A few days ago, a co-worker comes into my office and starts to shoot the breeze with me. The topic of dogs comes up which moves on to me mentioning volunteering with dogs, pitbulls in particular. His immediate response was:
“Oh pfft! Those dogs are terrible and attack people all the time”
To which I reply-probably too emphatically: “Pit bulls aren’t necessarily bad, it’s certain people who buy them and don’t socialize/train them/secure their yard properly and who abuse the dogs who are bad!”
He says that he reads all the reports of attacks and asserts that there is something “genetically” wrong with the breed. We continue to argue (Yah, I’m stubborn!) until he gets fed up and says “Well I gotta go. See you later”
I’m not big on having heated debates at work and am really not a fan of unnecessary conflict, but when the topic of pitbulls and animal welfare in general come up, I have to speak my mind. Now, I am not a certified dog expert, but there is one thing of which I am certain- If you neglect/abuse/bait an animal-any animal-dog or human-there is a strong chance that they will develop severely anti-social tendencies and hurt others. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens with many pits, many of whom are also forced into dog fighting. Then when they escape and wreck havoc, they are euthanized and their breed banned. Why is it that the dogs are punished so severely and not the asshole owners? Why is it that (before the ban) any Joe Blow could buy a large and powerful dog like a pitbull?
Truthfully, not everyone can handle pits. They need a LOT of work, socializing and stimulation and yes there is a possibility of animal aggression. (Like with any other breed) Plus-Pits have high pain thresholds and are physically very powerful. My co-worker is right about one thing though-Originally, pits were bred for dog fighting which genetically might put some of their descendents at a higher risk for aggression, but they were also used as babysitters for children around this time. Their origins also pose another question:
How can we punish all pitbulls when they are something we created through inter-breeding? How is that fair to the animal? Rather than banning and killing them, shouldn’t we be trying to improve them?
Anyway, I should also mention that the happiest, most affectionate dogs I encountered while volunteering at the shelter were pitbulls. Their energy was infectuous, their smiles were heart warming and their kisses slobbery. Despite being abused by humans, these pits forgave and forgot and just wanted love and direction. One of my favorite pits-Sharky-is a great example of the breed. He happily lives with a bunch of other animals in Texas.