Monday, December 29, 2008

A Little Knowledge Goes a Long Way

Off the Chain - An Inside Look at the American Pit Bull Terrier

An interesting, if short, documentary on the history of the American Pit Bull Terrier. It is always best to combat unjust assumptions with knowledge. There is a full version available for download, but my computer gets temperamental and decides on some days what I can and cannot do on the internet.

However, I do have to disagree with the idea that dog fighters do not love their dogs. Certainly, in a more malicious and twisted way, but they do have affection for these dogs nonetheless. I do believe the desire for money, power, and status overrides any feelings of "love" these people have for their dogs. I am pro - APBT. There are a lot of debates that spark from the topic, but IMO, a dog is what YOU make it, regardless of weight, gender, or breed. When you deal with a dog like the APBT - be prepared to be tested. They are tenacious, like so many of their fellow terriers, and have a high prey drive. Not unlike other terriers, they need an outlet for all their energy, otherwise things WILL go from bad to worse. A firm handler (note "firm", not "mean") is a must. The APBT excels in many dog sports.

Contrary to popular belief, the American Pit Bull Terrier does not have "lockjaw", in which the dog bites down and will "never let go". What really happens is that due to their prey drive and their stamina, an APBT can hold on even when people are yanking at it's face. In truth, the larger an animal's head, the more damage it can inflict by PSI (pounds per square inch). A mastiff has much more ability to inflict damage than an APBT, and an APBT has more capability of causing harm than does a Schipperke.

When we hear the name "pit bull", our mind races over a broad variety of dogs. The only true dogs in the "pit bull" (alias "bull baiting") group are the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier, and the Staffordshire Terrier. Many other breeds confused with these guys include the Cane Corso, the Fila Brasiliero, the Presa Canario, the Dogo Argentino, and all other dogs of similar muscular build. It is indeed, hard for the average person to pick out a true American Pit Bull Terrier in the list of lookalikes.

For the record, I have not owned any APBTs. I have met my share of dangerous dogs, none of which fell in the "pit bull" category. I have seen nasty boxers, nasty goldens, nasty labs, nasty border collies, and, of course, a whole brigade of ankle-snacking lap dogs. It requires a special person to own a terrier; someone who knows how to stand their own and show a clear cut path between right and wrong, regardless of whether you're raising a Jack Russell or a full-bodied Gottiline APBT.

Who creates a monster on a leash? Why, the monster holding the leash, of course. All dogs, regardless of breed, must be raised with patience, understanding, and love. Keeping a dog chained is detrimental to his health and his mind, as is smacking him around for being a "bad boy". In the terrier world, this just does NOT fly. You must teach and master the rules of sit-stay-come-lay-leave it and recall. A proper time of socialization, standing from age 6 weeks (8 weeks being ideal for bringing a puppy home) and well up until the dog's first year, is always necessary. Many people like to cut it off around the 6-8 month mark, but learning continues all throughout life.

I have heard many aggressors speak out against the APBT - that it a vicious, vile animal with the will to snap at a moment's notice. APBT owners and lovers are often called out as "irrational". While I've heard the hysterics, I try my best to formally educate, but sometimes there is no fixing ignorance. I do not call it being "brash", or being "over-the-top" when it comes to defending any dog, regardless of breed. There are bad owners - no bad dogs. Because a dog follows commands, regardless of whether they are instructions to attack or instructions to sit, does not make it bad. I hear all too often that APBT lovers are "unreasonable" or "stupid", and that they're just trying to get more people to own a vicious breed, and how it MUST have been staged when they post pictures of a pit bull cuddling a child, or loving on baby chickens. What stand would you make to protect your favourite breed? It must go into account that while some breed lovers may be a bit too fanatic, they are often called out as "insane" for defending their dogs. I have yet to see an irrational response regarding the APBT on the defendant side. Most people try to calmly educate, but are told they're being unreasonable because it's just not possible for an APBT to be safe around other animals, let alone children. Well, there are many, many things and people that could disprove that theory. I'm an unreasonable jackass because I don't advocate killing off an entire breed based on horror stories and looks alone? Touche! Half the videos I've seen of "Pit Bull Attacks 3 Year Old!!!" don't even have a picture of the offending dog. Way to educate and teach tolerance! The mentality that people have regarding APBTs shocks me. How horrible would it be to come home and find that your beloved family pet has to be destroyed because it "looks like it may have Pit in it"? I don't think that's an irrational idea - it can happen, and it has. Breed-Specific Legislation affects more than pit bull owners.

