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Pittbulls

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Z3PR, Jun 18, 2003.

  1. Z3PR

    Z3PR Banned

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    Cities and towns across the nation have banned the canines from their city limits, insurance companies have opted against offering insurance to many pit bull owners and police departments and municipal governments have placed financial burdens on the owners of the animals, often labeled as vicious.

    But the stories circulating about the mighty pit bull’s locking jaw, its penchant for fighting and its appetite for flesh may be just that -- stories.

    Several veterinary scientists have concluded that the locking jaw associated with pit bulls is pure myth. Moreover, the fear the pit bull invokes may be the stuff of folklore and street legend.

    According to the American Canine Temperament Testing Association, American pit bulls -- or their purebred cousins, American Staffordshire terriers-- pass a strict temperament test 95 percent of the time. The association lists the pit bull as the fourth-best canine out of 122 breeds tested in the study, in terms of temperament.

    In fact, the so-called vicious breed was ranked higher than some of the world’s most popular dogs, including the golden retriever and the black Labrador retriever.

    A temperament test is a rigorous procedure focusing on different aspects of temperament such as stability, shyness, aggressiveness and friendliness, as well as the dog’s instinct for protectiveness toward its handler and/or self-preservation in the face of a threat.

    During the test, the dog experiences visual, auditory and tactile stimuli. Neutral, friendly and threatening situations are encountered, calling into play the dog’s ability to distinguish between non-threatening situations and those calling for watchful and protective reactions.

    Other temperament-testing societies have also performed similar studies and none ranks the pit bull lower than an 83 percent passing rate.

    ‘The owners, not the dogs’

    So where did the American Staffordshire terrier, or pit bull, get its horrific reputation?

    Barry Bannister, a former Fall River dog officer who also worked at the Forever Paws Animal Shelter, said it’s no wonder that the pit bull has been labeled as vicious.

    "It’s the owners, not the dogs," Bannister said. "There’s really no such thing as a bad dog. Somebody had to have taught or molded the dog into a mean animal."

    He said the pit bull’s loyalty is one of its most endearing traits, but that loyalty can also be used against it.

    "You can use a pit bull’s loyalty in good or bad ways," Bannister said. "If the owner wants the dog to be bad, it’s going to be really good at being bad."

    Fall River alone has seen its share of pit bull-related incidents, which may help to proliferate the ill-tempered stereotype saddling the breed.

    Bannister and his sister, Joy Bannister, Fall River’s animal control officer, say they have seen pit bulls involved in plenty of ugly incidents over the years.

    Some of these canines are used by drug dealers to protect their stash, others are trained to fight, while even more are simply abandoned or abused and made into monsters.

    The American Staffordshire terrier is one of the stronger breeds of dog in the world, which means its owner must be more responsible than others.

    But both Bannisters say far too many owners don’t know what they’re getting into when they buy a pit bull puppy, or any other large working breed dogs, such as Akitas, Doberman pinschers and Rottweilers.

    "You have to be responsible enough to keep your dog restrained in public," Barry Bannister said.

    The city animal shelter alone usually has up to 30 pit bulls at one time. In one week alone, 16 pit bulls were picked up by animal control on the streets, abandoned or abused.

    "There’s definitely a pit bull problem here in the city," Joy Bannister said. "Humans are being selfish and inhumane, and turn these lovable animals into material objects instead of living and breathing beings."

    She said the problem begins with breeders. While many reputable breeders of show dogs will not sell Staffordshire terriers to unsuitable owners, many in the city breed the dogs on their own and sell them privately.

    "I saw one 2-year-old female who had already had nine litters of pit puppies," Joy Bannister said. "That just shows you how the people in this city are adding more and more of them into the population."

    Finding good homes

    Bannister, her officers and her volunteers do not give a pit bull away for adoption without first getting to know the dog and its potential owner.

    The workers at the animal shelter have a policy to keep all dogs at least 10 days before putting them up for adoption.

    These 10 days are used to temperament-test the dogs, to make sure they are safe to own.

    If they are deemed to have good temperaments, Bannister then makes the potential new owner go through a list of tests before he or she leaves with the dog.

    She performs background checks, homeowner searches and ensures the potential owner spends quite some time with the animal before letting them go home together.

    But if the dogs don’t pass the temperament test, they are scheduled for euthanization. This, Bannister said, is the most difficult decision she can make.

    In fact, at least two pit bulls have been euthanized for aggressive behavior during the past few weeks. One in Fall River was captured before it did any damage, but another in Swansea was euthanized after it went on a daylong rampage, killing one Chihuahua and injuring other dogs.

    "Unfortunately, a lot of these animals are being put down every day, because they have become a symbol for toughness among gangs and others," Joy Bannister said. "The dog always ends up paying with its life while the owner gets nothing."

    A change in the laws

    Kristen E. Ashton, a large-dog breeder and trainer from North Dartmouth, said the laws need to change to shift the punishment from the animal to the owner.

    Ashton has been breeding large working dogs and holding training classes through the Bristol County Dog Training Club for more than three decades.

    She said she has seen some "wonderful" pit bulls, but has also seen some "horrendous" ones as well.

    "They are the new fad dog," Ashton said. "Every few years it’s a different dog, but right now it’s definitely the pit bull."

    Many cities and towns hold dog hearings when a complaint is issued against a canine. The local board of selectmen or police chief then decides whether to label the animal vicious.

    If a dog is labeled vicious in Fall River, the owner must provide insurance coverage for the animal, keep it muzzled, post a sign and never allow it off leash.

    Ashton says these regulations are necessary, but not enough.

    "My feeling is that there should be better laws for the people who own the animals," Ashton said.

