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« Little Rock starts enforcing "pit bull" laws | Main | Some new research on spay/neuter »

June 15, 2008

Comments

Social Mange

These Ohio councillors are playing the same shell game as any other BSL-pushing jurisdiction...although I really want some of whatever Thompson is on, that's really amazing paranoia....they won't, can't or don't know how to deal with real issues such as employment, education, health care, so they get you to look at the other hand by yelling about dogs.

PBRC

Thanks for the insightful post, Brent.

We have posted a couple of detailed responses to this madness on our blog:

http://pitbullrescuecentral.blogspot.com/

We've also sent them to The Observer. Apparently, "out-of-towners" (talk about a Depression-era mentality) can be misquoted or ridiculed, but they aren't allowed to respond with corrections of glaring factual errors.

Yrs,

Josh
PBRC

Dawn

Thanks Brent and Josh. As someone who has attended both of the hearings in Lakewood I am shocked and disheartened at the treatment the residents received by the members of Council. No one who chooses to participate in their government should be treated with such distain. Powers rarely looked at those speaking and spent most of his time rolling his eyes or buried in his laptop. In conversing with Bullock (the chair of the committee) afterward, he is attempting a good faith effort to be open to allowing us to present other information, however, he stated that he is "satisfied with them being considered dangerous dogs." My feeling is he has political ambitions beyond Lakewood CC and does not want to appear one-sided. No date to present to him has been set at this time. My heart goes out to Lakewood's residents and am grateful that I don't have to try and figure out how to leave the city in this housing market.

PAMM - People Against Mad Mothers

This type of crap has been pulled by the lunatic fringe for years (although Ms Williams is simply a lunatic) - they wrote a song describing exactly what is going on with our political environment back in 1981 (interesting, right before the pit bull craze started). Ohio - this song is dedicated to you.

Lunatic Fringe
from the Red Rider LP "As Far As Siam"


Lunatic fringe
I know you're out there
You're in hiding
And you hold your meetings
We can hear you coming
We know what you're after
We're wise to you this time
We won't let you kill the laughter.

Lunatic fringe
In the twilight's last gleaming
This is open season
But you won't get too far
We know you've got to blame someone
For your own confusion
But we're on guard this time
Against your final solution

We can hear you coming
(We can hear you coming)
No you're not going to win this time
We can hear the footsteps
(We can hear the footsteps)
Way out along the walkway
Lunatic fringe
We know you're out there
But in these new dark ages
There will still be light

An eye for an eye;
Well before you go under...
Can you feel the resistance?
Can you feel the thunder?

PAMM - People Against Mad Mothers

Josh - Powers isn't all to blame on this one. Making broad statements that all APBT and AST coming from fighting heritage is WRONG. They originated as working dogs and ASTs were never intended to fight - they broke off that line in like 1920. And do you think Petey was a fighting dog? Not all pit bulls will break into a fight (dog or otherwise) for seemingly no reason - and all breeds of dogs can fight with each other. PBRC is making broad generalites about the breed all the while stateing in the background "punish the deed and not the breed". Well, you sure put them all in the same mold.

I don't have time to pick apart ever statement that on PBRC. But if I believed it all, I'd want to ban them too. PBRC needs to rethink its site and rethink its "facts". Has anyone from PBRC done any independent research or is this just a bunch of info you've taken the founders word on?

EmilyS

Let's not rewrite history, please.

If you can find ANY contemporaneous documentation that "the American Pit Bull Terrier" was created to be a general "working" dog rather than as a PIT fighting dog, please provide citations.

The generic "bulldog" that was one of the foundation types for the APBT certainly did other kinds of work. But it is historically inaccurate to use that bulldog to describe or defend the modern APBT, which was formalized in post-Civil War times. "Sallie" was a "bulldog"; she was NOT an "American Pit Bull Terrier". That bulldog no longer exists. Neither the English "bulldog" nor the APBT is that old time bulldog.

Certainly, the AKC accepted the AST as a NONfighting version of the APBT. But did you know that there WERE ASTs that were successful pit fighters? And you do know that no other breeds were added to the AST. So what's the difference between the AST and the APBT?

