Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Denial and Broken Excuses of the Pit Bull Crowd

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 bred 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 run 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, nor 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 is 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 Russell and Patterdale terriers 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 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 (or a Jack Russell or Patterdale Terrier!), 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 or Patterdale 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 increased 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 perpetual 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 given 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 dismiss Pit Bull advocates as crazy, irresponsible, and unappeasable.

And what is the result? A complete ban on Pit Bulls. Consider this list of cities and towns that have embraced a ban (2010 list as this is a repost):

    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.

Too 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.


Unknown said...

Keep educating, Terrierman, and maybe one day the message will stick.

skeptical said...

There is no ban in Gary, Indiana, Lake Station or Lake County, Indiana. Where did you get your data?

KaD said...

You make many good points but I think you're still dancing around the issue. A game bred pit bull is different from a game bred jack Russell both in size and temperament. Records go back to collies being bred for herding for at least 300 years, yet in the absence of sheep collie are SO hardwired that some have attempted to herd frogs, shoes, and ants. Pit fighting dogs have been bred for unprovoked, disproportionate, explosive aggression for at least three times longer. To pretend YOUR pit bulls is special and would never 'go game' is fooling yourself and putting people at risk. Fighting breeds are not PET animals. The aggression cannot be loved, trained, or socialized out of them and they are always, every minute, a disproportionate risk to cause great bodily harm. Past behavior is NO indication of future behavior with a pit bull.

Unknown said...

...your writing contains too much commonsense, and that is coming from an old horse woman who has owned JRT's that came from around the globe for over 50+ years. Actually, did get the last three from shelters, they were difficult, but not impossible. Would never compare them to just another dog, like comparing a Doberman to a Cocker Spaniel.

By20hounds said...

Great blog Terrierman. I agree we must look at options including reigning in the backyard breeders who abuse this breed is the pit bull community hopes to save it. We are not looking at banning breeding but helping to regulate some consumer safety into the purchase of a fmily pet.

powerfulgazelle said...


powerfulgazelle said...

An update on the story of a 6 year old girl in my neighborhood here in Cincinnati, who was playing outdoors, in front yards and a public sidewalk in front of her grandparents' home. She remains in critical condition today---with horrific injuries. The children were being supervised; the dogs were evidently allowed to run loose. The child's mother tried to beat the dogs off with a baseball bat, taken to their heads, without success. I know anything with teeth can bite. I know any dog can theoretically be vicious. But, I doubt highly that a scene like this would have been created by a brief interaction between two beagles and a child. http://www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/hamilton-county/cincinnati/westwood/pit-bulls-mauling-6-year-old-girl-caught-on-cruiser-cam-video

Unknown said...

Lakewood, Ohio has been added to the ban.

Christopher Letzelter said...

To add to your article something that I see as a valuable tool in helping curb the issue, proper breed labeling. A few years back I was an ignorant dog lover that thought everything was a pit bull and hated BSL, then a friend added me to a group of APBT owners/breeders. I learned that all my local shelter dogs were likely not pit bulls but just plain old mutts (no hate here I love all dogs). Then as I became more educated and aware of the breeds plight I realized that as much as I love and admire the breed for its virtues my lifestyle will never fit one not even a mutt dog with high prey drive that could potentially be mixed with an APBT. But there are people who still insist that I need to have one and that I can love the instinct out of it!
These are the same people that get offended when I point out that pit bull only refers to the American Pit Bull Terrier and if their dog truly was one it could not go to doggie daycare because it would do exactly what it was bred to and attack other dogs. These people are so blinded by wanting to have something special they refuse to acknowledge that it is skewing bite statistics and part of the problem. Look at the housing situation, everyone has a pit bull until the landlord tries to deny them then it becomes a lab and/or boxer mix- well if you hadn't called your lab/boxer mix a pit bull in the first place and told people why it was not a pit bull then the situation will eventually disappear. The dogs that are mixed that people claim to be pit bulls that later bite someone are a major part of the problem for people who own purebreds that have never been unstable, if they loved the breed as much as they claim they do they would try harder to report factual information.
If people properly labeled and registered (if possible) their dogs it would cut out a large portion of the market for "hump and dump" breeders. The less en vogue it is to have an unregistered pit bull the further it will drive down the sales and abandonment of dogs especially poorly bred temperament-wise dogs. When people acknowledge that the dog is not in fact a pit bull it decreases the likelihood of it being stolen/sold for breeding and if it bites the statistics will show that it was not a pit bull. Now I'm sure someone is going to take this as some kind of snobbery but it isn't what it is is a realistic way to show people that we can change things to help a very amazing breed that is being demonized with the help of imposters that may not have a single drop of APBT blood.

