Pit bull fallacies refuted

Strolling through the Internet last night, actually did a Google search on my name, and I found this gem… Someone wrote about me and “pit bulls” regarding a letter/comment I posted last year in a Vail, Colorado newspaper. Apparently, the person who wrote this did NOT do her research so I am here to refute her statements that she has confused with facts.  Just to be clear, when someone says something and even quotes others, does not make the statements fact. A fact is a credible statement backed up by research.

for more info about pit bull myths, go here…

http://celiasue.com/2012/07/27/pit-bull-myths/

Here is the original article in the Vail paper

http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20111204/EDITS/111209954

here is my response to that article

http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20111206/LETTER/111209906

and below is a letter after what I wrote…

Before I begin, this study is pertinent…

Three MOST aggressive breeds

The number one aggressive breed out of the 33 dogs surveyed? The Dachshund. Yes – the wiener dog. The study found that “one in five dachshunds have bitten or tried to bite strangers, and a similar number have attacked other dogs; one in 12 have snapped at their owners.”

“Number two on the list is an even more diminutive breed – the Chihuahua, while Jack Russells came in third.

“The researchers say that the bite statistics that have been released in recent years are skewed because most dog bites are not reported. Big dog bites are more likely to require medical attention, but this does not mean that those breeds are doing the majority of the biting.”

http://www.dogguide.net/blog/2008/07/the-3-most-aggressive-dog-breeds-revealed-pit-bulls-rottweilers-youll-be-surprised/

What she says is highlighted by underlining… my comments are generally below her statements.

Dogged agenda

Who is Celia Sue Hecht? Do you know her? Is she your neighbor? I doubt it. 

She does not live in Eagle County or even Colorado. She lives in California. 

She is a writer and pit bull apologist who trolls the Internet looking for articles, such as the commentary from the Sunday, Dec. 4 Vail Daily by Melanie Pfeiffer about pit bulls. 

I do not apologize for pit bulls nor do I troll the Internet looking for articles. At times, people post articles to my Facebook page and if and when I HAVE TIME and ENERGY to respond to inaccuracies, I do so. And if I were a troll, apparently am not a very good one since it is now five months later. If I were trolling I would have come across her response months ago.

I am not disputing that Hecht has a right to her opinion. Furthermore, I think that the Vail Daily does have an obligation to present both sides to a story. But I do think it is pertinent to note that she is not a member of our community and that she is not unbiased.

Clearly she is a member of the community and is biased based on what she says…

She writes authoritatively in the Vail Daily that, “pit bull is not a breed: American Staffordshire terrier, American pit bull terrier and other breeds are all lumped together and called pit bulls.” 

Yet on her own website she writes that her own dog is a Dalmatian and pit bull mix — lumping together her own pet.

Ridiculous… for the sake of brevity on my blog I do not have a long dialogue about how I have not done a DNA test on my dog to determine whether she has American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, bulldog, mastiff, or any of the other 30 breeds routinely lumped together and labeled pit bull dogs in her… so I say she is a Dalmatian/pit bull mix …

Many dog breeds “can” fall under the blanket “pit bull” category.

These include:

•Alano Espanol
•American Pit Bull Terrier
•American Staffordshire Terrier
•Cane Corso
•Cordoba Fighting Dog
•Dogue de Bordeaux
•Japanese Tosa
•Perro de Presa Canario
•Staffordshire Bull Terrier

I challenge Ms. Edwards  to Find the Pit

http://www.pickthepit.com/

and I would ask Ms. Edwards 1. how many “pit bulls” she has personally met up close and personal and 2. how many millions of INNOCENT dogs killed would make her feel safe?  as it is, millions of INNOCENT “pit bull” type dogs are slaughtered every year in shelters across the country just because of discrimination against these dogs, stereotypes, ignorance and profiling.