It is imperative to be honest about the origins of our breed(s).

It is ALSO imperative to insist that all dogs are individuals, and to recognize that many APBTs and ASTs have little/no interest in fighting, and that their levels and styles of dog-aggression are comparable to that of other dogs.

If we're going to move past "never trust a pit bull not to fight", it has to be towards "know your individual dog, whatever the breed, and never set him up to fail". NOT towards "my pit bull is just like any other dog and I don't have to take special precautions to make sure it doesn't get into a fight".

If APBTs are just like any other dog, without any distinctive characteristics, then the whole concept of "breeds" is a joke.

There's nothing wrong with PBRC's literature. They are absolutely right in insisting that politicians (or friends...) not misuse it. There IS a distinction between dog-aggression and human-aggression. A dog aggressive dog is NOT dangerous if properly managed.

If we allow politicians (and friends) to attack our dogs based on their dog-aggression, then ALL dogs with dog-aggression are at risk.

And that means ALL dogs, and our rights to own them, are at risk.

PAMM - People Against Mad Mothers

And from the land of “You’re not F*#$ing helping!”

Emily - please cite all of your documentation. You don’t have any more proof of your position than I do. I’ve heard all your “facts” before and people way smarter than I have disputed you on numerous occasions. Your going to believe what you want so I won’t even try…but honestly my post didn't make the point I was trying to anyway.

Point being not ALL pit bulls (APBT, ASTs, etc) were breed to fight. Are all Greyhounds bred/used for racing? And for sake of argument lets say every single APBT was bred for fighting 100+ years ago - NOT ANYMORE! That's not applicable today. Are all Labradors bred to hunt? No. You talk about “contemporaneous” documentation but it’s the 21st Century and you’re repeating centuries old information about the breed. Why do you (not just you) insist on harping about what they were used for 100 years ago? What does that matter? And yes, some people ARE breeding pit bulls for human aggression these days. That “dog aggro but human friendly” is such a useless argument when your arguing in front of a city council where there’s been a fatality by a “pit bull”. Have you ever argued that in front of a city council before? I’ve never seen that argument sway anyone with a vote on the matter.

"A dog aggressive dog is NOT dangerous if properly managed." I guess that depends on your definition of “dangerous” and "properly managed." If you never let the dog around another living creature? I guess so since you can’t ever trust them not to fight…People are growing less and less tolerant to dog aggressive dogs – one of the reasons for the big push for MSN. You bet EVERYONE should worry about their right to own pets - that day has already come.

At the end of the day, PBRC and the like have repeatedly been used as a source of information to support BSL. You can defend the rhetoric all you like but that fact is undisputable. When "pit bull" make broad sweeping statments about the breed they are no different than the legislators out there doing the same.

Brent

Well, I wasn't really planning on getting into this with this post, but alas, it appears that it went there without me. Inherantly, the problem with what PBRC put on its website is the same problem we run into with city council people -- and in this case, one has perpetuated the other.

The problem is when we inherantly try to classify every dog of the same breed as having the same temperament and breeding -- and giving way more credit than credit is due to historic purposes.

Let's take Labs for instance. Labs were historically used as bird retrieving dogs (thus the "retriever" part of their official name). However, it is almost a rarity to find Lab with hunting skills now days. Most are perfectly content to be housepets. The reality is that there is a tremendous difference in look and personality among "hunting" labs, 'pet' labs, and show-quality labs.

The same principle applies to 'pit bulls' - -only is even more complex than because we have multiple breeds involved. There is certainly a dramatic difference in look and personality between "fighting pit bulls", "pet pit bulls" and "show pit bulls". Even within these groups, behavior varies dramatically from dog to dog, with some being wonderfully socialized with other dogs, while others show varying degrees of aggression toward other dogs. The same would be true of labs, boxers, german shepherds or other breeds. There is certainly a wide variety of different personalities among these breeds - -and the vast majority of them are NOT bred as fighting dogs.

