Sunday, August 16, 2009

CL Rant - Pitbulls in Ontario

Oh how I love reading rants about the pit bull controversy in Ontario. I wish people would understand the breed before posting something they know nothing about (like this post). I really enjoyed reading this post on CraigsList and I hope you enjoy it too. I have copied and pasted it below for your enjoyment (just in case it gets flagged or removed).

I have posted this for your reading enjoyment. I have also added a few comments of my own in there and have published them in RED. I have re-organized certain sentences to ensure the post makes sense and flows properly.

For those of you who aren't aware, there is currently a Breed Ban in Ontario (among many other locations). If you are interested in the specifics, here's a link to the Dog Owner's Liability Act (DOLA).


I'll agree, Pitbull breeds do need a home too.... far away from small animals and children (both of which look like pray to these dogs). That's BS. I don't buy the argument many use, "it's not the dog, it's the owners", either. Buy it, buddy. I've witnessed first hand a wonderful Pit with a spotless record owned by a respected and skilled trainer go off for no reason. What was the trigger? There's always a trigger so don't fool yourself - problem is that sometimes asshats don't notice because they're too busy admiring the view.

It's true, I've see small breeds go off with greater frequency, again poor training is likely at fault here but when was the last time you read about a kid being mauled to death by a Chihuahua that jumped the back yard fence? When did you last see a story on the news where the cops had to put three twelve gauge shells into a poodle to get it to release another dog from it clenched teeth? Because it doesn't sell papers dumbass. Business is business.

The only people doing these pitbulls a disservice are those whom continue to breed them, not to mention people like YOU whom are in complete denial as to the real danger these dogs represent to others. No, the disservice originates from people who know nothing about the breed but profess to be knowledgeable after reading a newspaper clipping about a recent mauling.

Note that this was copied and pasted from the OP's post. I have included a link to it if you are interested in checking out the entire post. The below rebuttal addresses all these comments.


This is a rebuttal to the above by a different person

You clearly don't know a lot about the Pit Bull issue if you believe that they are inherently aggressive with children and/or small animals. You don't even know the correct way to spell the breed's name and you probably couldn't tell the difference between an actual APBT and a Lab/Boxer mix, or a Dogo Argentenio, or an American Bulldog or one of the other dozen breeds commonly called "pitbulls". Personally, I don't like to use the term 'pit bull' or 'pitbull' because the AKC and CKC don't recognize this as a breed. It's just the same as designer dogs - I don't like to use the coin phrases for them either (puggles, doodles, etc) Personal opinion ... You also don't know that APBT don't tend to be prey-driven. They certainly aren't hunting dogs to view small animals and children as "prey". Thank you for posting this. Too many people are confused easily by this concept. I find if something has too many variables, people generally get confused and puzzled. Keep It Simple Sttupid ...

APBT were originally bred as exactly what their name specifies, bull terriers. They were intended to corral bulls, and to take them down when necessary. You can find this information on the Wiki page for the APBT, though Wiki says it was baiting bulls and bears ... not corraling them. These dogs were actually very good with people, and were often known as "nanny dogs" because they could be trusted to care for and watch over the children of the household. The main original issue with APBT is that they tended to be aggressive with other dogs. That was what got them into dog fighting circles and bred for dog fighting, which most people mistakenly think that was their original purpose. Actually, Wiki suggests they were moved to dog fighting because baiting bulls became inhumane - though we should all take Wiki pages with a grain of salt ... hard to say if it is truth or not since anyone can post to them. Does anyone out there know?

Sure, Chihuahua's haven't yet been reported to jump fences and kill children. However, they have been reported to have a very high biting frequency. I personally still don't have full use of my hand because a Chihuahua bit right through my one finger when I was five. Why? I was lying in her spot. There are plenty of reports of everything from Dachshunds to Miniature Poodles to Cocker Spaniels having severely mauled and even killed children. The problem is that for every one that does, three go unreported by the media. I know of one 1 year old child KILLED by her parents' Jack Russel mix that was only reported as such in her obituary. All dogs can bite - I will always stand by this. The frequency and circumstances surrounding bites is dependent upon the training provided, environment and animal. That said, I don't trust any dog with a small child alone - including any of our own - EVER.

