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Pit Bulls Get The Wrong End Of The Stick

Not many people know this but I’ve grown up with dogs all my life. No, not in a Mowgli-type of way (and yes, that was a Jungle Book reference)…although that would have been really cool. It’s just that dogs have always been a part of my life in one way, or another.

As a child, I remember visiting my grandparents in their home in San Jose, CA. While I loved to visit with my grandma and feast on delicious home-cooked Chinese meals (wonton soup and braised pork were always my favorites), I also looked forward to these visits because of the fun times I had with her dog. My grandmother had an adorable, happy-go-lucky Pomeranian named Sapporo who, by his namesake, loved to drink beer. Not a good idea for dogs to drink alcohol by the way. We just happened to find out about his affinity to the drink when as a puppy, he had lapped up some spilled beer at an outdoor barbeque.

Then there’s my dad – a “big dog” kind a guy. He loved all types of large and giant breed dogs. He even had a Great Dane named Louie (after him) that could stand up on his hind legs and reach my dad’s shoulders – all 6 feet 4 inches of him.

Dad had a natural ability for successfully training the so-called “vicious” dog breeds: Dobermans, German Shepherds, Rottweilers…and of course Pit Bulls. So I was always around those types of dogs growing up and found them to be pleasant members of the family when properly cared for and trained.

So it came as no surprise when my dad got Duke, a mastiff/pit bull mix, to replace his loyal companion, Casey (a black lab) when she passed away from cancer.

Looking at Duke, you’d think him to be a ferocious, creature. His boxed head, muscular body and the serious look in his eye is enough to cause some people to cross the street when he and my dad go out for a walk.

But looks can be deceiving.

Duke is in fact one of the friendliest dogs on earth. My father takes him to the dog park weekly where he runs and plays with the rest of the lot and ignores the small yappy dogs who think they can stand up to this magnificent animal.

Duke is the reason why I decided to write this week’s article on pit bull discrimination.

Hurtful Human Words Hurt Dogs

I find it fascinating how incredibly powerful the written word can be. It has been known to start wars – and end them; to inspire hope – or spread despair. Yes, words can help or hurt us (and others) making what we say and what we write very tricky business. As the saying goes, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

In recent years, quite a lot of words have been negatively written in the media about the pit bull breed. They say the breed is vicious, unpredictable and a threat to the public. There have been tragic cases of pit bulls attacking children, other animals, even their own owners. Some of these incidents have even resulted in the death of the victim and/or the dog.

I am not saying these stories are not true – unfortunately, they are. What I am saying is, “Where are the positive stories about pit bulls? Are there even any?”

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like the bad publicity that pit bulls have received seems to be very one-sided. Being the investigative reporter that I am, I decided to do some digging to uncover the whole truth…to find out if there is a good side to this “dangerous” dog breed.

I wasn’t disappointed.

“Brave Pit bull Saves Woman From Train”
May 2, 2012 – Shirley, Massachusetts:

Three years ago, Boston police officer, David Lanteigne decided to get his mother, Christine Spain (who suffers from alcoholism) a canine companion – Lilly, a beautiful pit bull rescue. On Wednesday, May 2nd Christine fell onto the tracks of an oncoming train. Her loyal dog, Lilly frantically tried to pull Christine off the tracks, saving her life. While Christine was uninjured, Lilly, suffered major trauma and eventually had to have her front right leg amputated but she survived. Officer David was so grateful and was quoted as saying, “We saved her life, and she saved my mom’s life.”

“Pit Bull Saves Owner From Home Invasion”
March 31, 2012 – Graniteville, Staten Island, New York:

Imagine you’re at home when suddenly you hear the doorbell ring. You look out the window and see a man in a FedEx delivery uniform. He says he has a package for you. Right when you’re about to open the door, the man forces his way inside your home brandishing a gun.

This is exactly what happened to Justin Becker and his twelve year old pit bull, Kilo. Luckily, Kilo leapt into action and took a bullet to the head, saving his owner from the intruder. Both dog and owner lived through the ordeal. When asked what he thought of his dog, Justin exclaimed, “He’s a hero. He saved my life. He went to protect me and he did his job.”

“Pit Bull Saves Woman From Beating and Kidnapping”
April 8, 2009 – Holland, Michigan:

33-year-old Steven Schumacher was arrested and charged with felony first-degree home invasion and misdemeanor domestic violence – all with the help of Blitz the pit bull. “I didn’t think he had it in him, but I guess he did,” said Blitz’s owner of the incident.

Steven broke into his estranged wife’s house and assaulted her then dragged her out of the house onto the street. All the commotion alerted a neighbor and her 2-year-old pit bull, Blitz. The dog broke free of his owner and headed right towards the attacker, frightening him into letting go of his wife who ran for safety. Thought the dog never actually attacked him, Steven gave himself up and was promptly arrested without further incident.

So there you have it. These three stories of pit bulls saving the day have shown that they are not the dangerous villains that many make them out to be. These dogs can be loyal, brave, loving, and protective companions

So then – why the bad rap?

If I could offer my opinion: I think it has a lot to do with the way these dogs are being raised. Backyard breeding for the purpose of producing fighting dogs, lack of obedience training, improper socialization training, as well as the general public’s stereotypes and misinformation about the pit bull breed can all be attributed to the bad reputation and mistreatment of these great working dogs.

What do you think about this controversial subject? Are pit bulls dangerous? Do they deserve the bad reputation that they have?

Amber Keiper is the Marketing Coordinator and Raw Diet Educator for BARF World Inc. She and her husband have two former rescue animals that are now healthy and proud “BARF brats” – a terrier mix named Chewbacca (“Chewy”) and a tabby mix named Chiquita (“Chiqui”). For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for The Intelligent Pet monthly e-zine at www.barfworld.com.

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3 Comments  comments 

3 Responses

  1. Momtra

    You hit the nail right on the head. There are PLENTY of examples of these fabulous dogs doing great things. I personally fostered several, fell in love with one, adopted her, then adopted another male later. My male is awesome enough to be a therapy dog. He’s calm, sweet, loving, funny, and smart. He’d never hurt his 2 legged sister and brother, both in the single digits in terms of age. My female is super sweet, though a little high strung and paranoid, but still, even when frightened she’s never snappy. The PB’s I’ve fostered have just been WONDERFUL. Look at the Vick dogs. Most have rehabbed quite well despite what they’ve went through. Yes, there are bad PB’s but there are also bad dogs in other breeds. My grandmother just had one of her chihuahuas attack and kill another of her chi’s. So any dog can be dangerous and most can be quite sweet given the proper care.

  2. Frances

    Thank you for shedding some positive light on a sadly misunderstood and mistreated breed . We have three pitties which came to us in various circumstances . None have bit anyone , however , our Corgi mix has tried to attack our neighbor’s rottweiler and even bit a friend .

    You are correct that socialization is very important as well as the way they are treated . All kinds of animals have the potential to do harm and also to be properly trained .

    I’m learning about all the great people that work at BARF WORLD …nice to know that your staff really care for dogs of all shapes and sizes :)

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