Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Breed Bans

I get upset every time I look at the pages of animal biographies at the local shelters...  because I see that they are all bursting at the seams with sweet pit bull faces...  all so eager to please, all so eager to get "busted out" and to go home with their very own human.  Because I have to wonder how many of them actually will.

I guess that we're actually lucky to be a city that even allows pit bulls, and they aren't immediately put down after being brought into the shelters.

I get so tired of willful ignorance.  An entire breed of dog simply cannot be bad, no more so than an entire race of humans can all be bad.   And where the hell are they all coming from anyway?

I cringe whenever I see a newspaper article about pit bulls running down and attacking kids or little old ladies out tending their yards, and the indignant animal protector in me desperately wants to know...

1.  Why are these dogs running loose?  I mean, you could have the most vicious attack dog in the world (which I know pit bulls are NOT, but for argument's sake) and as long as they are safe inside of your home, or crated, or whatever, they are not going to be attacking random people.

2.  Who trained these dogs?  Pit bulls aren't hard-wired to attack human beings.   As anyone who has ever bothered to do any research on the breed knows, they, perhaps more than any other breed of dog, LOVE people, and would do anything, absolutely anything, for their approval and praise.

My heart breaks for these dogs.  They can't help being pit bulls any more than I can help being female, or short, or having red in my hair.  I hate the intolerance that people have for the breed.  I hate that so many of them have to die because our society does so insist on remaining ignorant about things that they don't understand.  They don't want to understand.  Like sheep, they believe every shrill news headline that they read.

When I was a child, pit bulls hadn't yet risen to notoriety.  The "big bad breed" at the time was the Doberman.  Rottweilers and German Shepherds have "enjoyed" some notoriety as well.

Did German Shepherds used to be vicious, but suddenly became less dangerous?  No.  Did Dobermans?  No.  It's just that the public is less highly sensitized to them, so people don't have the same terrified reactions as they did before.  No, all of that rests on the unfortunate shoulders of pit bulls right now.  I'd say that I'm looking forward to when people actually start to settle down about them, but I'm terrified to know which breed is going to be vilified next.

The road to a better public image is a long one, and I know that better minds than mine are working hard at it.   I tip my hat to those people.  You do good work.  Keep it up.  Those doggies depend on you.


  1. There was a story here this past January that stated that of the 2500 dogs in our local shelter, 1000 of them were pits or pit mixes. I think it's not just that they have breed notoriety, they have also been overbred, and to top it off, many of the people who acquired them as status symbols now can't take care of them. At least, that's true of how it is in our area. I hope that things improve for them soon!

  2. Yeah, I've heard that many breeders of dubious quality jumped on the bandwagon to make a buck. That and I think that many people have absolutely no idea of how much work it is to train a puppy, any puppy, to be a nice adult dog, and then aren't up to the task when reality hits. It's very sad.

  3. Excellent points you made - I know where we lived previously in Nebraska pit-bulls and pit-bull crosses were banned and if you got a warning about your dog being "dangerous' the dog had to wear a muzzle any time it was out in public. You could get a warning for being "dangerous" even if your dog just barked at the fence when someone went by

  4. We agree - it is sad that these wonderful dogs get so much bad press. Mom read somewhere that small dogs actually bite more often - but since they do less damage, it never makes the news. I would love for the news to show the positive stories about these dogs. If they would stop freaking out everytime there was a dog bite, then it wouldn't seem so bad. Mom was bitten by a german shepard as a kid but that doesn't mean she is afraid of dogs or shepards (in fact her family had one when she was growing up). It is sad that as a society people are so eager to paint animals and people with a broad brush!

  5. I agree completely - it's just heartbreaking.

  6. Good post! It's not the dog breed, its the human owner.

  7. We couldn't agree more! I was lucky to work at a shelter that worked hard for pit bulls to find them good homes. I know Skye isn't complaining!

  8. Anyone who is afraid of traditional 'big mean dogs' should come meet Sheba. My rottie is an unashamed coward. :)

  9. Very well written. I'm glad the 'Pit Bull Hysteria' hasn't really taken hold in New Zealand, although it is here in a small measure.

    Thankfully Greyhounds are safe from any breed bans! Although I know in some places pet Greyhounds have to be muzzled when out in public:(

  10. Hey, just found your blog randomly while searching for other active Pittsburgh bloggers, and I wanted to say I really like this entry! We have a pit-mix (the other main part is whippet, and who knows what else), and the fear of BSL making its way to the 'Burgh is always in the back of my mind. The part about 'eager to please' is sooooo true. These pups just want to love and be loved :)

    (PS, Hello Bully is our local pit rescue organization, and they are FANTASTIC!)