Then there's always the question that even genetics experts still question how much of behavior is based on genetics. Certainly certain breeds were created for certain physical characteristics that made them good at certain tasks. But how much of the actual behavior that is learned vs bred in is VERY much for debate. Anyone who has bred dogs specifically for hunting certainly will admit that not all dogs "bred for hunting" end up excelling at hunting, in spite of being trained for it.

With all of that, it certainly shows that any attempt to group all of a certain breed (or type) of dog into a catch-all category is going to be innaccurate. It's innacurate when Brian Powers uses gross over generalization. It's equally innaccurate when PBRC does it.

As Emily nicely stated, it is really important as owners we have an intimate knowledge of our individual dog's behaviors and tendencies and not put them in positions to fail. This is what we mean
when we say responsible pet ownership.

I could go into rant about how the 'pit bull' rescue community has convinced itself that dog aggression in these types of dogs is "typical" and actually discouraged (whether intentionally or not) many owners from adequately socializing their dogs and thus creating a dog reactiveness that wouldn't have existed otherwise but I'll save that for another day.

At this point I'll just note that if we are ever going to get City Councils to not group all of these dogs into one singular category, we must be sure not group them ourselves. The reality is that there is a wide varience in dogs within certain breeds, and should be treated as such. Any attempt at over-generalizing them will prove to be innaccurate, costly and dangerous. This is why when PBRC over-generalizes, it is used by politicians against us (and yes PAMM, they're not helping) and when politicians do it it's used for ill-conceived and advised legislation. In this case, both parties are wrong.

Donna

I'm glad you brought this up, Brent. We've all been nibbling around the edges of this topic and it's too big to let rest.

Dog aggression is exactly that -- a DOG behavior. Unfortunately in our quest to help the breed and educate newbie adopters, the rescue community has turned this into a Pit Bull behavior. Bad on ALL of us. Brian Powers and Merritt Clifton are both big fat pussies, but they found a way to kick us in the shins and hurt our dogs.

We need a broader conversation about dog aggression that includes all breed people, because it's very true that this behavior is being used as a new way to condemn the dogs.

Who cares if it's selectively bred into a dog or not? I have cold fighting dogs, someone else has hot ASTs. Our neighbor owns a dalmation that'll rip any dog's head off. Nobody wins this endless Nature/Nurture guessing game. At the end of the day, the manifestation of dog aggression will always be a human-directed behavior that spans all breeds. And at the end of MY day, I still have to be much more cautious with my husky-mix than any of the pit bulls - including the former fighting dog - in my home.

Brian Cluxton

Well said, Brent. IMO, the entire point of breed neutral legislation is so each dog, regardless of what breed someone might think the dog is, is judged individually. Even if we knew for certain the breed of a dog, generalizations about their behavior are just that and probably won't be accurate. With the Heinz 57 flavor dogs that many people have, generalizing is impossible and irresponsible.

EmilyS

It is very true that dogs are individuals.
It is VERY true that each dog must be judged as an individual.
It is also very true that breeds have behavioral characteristics.

It is true that some Golden Retrievers are aggressive, but it is NOT true that we expect Goldens as a breed to be aggressive. It is true that some APBTs are stone cold, but it is NOT true that we expect APBTs as a breed to be stone cold.

The challenge is to understand and accept the truth of ONE component of the APBT/AST breed characteristic, and not lie about it (to others or to ourselves), while at the same insisting that each dog must be judged as an individual.

It is certainly long past time we stopped making dog aggression THE defining characteristic of our breed (as some gamedog apologists seem to). That does not mean we need to pretend that our breed doesn't have that characteristic.

That characteristic does not mean that our dogs are monsters who should be banned/restricted/legislated against. The fact that fearmongering legislators choose to listen to Moron Clifton is NOT a good reason to pretend that our breed doesn't have that characteristic. Or to admonish PBRC about its educational material.

If we can't fight off BSL while being honest, then our dogs are doomed anyway.

