer/receipt of dog ed information at all S/N clinics, shelters, vet offices?
12. How about make it illegal for landlords & insurance to discriminate based on breed without at least an exemption process.
13. How about shutting down and banning puppy mills (all breeds).
14. How about flagging certain lines or "working" dog breeders ... maybe higher transparency requirements or other trigger events.
15. How about asking law enforcement what can be done ... right now, too many cops got better things to do, or simply aren't willing to risk their lives over a dog and a misdemeanor charge.
16. How about funding or fund-raising for PSA campaign about dogs (or even pit bulls if you wish). Not opposed to your "unselling" idea, as long as its informational & not fear-based.
17. How about a simple community website where people can report problem animals and /or see where the problems are in their neighborhood. Sort of like a sex-offender registry, but less formal and more interactive / educational.
18. How about a voluntary donation fee earmarked specially for dog-bite related education ... can be solicited when dogs are registered or at S/N events.
19. How about a tax of some sort ... not sure what to apply it to ... but I'm not opposed to paying it. I just don't like the idea of tying it to registration b/c too many people already don't register (for good & bad reasons).
20. How about some anti-chaining and "failure to exercise" laws ... I happen to believe failure to exercise is the root of most problems.

I have others, but you may not really care at this point. After all, I'm just one of those worthless "pit bull people", right?

PBurns said...

Nice list John! I might support quite a number of these. Of course, I may be the exception.

What you have done here is create a list of extremely high (and often invasive) regulatory burdens on all dog owners rather than deal with the problems for your breed.

To make a road repair analogy....

Instead of dealing with the pothole in the road in front of your home, you point out that there are potholes all over the world, and your plan of action is to start filling in the oldest potholes first.

But about that pot hole in front of your house ....??

To put it another way: What have YOU done to get any of these ideas operationalized on behalf of your breed?

You are not stupid or inarticulate. You care about your breed. You have ideas.

Now use that to lead, or else get out of the way of the local politicians who will lead in your absence.

Diane Jessup over at has put it pretty well when it comes to the current state of affairs for Pit Bulls. She writes:

"No other breed has ever faced the possibility of extinction by legislation like the American pit bull. We are in a time of crises. We can regulate ourselves, or we can allow dog-haters to do it for us."


I am hardly a dog hater.

I have spent many years working on behalf of dogs.

Not owners. Not breeders. Dogs.

So let me bring it back to the real question: What are YOU going to do to help the Pit Bull?

What are you doing to get new laws passed?

How are you going to work to change the culture?

Today about 2,500 Pit Bull were killed because of the failure of so many to take action.

Tomorrow it will be the same.

So, which of these changes do you think will REALLY work to reduce the carnage down at the pound this year or next or the year after that? Which one of these ideas are you willing to spend the next few years on?

It will take lot of time. There is no money or reward in it.

But if you do not take ACTION to support an alternative solution, I guarantee no one will care what you think. Communities have heard a lot of talk for a very long time from the Pit Bull community, but they have seen very little action to create, support or implement alternative workable solutions of the kind you suggest.

In fact, much of what you have here is typing.

"Enforce dangerous dog laws already on the books?" What does that mean? Does it mean we hose off the blood and kill the dogs after the bite?

"Comprehensive, behavioral based dog legislation already proposed and endorsed by multiple animal/vet organizations..." Does that mean we hose off the blood and kill the dog after the bite?

"[A]ctually removing, rehabbing, relocating, putting down ... dogs that actually show a history of aggression" Does that mean we hose off the blood and kill the dog after the bite?

Other ideas are pretty good, but pretty far out there. You want a sex offender-type registry for dog owners? Based on what? If your dog bites a person right now, it is DEAD. If it is just barking next door, however, can your neighbor have you added to the sex offender-type registry? Oh good!

You want to make it illegal for landlords & insurance companies to discriminate based on breed? Wow. They have no property rights? Landlords and insurance companies are discriminating based on risk. Insurance companies discriminate based on age, sex, smoking, weight, race. But not on the basis of Pit Bull ownership? Landlords have prohibitions on loud music, outdoor clotheslines, water beds, and any and all pets, but they cannot say they will not rent to someone who has a Pit Bull? How about a lion or a horse?

