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« Nikko finds a forever home | Main | It's true for "pit bulls" too »

August 18, 2008



Yet even more prejudice/bigotry promoted by the press. The only time a victim's or owner's style of home is ever mentioned in these articles is when it is a mobile home. Let us ask, what does living in a mobile home have to do with this attack/tragedy? Why do they feel it necessary to include this in their reports?


Yet even more prejudice/bigotry promoted by the press. The only time a victim's or owner's style of home is ever mentioned in these articles is when it is a mobile home. Let us ask, what does living in a mobile home have to do with this attack/tragedy? Why do they feel it necessary to include this in their reports?


I would just like to point out that animal aggression is absolutely NOT the same as human aggression. Plenty of dogs kill other animals (some are bred and encouraged to do so) yet they don't magically transform into man-eaters because of that. Claiming a dog who kills a cat is going to bite people is treading on dangerous ground for our dogs and our rights as dog guardians.

Biting people makes a dog dangerous to people. This dog exhibited aggressive tendencies to family members before. He was, like you said, essentially a mauling waiting to happen - such a horribly preventable tragedy. :(



While I concur that "dog aggression" and "people aggression" are different, both should be dealt with by the owner. Even dog aggression, while not directly a threat to humans, is a sign of a dog that is not being trained/dealt with appropriately.

And yes, this dog exhibited signs of both...which is (or should have been) a huge red flag.


Actually, regarding the belief that antisocial aggression (as opposed to chasing prey animals such as squirrels and cats, seeking food, being pushy-friendly, etc) towards other dogs and aggression towards humans differe, I disagree.

Most experts concur on this issue. Aggression escalates when it is ignored by the owners. Often, what starts as a simple, easy-to-fix problem ends up being much more serious.

If you want your dog to stop chasing squirrels/cats/bunnie/birds, train him to do it on command. It works, just as it works for nuisance barking. Note the word 'train'.

As for the 'pit bull', there was a picture of the owner's other dog, but no picture of this 'pit bull' that I've been able to find.

The other dog looked like a typical husky type - the working kind, not the fluffy beauties you see at the dog show.

I would love to see a picture of this dog - and of the thousands of others featured in news reports.

I doubt this dog was a 'pit bull' and not only because there's no such thing.

Oh, and Alaska has recorded the highest number of DBRFs in the USA, as released in a report last year.


Pic of what is I assume the dog on this link.
What is so frustrating is that more fatalities have implicated the husky type dogs in Alaska.....but where is the outcry?? You do not see that until a pitbull is involved.


How many people have been bitten breaking up a dog fight? How many people have been killed breaking up a dog fight? (Sidnote...Oddly enough, I got a big gash on my hand last night while playing with Grommit - somehow cut myself on his rabies tag!?)

The issue of dog aggro equals/not equals human aggro doesn't really matter. Its dangerous behavior, period. Killing the cat could not mean anything in most situtions but in this case we have a dead appears to be a piece of the puzzle.

Pit bull in Alaska? They should be charged with animal cruelty as well - they are not made for that kind of cold. Any reports on how the dog was kept? Sorry, I just don't want to click thru the links.


I did look at the link TEH posted. They say it is the dog, Dozer but I always wonder because they use stock photos all the time.

Also, they say pit bullS a lot - was there more than one at the home?


I agree that animal aggression should be managed, but even well-trained, well-managed dogs have killed other animals. That is should not be their barometer of behavior toward humans.

As to dog fights - we interfere in dog fights, that's how we get bit, not necessarily b/c the dog has a low bite threshold w/ people. A sound pit bull is not going to redirect on a person, even in a highly aroused state (like during a dog fight).

It's possible no one could afford dog training for Dozer, hence why no modification of behavior occurred. It's possible they didn't know that his behavior was indicative of an unsound pit bull temperament. Whether he chases small animals is moot (obviously imo) - lots of nice, temperamentally sound dogs do just that.

PAMM - People Against Mad Mothers.

"A sound pit bull is not going to redirect on a person, even in a highly aroused state (like during a dog fight)."..."unsound pit bull temperament. "

Oh geez, I can't even begin to express how much I dislike breed enthusiast bullshit like this.
Good luck with those arguments - I'll let my friend with permanent nerve damage know her injuries are inconsequential...

