10/10/07 Pit Bulls

When you think of a Pit Bull, do you think this:

or this?

Are Pit Bulls just destined to be more aggressive and violent?  Or do they only become that way because they have bad owners?  Are laws regulating Pit Bulls unfair?  Or do they provide needed protection for people?  Lots of people get mauled by dogs each year.  I can think of three cases in Baltimore City that got press just this summer.  Two of the victims were seven year old children.  Today we will talk with people on different sides of this issue.

Let us know if you have a Pit Bull story, as an owner, or someone who knows a Pit Bull.  Good or bad experiences, share them here.

-Jessica

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6 Responses

  1. I agree it’s the owner’s of dangerous dogs who are the majority of the problem.
    I live in the city and had three chickens stolen out of their pen and fed to this persons pit bulls in front of local children to watch. (this is how I found the chickens from the kids at the bus stop) . I called animal control and they never showed up. Two days later they came to my door looking for any chickens that I might have left for removal. Never said a word about the pit’s or their owners.
    I guess they were sum mean chickens.
    I do not have an answer for irresponsible owners but I think this is a big part of the problem.

    Cliff

    Mt.Washington.

  2. First, I want to say “Thank you” to Marc, for having me on the show. I love a great conversation that can include both sides of the story in a reasonable manner. I think that it was a very fair segment.

    It’s important for everybody to remember that the percentage of dog-related incidents will go up based on the popularity of a breed. The ratio of Pit Bull related incidents is truly not more than that of other breeds, when taking popularity into consideration. Pit Bulls are generally a very handler-sensitive breed of dog and most often are very responsive to their owners.

    In regard to the breed specific legislation (BSL) recently proposed by Councilman Vince Gardina in Baltimore county; BSL has been shown ineffective and unenforceable throughout the country. Unfortunately, what starts with one breed of dog often expands to other breeds and even heavier restrictions- mainly because the common denominator is owner responsability, not breeds of dog. The current list of breeds banned throughout the US has expanded 56 breeds long, and even includes Councilman Gardina’s breed of choice: the Siberian Husky. What needs to happen is better support of Animal Control for the enforcement of current laws on the books, which do include provisions for dangerous and menacing animals that are not breed-specific.

    For more breed information as well as information regarding breed-specific legislation, please visit the ASTAO at http://www.astao.org

    For training and behavior control, contact Mutt Magic Training at http://www.muttmagic.com!

  3. The hour just spent discussing this issue was the most cogient one I have heard concerning this issue.Mark,you moderated very skillfully and allowed each of your participants to contribute well. My personnal experience with dogs is life long and involves direct time spent training my own as well as the dogs of others.I have also spent years studying a broad range of dog related material and participate in the culture of dogs,ie. showing well bred dogs in both conformation and obedience.I follow legislation tendancies in the united states and abroad. I bring all these experiences together when I attempt to understand this disturbing situation.
    I have decided to take the position that animal control laws need to be revamped in light of several factors.First,dogs are more popular at the present time than at any other time in my memory. From small acessory dogs to the damaged and dangerous street dog and everything in between , more dogs are being asked to integrate into a very complex world not of thier own making which is increasingly less hospitable to their essential make up.Secondly, our contemporary lifestyles ,which are so far divorced from our agricultural roots,
    have left fewer of us with a working knowledge of how to deal with dogs.There was a time when people understood that dogs could be provoked and automatically adjusted their behaviors and those of their childern.We seem to have replaced this knowledge with popular myths,both flattering and negative,which offer little protection to either our dogs or ourselves.Thirdly,dogs have become popular as expressions of lifestyle.Tiny dogs in purses may present few dangers to the public but when the ego enhancing acessory is a pumped up 80 lb. pit bull (or Rottie or Dobe or Presa ,etc.) on a studed harness plowing down the street in front of an ineffective handler the issue becomes a deeply serious one.When people with significant wealth become involved ,such as Vick,the situation begins to become terrifing.
    Other factors effect my thinking but leaving it at that is enough to suggest an approach to begining to find a resolution.Ones responsiblity towards ones fellow citizens is inherant in any discussion of dog control.Dog owners must not be blinded by their deep complex relationships to their beloved animals and the non dog loving public must not allow themselves knee jerk reactions to horrible events such as recent maulings .(May I say that if a dog of mine mauled another dog much less a human being he or she would be put down immediatly no matter the attachment I felt for them)Much more knowledge of dog behavior that is sound and observational exists now than at any other time. We must utilize these findings and reeducate the public to allow for the better integration of our dogs into our lives.We must reducate our legislators as to which measures actually help and which create more turmoil.We ,as dog lovers,must accept that dogs can and will bite and cause disruption when not handled mindfully.It is risky to deal with dogs.The bites that that I have incurred in 40 years of activity with dogs have taught me that essential fact as well as teaching me that ,in every case , it was my lack of awareness or attention or simple ignorance that permited the bite to occur.
    It is not breed specific laws that we need nor attitudes that ignor breed specific attributes.It is laws that reflect an understanding of the true nature of dogs based on knowledge that neither idealizes or demonizes them .They are ,as they have ever been, our closest companions in the natural world and their gifts to us have been barely tapped, even after 4,000 years of coevolution.It is up to us to creatively ,fairly , and effectivly accept stewardship for them.We will, thereby, protect us all.

  4. My hat’s off to Councilman Vince Gardina for proposing this sensible solution to a controversial problem. Let people have their pit bulls if they want, but muzzle them in public and keep them securely fenced in private. It’s common sense for public safety. It should be the law not just in Baltimore County, but statewide. –Bernie

  5. This is a very emotional issue, obviously. No one wants to see a child injured, or a family pet hurt. But legislation putting bans and restrictions on set groups without considering the individual variation within those groups just doesn’t make sense.

    Pitbulls as a group are no more likely to attack a human than any other breed… no, let me rephrase that. They are LESS likely to snap than, say, a cocker spanial, a toy poodle, or a collie (http://www.atts.org/statistics.html).

    All dogs need training, care, and supervision. All dogs need to be on a leash, and in safe housing. All dog owners need to be held equally accountable for these things. And all laws need to be enforced as they are – adding more when we aren’t enforcing what’s already in existance is callow.

  6. It may seem to the general public, who is constantly bombarded with disturbing reports on Pit Bull attacks, that this is the only breed that harms humans with any great regularity. However, the fact remains that Pit Bulls are hot news items. Dogs of all breeds and mixes bite and attack people all the time, but it is mainly the Pit Bull bites that get sensationalized in the media. I have heard of specific cases where the media is not interested in reporting a bite or attack if a pit bull is not involved. It is discrimination. An example is the dog that recently mauled a Frenchwoman so badly that she was given the world’s first face transplant was a Labrador retriever, but this fact was barely reported by the media.
    If the breed of dog was the primary determining factor in all dog attacks, it would stand to reason that since there are literally hundreds of thousands of pit bulls in the United States alone, there would be countless more statistics on pit bull bites. The truth is, there simply are not. Any dog, regardless of its breed, is only as dangerous as his/her owner allows it to be.

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