PBurns said...

I don't get too hung on paper or breed name games. Yes, there are a lot of cross-breeds, but so what? All dogs are crosses and have been since the beginning of time, paper or not. I detail the history of the APBT and most of the rest at this link. >> http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2006/05/what-hell-is-american-staffordshire.html

As you note, people say whatever is convenient for the argument at the moment. In my experience, a true person looks at the dog, not the piece of paper, and he or she judges the dog in the field, not the ring.

Anonymous said...

I am all for the mandatory spaying & neutering. So many shelters are over run with this breed & they are hard to adopt out. In part due to housing bans, county & city bans. Enough already. Quit breeding them. I also agree they take someone with experience training dogs & that will stay diligent. I said I would never have a pit but adopted a puppy who looked like an Australian Cattle Dog but a DNA test said she could have some American Stafford shire Terrier in her. She is dog reactive unless she knows the dog & doesn't back down. I have spent a lot of time & money on classes & trainers. I have to always be diligent with her. A lot of dog owners, though, won't put the time & money into a dog. If no more pits & other bully breeds were bred in this country at all, it would be fine. But then I volunteer with a rescue so I think a lot of spaying & neutering should be mandatory. A sterility drug should be put in the water in some states because backyard breeding & strays are so rampant.

Unknown said...

Great article. I believe Oklahoma law forbids breed specific legislation. Municipal ordinances cannot supersede state law here

Fran said...

Interesting written blog but sadly it does not mention MANY different breeds of dogs are deemed to be "pit bulls" when in fact MANY will not have any actual American Pit Bull Terrier in them, BUT instead are probably mixes from near on to another 20 other CKC registered breeds.

PBurns said...

CKC breeds? They still exist? :) That registry was oretty near bankrupt last I looked. http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2010/04/canadian-kennel-club-going-broke.html

The Pit Bull, of course, is older than the CKC or the AKC or any of the others. A history (from 10 years ago!) is here >> http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2006/05/what-hell-is-american-staffordshire.html

Margaret15 said...

Excellent blog! Just stumbled onto this when I read about another innocent 2 year old was killed by 2 family Pit Bulls in Kansas. Keep up the great writing and help get the message to all.

Donewithit said...

Um yeah, the ckc still very much exists....there are 2 ckc the Canadian kennel club and the continental kennel club in the usa, which is not well respected

Unknown said...

Very good article!!!! Well said and well written.Thank You!!

Unknown said...

To Marie Dickerson. I have had Australian Cattle dogs for many years,
and they as a breed are dogreactive and more often than not will not back down. That's tenacity that's bred into them. Add to that the fact that they probably have pit bull terrier in their background, (they're bred to bite)it really doesn't matter that your adopted puppy has some pitbull in her. Just try to separate two ACDs that are fighting. That being said, I know you'll love all that she is.
Lisa Owen

Carla said...


A close friend owned a pit bull. Raised from a puppy by a doting owner, he was huge and incredibly powerful and assertive, and presented problems visiting in my house--where his bullish ways upset furniture and occasionally knocked me over (I'm in my 70's); he persistently stalked the cat and required constant supervision. He wasn't "mean" but he created a tension that ruined any real hope of a pleasant visit and led to my reluctant ban on indoor visits.

My sister had to watch two escaped neighbor pit bulls tear her sweet old cat to pieces before her eyes. Desperate, she tried to break it up with her car but was too late. The negligent neighbor with bad fencing offered to buy her a new cat.

