Response to A Recent Comment on Pit Bulls

March 19th, 2008 by Dan

I recently received a response to my post about one of the Michael Vick Pit Bulls appearing on Rachel Ray’s television show. What follows is the comment in it’s entirety:

No one loves dogs more than I do, however saying that a pit bull is just as harmless as any other breed is just plain naive! I have worked with the SPCA for years, socializing dogs, playing with the rescues until they have homes. And yes, pit bulls or pit bull mixes comprise up about 80% of the dogs that are turned in. I’ve played with them, chased balls with them and hugged them, and I love them as any other breed. But, don’t be stupid. These dogs can be unpredictable! You can own a dog for years and you will never know when something makes them mad and they attack. Do you want it to be your child, your grandmother, your other dog? At SPCA/LA, we do not adopt pit bulls out to families with small children or other small dogs. Why do you think that is? And these people are experts. A survey done by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Assn in 2000, showed that 76% of human deaths by dogs were caused by pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Do people just choose to ignore this? I don’t want these dogs hurt in any way and I deplore what Michael Vick did. But use common sense when bringing a dog like this into your home and know what you may be getting into.
Georgia the American Pit Bull Terrier
While it is obvious the commenter does care about dogs, there is a huge amount of misinformation in the above statement. So much that I shared it with a friend of mine and fellow Pit Bull advocate. What follows is her response:

First of all, the writer cites a Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVA) study attributing 76% of all fatal bites to pitties, however no such study with those results exists. The number 76 does appear in a 20-year study by the CDC, however, and it is not a percent, but a total number of fatalities by pits and rottweilers in a 20 year time period. That is very different!

The actual toll averages a bit over 3 pit bull related fatalities per year. We may contrast that to the 38,000 people killed by automobiles each year.

I notice in my own reading that many of the dogs involved in attacks are dogs who have been allowed to roam by irresponsible owners. Dogs are pack animals, and there can be no good result from allowing large carnivores to roam in packs, unattended. Smaller animals, or often children, may be seen as prey.

Which lead me to this conclusion: no dog is worse than its owner, be it pit bull or poodle.
Pit Bulls are statistically involved in far fewer bites than many other breeds; the problem is that a large powerful dog is able to do much worse damage than a small one, so that is what you will read about.
Pit bulls are currently the most popular breed in the US, so it is statistically logical that they would account for high numbers in shelters and in bites – here are simply more of them than most other breeds!

Don’t blame pit bulls as a breed; by and large, they are much less dangerous than human beings.

A very good perspective on the pit bull myth may be found in The Pit Bull Placebo: The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression by Karen Delise.

I’m from a family who has owned Pit Bulls exclusively for several generations, and I have no reservations about the breed. True, there may be some instability from over-breeding currently, due to their popularity in the wrong circles, but that is true of every breed which grows exponentially in popularity.
I find them to be loyal and loving companions.

For more information about the study mentioned above, check out this link

One Response to “Response to A Recent Comment on Pit Bulls”

  1. K9 Coach Says:

    As a professional dog trainer I have personally trained many good solid pits. They can be very sweet dogs and training is the best thing for them. However, that is true for any dog.

    As the article stated bad breeding is a fact in many breeds, not just pit bulls. They tend to hit the media when something bad happens, unlike the aggressive Golden Retriever or Standard Poodle, which I have scene a lot of.

    Media brings only those things to attention that cause reaction. Unfortunately Pit Bulls end up with a bad rap in many cases when they shouldn’t.

    Sometimes it’s about the people, or the breeding, in the first place… true of any breed.

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