Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pit Bulls: Another Side to the Story

Not long ago, a friend of mine met a woman walking her young pit bull and stopped to talk. Dog was wearing a prong collar. Friend asked if that wasn’t cruel. Woman replied it was “normal” for pits.....

That, in a nutshell, says volumes about why most pit bulls get a bad rap for being mean, vicious animals. A pronged collar normal?? I suppose she feeds him jalapeno peppers for dinner and a crushed kitten for dessert.

I am so very sick and tired of hearing that pit bulls should be banned, exterminated, wiped off the planet. I have been around dogs all my life; have worked with dogs for years at an animal shelter and I can count on one hand the ‘bad’ pits I came across.

On the other hand, the nastiest canine I ever met was a tiny Yorkie who bit every ankle he came in contact with. I despised that dog and that‘s a sad commentary coming from someone like me.

Yet, two of the sweetest I’ve ever known was a pit bull pup named Sam and an old lady named Dolly. Two extremely gentle dogs with different owners. That ought to tell you something right there.

Meaning, it is irresponsible people who take an innocent puppy and turn it into a ferocious and fearful animal. And though it is true that some dogs have aggressive tendencies, these traits are not breed specific.

I find it truly amazing that with millions of dog bites reported every year, it is the pit bull that usually makes the headlines. Their reputation is so tarnished by bad owners creating bad dogs that it should be a no-brainer where the fault lies.

The true culprit in this sorry mess is, was, and always will be, people who - through either ignorance or cruelty - have created a monster out of this much-maligned breed. Witness Michael Vick.

And let’s just go one step further and look at Michael Vick’s rehabilitated “fighters” that are now in the process of becoming loving pets. Because the fact of the matter is that any dog will bite under certain circumstances so it is narrow-minded prejudice that focuses solely on pit bulls and other large breeds.

Something I’ll never see, but wish with all my heart, is for the day to come when it will be the owners that require a license instead of the dog. Rather than breed-specific legislation, I’d love to see a law banning rotten owners.

A law that will never allow any dog to be given or sold to anyone who fails to live up to the lifetime responsibility and commitment of providing love, care, shelter and sustenance, training and socialization for one of the most fabulous creatures on this earth…and that includes pit bulls.

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