Second, his aggressive behavior HAS NOTHING TO DO with unsound "pit bull" temperment. The dog was unsound no matter what breed it was. WHY are you making this about breed?

PAMM - People Against Mad Mothers.

I should note I do agree that the cat thing isn't necessarily indicitive of a problem animal and we DO need to be careful about statements like this. Omaha is worded that if a cat comes into your yard and gets hurt/killed it could be a mark against your dog.

In this case it is a piece of the puzzle - not an indicator in and of itself.


That's one tough dog, if it is indeed the one in the story. Shot multiple times, yet walking calmly and looking unhurt? Nice looking mutt too.

Like PAMM, I'm sick of the mythology around breeds, or in the case of the 'pit bull' mixed breeds. I wish people would stop repeating the old chestnut "'Pit bulls' were bred to be dog-aggressive, not human-aggressive and any dogs who bit humans were culled', as if this is somehow logical.

You can't breed dogs to be dog-aggressive. You can't breed them to be not human aggressive. You have to train them. The behaviour is learned.

Similarly, killing dogs who bite (which is what people do today it seems) has nothing to do with eliminating species-based behaviour. It just gets rid of an individual who bit.

A lot of the myths we hear about 'pit bulls' on both sides are the result of tall tales told by people who were on the fringes of society - the old-time dogfighters. I was delighted to see that K Delise agress with that in her book, The Pit Bull Placebo.

Science has come a long way since then.

A dog who tries to attack or bite another dog will be much more likely to escalate that behaviour to humans - first children, then adults. It's a sign of lack of socialization which leads to fear of something which causes a bite.

PAMM - People Against Mad Mothers.

"That's one tough dog, if it is indeed the one in the story. Shot multiple times, yet walking calmly and looking unhurt?"



There are selective breeding programs for a reason - traits wanted in retrievers may not be as evident in terriers. There's a reason why terriers are easily aroused, prey-driven, intense dogs just like there's a reason why scenthounds tend to be pack-driven, nose-to-the-ground, baying fiends. Those aren't traits trained for, and I think you'll find "science" backs up that claim. A BC from herding lines will most likely exhibit the eye and stare without any training - he'll need the specialized training that goes with whistles and the intricacies of dedicated herding, but the behavior that's desired is already present, just waiting to be molded. This is true of many breeds/types bred for function - they (generally) have a predisposition to exhibit desired traits and often require training to a) subdue those traits (like if you want a super stranger-friendly working breed); or b) fine-tune those traits (like if you want a herding dog who doesn't attack the herded).

But,ignoring traits that have been genetically selected for for hundreds-thousands of years is not fair to our dogs or ourselves. I'm not arguing against training or management, but it's dangerous to ignore selective (or lack thereof) breeding.

I can tell this is a sensitive issue with some folks. I'll leave it at that, I suppose. Thanks for offering differing views, always a pleasure to read dissenting opinions. :)

PAMM - People Against Mad Mothers.

I think Emily is posting under another name.

R - we've had this discussion TOO many times on this blog. It doesn't have anything to do with this particular discussion is the point.

The dog wasn't sound - PERIOD. The dog's issues weren't dealt with properly - PERIOD. This has nothing to do with a certain breed or breeding. Making it about breed just enforces those who want to ban pit bulls.


Many people confuse learned behaviour, which is behaviour modification, with heritable behaviour, which is the toolbox.

Yes, all dogs have the same basic instincts to a greater or lesser degree. No, there is no evidence that all 'retrievers' retrieve, all 'herders' herd, etc. There is also no evidence that all 'terriers' or 'pit bulls' will fight with other dogs, which could not possibly be instinctive as it would be a genetic dead-end and counterproductive for an essentially peaceful animal that lives in groups. Add to that the fact that most of these 'pit bulls' are unrelated mongrels of unknown ancestry and the tenuous argument completely falls apart.

Anyway, yes, we have talked about this many times here. It's interesting but since there is no scientific evidence to support this popular notion and there is evidence to either refute it or suggest alternatives, I don't buy it, popular wisdom though it may be. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm saying there's no evidence for it. If and when there is, I'll take a look and revise my opinion.