But sure, let's go with assuming that small dogs are safer simply because they're not able to bite as much at once or with as much force. Let's ignore that Dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Jack Russels were the top three breeds listed in a study on dogs that most frequently bite (humans and animals). I wish this person had posted where this info came from - it would give it more credibility. What about other large breeds?

Think that "pitbulls" (a group generally defined by EIGHT breeds) are more vicious than other large breeds? Sure, if you count all eight breeds as one! There was a study done over twenty years as to what dog breeds have killed more than others. Unfortunately the actual study has been yanked off the internet due to reactions to its results then why would you post this info? Your credibility is heading more towards the angry rant rather than informative individual, but if you google "Which dog breeds are more likely to kill people" the first two or three links will give you an article that reports the results. Of course, pitbulls and pit mixes top the list at 66 deaths. What the articles don't mention but the original report did is that there were seven different breeds included in the "pitbull" category: APBT, American bulldog, American Staffordshire Terrier, Dogo Argentino, Presa Canario, Cane Corso, and Ca De Bou. Even presuming the last three or four aren't common enough to make a big different, APBT, AB and AmStaffs are more than enough to make up the next three breeds in popularity. The next two breeds alone (Rottweilers and mixes and German Shepherds and mixes) make up for 56 deaths. Add in the third breed (Huskies and their mixes) and you have 71 deaths for THREE breeds compared to 66 for SEVEN. Ok, that was better. I googled it and did find those numbers as stated by this poster listed on many different websites. This was quite long winded, but did make a good point if you were actually interested in reading the entire paragraph and deciphering what the point was.

Still not enough to show that "pitbulls" aren't automatically dangerous because you saw ONE that you were told (or presumed) had never shown signs become aggressive? Look up "Cocker Rage". I Googled Cocker Rage and couldn't find any dependable sources of information about this. There were a few well written articles, but after Googling the author, discarded the article. (You know a company is doing well when the name - Google - becomes a verb) Ten to fifteen years ago, Cocker Spaniels were so in demand that the puppy mills and backyard breeders took the dogs that wouldn't sell due to bad temperament and used them to breed so that they could up their bottom line. I have issues when people write things off to "Rage" ... "Road Rage", "Air Rage", "Bike Rage", "Computer Rage", etc ... when did we stop teaching our children anger management? Personally, I think it's just a convenient excuse.

You are right to assume that PART of the problem is that people deny there's any problem. However, the problem isn't the breed itself but the people who are only breeding the unstable temperaments. Many "purebred Pit Bulls" are actually no such thing anymore. You think those grotesquely over-muscled dogs are what APBT are supposed to look like?

I'm adding two photos here:

Do you think this is what a "pitbull" looks like?

Those are great examples of exactly how much the APBT breed has been changed by the puppy mill and backyard breeding set. Look like Gotti lines to me ...

The two pictures here and below are what an APBT is supposed to look like. So glad the poster included these in the rant ...

They are supposed to be between 35 and 60 pounds for males and 30 and 50 for females. These are medium-sized dogs, not the monsters that are being bred for the unsuspecting or those desirous of a "vicious" dog. The UKC (recognizes APBT) has the following as very serious faults: Any disproportionate overdone characteristic (such as short legs, excessive bone or massive head or body) that would interfere with working ability AND Overly massive body style that impedes working ability. These are the very things that most people think of when they think of "pitbulls" and it is discouraged by kennel clubs!

About a year ago, there was a report of a "pitbull" that jumped its fence and bit a boy in the face. Over a dozen newspapers carried a story. Two weeks later, the report emerged that a neighbour had watched the boy poke the dog with a stick, shout at it, throw rocks at it and bang the fence for over a half hour, despite her telling him to stop. She said the dog jumped with his mouth open and caught the boy in the face because he had climbed the fence to look over and poke the dog some more. The dog didn't even intentionally bite him. Two newspapers carried THAT story. The dog was still put down. Such a common story ... happens far more often than it should.