EmilyS

to PAMM: yes, it's true that few Labs are bred to hunt anymore, and many Greyhounds aren't bred to race (though I'd assume that all the Greyhounds you know are retired, rescued, racers). But almost all Labs have a strong retrieving instinct, and almost all Greyhounds have a strong instinct to run after small prey. Labs that don't retrieve and Greyhounds that don't run after prey are not true to the breed-type.

You do understand what breeds are about, don't you? When enough Labs that don't retrieve overwhelm the gene pool, you'd want to consider it's a different breed. Not a "retriever".

So it's perfectly true that virtually no purebred AKC AST or UKC APBT has been bred to fight, or even gametested in generations (but more recently than a hundred years ago-- Some ASTs come from pit dogs 10-12 generations ago, and some APBTs even closer.. remember the "sport" was basically legal until 30 years ago.) Nonetheless...

Of course the difference is that dog-aggression isn't valued in today's society, even if anyone actually knew what it was and could define it.

What I read in the latest BadRap stuff is that our message has to be about human management of dogs, not about breeds.

We can't defend our dogs by pretending away dog-aggression or by freaking out about this normal, expected dog behavior, which is 99% manageable.

PBRC

PAMM: I don't believe we say anywhere that all pit bulls are from immediate fighting lines. And we certainly don't say that pit bulls are universally dog aggressive. We didn't invent the notion that pit bulls were originally bred for the pit; please see any book on dog breeds.

I'm not interested in infighting about this. Certainly we have to look at how we use our language and become more sensitive to how it's reused. There's not an easy answer to this. Pragmatically speaking, the problem is that rescue organizations deal with many owners wanting to relinquish their dogs because they don't understand why it's fighting with their other dogs. Or, worse, their dog gets in a scrap at the dog park, and the incident ends up in the local paper as a pit bull mauling a Maltese. We're working against an extremely low level of knowledge about how to keep and train dogs. Generalization is indeed problematic, but it's one of the ways you explain things clearly and concisely to people. Sadly, few people are as responsible and discerning as the folks posting in this thread.

The problem begins and ends with bad owners, not rescue organizations. The situation is deeply worsened by how the media represents the end results of bad ownership. I hope we can agree on that.

Brent

Emily,

We had an interesting discussion on this at the Bully Workshop in Iowa City (I'm thinking of you guys and your temporary shelter situation -- good luck!) a couple of weeks ago. And someone asked a question about "dog aggression" in pit bulls. I think it may have been Roo who answered the question, but his comment struck me when he said that "people of other breeds don't really talk about it".

And that rang really true. I've seen many different types of dogs act aggressively toward other dogs over the year. Some in a stressed out kennel environment. Some with reasonably good owners. Some with unreasonably bad owners. It seems that many of these situations are dismissed as "he didn't like that dog" or "billy doesn't like bigger dogs" or one owner telling me his dog "doesn't like dogs that don't submit". Sometimes it's just chalked up to a bad day, too little exercise, too much exercise, whatever. However, when a "pit bull" does it, it's somehow this inherant dog aggression. It's weird how we, as a group, have somehow convinced ourselves to talk differently about "dog aggression" like pit bulls are the only types of dogs that have it.

I agree that in the grand scheme of things, it's not like anyone can really define "dog aggression" anyway. I'd say there are a lot of different scales to this from "dog friendly" to "dog tolerant" to "dog reactive" to "dog aggressive". Pretty much any 'pit bull' that is anything other than "dog friendly" gets labeled as "dog aggressive" (because many people say it's inherant) while most others are labeled as ok with dogs as long as they're not aggressive. The vast majority of the 'pit bulls' I've met fall into one of the first three categories -- yet it's common to talk about them as having "dog aggression" -- which leads most minds down the path of a dog attacking instantly any dog that crosses its path that will end in the other dog's death (that's what they've been bred to do, right?).

At the end of the day, we spend way too much time talking about a trait that no one can really prove one way or the other (yet) whether it's a nature vs nurture issue and defending their "people friendly" attitudes, "Manageable dog aggression" and making blanket statements to address these issues as if it pertains to every single dog of this type and that they're the only dogs that have it.