My downstairs tenant, unbeknownst to me, broke his lease when he acquired an adult pit bull which he kept in his bedroom. I never heard a peep to alert me to that dog's presence. One day I had to let an electrician into the apartment when the owner was at work. When he opened the bedroom door, that dog launched at him like some kind of demon and the electrician barely managed to fend him off with the door--a very close call.

I watched rescue sites for over a year hoping to find a dog but found every site flooded with PBs and PB crosses. The other breeds were, therefore, not plentiful as of old. I ended up buying a purebred puppy from a breeder--not what I had originally intended.

Owning, breeding, transporting, etc., should be licensed. I don't believe in an outright ban--the last resort--but from what I've seen of the owners, it is one of only two rational options. Pit bulls are aggressive and potentially dangerous by nature; failure to admit to and respect their special breeding is a serious problem.

Adora9412 said...

I have worked in Animal Welfare for about 10 years and work specifically with dogs from gamebred situations and I am also the owner of a 10 year old pitbull mix as well as a five year old golden retriever and a five-year-old shitzu Foster dog. While I agree with many of the things you have said including more laws for mandatory spay neuter I do have to add the fact that dog aggression is very different and completely separate than human aggression... which is a proven fact. I know that my pit bull is far more picky with dogs that she needs then my golden retriever and it will always be that way however when it comes to people I don't question my pitbulls temperament. Any and all dogs have the ability to bite if they choose to and yes pitbulls are far more likely to go after other dogs just like Jack Russell Terriers are far more likely to go after small pray, however anyone with knowledge in the canine Behavior world can tell you that dog aggression is in a completely different category than human aggression

Anonymous said...

I feel this way about many, many, many breeds. I have a GSD mix (very high drive, very protective often confused for Malinois/GSD cross for his looks and behavior. And own his behavior completely--it is completely my responsiblity). I also have a Siberian husky, yet another "adorable cute/harmless" dog that can completely destroy your life. I don't believe in Breed Legislation or mandatory spay/neuter laws, however, it astounds me that laws are not made to punish the handler/owner financially for the behavior of their animal. It's always the animal that gets put down, (even in cases where they do nothing wrong, just look like a scary dog). Why aren't laws mandating that the handler is as responsible for his animal's behavior toward other people and their property (kids, the pets, livestock) as he is for driving a car that hurts someone? In other countries, this is expected and shamed if you don't handle your animals and farmers or homeowners are within their right to shoot your dog if it is destructive on their property. Many who care about their animals take that very seriously others who don't, well, their dog can get killed by a farmer. Most dogs with horrible behavior are the consequence of uneducated people or people who don't care about the welfare of their neighbor/other people/other's property. Put a price tag on their destructive behavior and you may see people get educated very quickly and maybe even think twice before adopting an animal doesn't fit their lifestyle (like a sweet husky who isn't exercised enough). I do think some legislation is required but not breed bans for sure. And btw: I'm a huge JRT fan but that comes from owning a "cracker" dog like my high-drive GSD. I had a dingo/shep mix before that who prepared me for him but he was still a HUGE learning curve and I still manage his behavior at 10 years old whereas many people stop working their dog at a certain age. I will never go back to anything but a drivey dog. LOL.

concretenprimroses said...

I just want to say that the newspapers sometimes call aggressive dogs pit bulls even wnen they are not. Pit bull means "aggessive dog" in our language.

Darby said...

Attacks are far from uncommon. Count the victims who are only living because of critical care. It's happening every day. Pits killed another child yesterday. A 25 y.o. man who was attacked this past week along with 3 other adults by one dog passed also. The five year old boy who lost one ear, part of the other, upper lip gone, and eyelid removed, the last report didn't mention his eye injury but stated he couldn't see???? The number of attacks and fatalities from Pits are escalating and the damage is horrific and likened to victims of war injuries. More savage attacks are coming, and there's nothing that I can do, nothing you can do, nothing any of us can do to stop them. Is there a death any more savage than death by Pit Bull? A Kangal dog or a Rott would make short order of the job and it would be over. Not so with Pits. Pits eat their victims alive.