Fortunately, the hooligans involved in the dog-fighting blood sport usually end up caught red-handed thanks to vigilant neighbors and caring SPCA members. This is what gives the APBT a bad name - the reputation to fight and kill, when really, all dogs have the ability. There are even incentives in the form of cash to encourage people to bust dog fighters.

Just a wee bit of information. When I return to school on the 5th, I'll share an anti-BSL report I wrote a while back. It's very informative and eye-opening.

Until then, don't forget to hug your pooch!


megan colleen said...

I think "pit bull" now and think of the calm look my mix gave my niece when she punched him in the nose or the slightly wounded but not angry look when my nephew kicked him in the side. At the time of those incidents I'd only had him for a month and had no idea what his *true* personality is like. He is still a much bigger kid lover than I am, and that's not with a side of ranch dressing and barbeque sauce!

When I think of "pit bull" i think of the dignity so often seen in the animals being abused by people like Michael Vick or that moron in OK who kept so many dogs outside to shiver in the winter wind. I think of the dogs who have lost their families but still wag their tail when being led to be euthanized.

It's a sad, sad world when people still demonize anyone but themselves and/or their own mistakes. :(

I look forward to reading your anti-bsl paper.

horseys4me said...

Im going to hug my pit bull right now. Just makes me sad so many people who dont even take the time to TRY and understand. My mother was HORRIFIED of my little bell even when she was 10wks old, she said she wasnt allowed in her house or near her dog and now 3 yrs later when her husband goes out of town its bella she requests to come stay with her and cuddle with her. I personally trust her around children more than my other dogs (mostly bc i raised her versus my other two from shelters and have a few issues with loud "scary" children). The worst thing she would do to a kid is probably accidentally knock them over which ANY larger dog can do. But I've seen kids pull her ears, even sit on her and she just lays there and wags her tail and gives them giant kisses like a champ. I totally believe its part nature but MOSTLY nurture. Pits are innately dog aggressive but with enough socialization and training they are no more aggressive than a golden retriever. PS the only dogs Ive ever been bitten by were a yorkie, a cocker spaniel and a golden!

GoLightly said...

Well said, Dog-Gone. Really well-said.
My sister lost her (well, my deceased mother's) cat to the back neighbours pit-bull. Jumped the fence, and tore my mom's cat to shreds, right before my 4.5 year old nephew's eyes. It's hard for me to give up those prejudices. I am, slowly. Of course, the neighbour was an idiot. Dog was tied, and ignored. Dogs are dogs. But until we can guarantee only great owners for all the pits, I still fear a shiver of fear when I see them. Once I've met them, and I see they're ok, I'm ok. We had a huge, feral, un-neutered pit-type-mix around my property for a while. He scared the crap out of me. That's my fear, that I have to slowly train out of myself.
It's not the dog. I know that. But the fear is still there.

Great post!
Have a wonderful 2009!

LegendsLiveOn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LegendsLiveOn said...

MC - I agree, it's really hard to watch. I saw a pro spay neuter moved called Dr. Death on YouTube and watched as they put a sweet Staffie to sleep. It just ate me up. He was obviously on the older side and it makes me think - why do people dump their animals off? It's something I'll never understand.

Horseys4Me - My mom also told me that if I were to adopt a Pittie, she'd want nothing to do with me, as in would NOT come visit for fear of the dog. I told her that she'd better get used to replacement phonecalls (was jk) hehe.

GL - Thanks! I understand your fear. I used to not like Akitas very much at all - I was cornered by a nasty one that wasn't socialized by his owners, unneutered, and un-exercised. He also bit my friend's face without provoking - ripped her from eye to the corner of her mouth... and we were in 3rd grade, so it was pretty scary. They also then decided it would be good to get a female and breed them. Surprise, the puppies turned out to be little monsters too. The only nice Akita I have met was my uncle's huge Akita mix, Shaq. I learned to let go of it, and now think Akitas are gorgeous dogs... but again, only with sufficient handling skills.

Hope your New Years is a good one

lifelovepitbulls said...

I look forward to reading your paper! also, i was wondering if you would take a look at my blog and tell me what you think. (i'd rather not be telling anyone the wrong thing-all 2 readers)