Did you know that the MOST DECORATED dog in military history was a “pit bull” type dog Sergeant Stubby?

http://willmydoghateme.com/pet-cetera/the-dogs-of-war-sergeant-stubby

and remember, Petey the Little Rascals dog… guess what his breed was?

The substance of her commentary was a Christmas-letter catch-up on how Michael Vick’s dogs are doing.

absurd… the former V dogs are exemplary examples of how “pit bulls” actually are… these DOGS who were abused and traumatized and made to fight for their lives, to some people, are considered to be the meanest, most vicious “pit bull” type dogs and what I pointed out is that “pit bulls” are NOT inherently mean nor vicious by virtue of the FACT that eight of the former V dogs have become therapy dogs and many are living with other dogs, cats and children as family pets.

 

That they have not have killed another dog or child somehow is proof that we all have it wrong when it comes to pit bulls.

there are no incidents to date of a spayed/neutered indoor family pit bull EVER having killed anyone.

…[S]ince 1975, dogs belonging to more than 30 breeds have been responsible for fatal attacks on people, including Dachshunds, a Yorkshire Terrier, and a Labrador Retriever.” (It’s also key to point out that you are more likely to be killed by lightening than a dog, and dog bites are at historic lows.)

http://stubbydog.org/2012/05/pit-bulls-by-the-numbers/

Yes, Ms. Hecht is entitled to her opinions, but that does not mean that they have any merit, as she lacks any credentials giving her one iota of credibility. 

She is a dog owner. I mean, pit bull owner.

My credentials:

30 years as a Journalist who knows how and DOES research

5-1/2 years as a dog owner makes me an expert… when I first rescued my dog I was told she was a Dalmatian mix… I knew NOTHING about “pit bulls.”   After many people asked me if she was a “pit bull” I spent HOURS doing research. And found that my dog does indeed have numerous characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier… blocky head, extremely friendly towards people and children, silly and goofy personality, slobberpuss and more.

Observing my dog’s 1,000+ interactions with more than 600 dogs of all breeds (including her play with our neighbor’s dogs, Australian Shepherds, chi mix and mini poodle next door, Siberian Husky and her new doggie pal Harley, a 10 pound Havanese) and farms animals including cows, horses, chickens, sheep, llamas and even Himalayan yaks and elk, and seeing her response to six attacks from other dogs mostly at dog parks (she generally goes into submission, showing off her belly), PLUS intimately living with this dog day and night, sleeping with her, playing with her, putting my fingers in her mouth, watching her with other people, I have NOT seen any signs of aggression… not when a dog had her by the throat, another dog made her eye bleed, and another dog chewed a piece out of her head. On another occasion, for four days, a dog growled and snapped at her continuously and she IGNORED the other dog’s aggression preferring to play with the other dog on the property. One dog trainer told me that she wished HER dog acted so gently and cautiously when meeting a new doggie friend.

So what exactly are YOUR credentials, Ms Edwards, besides living in Vail, being a mother and cat owner?  You don’t say. Hysteria is not a credential, nor is relying on FAULTY  “facts” and fake science that have been disproved time and time again by EXPERTS.

and you also deny 150 years of HISTORY

http://www.ywgrossman.com/photoblog/?p=1103

One dog breed achieved such a rock solid reputation with children that for 150 years it was known as America’s “Nanny Dog”.

temperament testing reveals that pit bulls score gentler than 121 other breeds

Temperament evaluations by the American Temperament Test Society have given pit bull terriers a very high passing rate of 90.6 percent. The average passing rate for the other 121 breeds of dogs in the tests was only a low 77 percent.

The American Temperament Test Society determined that pit bulls were less aggressive in confrontational situations than many stereotypically friendly breeds, scoring 86% in overall ability to interact appropriately in public — versus the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (83%), the Miniature Poodle (78%) and the Old English Sheepdog (77%).