It's not about pretending something isn't there, or lying or anything else. It's about not making blanket statements about "pit bulls", using the scariest terms in our language possible to describe it, pretending the worst case scenerio is the most common, and pretending that this is somehow unique and only exists in these types of dogs that seems to be the problem.

Brent

PBRC,

I think you hit the nail on the head about being sensitive to how we use language knowing that, in this day and age, it will get repurposed and reused.

I think it's also interesting that you mention the dog park and dead Maltese. I've actually seen several other stories of other dogs killing some toy breeds out at dog parks lately -- I for sure remember a Poodle and a Golden Retriever -- and I think a Mastiff (it could have stepped on it) and a Greyhound. But no one ever talks about these incidences as "dog aggression"...

Again, I'm not advocating "lying" or "misleading" -- but I think it's important that we understand the language we use, and that these dogs aren't crazy-unique (any more so than all breeds are unique).

I also think it's interesting that you mention that you're working with people that have an extremely low level of knowledge of how to keep and train dogs. I think if you worked with any rescue group, you'd see dogs with some issues if they were kept by this type of owner. But you work in "bully" rescue" and so that dogs you see only come from that background. This is why sometimes I think that inherantly rescue folks and animal control officers have a distorted view of dogs, dog owners and breeds, because you're almost never dealing with the ones that live in great homes...

PBRC

Brent,

This is a valuable discussion. Thanks.

I don't think rescue folks have a distorted view of dogs, at least not the rescuers at PBRC and certainly not in the same way that animal control officers who see the worst of the worst might (now you're generalizing, ha!--I'm kidding!). After all, all of us at PBRC provide great homes to bully breeds, usually more than one. Quite often, our friends and family provide great homes, too. We have the same view of pit bulls that you do.

Speaking for myself, I don't think that all pit bulls are inherently dog aggressive. I have two rescued pit bulls. One of them was fought and truly cannot be around other dogs. We've tried it. The other one shows few signs of dog aggression ever. Yes, dog aggression is a spectrum rather than an absolute binary.

What I'm talking about is how we clearly and adequately communicate to the public the quirks of owning a pit bull. Let's be realistic: there are quirks to owning every breed. How would you explain a Border Collie nipping at kids to herd them around the house? I'm a little troubled by the suggestion in this thread that dog breeds aren't in some way disposed toward the behaviors they were originally bred for. Yes, dog aggression is a dog behavior. All breeds exhibit it. But we're burying our head in the sand if we can't acknowledge the fact that pit bulls might be a little more inclined to be aggressive toward other dogs. As Emily points out, the challenge is to point this out while insisting that dogs be judged as individuals. On balance, that's precisely what our website says. It's not terribly helpful to say to Joe Average dog owner: "Your dog might never get in a fight with your other dog, but, uh, then again it might and if you're not there to break it up, it could be bad. But it might not be." So we say: "Keep your dog crated. Never trust your dog not to fight with another dog." We're not smearing the breed by saying so (please don't mistake Powers's hatchet job for the true content of our site). Since it's our job make sure pit bulls owners understand the dogs they own, just as all dog owners need to understand their dogs, we have to try and steer between the poles of sugarcoating and overstating. It's tricky.

So while the information on our website might tend toward generalization, it's not a "gross" generalization. As Malcolm Gladwell points out in that invaluable article, there's a difference between generalization and stereotype. It doesn't resemble Powers's argument in anyway. His is either gross evidence of poor reading comprehension or a gross desire to misrepresent.

It's clear that you're not advocating lying or misleading, Brent. I'm a frequent reader of your blog and agree with you on just about everything. We're on the same team. All of us are. The "you're not helping" thing is amusing, but it's a bit unfair. The idea is to help owners lacking basic knowledge of the dogs they own. PAMM's suggestion that PBRC is somehow of near-equal blame in the Powers Affair (it's important to give these things a sensationalist name) is so unfair as to be inaccurate. This is 99.9% about how a civil servant approaches his job like a prosecutor. That was the point of our responses. I understand PAMM's misdirected frustration, but we have done far, far, far more good than harm in the broad view. BSL is a many-headed monster, and I have a hard time believing the situation would be any better with the subtraction of some out-of-context quotations.

