Recently, as reported by The Daily News, a nine-year old girl was attacked and later passed away from a pit-bull attack in Elmont, Long Island, New York.
Listening to this story, my heart breaks over and over again. For the child, for her family, and for pit-bulls. As animal activists, Candle Moments loves dogs; we even offer the Om Charity Candle which donates to the ASPCA. We hate to see such stereotypes permeate the internet: Pit-Bulls are phenomenal family dogs.
Pamela Reid, PhD, vice president of the Animal Behavior Center at the ASPCA, was quoted by WebMd as explaining that pitbulls had “a fabulous reputation early on and were considered the ideal family pet because they were so good with people.” The long-loved Petey from The Little Rascals was a pit-bull, the famous Target dog, a pit-bull. The pit-bull terrier, which actually embodies several breeds of dogs, was originally bred for their strength and agility to be used in bull and bear baiting. Unfortunately, because of this breed’s dauntless loyalty, they will persevere through any type of attack, which later led them to be bred for pit-fighting.
There has been a long dialogue about pit-bulls ever since the debacle with Michael Vick and his dog-fighting ring in 2007. Since then, the focus seems to have solely been on pit-bull attacks, with fierce opposition by pit-bull sympathizers, such as the acclaimed “Dog Whisperer,” Cesar Millan.
The fact is that attacks on humans by dogs is far more universal than believed. According to the American Journal of Veterinary Medical Association:
Although fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem (pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers), other breeds may bite and cause fatalities at higher rates. Because of difficulties inherent in determining a dog’s breed with certainty, enforcement of breed-specific ordinances raises constitutional and practical issues. Fatal attacks represent a small proportion of dog bite injuries to humans and, therefore, should not be the primary factor driving public policy concerning dangerous dogs. Many practical alternatives to breed-specific ordinances exist and hold promise for prevention of dog bites. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:836–840)
Much like humans, pit-bulls act how they’re raised. Pit-bulls raised in loving, caring homes, where they receive the same attention and affection as other breeds will be incredibly loyal, loving pets. They are also incredibly smart and healthy dogs.
Pit-bulls should actually receive acclaim. According to The Huffington Post, there are numerous cases where pit-bull actually save the lives of their human friends.
The key to demolishing this stereotype is education. Dog owners need to take responsibility for their dogs. That includes using a leash, giving affection, training dogs, and giving them plenty of exercise. Any dog will attack if his basic needs are not met; this would be the same for people. It’s neither fair nor ethical to ban and stereotype specific breeds. The onus ultimately falls on the person who raises the dog.
From our own experience at Candle Moments, we helped raise Daisy, who is a pit-bull mix, and she is the most loving little dog on Earth. Her biggest crime would be squashing you because she believes she is a lap dog.
(This is a photo of our nephew, AJ, and our pit-bull mix, Daisy.)