Beyond a dog’s breed, factors that affect a dog’s tendency toward aggression include reproductive status, sex, early experience and socialization/training. According to the Centers for Disease Control, these concerns are well-founded, given that:

  • More than 70 percent of all dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs.
  • An unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than is a neutered dog.
  • A chained or tethered dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than a dog not chained or tethered.
  • 97 percent of dogs involved in fatal attacks on people in 2006 (the most recent year statistics are available) were not spayed/neutered.

What does the science say? (NOTE:  THIS IS NOT NOT NOT SCIENCE)

 “The pit bull’s massive canine jaws can crush a victim with up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch — three times that of a German shepherd or Doberman pinscher” (dogbitelaw.com). “The pit bull is quicker to anger than most dogs. … Pit bulls are frighteningly tenacious; their attacks frequently last for 15 minutes or longer, and nothing — hoses, violent blows or kicks — can easily stop them. That’s because of the third behavioral anomaly: the breed’s remarkable insensitivity to pain” (www.city-journal.org).

http://stubbydog.org/2011/12/yes-pit-bulls-suddenly-snap/

http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/uploaded_files/publications/230603563_Pit%20Bull%20Placebo.pdf

Dr. Lehr Brisbin of the University of Georgia wrote:

“The few studies which have been conducted of the structure of the skulls, mandibles and teeth of pit bulls show that, in proportion to their size, their jaw structure and thus its inferred functional morphology, is no different than that of any breed of dog. There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of any kind of “locking mechanism” unique to the structure of the jaw and/or teeth of the American Pit Bull Terrier.”

A German Shepherd Dog, American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), and Rottweiler were tested using a bite sleeve equipped with a specialized computer instrument to measure bite pressure. The APBT had the least amount of pressure of the 3 dogs tested. (Source: Dr. Brady Barr of National Geographic)

“There is no scientific evidence that one kind of dog is more likely than another to injure a human being than any other kind of dog.[i][ii] In fact, there is affirmative evidence to the contrary.[iii]

[i] http://www.avma.org/advocacy/state/issues/javma_000915_fatalattacks.pdf (Accessed April 27, 2011).

[ii] http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Dog-Bites/dogbite-factsheet.html (Accessed April 27, 2011).

[iii] S. Ott, et al, “Is There a Difference? Comparison of Golden Retrievers and Dogs Affected by Breed-Specific Legislation Regarding Aggressive Behavior,” Jrnl of Vet. Beh., 2008, 3, 134-140.

http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/dogbites/whatisadogbite/

What does an animal behavior expert say? Temple Grandin (from Colorado), writing in her book “Animals in Translation,” notes, “On average, rottweiler’s and pit bulls are so much more aggressive than other breeds that it’s extremely unlikely bad owners alone could account for the higher rate of biting. … Aggression isn’t always the owner’s fault. … Don’t let people tell you that rottweiler or pit bull aggression is a myth. It’s not.”

What do the Centers for Disease Control say? “At least 25 breeds of dogs have been involved in 238 human dog-bite-related fatalities during the past 20 years. Pit bull-type dogs and rottweilers were involved in more than half of these deaths.” 

Lisa Peterson, spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club, the AKC is opposed to BSL, which Peterson compares to racial profiling. She says, “When there is an incident in a local area, the reaction is to create a dangerous dog law, and sometimes lawmakers react with breed bans because that breed of dog that was involved in an incident. A law that targets a breed because a single dog was involved in an incident is not a good law.”

a study by the University of Colorado School of Medicine conducted between 2003 and 2008 determined that unsupervised children ages five and younger are at the greatest risk for dog bites, and that family pets, including a high percentage of breeds considered “good” with children such as Labrador retrievers, are the most frequent offenders.

“My kids are around pit bulls every day. In the ’70s they blamed Dobermans, in the ’80s they blamed German shepherds, in the ’90s they blamed the Rottweiler. Now they blame the pit bull.”    Cesar Millan.  “Pit bulls get a bad rap because of irresponsible owners….”