    She said while it is a civil right to own any dog one wants, a new owner should be required by law to become educated on the breed and be forced to attend dog training classes.

    She also said there should be legal restrictions on who can sell a dog. She said far too many people sell animals to anyone who is willing to pay.

    Ashton sells large dog breeds, but said she says no to prospective buyers more often than she says yes.

    "It’s always the dog who is going to suffer due to an irresponsible owner," Ashton said. "But the people who own them get a slap on the wrist and then go out and buy another one."

    She said it’s "a shame" that the pit bull has come into fashion, because she considers them to be a lovable and loyal breed.

    "They bite far less than smaller dogs, but no one reports it when a Scottish terrier bites because it doesn’t do the damage a larger dog does," Ashton said.

    Regardless of the statistics, the pit bull will likely continue to be known as a vicious animal, due to its strength and ability to inflict severe injury. But Ashton and others say if an owner trains its dog properly, regardless of breed, that animal will become a good canine citizen.

    "The myth will probably never go away," Ashton said. "I really don’t know what the answer is, other than creating stricter laws on breeders, sellers and owners."
     
  2. 77Jimmy

    77Jimmy 1/2 ton status

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    I've never owned a pittbull (always owned Labs) but I've always said it probably about 80% how the owner treats the dog and 20% just how the dog is, genetics, temperament, etc. I have to be honest here and say I wouldn't be completely comfortable owning a pittbull especially w/ children...very protective of their own "pack" but would be nervous about the dog being overly protective and going nuts on a neighbors kid or something.

    I guess I'm just bias toward Labs! /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
     
  3. 2Dogs

    2Dogs 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    When shite hits the fan or things get out of control a Pit can kill. In comparison a Lab will bite but not try to kill in my experiences.

    Much more agressive/protective dog with the tools to get the job done.

    A good owner will need to act differently in how they control the Pit. You can not take the same good owner and swap a Lab for a Pit and expect the same characteristics IMHO.
     
  4. Rolled

    Rolled 1/2 ton status

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    My Dad purchased a dog that he thought was a mix breed. Boxer and sharpei. I took one look at her and said "thats a pit". She was a rescue dog so no telling how she was treated. Never the less, she is VERY aggressive. I trust her with my oldest kid but I won't even bring my 2 year old over if she is in the house. I can easily take her but my kids would be in a world of trouble if she went after them.

    The real story goes something like this:

    My dad and step mom let their dogs do whatever they want and they have absolutely no control over them. They bark non stop and are always looking to go after something. If she was my dog, I bet she would be an angel since I tollerate no BS from my dogs. But they do and I think that made her out of control which equates to dangerous.
     
  5. Twiz

    Twiz 1/2 ton status

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    Dawgs will be dawgs.
    They follow thier instincts.

    You can train them, but the instincts (or breeding) will allways be there. You can't take it out of them, I don't care how much training the dog gets. The traits of that breed will allways, allways... be there.

    Tarriers (American Staffordshire Terrier "Rot" and bull tarrier "pit"/Airdale/JackRussel)- Originaly bred to hunt and kill vermin.
    For comparrison,
    Sporting (Labs/Goldens/Pointers/Spanials)- Originaly bred to help man find and retrive game.

    There is a difference there. It's in the breeding.

    From what I've gatherd, from some of my freinds pets that I've "hound-sat" or otherwise been around. There is not a doubt in my mind that;
    - You can't keep a Golden out of the water.
    - Don't expect a German Sheoperd to "sleep soundly" in a new place.
    - Jack Russels are wirey, jittery barking lil machines.
    - A Whippet is a extreamly quick sprinter.
    - My guys are by-far the best. /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

    All of which, "fitts" the breeding, and likewise - a pitt-bull is a pitt-bull.
     
  6. outlaw612

    outlaw612 1/2 ton status

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    Its all in the way the owner raises a dog. I have a 14 month old American Staffordshire and she is a big baby. She plays with my son (6 yrs) and my nieces and nephews all of which are 3 or under. She is almost 80 pounds and I have no hesitation bringing her around anyone. We have spent alot of time in obedience and training her. She is very hyper and very loyal. These dogs live to please their owner. My inlaws have a black Schnowzer(sp?) and I wont let my son around him unattended, (dog must be on a leash and someone there with them), yet my son and dog sleep together.

    The reason the myth of the "dangerous pit-bull" will never go away is because bad owners will always be mistreating dogs and stupid people will keep running their mouth about things they have no knowledge of.

    Thanks for posting a positive story about the pit-bull. Its funny how all you ever hear are bad stories, no one ever hears the truth about a great breed.
     
  7. outlaw612

    outlaw612 1/2 ton status

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    BTW, whippets have a natural tendancy to kill vermin. A guy here in town is always finding rabbits and cats in his yard that his whippets have killed.
     
  8. Z3PR

    Z3PR Banned

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    I used to have a American Staffordshire. Great dog. Very loving. Attack of the killer pitbull was when he'd jump up on the couch, step on my nuts, and lick my face. LOL
     
  9. Rolled

    Rolled 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    Sporting (Labs/Goldens/Pointers/Spanials)- Originaly bred to help man find and retrive game.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    pitt-bull.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Year after year the Labs have the highest attack percentage. I think goldens are number 2. Why? Numbers I bet but still, percentage wise, you are more likely to be attacked by a lab than a pit or rott.
     
  10. Z3PR

    Z3PR Banned

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    Pittbulls were originally breed to kill rats and love people. Breed in England back when London had a major rat problem. Later they would put a bull in a pit with so meny dogs, hence the name Pitbull.
     
  11. outlaw612

    outlaw612 1/2 ton status

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    LOL, that sounds familiar. After having her, I cant imagine having any other kind of dog.
     

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