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Thread: Pit bulls

  1. #1

    Default Pit bulls

    There's been a lot of controversy surrounding pit bulls recently. Some say they have a bad reputation that's undeserved, that they're loving and loyal and gentle family members when treated like such. Others suggest they're predisposed to viciousness and aggression and are too great of risk to allow into their communities.

    Earlier this week in Detroit, a 4-year-old was mauled to death by a pack of pit bulls in his neighborhood. He and his mother were walking to his school when the dogs slipped under the gate across the driveway of a neighbor's house. The dogs attacked, and despite the mother's attempts to protect her son and neighbors' attempts to fight the dogs off with sticks and crowbars, the dogs dragged the kid back under the gate and killed him. Detroit Police ended up shooting three of the four dogs on the spot.

    http://www.freep.com/story/news/loca...tack/76714978/

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/pack-of-...oy-in-detroit/

    http://www.detroitnews.com/story/new...tody/76714712/

    It seems like all we ever hear about are pit bulls-not dobermans, rots, just pits. And there's part of me that feels like this whole thing is venturing into the same territory as the gun control debate. "Not all gun owners are maniacs that are going to shoot up a crowd!" "We need to ban guns so that maniacs can't go and shoot up a crowd!." "Not all pit bulls are vicious and going to maul a kid!" "We need to ban pit bulls so they can't maul a kid!"

    I feel like the reporting on both of these issues (gun violence and pit bull violence) hews to polar extremes and is agenda-driven (on both sides). I also feel like there's a fair bit of hypocrisy amongst people who comment about both of these issues, as in those that say pit bulls are loving family members are also likely to suggest that we need to enact much stricter gun control, and vice versa. Personally, I feel like all sides need to expand the narratives. Pit bull fans need to start finding the labs and springer spaniels that are mauling little kids, and gun rights advocates need to start finding the machete-wielding maniacs cutting down crowds of people.

    So what do we think about the whole set of issues surrounding pit bulls? Are they vicious killers not fit to be part of the community? Are they loving family members that are just as friendly and/or violent as other dog breeds? How do we address stuff like this terrible episode from Detroit? What do we think?

  2. #2

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    I like the comparison to guns here. It's the owner's responsibility to make sure others are safe from accidents caused by their property. The dog being able to go underneath of a fence is no different than a small kid getting a hold of a loaded gun.

    Some pit bulls will grow up to be the most loving dogs on the planet while others will grow up to be killers. If you get a killer, you need to take necessary steps to restrain it as you would any deadly animal.

    "Expanding the narratives" won't do anything. Pointing fingers and saying, "Look, 'they' kill to." doesn't make the item less deadly or looked at for possible control. It's more beneficial to point out the good in the 'thing' and promote safe usage of that 'thing'.

  3. #3

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    I had a dog that was mauled by a Pit while my wife was walking her. My wife was bit, too. If not for the quick action of a neighbor, our dog would no doubt have been killed. We later found out that the Pit had escaped someone's backyard. They had found it at a construction site and had never shown aggression before. Our vet has the proposed solution that Pits should be fixed as much as possible and not bred for fighting. This is, of course impossible. No one can stop what people do in their own yard.

    On the flip side, I have at least three friends who have Pits or Pit mixes and they swear by them. The answer always seems to be the owner, not the dog that determines the dog's behavior. Regardless, I'm always afraid of them when I see one. I walk our current dog who's a hefty 115 ponds of love and unlike our previous dog, he would fight back. I'm thinking of getting some pepper spray for protection.

  4. #4

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    American pitt bulls are banned here in UK for all the reasons above and any dogs found are confiscated and put to sleep no if's no but's !

  5. #5

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    This is a very hard issue.

    I had a friend with a pit bull that was a big slobbering lap puppy. Then I have seen and heard horror stories about other pits.

    The single ones do depend on the owners reasonability and handling of them. But the most common situation I hear of is that there are two or more and they easily go into a "Feeding Frenzy"

    Pit owners will swear up and down they are sweet dogs, but there is just to many situations that occur.

    I do not know that they breed should be banded, but if you own one you better be ready to get sued.

