Samantha Ellis, Global Animal

With the recent attack on a corgi by one of Jesse James’ pit bulls, the debate over the proposed pit bull bill to ban this breed in Texas heats up. The currently unidentified dog escaped from Jesse James’ bike shop, and attacked a passing corgi. The corgi survived and is recovering well.  Many people, including leading anti-pit bull advocate Douglas Wolfe, are calling for the death of the pit bull, and the ban of all pit bull type dogs in the state of Texas. Those in favor of this ban, and those like it in other states, claim that pit bulls are innately “vicious” and  “dangerous” dogs. However, the bias against pit bulls appears to have more to do with the media’s influence, rather than any innate cruelty in the breed.

According to the ASPCA, not only are pit bull attacks over reported, but the attacks may or may not have actually been committed by a pit bull. Any dog that resembles a pit bull is quickly given that label, whether or not the dog actually is. Corrections by the media may be made after the initial report, but the damage has been done. The ASPCA conducted a study over several days in 2007, recording how often a report on dog attacks were reprinted. No attack was reported more than twice if the dog was not a pit bull. The one attack by a pit bull was reprinted 230 times, with the story even being picked up by large media corporations like CNN, MSNBC, and FOX.

Any dog is capable of violence, but pit bulls are saddled with an unfair reputation of being genetically vicious. But genetics has very little to do with the temperament of an animal. According to Dog trainer Michele Crouse, the animal’s agression is determined not by the breed, but by the dog’s caretaker. “It’s all upon the responsibility of the owner and not what dog they have,” she told NBC. “It doesn’t matter if they have a 2-pound Chihuahua or a 200-pound mastiff.”

Supporters of anti-pit bull bans cite statistics that state a majority of dog bites are from pit bull type dogs. However, these sorts of statistics are notoriously unreliable. According to National Canine Research Council many dogs are incorrectly identified as a particular breed based on appearance. Thus an attack might be reported as being done by a pit bull, when the dog in question may not have any pit bull DNA at all. Basing legislation on inaccurate statistics like these will not solve anything. In fact, banning pit bulls would cause the slaughter of pets all across Texas, whether or not the dog has violent tendencies.

Instead of killing hundreds of innocent dogs, and punishing their caretakers, perhaps law makers should focus on preventing guardians from mistreating pets. Taking good care of a pet and providing proper training is a much more sensible and effective way to prevent dog attacks than banning a breed.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. “Pit Bulls” come from breeding White English Terriers and Bulldogs, both are considered to be a non-aggressive breed. they even had the nickname of “the Baby Sitters” in their early years because the man who bred them would actually leave the dog at home with his children, alone. The American Bull Terrier was bred to have the strength of a bulldog and the gameness of the terrier, the breeder was a well known hunter and wanted a reliable companion that would jump into the bush without fear to hunt wild boar. They are a hunting/working dog, farmers and ranchers would use them to kill rats and round up cattle and livestock. They were even used in WWI & WWII to send messages across the battlefield because of their speed, obedience and lack of fear.
    Later, they were put in pits and forced to fight other dogs, thats how “Pit Bull” Terriers got the elusive name.
    I live with a Blue-Nosed Pit Bull Terrier name Bleu and have friends with pit bulls as well, I have never experienced any of the “bad behavior” I hear about in the media and those friends can attest to this as well. It’s a clear  case of mistaken identity.
    As I look at my back patio, I see Bleu, laying on his dog bed chewing his Nyla-Bone and occasionally eyeing a fly thats landing next to him. His bone slips from his mouth onto the patio floor as the fly lands on it. He cocks his head to the side and raises one ear, then pounces on the bone and fly… Are these the actions of a vicious killer or a curious playful dog? to get the true answer, you must know a pit bull. You have to own one, or simply be around one for a few hours. They love human attention and want to impress their owners (maybe more than anything). 
    They’re goofy, charming, obedient and playful. 

  2. What a crock of bull and misleading twists on the truth everyone finds here. If the truth were a snake you would all get bitten repeatedly for your lack of ability to see the facts.  It is ridiculous to see so many people misquoting studies, organizations and people just to try to hide the danger of these animals. Not to mention quoting a bogus organization like the NCRC that is a propangda machine supported by those who have a financial interest in keeping pit bulls around. Get the facts or quit spreading all these lies.