Not all your ideas are half-baked. Some are very good. But they are equally worthless if they are not followed with a LOT of concerted action over years. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to stand for the dogs? For years? Without pay? Because that is what it is going to take.

Ask Diane Jessup.


john said...

Jesus, Patrick, enough with the "what are YOU doing about it" beat down ... Your point is well taken, but I am where I am. I could just as easily make the point that your daily attention to this blog is a colossal waste of time if you truly cared about saving dog lives.

Describing my list as an "extremely high & invasive regulatory burden on all dog owners" is flawed as follows: a) I'm not advocating a 20-point plan, I'm saying 'take your pick'. b) Only 4 or 5 out of 20 are "regulatory" in nature, and few if any fall into the category of 'high' ... besides, you want action, right? c) I'm not buying your convenient logic that innocent pit bull owners deserve all "the burden" while innocent 'other breed' owners do not ... Can't we just agree that targeting the source of the problems rather than a larger population of responsible owners is the much wiser path?

Re your "hose off the blood" trilogy ... First, are you telling me there are no warning signs between nice, peaceful puppy and a dead baby on the driveway? Heed the warning signs, pit bull or otherwise. Second, the entire criminal justice system is based on punish bad deeds, not punish potentially bad deeds. So, yes, if you have to hose off the blood and then punish the dog/ owner harshly, so be it ... works like clockwork in human society every day. If you want "potential for harm" as the new basis for law, you better add your own breed (JRTs) to the banned list, along with about 1000 other different things.

Re your dismissal of my dog offender registry, again you see no middle ground, no usefulness? Not all dogs that bite are DEAD ... what planet do you live on? My friends Pom was killed by the neighbors Akita ... and nothing happened except a small fine. Some dogs are volatile and/or display aggression in given situations ... doesn't make them all bad or worthy of death, but neighbors get nervous and need a forum for documenting their concerns. Might help AC build a case against some of these lowlife owners or backyard breeders. Gets the community involved in the solution without burdening AC.

Re Diane Jessup ... Don't know her personally but have followed her work for years and read passages from her books. No doubt she's smart & done great things for the breed, but she represents only one facet of PB owners -- a facet which can be easily confused as dubious by untrained eyes (i.e. most politicians and the general public) ... Why? Because explaining to some Joe Schmo what a "working pit bull" is requires just that ... lots of explaining ... and begs the question "Working at what?" ... The explanation isn't likely to end with a bunch of warm & fuzzies about the breed. Jessup is a shining example of responsible ownership, but her devotion to protecting the very trait that so many people find dangerous about the breed, is probably a PR challenge for her and PB advocacy at large.

PBurns said...

John --

I am not sure what you mean by " I am where I am."

We are all where we are all the time.

We all take the time to do what we think is important.

We all have the same amount of hours in a day.

As for this blog, you clearly do not read it.

This blog worked to help spark a BBC documentary, which worked to change dozens of canine standards in Kennel Club dogs in the UK and Australia. That BBC documentary, in turn, sparked an ABC Nightline piece on the same issue (video of both is in the right margin). Sometimes a spark catches the right wind!

But enough about the past. My last five posts have also caught a little wind, as they have exposed the AKC's close ties with puppy millers. Those posts are being picked up by other bloggers now -- more literate and more influential writers than me. Another case of a spark catching a wind.

This morning I put up a visual of what is going on on the Pit Bull communuity. Here is it is >>

You are where you are but whether you are in Alaska or Nebrask or on a ship at sea, you can effect change.

How about take this graphic >> and get it produced as a stencil that folks can buy from you at cost?

How about putting up a Face Book page to sell the stencil (with a Pay Pal link) with instructions on how folks can stencil 2,400 Pit Bulls and the message (you get to write that!) on a road in their read. The inlcuded instructions you would send them would explain that folks should work with the City and County and choose roads about to be resurfaced in the next week or so; this is not vanadalism; this is Public Relations and Educational outreside. This is the job of "UNselling" the breeding of Pit Bulls.