    Egor

  6. #6

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    There are some variations in personality by breed. You probably wouldn't want to pick a pit bull as a childs pet. On the other hand, training is a huge factor, and the owner an even bigger one.

    The sort of person who lives in the ghetto and gets a pitbull probably isn't dropping a couple large to send it to obedience school to learn to sit, stay, heel, rollover.....

    Junior's dog is a pit-lab mix. She's well trained to the point that she sits and looks both ways before crossing the street. I don't even have to give the command any more. That said, there's no way of knowing for sure how she would react to strange people or strange dogs if left loose or unsupervised. She's generally friendly, and I expect she'd mostly go begging for 'pets'. There are a few people she just doesn't like though

  7. #7

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    I have big trust issues with pits. I know someone who has a pit mix. Not pure, but you can tell it has some by its fur and facial structure, that there is at least a little pit in there. She's friendly to the few people she's around, but becomes incredibly defensive/ aggressive when around others outside of the small group of people she's accustomed to. And I don't mean just barking at them, but a very intimidating growl. It doesn't sound like a "there's a stranger here" kind of growl more than it is "I'll bite if you get too close" kind of thing. Though, maybe that doesn't make sense? I've had four dogs total in my life time so far, and I feel like I've been able to tell the difference between a bark to warn of someone's presence and a bark/ growl that is intended to intimidate and possibly attack.

    I do think that some of it has to do with how a dog is raised, yet, a dog's personality would also heavily contribute to how aggressive they are. And personalities don't necessarily have to be caused by how they're raised. For example, I've got a small little westie dog that I raised since he was a pup. Did everything pretty normally, took him out, watched him, played with him, etc. We love that dog to death, but he's a total grouch and doesn't like being petted unless he wants you to. He'll growl if you pet him sometimes :p and is a big mama's boy, but he doesn't act that grouchy when she's not there. Anyway, those are my thoughts on it.

  8. #8

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    Comparing pits to guns has never really worked for me. I mean... If you want to shoot a gun, you need a gun, and they're all fundamentally deadly. On the other hand, there are something like a billion (slight exaggeration) medium and large dog breeds out there to choose from, and many have great reputations. I don't feel particularly strongly about the pit bull thing, but when I hear people go out of their way to defend the breed, I sorta wonder: Why? Is there really no other breed you would want? What positive traits of a pit bull really set it apart? This world is full of things you can do, but doing them simply because you can, and despite seemingly elevated risks of something bad happening, has always seemed to me to be a rather transparent attention-seeking maneuver.

    My boss has a pit-lab mix, and it's in the office every day. It's not a mean-spirited animal as far as I can tell, but it's very aggressive. I had my son with me one day, and the dog repeatedly jumped up on him despite my boss's attempts at intervention, and eventually knocked my son to the ground. If I let my arm hang loose while sitting at my desk, the dog will very often come over and start chewing on it--not in an attempt to eat it, but still rather aggressively and with uncomfortable results. I've learned to deal with it (I like my job), but the dog is plainly more aggressive and more difficult to keep under control that the other dogs I'm around on a regular basis. Is that the pit side showing through, or something else? I'll admit that I don't really know, but it's hard to ignore the coincidence.

  9. #9

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    No doubt many people who own pits really love them, but what sense does it make to continue breeding overly dangerous dogs? Yeah, yeah, I know - it's all about how they are trained. Let's be generous and say 1% of pitbull owners understand this and actually devote the time and effort to properly train their animals. That leaves a lot of uncontrolled, vicious animals around. These dogs are bred to be aggressive and vicious and few owners seem know what this means (in my experience). They mistakenly think because the dogs are friendly with family that they lost their aggressiveness. Breeding really does make a significant contribution to a dog's overall characteristics. Anyone who has seen border collies in action knows this.

    It's fine with me if we blame the problem on the people rather than the dogs. Let's start with the breeders or any of the middlemen. Anyone who provides a pitbull to an unqualified person should be held accountable for any damages caused by the dog.