    • I’ve got the facts!!  No lies!!! And nothing but the truth!!!
      1) Laws are being proposed every day that are intended to take away our rights to own particular dogs for no reason other than their breed – the way they look, the hype that surrounds them. (Across the US there are 75 breeds either banned or restricted) 
      2) BSL is the politician’s inadequate and uneducated band-aid solution to address the gushing “wound” of irresponsible ownership and lack of personal accountability. It’s not the car, it’s the driver!! (Not everyone has the skills to handle a race car) 
      3) 20+ breeds and their X’s could fall under the “Pit Bull Type” ban because of their appearance. If your dog RESEMBLES or has the appearance and characteristics or contains an element of or displays the majority of physical traits of a “pit bull” YOUR DOG could be affected by a “pit bull” ban. To name a few, Boxer, Ridgeback, Lab, Bulldog, Jack Russell, and even Don Cherry’s beloved Bull Terrier.
      4) Thousands of devoted and loving family pets have been murdered because of this profiling. A legislation addressing the problem of aggressive dogs (all breeds) AND dog owners (manslaughter charges if need be) is what we need not BSL.
      5) I own a Pit and a Rotti, I have no problem with a legislation addressing owners but I do have a problem with a legislation dumping on breeds.
      6) I have no doubt the majority of responsible owners feel the same way.

  3. Douglas Wolf needs to look at where the real responsibility lies surrounding the events that led up to his granddaughter getting bit by that dog. Does he really think it is ok to allow a 2 year old child to roam without supervision? We have civil courts designed to handle unjust loss. This is a civil matter why has he not sought justus in a civil court instead of harping on what he feels is the need for BSL? I think we are missing part of the story here….

    You cannot blame a breed of dog for the lack or parental or dog ownership responsibility. I guess some people have a need to be constantly nannied. Thank goodness most don’t. 

  4. It is SO true that any breed can be vicious/aggressive-take for instance our 8 1/2 yr M Lhasa Apso,  who is according to what we have read about (M) Lhasas-quite the guard dog &  quite often challenges other dogs we meet when out walking in the area.  He has mellowed slightly & more so since we adopted a 5-6 yr M Yorkie/Silky?? who can be aggressive in his own right.  Perhaps it has a bit to do with being males, our females are much milder, who knows, but the fact remains that it is unfair to target a single breed with accurate research & documentation, not the sensationalistic reporting that quite happens with dog bite cases, especially if the dog has the slightest resemblance to being a pittie or Staffie.   Just read the story listed above about the peaceful dog sitting on Death Row for simply looking like a pit bull.

  5. A specious argument, for sure. Even if pit bull attacks are over-reported and even if some of the dogs are misidentified, you can’t deny that pit bulls accounted for the majority of all serious dog attacks – more than 65 percent of all lethal dog attacks and a correspondingly high number of attacks that would constitute felonious assault if caused by a human (see studies by Merritt Clifton, the Centers for Disease Control and others). Beyond that, pit bulls are TEN TIMES more likely than all other breeds combined to commit injurious or lethal dog-on-dog attacks, which often lead to owners intervening and getting injured or killed along with their pets. While some pits are solid citizens, a percentage are bred for dog fighting – the Humane Society of the U.S. estimates more than 250,000 dogs are bred for pit fighting each year. If all pit breeders were responsible and if all pits were well-trained and sociable, I would go along with preventing bans. But that’s a fairy tale and we all know it. Neither the owners nor the dogs are reliable or trustworthy, as a group. And that is the argument for condemning a breed whose main purpose – as noted in its historical and current breed description – is as a fighter, bred to kill or injure other dogs or animals in a fighting situation.

    • Merritt Clifton sits behind his computer and collects newspaper articles, he is no more qualified to talk about dog attacks or statisitcs then is the guy that collects my trash every Tuesday.   Anyone who quotes him shows how desperate they are to try and back their theories.
      And the CDC specifically said their statistics CANNOT be used to infer that one breed of dog is more likely to attack than another.
      Geesh… at least read the qualifications and results of the references you use.

    • When pit bull bans fail to reduce dog bite incidences (they DO fail to reduce them.  The bite statistics have NOT reduced in Ontario, Canada, since they banned pits), they start moving on to other breeds.  Dobermans, German shepherds and rottweilers come next.  When that fails, they start talking about banning animals who are ‘too large to control’ such as great danes, St. Bernards, Newfoundland dogs and various mastiff types.

      Breed-specific-legislation does NOT reduce dog bites.  All it does is increase fear for people who own family pets who resemble in any way those breeds.  It increases kill numbers for shelters.  It increases the numbers of animals who will spend their short lives driven insane in tiny pens until they fail temperament tests due to going insane and are put to sleep.

      These are not good things.  At all.

    • Our Country was not founded on the restriction and punishment of the masses based on the actions of a few.  When did this change?
      There is well over 20 different breeds plus all their X’s which easily fall into the Pit Bull “Type” by looks alone. To ban or discriminate against any one Breed is ludicrous. It would be way more interesting to do a research on just how many dogs involved in these attacks were misidentified as Pit Bulls. I have read articles where dog attacks were reported to the media and their reply, I quote “if it doesn’t involve a Pit Bull it’s not news” Here is a site where just a few of these misidentifications are reported and if you go just a bit further down, you will see attacks which were “not” reported by the media and Why? (They had nothing to do with the Pit) Can you say “fear mongering media” You be the judge!   http://www.riospitbull.com/new_page_9.html  
      Can you find the Pit? Give it a shot!  http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/findpit.html