As for the poor kid in Alaska, yes the media hacks will be all a-twitter over 'pit bulls' which has nothing to do with the sad case at hand.


My apologies - I know how annoying it can be to rehash extensively discussed issues.


It is important to note that the pit bull was not bred soley to fight and not all 'pit bulls' were bred to fight (or attack or take down bulls) in the first place. Many of these dogs were purposely bred as family companions and farm dogs. They were popular dogs for many reasons.

Just as a lot of you, I am sick and tired of hearing these so called 'educated' statements, that 'well, they were bred to fight.' And I believe that Michael Vick's dogs prove this to be a fallacy.

I am not a 'pit bull enthusiast'. There is a very soft spot in my heart for these dogs who are so maligned, exploited, misunderstood and flat out not enjoyed as the exuberant characters that they are. Talk about underdogs!



Thanks for stopping in and for commenting. I always welcome new folks and don't mind a little redundancy now and again. In fact I welcome it - no one here has all the answers and I'm certainly open to learning more from others.

I honestly think this is one of the more important topics that comes up here. I think it's really hard to get rid of a lot of the old myths about 'pit bulls' that present themselves pretty regularly. The idea of "inherant dog aggression" is one of them. I just find it interesting how readily this one exists even within the 'pit bull community'. There is a wealth of evidence that indicates that no such "inherantness" exists. The most obvious is the large number of dog friendly "pit bulls" out there. Even just one "cold" 'pit bull' would be enough to determine that there isn't an inherant hereditary trait that makes them aggressive.

Meanwhile, I am always curious who is still 'breeding aggression'. It certainly isn't any responsible breeder I know. And the people that I've come across that are supposedly 'breeding for aggression' are not exactly the type of people who are top geneticists. It's just amazing to me that the idea of inherant aggression persists even among breed entusiasts in spite of there being no gene found that would dictate aggression (and they've looked). It's amazing that people would believe that certain types of people, the type of people who want to "breed for aggression" have the ability to isolate a gene for breeding that the top scientists cannot isolate. It doesn't make sense to me....and yet the idea remains...even among those who should know better.


I am not Rinalia, though of course I agree with her in this case.
It's possible that she and I are correct and Brent, Caveat, PAMM et al are wrong.

I just flat out disagree with Brent's conviction that 1) because we haven't isolated a gene for dog"aggression" and 2) no responsible APBT/AST breeders are selecting for dog aggression and 3) there are cold pit bulls must mean that there can be no inherent dog aggression in APBTs/ASTs.

Caveat, you've made statements like this before:
"Actually, regarding the belief that antisocial aggression (as opposed to chasing prey animals such as squirrels and cats, seeking food, being pushy-friendly, etc) towards other dogs and aggression towards humans differ, I disagree.

Most experts concur on this issue"

WHAT experts agree that there is no difference between dog-dog aggression and dog-human aggression?


The kinds of experts who aren't focused on 'pit bull' lore. As I said, Emily, if credible evidence is presented that contradicts my opinion, I'm always ready to change it.

So, if you have evidence that supports the opposite, that own-species directed aggression does not result in attacks on other species, fire away :>)

The AVMA Task force on bite prevention:

A number of data elements should be captured on a report form such that it is comprehensive in scope without placing unnecessary burdens on reporting
agencies (Appendix 3). Fatal and severe dog attacks on humans have been associated with prior or concurrent attacks on pets or livestock, so it is important that
communities also track those incidents
1: Inj Prev. 2007 Oct;13(5):348-51. Behavioral assessment of child-directed canine aggression.Reisner IR, Shofer FS, Nance ML.

Potential contributory medical conditions were identified/suspected in 50% of dogs. When history before presentation was known, 66% of dogs had never previously bitten a child, and 19% had never bitten any human. Most dogs (93%) were neutered, and 66% of owners had taken their dogs to obedience training classes.

1: Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2008 Sep;38(5):1023-41. Canine aggression toward unfamiliar people and dogs.Haug LI.
South Texas Veterinary Behavior Services, 2627 Cordes Drive, Sugar Land, TX 77479, USA.

Aggression toward unfamiliar dogs and people is a common problem arising most commonly from fear and territoriality. A number of factors contribute to its development, including socialization deficits, hormones, and genetic and neurophysiologic components. These factors are discussed in this article, as are management and behavior modification approaches for controlling aggression.