    Unless we legalize dog fighting as a sport there is no reason to continue breeding fighting dogs that are a threat to the community when adopted as pets.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cottontail View Post
    Comparing pits to guns has never really worked for me. I mean... If you want to shoot a gun, you need a gun, and they're all fundamentally deadly. On the other hand, there are something like a billion (slight exaggeration) medium and large dog breeds out there to choose from, and many have great reputations. I don't feel particularly strongly about the pit bull thing, but when I hear people go out of their way to defend the breed, I sorta wonder: Why? Is there really no other breed you would want? What positive traits of a pit bull really set it apart? This world is full of things you can do, but doing them simply because you can, and despite seemingly elevated risks of something bad happening, has always seemed to me to be a rather transparent attention-seeking maneuver.
    I suspect there's some self-selection going on here.... the sort that buy pit bulls are often the sort that have an anti-social streak themselves. Like you don't buy a sport bike to go toodling around to the grocery store. Its not so much the dog... pretty much any dog that size can do some serious damage if its so inclined and hasn't been taught any better.

    That said, there are some breed-specific instincts. I can remember my dad's collie dragging me by the pants cuff to my grandma's backyard when I tried to venture out front to the street as a toddler... pit bulls, over centuries of breeding are going to have a bit more aggression in the blood. Not at all like the wolves they arose from, but more than a beagle, a collie, or a golden.



    My boss has a pit-lab mix, and it's in the office every day. It's not a mean-spirited animal as far as I can tell, but it's very aggressive. I had my son with me one day, and the dog repeatedly jumped up on him despite my boss's attempts at intervention, and eventually knocked my son to the ground.
    That's actually the lab side coming out. They're known for it. One would hope the owner has taught the dog that's not acceptable, or at least a command that tells it when to cease and desist. In the case of Junior's Juno, its "Juno, go lay down" or "Juno, all done" or just "NO!" Its worth asking him for the commands that the dog knows (one would hope there are some....). They're not always verbal, sometimes gestures or even facial expressions, but if they are, the syntax is important since dogs don't understand English. Juno's trainer used the dog's name followed by sit, stay, heel, etc.

    Juno's fine with my 2 year old granddaughter, who can talk well enough to start using the commands now. Juno knows (and respects) which stuffed toys are Juniorettes' and which are hers. The two of them drive Mrs. Junior nuts tearing around the house chasing each other.

    Juno knows she's not allowed on the couch at Junior's house. Grandpa's couch is OK if she asks first.



    If I let my arm hang loose while sitting at my desk, the dog will very often come over and start chewing on it--not in an attempt to eat it, but still rather aggressively and with uncomfortable results. I've learned to deal with it (I like my job), but the dog is plainly more aggressive and more difficult to keep under control that the other dogs I'm around on a regular basis. Is that the pit side showing through, or something else? I'll admit that I don't really know, but it's hard to ignore the coincidence.
    Begging to be scratched under the chin or behind the ears....or trying to get you to go somewhere with her, like on a walk. That's more begging for attention than it is aggression. It'll continue until you tell her to stop, again assuming she's been trained properly. Juno is worse with me than she is with anyone else because I let her get away with it. That's what Grandpa's do....

    If I'm at my desk, she nudges under my mouse elbow (that's the exposed side... the other is by the wall) until I do what she wants, or insist she "go lay down".

    Note that I'm no dog expert, in fact, as a cyclist I consider dogs a natural enemy, but I've sort of been forced to be around them, so I've had to learn to co-exist. My younger brother is a professional trainer. There's a video on netflix worth watching (sorry, can't remember the name, but its one of the first few that come up in a search) that claims dogs are the only species that reads human facial expressions. One of the trainers interviewed says dogs have been bred to WANT to co-operate with humans, and views commands as giving dogs and their owners a common language to facilitate that..

    P.S. There's nothing special about Juno, a pit-lab (we think)... they got her as a rescue when she was 3 or 4 years old. She was kinda neurotic about some things, still doesn't like pickup trucks, but she came around fine after a while. It also helped that Junior sent her to 2 weeks of obedience camp. Pricey, but well worth it given that they were intending to reproduce shortly.

    P.P.S. Juno's major positive is that she hardly ever barks. One sharp bark to let me know that Frank the Mailman is here. She also barks at my elderly neighbor's housekeeper. God knows why, she has a dog and likes Juno. She growls at my brother-in-law... a serious animal lover.
    Last edited by Maxx; 06-Dec-2015 at 00:18.

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