I am going to play a word association game with you. I am going to say a couple of words, then you tell me the first thing that pops into your head, OK?
The two words are “Violent” and “Animal:. What is the first thing that pops into your head?
These days, smart money is most people would say “Pit Bull”. OK, some would think that but not admit to it. Isn’t a Pit Bull just like any other dog?
My understanding is, there is no specific breed known as a “Pit Bull”. A “Pit Bull” is rather a category, or class if you will, that encompasses several specific breeds of dog. These breeds include, but are not limited to: Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. When I use the term “Pit Bull” I may be referring to any of the previously mentioned.
The term “Pit Bull” itself is indicative of the dog’s bred purpose. Historically, these dogs were bred to fight in the “pit” (fighting enclosure) against other dogs, and sometimes against other animals (such as bulls). These dogs were trained and bred to initiate an attack and pursue that attack until death.
It’s worth saying that a dog’s breed history plays a major part in its overall behavior. Dogs have been bred to pursue all types of behaviors: Retrievers retrieve, pointers point, and Pit Bulls initiate aggression. Obviously, training and “nurture” plays a part as well, but a dog is not an inanimate device on to which we can project our intentions.
According to Dogsbite.Org, 59% of USA human fatalities in the 2006-2008 timeframe resulting from a dog attack were Pit Bull related. Juxtapose that with the fact that so-called Pit Bulls were less than 5% of the US dog population. Furthermore, a disproportionate number of dog on human attacks resulting in serious injury were also Pit Bull related. This is likely due to the fact that the Pit Bull has been bred to bite down hard and “shake” its opponent. This mode of operation results in horrific injuries. I recommend visiting Dogsbite.org for more specifics.
There are also statistics that show that a disproportionate percentage of Pit Bull owners have felony criminal records.
It is also my observation that aggressive pit bulls are rarely treated with affirmative action. In other words, these dogs are relatively free to attack, maim, and kill humans and other animals. I say that with some conviction, as there was a murder in my community last summer where 2 Pit Bulls that had seriously attacked human beings on 2 separate, prior occasions went on to maul a retired US Army vet to death in his own back yard. Both of his arms were ripped from his body. Why were these dogs not restrained prior to this killing? Why is the owner not in prison for manslaughter? No prior restraint would have been needed in this case. In my opinion, both dogs should have been destroyed and the owner jailed after the FIRST attack. After the murder, the dogs were FINALLY destroyed but the owner walks free. Unfortunately, this is a relatively common outcome.
That said, the following is objectively true to me:
1) The Pit Bull comprises several breeds of dog.
2) Pit Bulls have been selectively bred to initiate aggression and fight to the death.
3) Pit Bulls are significantly more likely to cause death and dismemberment as compared to other breeds of dog.
4) Pit Bulls have a pre-disposition to aggressively attack other animals including other dogs, cats, horses, and human beings.
5) The Pit Bull is the criminal’s pet of choice.
6) Pit Bulls, and their owners, are generally free to attack, maim and kill with impunity.
How did we get to this ridiculous point? I believe it is due to the following: The social and legal norm is to put the interests of dogs and dog owners above public health and safety. Everyone has to “love doggy” no matter what. Our rights are stripped whenever we are in proximity to a dog.
It started with endless loud barking projected into our homes: We were told to “get used to it”. It continued with “ankle biters” pursuing and injuring postal delivery workers and joggers: We were called “haters” when we objected. It went further with dogs in places where they don’t belong such as grocery stores and restaurants: We were told to “get a life”. We now have our most vulnerable literally torn to shreds in front of us and yet it continues.
This is what the bottom of the slippery slope looks like.