Around the same time, another dozen newspapers ran a story about two "pitbulls" who had chased down and killed a man's dog and injured the man. The photo with all these reports? Two labs. The owner of the labs stepped forward and admitted that they were his and weren't "pitbulls" but labs. One paper ran that story. The labs weren't put down once the owner claimed them as labs, although they were slated to be when they were "pitbulls". (Note that I did not write this post and am aware at the lack of capitalization on certain breed names)

There is a truth to the fact that APBT tend to be dog-aggressive. Really? Whenever I talk to owners, they always go on about how wonderful their dog is with others and that they couldn't imagine their poopsie-poo being aggressive towards other dogs. Where is this documented? Greyhounds tend to be high prey but many people have cats/small critters and Greyhounds. True. Greyhounds are a sight hound. German Shepherds tend to be protective but many people have "everyone is my friend" German Shepherds. Again true. The GSD was a breed developed from herding and 'shepherd' dogs. Collies tend to need property to run on, but many people have Collies in apartments. Don't know about this one. Collies were also herding dogs and I've not seen many that are runners. Busy-bodies, yes. But not normally runners for the sake of running. Australian Shepherds tend to like to herd kids but many people have kids and Aussies and do fine. This is true. Another herding dog - do we see a trend going on here? There is only so much that genetic factors can do. Just the same as kids will show traits like their parents but won't be exactly the same, dogs will show traits of their breed and parents but won't be exactly the same. The more you breed dogs with very similar traits, the more likely the pups will be to show those traits, but there's no guarantee. You can have two calm, sweet dogs that produce a very aggressive pup and two very aggressive dogs produce a sweet and good-natured pup. There are some nice points in this paragraph, but again - it's a bit repetitive.

There are a few common things that cause human aggression in dogs. Please note that there are at least 13 forms of clinical canine aggression, though not all will be directed towards humans and very few were listed here. I have removed the rest of the paragraph because it wasn't written with any direction - seemed more like a tangent.

Dog aggression is caused by many things. Dogs CAN tell the difference between humans and another dog. Even a dog previously used for dog fighting can be perfectly fine with adults, kids and even cats. That dog might never be able to live with another dog but that doesn't mean that they'll be attacking humans left and right either. I edited this paragraph by removing a few sentences that were not following the topic. The poster sounds like he/she is ranting with no direction.
On a final note: there is evidence that banning "pitbulls" or even stopping the breeding of them does NOT work. Denver banned "pitbulls" 20 years ago and for 12 years running (during the ban) had the highest rate of dog bite hospitalizations. In Britain, a study was done that showed that dog bites actually INCREASED with a "pitbull" ban in place. There are a few obvious and logical reasons for this:

1) Underground breeders and many current owners will continue to produce and own poorly bred APBT with fake registrations claiming them to be an un-banned breed or even without, regardless of the law
2) Many who bought "pitbulls" will move on to other breeds, most of which are more human aggressive. One popular breed is the Tosa, a Japanese breed that was and has only been bred for fighting
3) Labelling certain breeds as "dangerous" seems to make people forget that all dogs can be dangerous. I have had people let their kids run up to my dogs, pull on their ears and tails and even stick hands in their mouths. When I try to correct their behaviour, the response is almost always "But they're not PITBULLS, are they? No? Well, then they should be fine." Dogs less patient than mine would bite, "pitbull" or not. This poster needs to take a stand and deal with the trouble children. All dogs can bite and if you need to tell the children that your dogs bite for them to leave the dogs alone - then do it. Prevent this. It is your job as the handler. If you don't, you are failing your own dogs.
4) Spending time and money on breed-specific laws takes it away from dangerous dog laws, which do more to impact dog bites than the breed laws do

People can hate "pitbulls" all they like, but the fact of the matter is that on their own, the breeds in that category are no worse on average than any other large breed. They have a lower jaw PSI than Rottweilers No data supports this statement "Dr. Lehr Brisbin of the University of Georgia states, "To the best of our knowledge, there are no published scientific studies that would allow any meaningful comparison to be made of the biting power of various breeds of dogs" and less inclination towards human aggression than German Shepherds. There is no study to prove or disprove this statement that I could find. They ARE more appealing to people who want a dog with a bad reputation, but when denied their ideal, most of those people turn to other dogs.
Unless we want to ban dogs entirely, there will always be dog bites and deaths. It is far more useful to focus on aggressive dogs and owners who own multiple aggressive dogs, as they are 95% of the problem. If every dog bite were reported, a dog that bit unprovoked more than once put down and owners that had more than two aggressive dogs put down in ten-year period were banned from owning dogs, bites should drop in a way that they're not doing under breed bans. This would cost money and wouldn't be as visually appealing as breed bans to the general public (who we have already determined are clueless).
Please note that I do not approve of breed bans. They do nothing to resolve the problem, but they do make people panic. I have found that people are a little less inclined to run up to a strange dog and pat it after BSL has been introduced ... this alone may help keep the public and their dogs safe from the asshats out there.
If you are interested in reading my thoughts about Breed Bans, check out this earlier post here. I tried to discuss both sides of this argument (though that's pretty hard when you don't agree with something!)