Paint the road, and politicians will come out to help, and so will other dog lovers, and the Animal Control folks. Reporters will be there to write stories and take pictures. Television cameras will show up.

And guess what? You can be the spark for this whether you are in Nebraska, Alaska or New York City.

But it requires action.

Asking for people to take action is not to give them a "beat down." Funny that you think it is. Funny too that you think NOT taking action will change the situation for Pit Bulls.

With that, I am closing this thread.

Part of taking action is not wasting too much time with people who have no real interest in making change and who cling to the status quo. I am hoping you are not one of those, but so far I have heard a number of excuses for doing nothing, and seen no real interest in actually taking action. In the world of the Pit Bull, Inaction = Death, and Action = Life. Make your choice.


JP said...

I want to point out that you listed Horn Lake MS. on the map as an area that has bsl, and it in fact does not have any kind of restrictions or special rules for any breed, including Pit Bulls. It used to require Pit Bull owners to be insured with 50,000, but that was dropped over 10 years ago.
It still shows up on bsl lists everywhere, but it no longer has any.

PBurns said...

Thanks -- will correct the Horn Lake MS cite.


pibble said...

You say:

"On the one hand, these folks will tell you their dogs have been bred for hundreds of years to battle other dogs, catch wild pig and cattle, kill escaping slaves, and guard prisoners and farm stock.

On the other hand, they will tell you that every Pit Bull down at the local pound is as gentle as a lamb, and would never harm a fly unless it has been "raised wrong."

HOW COMPLETELY UNTRUE! And I do take offense.

I work/volunteer at a no-kill shelter in CT. I love pit bulls, probably because of their underdog status.

The first thing I do when working to adopt the many dogs in our shelter is ask "how do YOU feel about pit bulls. If they're not interested, I don't push, I don't try to win them over. I don't pretend that all pits are angels, I don't pretend that they're all ideal for homes with children or even inexperienced adults. (We also don't take in dogs of ANY breed that have shown aggression. That can be a Yorkie or a pit bull.)

Please don't categorize owners of PBs and lovers of these dogs as ignorant fools who protect these animals from harm no matter what. Those of us in shelters or ACs have seen the truly damaged dogs, the sadness of abuse and cruelty that some can only imagine.

There is no doubt that there are people who do this, but we're not all blind fools. There are also people who protect the aggressive Golden who bit the infant in the face, or the Flat Coated Retriever who has bitten multiple times unprovoked. But no one writes about those dogs or throws them into a bucket. Let's face it: overbreeding of any dog will screw up the gene pool.

Each dog is an individual; no matter the breed. It should be evaluated individually, temperament tested, and placed appropriately.

I don't believe there is a home for every dog; I don't believe every dog can be saved. There are dogs who are beyond "damaged" and cannot be rehabilitated and safely placed. But I don't believe every pit bull - or every dog - should be placed in a bucket and judged in a generalized fashion.

By the way, my crew consists of four rescues: A Border Collie, an Australian Shepherd, a Parson Russell, and a Pit Bull. I know the characteristics of each of these breeds, as I do other breeds. You pick up a little after 48 years.

Broad brush strokes and generalizations such as the one you've made can be very harmful. We've seen it done to humans and the impact its had. Let's try not to do this to animals, too.

Pibble -

PBurns said...

First, good on ya for adopting.

Second, I assume you are NOT disagreeing with the first sentence that there are LOTS and lots of books, web site, bulletin boards, etc. that LOVE to talk about the gladiator history of the Pit Bull. You would not diagree with that, right? Lots of romance there, eh?

What you seem to be disagreeging with is that everyone in the world of Pits is a blind fool. I would agree with you there -- not all are. But a LOT are breed blind, and a lot of folks seems to have no idea about the genetic code that exists in work-created breeds. And so they deny the code exits, and the result is predictable: Lots and lots of dogs in shelters on their way to death.