Yrs,

Josh

s kennedy

Suffice to say that no matter who picks out what trait from where, and no matter how it is applied by those trying to pass BSL, the typical result is that dog bites still go up with BSL in place. When dog bites allegedly do not go up, it is usually manipulated data. Colorado dog fanciers case has been around 2 decades and the premise was that such dogs are not the same as other dogs/potentially could create more damage. And huge trucks/SUVs can do the same but they are on the road, aren't they? And surely driving in every single state is affected by such large vehicles? And aren't speed limits/traffic/rules of the road for safety/health/welfare of the public? So what is the difference where the dog came from/what it is used for, etc if we are dealing with the "potentially" bad, dangerous,etcetc---what we are really talking about are probabilities, gambling, speculation type scenarios. BSL means that 5 APBTs should be banned vs 1,000 dogs of any other breeds because of the PROBABILITY that something MIGHT happen. And whoever can convince those in charge that making such a law as BSL is choosing an emotional response over a common sense approach--will likely have a better chance at stopping BSL. Because many people have high emotions for dogs, the thought of a dog hurting a person terrifies a lot of people. The thought of a car running over a person may not get the same response. That is why I think the huge truck/SUV which would definitely cause more damage IF in an accident shows that re safety,health and welfare laws--we don't outlaw them simply on probabilities. It could be a drunk owner in such a vehicle. And? Not much different than a negligent dog owner. Do we stop driving trucks? Nope. Surely there are more cars/trucks in deadly accidents than dog incidents. It's all in the emotional response people have to perception of dog attack. Remove that element and BSL is reduced to gambling. The rational basis for BSL does not exist, but it is apparently not that difficult to make up a "rationale" as we have seen.

Carianne

Although I don't like how Brian Powers used selective information for his case, I do agree with PBRC having this information on their web site. Also, his reference to this web site may make people check out this web site further and find some of the information we use to make our case.

I am beginning to think that we are seeing knee jerk reactions from politicians because the way we are fighting. When I am at work and somebody comes in fighting without any give, I truly knee jerk and won't give in. However, if that person is able to give a little than I feel I can give a little. Should we be changing our fighting techniques?

Donna

> Should we be changing our fighting techniques?

Fight the same, using education as the ground stone for every battle - but, clean up the language.

ASTs, APBTs,& SBTs are, essentially, large terriers. Terrier management is the same all across the board...JRT, airedale, cairn, etc.

The one thing that's throwing people like Clifton into Nirvana-happiness is the repeated admission that pit bulls were bred to fight. Wrong!

Pit bulls are terriers that were bred to endure unimaginable hardships including long battles while staying handler-sensitive. The pit bull community has been focusing on the 'desire to fight' way too much to the detriment of the breed. Pit bulls are terriers, and many individuals will display classic terrier behaviors when set up to fail by careless or inhumane handlers.

We have to stop being such obedient mouthpieces for the dog fighters.

EmilyS

"obedient mouthpieces for the dog fighters"???
what on earth does that mean?

Is this going to be added to the so-called "signs of being a dogfighter" as told to us by HSUS et al?
-break sticks
-treadmills
-vet equipment
-literature about breed history
-people gathering
-and now: talking honestly about what the breed was created for and what behavioral characteristics that entails?

The APBT is a terrier (unless like many breed aficionados, you think it is primarly a bulldog...). But its prey drive is directed not primarily at rats and other "vermin" but at other dogs. It was NOT created as some kind of "all purpose" working dog. There is ZERO evidence for that revisionist history. Its "courage is proverbial" (a phrase from, ironically, the AST standard) not because it sometimes was used on someone's farm to kill rats. Not much courage is needed to kill rats. The courage of the APBT comes from its bulldog heritage (a bull being a formidable and dangerous opponent) and from its fighting heritage (another fighting dog being a formidable and dangerous opponent)

We can't solve our dilemma by making the breed something it is not. Merritt is an idiot, but he's not an idiot because he understands that the APBT WAS bred to fight. That is simply the truth. APBTs WERE bred to fight, though very very few (thankfully) are STILL bred to fight.