Victoria Stilwell, dog trainer, It’s Me or the Dog

“It’s a Witch Hunt”

Victoria Stilwell on Breed Specific Legislation, “I am a mother. I am also a dog owner and dog trainer who has committed my life to helping people find the most effective, humane and responsible way to live in harmony with their dogs while also affording them the respect they deserve.

…The general concept underpinning BSL is that the most effective way to determine whether or not a certain dog could potentially pose a threat to humans is by classifying and generalizing entire breeds of dogs as ‘dangerous’, regardless of the individual dog’s temperament, behavioral history or owner’s actions.

It continues to confound me that there are still proponents of BSL given both the behavioral science which is now available and the abysmal track record of municipalities that have attempted to curb dog attacks by instituting BSL. We know so much more than we did even 20 years ago about how dogs think, what they feel, how their brains are wired (very similarly to ours, as it turns out), and what could potentially cause them to aggress. Ironically, one of the most commonly found attributes among aggressive dogs is not their breed, but rather a lack of confidence and insecurity. Think of the typical schoolyard bully – is he generally a self-confident kid or one who actually suffers from significant insecurity issues? The same general concept can be applied to dogs.

“Regardless, counties, cities and entire countries around the world continue to turn to BSL policies in a desperate attempt to protect their public from the rising number of serious (and sometimes fatal) dog bites. I share this desire to reduce the number of dog attacks. As a doting mother of a beautiful 7 year old girl, my heart literally breaks every time I hear about another child who has been mauled by the family dog, which is why I have set up a Dog Bite Prevention Task Force to help educate the public about responsible dog handling and safety. The vast majority of fatal dog attacks share one glaring yet often-overlooked characteristic: usually at least one component of the scene is not in its usual environment. Either the dog is staying with the uncle, the grandparents are babysitting for the child, or someone outside their normal circumstance is placed as the primary guardian. The key to avoiding these tragedies is not to make owning certain breeds illegal, but rather to ensure that everyone in charge of dogs and/or children is educated about safe practices and never leaves any dog alone with any child.

“Pit bulls can make great family pets in the hands of a responsible owner

Simply put, any breed of dog can bite, and any breed of dog can make a perfect family pet. Yes, the bigger and stronger the dog, the more damage it is capable of inflicting, although I have seen horrific footage of bite wounds from small dogs such as Jack Russell Terriers and Chihuahuas as well. Which breed of dog was named ‘most aggressive’ in recent scientific studies?  The family Dachshund.

“…Statistics have shown that throughout the world, wherever BSL has been initiated, the number of dog bites has actually increased since the legislation has passed. This is the case in Scotland, England, parts of Canada, certain cities in the US, the Netherlands and beyond. In every single case, dog bites have become more of a problem since governments began banning breeds. What more evidence do we need as a society to realize that BSL is ultimately ineffective, if not also unfair?”

http://positively.com/2011/04/06/why-bsl-doesnt-work/

Those breeds do not, however, make up half the dogs owned in America.

Ms. Pfeiffer writes, “I can honestly say that in three out of four cases (dog fights), an American pit bull terrier is involved.”

So what’s my agenda? I live in this community, Arrowhead. I have small children. And I’m, ahem, a cat owner.

Deirdre Noble Edwards

7 Comments

Filed under animal abuse, bigotry against dogs, breed specific laws, breeds, Dalmatian, dogs, dogs around the world, end dog racism, end dogfighting, keep pets safe, kids and dogs, legislation against dogs, lost dogs book, Michael Vick dogs, pet care, pit bull, prejudice against dogs, Uncategorized

7 responses to “Pit bull fallacies refuted

  1. tleitao

    There are obviously exceptions to every rule, including the Pitt Bull. I have met many that have exceptional temperaments. I have also seen many at off leash dog parks with irresponsible owners that have gone after other dogs, people, etc.

