Pitbulls - Threat or Menace? Our blind spot when it comes to this breed

Hardly a month goes by without some story about a child or elderly person being mauled by a pitbull. If it were alligators or ostriches, there's be laws passed banning them and everything would be done to exclude them from contact with people.

It wouldn't be "It's not the alligator (or ostrich) that's the problem, it's the owner."

But when a pitbull kills someone's toddler, dog lovers will say "It's not the pitbull, it's the owner that is the problem."

Well gee, that mental bumpersticker sounds great but it's something you say after a dog has done something horrific.

The dog owners who say that never really follow the platitude up with a proposed solution. Why? Because none of the obvious solutions are possible as long as people will blindly defend a breed that has the instincts and hair trigger reactions this breed has.

What would be the negative consequence of this breed disappearing from the face of the earth? And, please, let's remember it's only a breed—a very recent and artificial one—not a species. If every pitbull were replaced with an Irish Setter or Yorkie, even if they bit, a lot less damage would be done.

Another problem is that all too often, the worst elements of society seem attracted to this and some of the other large, aggressive breeds.

If you're willing to admit that we have a problem here, what is your solution?

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Because nothing is perfect.

It's incredibly small for the pit population, but gigantic as a percentage of the dog population when they account for up to 50% of the annual fatalities. But these are just the fatalities. How about the bites and maims. Dog attacks from 82 to 2010. Pits = 1552. Deaths = 166. Maim = 859. Out of 2864 deaths.Link

Out of all breeds they account for 57% of fatalities if you include pit mixes. It's quite astounding statistically as a group. I agree that it's single digit percentages of the breed that's "bad", but excuses for the breed aren't any better than the parent that refuses to discipline their bastard child. Sometimes we need to find the right parents. If that's through a license, that works for me. It would benefit society and the breed. I, for one, would be sad to see the breed gone. They have fantastic potential that is sadly not often enough realized due to how easily they are attained.

I'm in favor of licensing. Especially in cities.

Honestly, it's win-win. It reduces dog suffering, and would very likely reduce dog attacks. 

It would be logistically impossible on a larger scale than in cities. In rural areas it would be impossible to track dogs well enough to enforce these laws. But I'm in favor of mandatory dog-handling classes for pitbull owners. Lots of pittie owners have really bad ideas about how to treat them. They think dominance is attained by beating your dog. Dogs will be loyal to you if they love and respect you. Playing with them, giving them jobs to do, making them feel a responsible part of a pack, that's what to takes to be alpha. That's what it takes to have a loyal dog who sees no need to attack people.

I'd love to see all dogs out of the hands of abusers. Especially dogs who can do defend themselves effectively.

I'd be in favor of licensing for parenting, as well. But I can't imagine the human race agreeing to that.

Licensing is just an embodiment of the useless "It's not the dog it's the owner" maxim. We license drivers because in our world one pretty much has to have a car. There's no necessity for anyone to own a dog fighting breed.

There's also no necessity for one to own a gas guzzling HUMVEE, either. It's all for appearances, a status symbol. That's what's wrong with our society...people want things that are useless or contribute nothing to society, even creating more problems. We allow this to happen all the time. It's a mindset that needs to be changed. Where do we draw the line?

You are using incomplete information. For 57% to actually mean something useful to this conversation you need to find out how many dogs are in the US, and how many of them are pitbulls. I would not be surprised if pitbulls comprised a significant fraction of the total number of dogs in the US. If this is the case, then it would mean that pitbulls are about as likely as any other breed to kill someone.


I cannot provide links, but I have also personally seen news reports of 'pitbull attacks' that include pictures of the offending dog that is definitely not a pitbull, or even a pitbull mix. Many people just assume any medium sized short hair dog that is aggressive is a pitbull.

