22 July 2005

Updated: Pit Bull Urban Legends

A recent "Pit Bull" attack (they weren't Pits, they were Staffordshire Terriers, but at least that error is understandable) in Bend has elevated my hackles a bit. So many people out there have such terrible misconceptions about Pit Bulls, and are throwing around terms and "facts" that do the breed a huge disservice, and serve only to further the bad reputation that Pit Bulls have.

Everyone is in such a rush to blame the breed. People get all up in arms when these attacks happen and start pushing for mindless legislation (Breed-Specific Legislation, or BSL) to ban certain types of dogs that people perceive to be "dangerous", when they should be pushing to do something about the irresponsible owners and the less-than-reputable breeders that breed them for fighting (damn them all for that), or breed too many of them and they get neglected or just chained up somewhere.

Cripes, any animal with claws, teeth, and a bad attitude is dangerous. Where does it stop? The owner.

Seems like every decade has it's Evil Breed of Dog - in the '80s it was the Doberman (every kid I knew was scared of them, and so was I), '90s the Rottweilers, '00s it's the Pit Bull.

Sensationalist "journalism" can be thanked for that. You don't hear about the people attacked by a Poodle (you read that correctly, a Poodle), or the infant who was killed by a Pomeranian (again, you read that correctly). You also don't hear about the heroism of Pit Bulls. Oh sure, some Collie or Lab goes and does something heroic and it's all over the news. But nobody hears about the Pit Bull that was hand-picked by NASA for a search and rescue mission, or the one who saved a 7-year-old boy from an attack by 2 Akitas, or the one who saved a 10-year-old girl from an intruder. Or the once-abused-and-left-for-dead Pit Bull named "Popsicle" that is one of the top drug-sniffing dogs for the US Customs Service.

To help blow away the BS urban legends about Pit Bulls, I'd like to point you to Understand-A-Bull (see link in the sidebar), a good web site with a section devoted to doing just that. Give it a read, won't you? While you're at it, read this, too.

UPDATE: Here's another good link with info to dispel the myths. And a link to a PDF with some tips for being a good owner. Help dispel the myths - check this out.
Also, I found that one of my favorite TV/movie personalities, Jon Stewart, owns 2 Pit Bulls.


Tanya Kristine said...

Well I'm not blaming the breed. i AM blaming the owner. but some morons get pit bulls and train them to be terrors.

this subject is like abortion. both sides feel very strongly. I, as an avid animal lover, am not pleased with wanting the breed phased out but becuase they're so abused and abandoned and dying by the thousands, one who LOVES pits should also, sadly, want it too. as i said, i have a hybrid whom i ADORE but they shoulnd't be kept as pets.

I LOVE PIT BULLS!!! i can't say this enough. my girlfriend jeannie has one. my girlfriend dena has one and even THEY agree...sad as it is, it's the BREED THAT SUFFERS GREATLY! In fact, too bad we can't just eliminate animals all together the way this society treats them ( i include farm animals in that quote )

however, i am sincerely disheartened to see that Denver is actually rounding up pit bulls and putting them down. THIS is an outrage. If Kody were a pit bull and i lived in Denver, I would move.

i suggest we not breed them anymore. is that really that wrong? remember: we're thinknig about the animal; not our own desires.

Tanya Kristine said...

Oh and ghost dog, i'm from maine and new hampshire...

vermont, however, seems very lovely. i miss new england very much.

Ghost Dog said...

Tanya: regarding the abortion comment, I hadn't thought of it that way...you make a good point. It really is almost as contentious. I just hope nobody bombs an animal shelter...

You're absolutely right - the breed is suffering a great injustice, brought on by idiots. Glad you're outraged by the Denver mess, too.

But what to do? I'm afraid phasing out the breed isn't practical. How? Even if you enacted some legislation or managed to convince the legions of Pit Bull lovers that it's for the good of mankind to stop breeding them, you'll only get the law-abiding ones to stop. Like it or not, there's some truth to the slogan "If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns", and I'm afraid the same might apply to outlawed dog breeds.

Working hard to eliminate disreputable breeders, educating potential owners, stamping out dog-fighting - these and probably a host of other actions I can't think of at the moment are practical, and in some instances are working. I know the County shelter was pretty interested in what kind of people we were when we adopted Phoebe. Perhaps something like background-checking potential owners would help.

There are so many successes with Pit Bulls - even outstanding ones who save lives - that eliminating the breed seems almost as equal an injustice as the negative press and BSL it faces now.

Whew. Anyway...on to more pleasant thougts...
ME *and* NH? Born in one, raised in the other, then? Or...? I miss New England, too. There's something about actually having White Christmases... :)

The Mad Hoosier said...

Nice Blog...I'll definitely be back when I got more time to read. You already know my take on the subject, so I'll not rant further.

Ghost Dog said...

Thanks, TMH. Welcome.

Tanya Kristine said...

you're absolutely right.

tabitha jane said...

it's like choosing to outlaw children who behave badly when really it's the parents who have screwed them up in the first place (i see it all the time where i work)--yes, i know that is a huge generalization and sometimes kids will be kides whether they have good parents or not . . . but i just thought it would be a nice analogy (i knew it would break down eventually).