    The main issue with the Pitt Bull is they were historically bred for dog fighting which gives them a certain amount of inborn temperament. Just like a Labrador Retriever was bred to retrieve birds to the hunter. Some of these traits can be tempered but its true nature will be hard to break, no matter how much socialization.

    That said, cross breeds like say a Labrador/Staffordshire Terrier mix might yield a dog that possesses more of
    Labrador temperament. On the other hand a Staffordshire/American Bulldog may yield a more aggressive temperament.

    Granted with the “right” owner any dog can be a great dog. This means extensive socialization, etc. I would still consider the Pit Bull an “advanced” breed that should not to be owned by just anyone.

    Like it or not, the Pit Bull has a reputation that is built from its historic purpose as a fighting dog as well as from Bozos like Michael Vick who continue to selectively breed a fighting temperament into these dogs. While his dogs have been rehabilitated, personally I would not want to be responsible for them as therapy dogs. Too much baggage for my taste.

    All of this said I commend your passion around this issue and do not believe that any breed specific legislation will help this issue.

    Thanks,

    Toni Leitão
    Editor – Retriever Life
    http://retrieverlife.com/

    • thanks for your comments.

      Pit bulls were not originally bred to fight. A dog (Olde English Bulldog) that looked much like today’s pit bull was originally used in the 1800′s in the British Isles to ‘bait’ bulls.

      …Pit bulls are beautiful in their variety, but their most appealing features are their inner qualities. Strength, confidence, a sense of humor and a zest for life are all hallmarks of the breed. They also tend to be sensitive and get their feelings hurt easily. Properly socialized dogs are quite affectionate and friendly, even with strangers, and therefore do not make good guard dogs. They’re intelligent and eager to please and tend to remain playful throughout their lives. While some can be low key ‘couch potatoes,’ many others need a job to channel their enthusiasm and energy. They excel in dog sports, search and rescue work, drug and bomb detection work, and as therapy dogs. Severe shyness, fearfulness or human-directed aggression is not characteristic of the breed and highly undesirable in any dog.

      http://www.badrap.org/breed-history

      • tleitao

        However the link you gave me states that once bull baiting was outlawed they were used for dog fighting and those traits were selectively bred for and that continues today with folks that breed pit bulls for fighting rings.

        “A dog (Olde English Bulldog) that looked much like today’s pit bull was originally used in the 1800′s in the British Isles to ‘bait’ bulls. These matches were held for the entertainment of the struggling classes; a source of relief from the tedium of hardship. In 1835 bull baiting was deemed inhumane and became illegal, and dog fighting became a popular replacement. Soon, a new bulldog was created by crossing the Olde English Bulldog with terriers to create smaller, more agile dogs. The best fighters were celebrated and held up as heroes for their courage and fortitude during battle. At the same time, bite inhibition towards humans was encouraged through selective breeding so gamblers could handle their dogs during staged fights. Partially because of these early breeding efforts which frowned on “man biters,” pit bulls gained a reputation for their trustworthy nature with humans.”

        So again while I agree with you as far as BSL. I do not believe that a pit bull is the right dog for most people. There is a reason that the majority of service dogs are Labradors and Goldens.

      • “At the same time, bite inhibition towards humans was encouraged through selective breeding so gamblers could handle their dogs during staged fights. Partially because of these early breeding efforts which frowned on “man biters,” pit bulls gained a reputation for their trustworthy nature with humans.”

        The Humane Society says that Michael Vick would make a good dog owner so they have NO credibility. thanks.

  2. tleitao

    I just wanted to follow up that I think most of the bum rap that Pit Bulls get is from bad owners and not bad dogs. It is incumbent on us responsible dog owners to make sure our animals are properly socialized, trained in obedience, etc. I just consider the Pt Bull a more “advanced” dog that requires even more focus on socialization, etc. in order to create a good canine citizen. Keep up your good work.

    Thanks,

    Toni Leitão
    Editor – Retriever Life
    http://retrieverlife.com/

  3. Pingback: Pit bull myths | Have dog blog will travel

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