Bottom line is this: Anyone wanting to own a pitbull or other aggressive breed MUST be required to take classes to learn about the breed. Unfortunately, pitbulls are a huge problem mostly in the inner cities, where young people who live in not the best environment want them as status symbols. This needs to be addressed. Backyard breeding should be made illegal. Anyone who buys a pit MUST have it spayed/neutered. There are dog rescues for just about every breed and one comes to mind that I know a little about: REGAP. They rescue and re-home greyhounds. Believe it or not, greyhounds have a low tolerance for small children and being messed with, so REGAP will not adopt a greyhound to a family with a child under 5 yrs. old. They also require the owners have a fence at least 6 feet tall.

So, by the same token, maybe we need laws that are similar BEFORE the dog becomes a rescue. To own certain breeds, there need to be questions asked and an inspection of where the animal is going to live. Of course, this isn't likely because of the cost, but it seems the only way to curtail ownership by those who have no business owning one.

I have a very aggressive dog, a black lab/pekingese mix and his bite can definitely do serious harm. I rescued him from a very abusive home when he was about 2 yrs. old. He is a sweet, loving, loyal dog BUT...I know he has a low tolerance to small children and is very protective on his leash. I take steps to be sure he cannot hurt anyone. My granddaughter really freaked him out when she was smaller, so she was taught to stay away from him and she was NEVER left alone with him. She is now 3 yrs. old, and though he's not thrilled when she is around, he has relaxed significantly and she, too, has learned to give him his space. Still, she is NEVER left alone with him even now. I know my dog and I use preventive measures to be sure everyone around him is safe. He is now almost 8 yrs. old.

Unfortunately, too, the media jumps on a pitbull attack. I can guarantee there are many more dog attacks by other breeds that don't get reported unless the damage is significant. Dogs of all breeds, save the tiny ones, can do serious damage, as well. So, it comes down to the idiot owners of all dogs who think it's okay to leave their dog in a room alone with their brand new baby or don't watch the queues their dog gives in given situations. OR they abuse the dog to a point that it becomes aggressive/violent. There are many factors that are at play when it comes to dogs, and the common denominator is the owners. Pitbulls actually score higher in tolerance than many popular breeds that are not known to attack on a regular basis.

As you say, the damage they can do is something to think about, however. I don't want to see the pitbull vilified anymore or phased out or destroyed. I would like to see some way to prevent them from falling into the hands of inner city thugs or anyone who just gets one because it's so "cute" without a clue to what they have. I don't know. Pitbulls are great dogs, but many people are not, so it's a sucky situation no matter how you look at it.

Cockers are a well-known nippy breed, but being bit by a pitbull is a whole different story. Other dogs have a greater bite force (most of the molossers or mastiff-like breeds, for example), but the pitbull instinctively just keeps on coming. It will latch on and hold on and tug until something comes off, then it will come back for more.

Id latch onto you too if you were kicking my ass, starving me and forcing me to defend myself againdt others... seriously unseen.. stop generalising

I totally agree on the inbreeding of dogs. Especially here in the US, dogs are bred not for heartiness, but a look that is deemed "desirable." In many European countries, dogs are bred for heartiness, stamina, etc. Many law enforcement agencies go abroad to find K9 dogs because of the many problems associated with those bred in the US. I didn't even know until recently that bulldogs, a breed I adore, cannot breed naturally. They have to be inseminated! WTH? I think it's time to stop messing with trying to create another breed of dog or "improving" upon what we already have.

As for pits, well, they're here now, so I'd really like to see a push for them to have an opportunity to prove what a great breed they truly are. By not having any future pits by eliminating breeding, therefore wiping out the breed, wouldn't be a horrible thing because it's not the same as killing what we already have. Still, it is a wonderful breed in the right hands, so they, along with other breeds, need to be regulated. Not just any Joe Blow should be able to own one. Though I'm liberal, I do believe in the right to bear arms...but responsibly. Potential gun owners should be required to take classes on gun safety and laws before they're allowed to own one. Same for potentially dangerous dogs. If we consider a dog a potentially deadly weapon then we need to hold owners accountable. It's a public safety issue, not a dog issue.

I would exercise some caution when suggesting extermination/sterilisation of specific breeds.
It would be very easy for religious fundamentalists to twist this into alleged support of human genocide and will be used to hurt our cause.

Boss Micro BR


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