A lof of folks love to defend the Pit Bull. What seems to be going on here -- and you have given a small nod to it -- is that folks are looking for a cause, and Pit Bulls seems like a good one. Then, looking for an analogy to help them sell the cause of Pit Bull rescue, they try on the "racism and prejduice" hat. The only problem there is that it does not fit very well.

You see, people have not been bred for hundreds of years for aggression. Some breeds of animals have, and Pit Bulls are at the top of the heap.

YES there are Pit Bulls without the faintest Pit Bull code in them, same as there are Jack Russells with no prey drive and Border Collies with no herding sense. In the world of pet placement, that is considered a good thing. But if you want to know how often that happens consider this: In the U.S. right now, we kill about 1/3 of all Pit Bulls a year. And why? Because the folks that got those dogs thought they were getting a "PET Bull," but in fact they got a Pit Bull.

Consider this: Almost all of the Pit Bulls in your shelter got in your shelter due to the failure of someone who loved or liked the dog. Most shelters are awash with Pit Bull failures -- and the failure is of their FIRST owner to know what a Pit Bull was and is. Now that the Pit Bull is no longer a puppy, it is hard to market. Most people do not want a dog; they want a puppy. And very few want an adult Pit Bull.


BirrML said...

Ok, people, let's stop with your 'statistics', ideas, and BS that is all found by reading articles and reports by the MEDIA! The media, as anyone with intelligent though should know, does not necessarily report on real statistics and research. If you disagree, I will reference such people as Glenn Beck, Rush Linbaugh, Kieth Olberman, Rachel Maddowetc. Who will all report completely differently on the same stories. Why? Because it is all based on personal opinion and speculation. The same basis used when writing Breed specific legislation. I am an owner of a pit bull, and currently have a court case due to it. I do agree that people must be responsible for their pets, which most people are not, what type of pet it is, is irrelevant. I have done plenty of research on this subject, and seemingly unlike most people commenting here, or someone who wrote this blog, I use valid sources, such as academic journals, research reports, and articles written by professionals in the field. Not the opinion of journalists or fudged statistics. The real rpoblem is not genetics, the only thing genetics have to do with it is:
Yes, they are a large breeed and capable of seriously injuring or killing.
The question is, does this make them 'inherently vicious'? No, it does not, it just makes it easier for unsavory people to train them to be aggressive and vicious, and the ability act upon this training. People are bred to be contributing members of society, but are most people contributing to society in a positive way? No, because they weren't raised or 'trained' to do so. With your argument that these animal's ancestors were bred for certain purposes will reflect on offspring, people should inherently want to positively contribute to society. Therefore, your argument is invalid and unsubstantiated. Unless, of course, you go with a specieist perspective that we are cognitive beings and genetically superior to these animals. Since humans seem to try so hard to separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. So what happens if the son of a criminal grows up to be a prosecutor? He should have been bred to be a criminal, considering he is the descendant of a criminal. I can debunk just about any of these myths so many media brainwashed people love to write or post about. My next post here will be an article I recently wrote on this subject, with VALID sources. Anyone compelled to debate this should be prepared with some valid sources, or will you continue to allow the media to control your thoughts?

PBurns said...

What we have here is a moron. Or a drunk. Or a drunk moron.

Or as he puts it "I am an owner of a pit bull, and currently have a court case due to it."

I'll bet!

Good luck with that, LOL.


PBurns said...

John wants me to know that when he says "I am where I am" what he really means is that he does not care enough about the million dogs a year being killed to do actually do anything for "his" breed.

Which is exactly what is wrong with the Pit Bull community, and why nearly a million dogs a year are being killed.


E said...

I've searched high and low and been unable to find stats on pit-bull bite frequency in relation to pit-bull population representation in overall dog population. In other words, I'm looking for a way of contextualizing these stats without it being weighted by the number of dogs involved. For example, if Pits outweight Rotties for bite frequency and/or mortality rates, I want to be able to factor total of Pits in circulation (so to speak) versus Rotties. Have you had any luck finding this information? Best, E

PBurns said...