Of course we have to disavow dogfighters and dogfighting, but we can't at the same time disappear the past (as the UKC seems to be doing with its breed description). I'm not one of those "if you don't love and want to perpetuate gamedogs, go get a poodle" types, but seriously, if all you like about a pit bull is its goofy, human-adoring lovey-dovey nature, there are easier breeds to own. By the way: How to maintain "courage" in the absence of appropriate tests for that characteristic is one of the most difficult problems responsible APBT/AST breeders face.

We can only solve our dilemma by honestly addressing the issue of "aggression" and "prey drive" and educating people not to freak out about it. Your JRT that kills a rat isn't a monster. Your greyhound that kills a bunny isn't a monster. Your husky that kills a cat isn't a monster. And, no, your pit bull that kills another dog isn't a monster.

That is an extremely hard sell. But not to try to sell it dooms us , to a future limited to watered- down, characterless, generic dogs that might as well be Aibo.

Mary

All this double-speak will end up biting us in the butts. We need to be honest and open about the breed, where it came from, and its true temperament. Of course we need to be careful how we word things and what we put out in the public, but we also need to be careful not to gloss over important points about the breed. If someone has the will to misquote and twist words in order to prove an invalid point, they will find a way to do so. Pandering will get us no where.

And I disagree that Pit Bulls are 'terriers'. They are bull-n-terriers, and yes, if you've spent time around both 'types' of dog, you'll know there's a big difference. To those who believe this breed doesn't have a history of dog fighting, I just dunno what to say to you.

Carianne

Mary ~ I have to agree on your double speak point. If we all want to fight BSL, we need to be careful how we fight it. Fighting it by discrediting commonly known statements will only probably cause more damage. We need to accept some of these commonly known statements and move to why BSL is really not appropriate for solving irresponsible pet ownership problems, which is what is the real common theme behind dog attacks. This means we need to sometimes agree with politicians on points about the statements that are available. We also need to provide a statement that is a further researched statement. Once we get away from a knee jerk fight with a knee jerk fight and get to real education, we may start winning this BSL battle.....

Brent

But here's the rub, and where much of the initial problem comes in in the first place.

When we talk about "pit bulls", we're essentially talking about 3 different breeds of dogs. And while their history is certainly intertwined, they are different. So the AKC established Staffordshire Terriers as a line in 1936 - to differentiate it from the fighting lines. So I would feel pretty safe in assuming that there are many of these types of dogs out there that have been differentiated from their fighting bretheren for over 70 years -- which would be more than enough time to "breed out" any dog-aggression (assuming such a thing is indeed genetic, which is still unproven). And certainly many more have not been bred for fighting for 30 years when dog-fighting was made illegal.

So at what point do we quit saying that "all of these dogs were originally bred to fight" and "never trust your dog not to fight" as part of breed histories on websites, when that is certainly not true for a great many (likely a majority) of these dogs in multiple generations. There's a huge difference between ignoring history (which no one is proposing here), and using it as a crutch catch-all for several different breeds with very different hereditary paths. All the while encouraging the use of "dog aggression" as a common and unique trait in these breeds when the commonality isn't all that common and it's certainly not unique. Which comes back to the original premise that when we over-generalize three breeds of dogs together, you are certainly asking to be wrong...a lot.

MichelleD

The topic seems to have diverged but I'll post this anyway.

Here is a story for you all: One of KCDA's members is also a member of MO Pit Bull Rescue. The city she lived in started talking about BSL so she sent them some info and her credentials and requested to give our (KCDA's) BSL presentation. At the end of the presentation he kept saying "But our restrictions are already things you'd agree with according to your site". Well, the KCDA members were like "WTF!? Did someone hack into our site?"