aldon @ orient lodge said...

Last week, my daughter and I drove a pitbull rescue from Connecticut to Maine. My daughter is 7 and the dog was 1. I was worried about how the dog would do with my 7 year old. I've read plenty of horror stories, and I had no idea what the dog had been through.

However, the animal control officer told us that the dog was such a sweet pitbull. My daughter called her 'Sweetie'.

Initially, I kept Sweetie in the front seat so I could tell how she was doing, but soon, she was in the back seat snuggling with my daughter.

It is unfortunate that so many people have so little understanding of the breed. Because of it, they are one of the hardest dogs to find homes for and are often killed in shelters because no one will adopt them.

Stop by my blog and read my post Sadie's Dream for more about our rescue effort.

GoLightly said...

The original blog you wrote said it best.

It's up to owners.

Not up to the dogs.

Cyndi and Stumpy said...

great post with lots of good information. Too bad the BSL people choose to ignore the facts...

Flo said...

What a fabulous post. The best dog I ever had was a pure bred APBT. I now have 2 pit mixes. You made a statement that I think is at the heart of the matter - never leave any dog alone with a child. When I got my first pit I made it a point to learn her body language and I got so I could know exactly what she was thinking before anything happened. I could read her body language like a well known book. I'm still learning my new dogs body language but I think as a responsible owner it's something I have to do. My dogs now are 45-50 lbs and regardless of the fact that they are part pit, they could do a lot of damage so I am constantly on my guard. I love the APBT breed, they are fantastic dogs and will probably have one for the rest of my life. They tried to ban them here in Hawaii, luckily we put a stop to that.

mytwh said...

Before I ownerd a "pitbull" (not sure exactly what he is, but that's the label they put on him in the shelter and I can't figure out anything else he can be) I agreed that it was the owners, not the dog. And I still agree with that.

D is a sweetheart that would sit in your lap all the time if we let him. He has snapped at my fathers very poorly behaved Lab mix (because the Lab m is a very unstable and snapped at him) and also at my brothers crazy, nutso, horribly behaved Choc Lab. But I think he really felt threatened by them in one way or another (wont get into it too much). We recently brought him to a party with all little dogs and he had the best time. He just loves those little guys and is so gentle with them. He lets my 23 lb foster on his back and doesn't do a thing to fight back. I do watch him ALL THE TIME, like a hawk, but I do that with all my dogs. You never know what any dog will do.

Anyway, I think it is the owner, not the breed, if my gentle "pit" is any comparison of the breed.

Leigh said...

Interesting article! I agree that it's usually the owner's fault - not the dog. I have an AKC reg Jack Russell, and he actually attacked a friend's pit bull when they came to visit, the pit bull put him down quite easily, with only a small cut on my JRT's neck, the PB bled more than the JRT. The PB could have quite easily torn my dog in two - but he didn't, because he's better trained than mine. (And because they did it right in front of us.)

With dogs - it's all about the training!

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Aldon ...

Glad to hear you did this! With a 7 year old, I would be careful with any dog and I'm glad you kept the situation under control until you were comfortable. The controversy around this type of dog is what makes it so difficult to find them decent homes.

GoLightly and GiantSpeckledChihuahua ...

Glad I'm not the only one

Flo ...

That's awesome! So many people don't bother to take the time to learn their dog's language. It's a shame because you can set your dog up for success so easily if you know what he's trying to tell you

mytwh ...

Nicely said. Hope your foster dog is working out well!

Leigh ...

Good example.