Bite frequency is a meaningless figure. Dachshunds bite a lot, but people are rarely hospitalized. Most serious dog bites occur from "butcher dogs" which include Pit Bulls, Rotts, Dogues, Dogos, Presios, etc. Look up butcher dogs on this blog and you will see some discussion.

About 60 percent of all serious bites leading to hospitalizations are due to Pit Bulls, but this type of dog represents only 2-3% of all dogs in the U.S. Again, search this blog -- I have written a lot about Pits in the past.

Joanna in Las Vegas said...

WOW... most if not all the comments on THIS blog are intelligent and coherent ... not always found in some responses about PBs. At the moment,because I've posted only links to the daily reports of slaughter and mayhem caused by PB/PB types, I'm getting slammed and some harsh comments even from long time friends. EVERYTHING I've tried to point out in on this blog. I've done rescue for almost 50 years... been bitten 14 times... 9 times by those annoying little Chuahuas, 1 by a Cocker with an ear infection, 1 by the littermate of my Drathaar when I was walking out the door with him 2 by police GSDs during civil rights demonstrations and once by a foster DandieDinmont who turned out to have a brain tumour. One Cairn of mine showed teeth when grooming and got a muzzle after that for grooming.

You will not find even near accurate stats on on frequency ratio because of the underground/thug culture that breeds the most violent 'witches brew' of the PB type dog. These individuals never take their dogs to a vet, they are never even vaccinated, much less registered with an animal control office so the best you can do is an guess-timate. You can't even tell about an accurate number of bites. The only thing you can go by is the frequency and severity of REPORTED attacks.... the attitude and response of the owner...most slink away, file bankruptcy or otherwise refuse assume moral much less fiscal responsibility for mayhem their dogs committ...often driving the victim families into bankruptcy.

If the number and severity of attacks were a virus, the CDC would have an army sent into each community to eradicate the vectors of the disease. This IS a public health issue.

Anton said...

When I think of all the healthy pitbulls being put to sleep I get a lump in my throat, its all horrible, a horribly tragedy. I knew "owned" and loved a wonderful pure fighting strain of English Pitbull and can say it was a pure honour, a miracle of an animal. It was all a mistake but I don't regret it for an instant.

Would i do it it again? No Im too old at 40 to handle that raw energy, power and athleticism in such a sized dog.

The game English pitbull has been bred for hundreds of years not to bite man and now suddenly it's a contemporary man killer and maiming machine. How extraordinarily sad.

What went wrong?

I don't approve of dog fighting but the English pitbull was intentionally bred not to bite humans. Dogs that bit humans while being handled at dog fight were ordered destroyed, simple and effective method of ensuring these dogs didn't become man killers. Besides no sane handler wanted to be continually at risk of mauling. Then of course they also knew not to put their arm between dogs setting out to fight.

I think the fact that there are no longer sanctioned dog fights in some countries has meant the breed has been allowed to go to pieces there in the wrong hands. Nurturing a dog to attack and breeding them heavier and or with the use of other less disciplined aggressive breeds. With full intention of them becoming something they never were, very dangerous to man. Its a crime in itself.

How very sad it all is. The worst problems I would expect is high dog fatalities due to the hard wired dog aggression they have also been originally selected for besides being man friendly. The only problem I had with mine was indeed dog aggression, it was uncontrollable.

I agree people should be handler certified and have to pass a test with their dogs to prove they are safe. This should be at their expense and conducted annually. The problem is where does that end? All big dogs all dogs that look a bit pitbull...... all dogs?

Who knows. It seems the definition of a pitbull might be hard to define these days.

Unknown said...

Why don't we put our effort into punishing the stupid people responsible for abusing them and breaking their human or dog trust. We need stronger animal abuse laws. Sterilizing them is not the answer, it's punishing them for coming in to the world with trust for everyone. Most of the time, those people don't deserve trusts and abuse it.