Well, I eventually got it. This town was using information from MPR's site (where she volunteer and had given the link to their site) to support their BSL. And honestly, their restrictions made sense if you paired their desire to increase promote public safety in light of two incidents, the hysteria surrounding the breed, and the recommendations laid out in blk/wht from a "pit bull expert".

A councilman stated one of the incidents was a pit bull that had pulled a lab under a fence and killed it. So in opposition to the proposed BSL, another MPR volunteer got up and stated "Pit bulls were bred to be dog aggressive but were also bred to be people friendly". While I am appreciative he was fighting for his dog and the good work MPR does, he wasn't f#*$ing helping.

In my personal experience, I wanted to adopt a pit bull as I knew they had a hard time finding homes and had a bad rap but that was about all I knew. After researching all the websites and talking to the local pit bull rescue, I decided against it. I couldn't really understand why anyone would want a breed of dog you couldn't let out of your eyesight or it would attack and kill whatever was around. I mean, "Never trust your pit bull not to fight". WHAT?! NEVER?? I can't go to the bathroom or it will attack my cat?

However, it doesn't matter what YOU or I say, it is what PEOPLE HEAR. Its not only the words put down in print or quoted in an article, ever person has their own filter they process thru. There is some point to which people will believe what they want and you can't protect against that. But as a person that came to this topic with an open mind and willingness to learn and walked away with "Who the hell would want one of them!?" I'm a little more sensitive to the other way this information is filtered.

For the record we adopted a GSD and either pit bull or boxer mix. But alas, we were still not safe! From our friends at Bad Rap: "As a rule, full breed pit bulls tend to show more stable temperaments than pit mixes...Mixing a pit bull with a guarding breed for example, can make for a sketchier temperament." I don't know what Grommit is but he's the best dog ever. I would hate to think I might have passed him over if I would have read that first.

On a different issue but the same argument, KCDA regularly touted the "90 something percent of dogs that bite are unaltered" in our arguments against BSL. Well, instead of that supporting our call to promote voluntary s/n - we're now having to fight off MSN. No good dead goes unpunished.

PBRC has gotten called out since they're in the limelight for this but we've ALL done it and we all need to rethink our rhetoric.

Mary

Well, I can only speak for myself. SBTs are so rare as to almost be pointless to mention. APBTs and ASTs are to me - and lots of other people - the same breed. I don't have the time nor inclination to get into a history lesson here, but the info is out there for anyone who wants to find it.

When we start making up history (like, "Pit Bulls were created to be working farm dogs" or "Pit Bulls are just terriers bred to do terrier tasks") we hurt our dogs and we hurt our cause.

Brent, you said, "So at what point do we quit saying that all of these dogs were originally bred to fight" - the **breed** was created for fighting. Many Pit Bulls today are far removed from their fighting ancestry, and today are bred to be family companions, show dogs, agility dogs, etc - but you cannot LEAVE OUT the reason the breed was created and what it was created for from its history. And some Pit Bulls today are still used and bred for fighting.

Don't you think we begin to sound a little silly when we insist NO the breed was NOT created for fighting, and meanwhile we have the "Michael Vick EX FIGHTING DOGS rescued from the VICK Breeding Kennel" plastered all over the news?

And talk about throwing these fighting raid dogs under the bus when they are just starting to get a fair shake - "YES, in the PAST Pit Bulls were nasty and dog-aggressive and used for dog fighting, but not TODAY. Today's Pit Bull does NOT [by some magical means] have a dog fighting history." Don't you think that sends the message that yes, if there ARE any 'fighting bred Pit Bulls' still out there, they should be destroyed?

As far as generalizing....

If you cannot make generalizations about a BREED of DOG, then guess what, you don't have a BREED. Go back to the drawing board and start from scratch.

And to address a comment made above about skewed vision based on position as a rescuer, I am involved in rescue, but I am also a professional dog trainer and I show AmStaffs (and FYI, breeders have far from 'bred out' dog aggression in AmStaffs). While I take all DOGS on an individual basis, I wouldn't be very good at what I do if I refused to or couldn't make any generalizations about a BREED.

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