I am going back to what I believe is the basics. If your dog has aggression of any type, it is up to the owner to manage it or control it. I don't care if it is bred to be that way or born that way. Once they enter your home, it is up to the owner to manage and control the issues the animal has, if possible. If not possible, I believe a responsible owner should put this animal down, instead of handing it over to somebody else.

I feel like the lies that come out around dog attacks is out of control. "My dog never acted like that". I find these lines total BS. It is the same BS line that people say when they get pregnant using birth control. "Oh, the pill did not work". Realistically, the person probably was not using the pill properly. Dogs give warning signs of many kinds. As a dog owner, a.k.a. the person with the brain behind the dog, you should watch for these signs and figure out the appropriate course of action for this pet. If you have small children, it is your duty to the pet and animal to keep them both safe.


Emily, it is possible that you and Rinalia are right, and I am wrong. I always try to be open to that possibility. However, in all of your time here, you've not once provided any supporting evidence for your claim beyond heresay.

You say you disagree with me that the existence of "cold" 'pit bulls' is evidence of no inherent dog aggression in pit bulls -- and yet, that's exactly what it means. If "dog aggression" is "inherent" in a certain breed of dog, by definition, they ALL MUST HAVE IT. Not some of them. All. And yet, there remain many, many 'cold' pit bulls. And yet, you still hold on to the notion that "dog aggression" is an inherent quality -- a breed trait that exists in all of these types of dogs...

So while you're entitled to disagree (I do love this country for that) it doesn't make the statement any less true that "dog aggression" is not an "inherent" trait -- otherwise every single pit bull would have it. And if it's not inherent (which it would be if it were genetic), there must be another reason for the aggression.

Like I said, I'm always open to being wrong...and will change my views in light of evidence. But I'll need more than "popular wisdom" in order to sway me...


Even among purebred APBTs, which is what I presume the knowledgeable people who post here mean by 'pit bulls' in the purebred sense (as opposed to the other breeds which media and legislators believe are 'pit bulls'), there is no evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, to support the belief that own-species aggression is a hardwired trait.

The Vick dogs (and dog bless BadRap for fighting to get the evidence) are a classic example.

Colby, in his book, states that he would often get entire litters with no suitable candidates for fighting, and often would have one or two pups out of a litter that could be trained to fight. One of the old-time dogmen, breeding for game dogs.

Is it possible that someone, somewhere, is inbreeding a line of dogs exhibiting a psychopathology? Sure. Is it likely? Not very as it would be extremely difficult and ultimately pointless.

Just as a trained guard dog is one of the safest dogs around - because he is highly trained, a dog trained to fight is likely to be as safe - because he is highly trained.

Given that most 'pit bulls', especially the ones in media stories, are not even purebred, let alone related to the old game dog lines, and given that the vast majority of them never bite anybody, the statement that a 'breed' can be selected for such an unnatural and difficult to isolate trait just doesn't hold much water, imo.

I had an adopted Bearded collie (about 5 when I got him) who was so dog aggressive it took me nearly a year to desensitize him. Straight for the throat, no preamble. Are beardies bred for this? No, his early experiences plus his quick, sensitive nature fed it and it grew. Would he have bitten a human? He came close many times but due to my vigilance it didn't happen. He especially loathed babies and very young children - maybe due to his early experience.

Since we all want the same thing - fewer dog bites, less nonsense in media and on websites and the restoration of the fine reputation of dogs and their owners previously enjoyed, I think we need to cut through the fluff and get to the verifiable information.

If more owners learned to recognize the signs of potential problems earlier and nipped aggression, however directed, in the bud, we would have much happier dogs and owners out there than we have today.

PAMM - People Against Mad Mothers.

Rinalia - yes, thank you for commenting. We don't want group think setting in...However, you can see the shit storm this topic always brings up!

Caveat brings up a fantastic point - all these "pit bulls" that you see in the paper are just mutts. Any argument about APBT/AST is pointless - IMO.

Carianne, Becky - good comments!

It still amazes me that those that tout "blame the dead not the breed" always want to point to BREED when it suits them.

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