Jun 26, 2010

My blog readers comment about his/her experience with their Pit Bull.

I enjoyed reading your comment and appreciate you sharing it. 

You know, as I continue to search the Internet, I'm stunned at the lame, tired excuses I keep hearing from pit bull advocates. I am the former pit bull owner from above that had to put the dog down, and this is our pit bull story.

My husband and I were young, healthy, didn't have kids yet, and both grew up with lots of family pets, and lots of dogs. We were finally in a home where we could have a dog, and we couldn't wait to get one. We were (and still are) committed to reducing the stray population, and supporting local animal shelters, and neither of us felt the need to insist on a purebred dog--for the purpose of a family pet, we felt a mixed breed was great.

And here is one thing that pit bull advocates have on their side--pit bull puppies are cute! They really are! With their kinda smooshy noses and their little triangle ears, they can totally grab a dog lover's heart at a glance. The pit bull mix puppy that we adopted did that to us, I know. Plus, she was that gorgeous brindle color that pits and bulldogs and some of those related dogs share. We talked to our vet about the temperament issue, and got the same, tired, "It's how you treat them," line that I've heard so often since.

So when reasonably kind, educated, animal- loving people hear that, you know what we think? We think, "Well, gee, obviously we have no intentions of training this dog to fight, nor are we going to abuse it in any way, including the fact that we do not intend to keep this dog on a chain. We plan on getting it spayed, appropriately vaccinated and wormed, and we will commit to exercising it every day." And we lived in the wide open spaces of high desert country in New Mexico, so we weren't in a highly populated area, although, we of course did have neighbors with children and dogs. "We will make a concerted effort to obedience train this dog, and we will socialize it with other people and dogs." And we did.

Now, the next time some pit bull fancier says that it's irresponsible, stupid, cruel, yada yada yada owners that are responsible for attacks, I am here to say that I believe that lots of those owners are well-intentioned suckers just like we were. Seduced by a pretty face and platitudes, we had no idea what we were bringing into our house.

The year we owned Maddie was insane. We introduced her to new adults and children all the time, and we were never sure how she would react to an individual. Sometimes she was just widdle puddle of doggy wuv who licked and wiggled when she met people, and sometimes she would just LOOK at someone and give this terrific WOOF!! (And it was one loud, scary-ass bark) and we knew we had to be uber careful. The same thing happened with dogs. Some she could and did play with for hours, and some we knew she would've swallowed whole if we'd let her.

I believe that because she was a mixed breed that was quite obviously crossed with something far away from the pit bull gene pool, we got a lot more advanced warning of aggression than a lot of owners get. The day she got loose, did NOT come back when called, and proceeded to chase a very pregnant neighbor down the street until she ran and shut herself into the house, was the last day we owned her. It scared the shit out of me. As soon as I got hold of Maddie and got back to my house with her, I had screaming death threats on my answering machine from the pregnant lady's husband. And who could blame the man? Maddie was put to sleep after that, and yes, it broke my heart, but I'd rather have my heart broken at losing a dog, than be haunted by the memories of someone getting severely hurt because of my stubborn pride.

I know this is long and rambling, but I hoped that it might make some reasonable people think before wading into this mess by adopting one of these pups.


  1. I'm with you on that

  2. thanks for sharing your brief experience as a pit bull owner. you did the right thing. i would have done the same with ANY breed of dog but it is even more critical that the pit bull be euthanized given that their ability to escape containment is like no other dog.

  3. Part Two
    I was not suckered by a cute face. Being raised with the breed, I still had to be sure once I was married that it was a right fit for my family. We are extremely active (hiking daily, jogging daily, etc.). To commit to exercising this breed once a day is not enough. I knew this not just from growing up, but from reading in depth about the breed. I would never take the advice of one vet when it comes to owning the breed. As an educator, we push for people to read up on ALL breeds. We have many, many labs and goldens that end up in the shelters because people haven't done their breed research - simply asked the vet if they were good family dogs and not looked into energy level. Yes, it IS in how any breed is raised but they have to be the right fit for the right family. Just as no one should get a lab or golden if they are only commited to exercising once a day, people who aren't active, aren't willing to commit to training should not own this breed.

    Putting bans in place doesn't work. My husband and I will move with our dog. The criminals up the street whose pit bulls aren't trained, aren't socialized and aren't registered with the city, will stay in place, selling their drugs with their pit bulls. There isn't anyone going door to door to enforce these bans so you lose educated, responsible members of the community who choose to live elsewhere so that they can own their breed of choice. Criminals simply stay in place. They don't care what anyone says about their dogs and the only way it is even discovered is if they get busted. Their dogs don't get shots at the vet. They don't pay their registration fee every year (or any year), which is the only way to track the true number of American Pit Bull Terriers, AmStaffs and Staffies in any given area.

  4. I'm curious at what point you brought the behaviorist in to explain this aggression you were seeing? After bringing it up in my puppy classes with my certified trainer, I would have brought in a behaviorist of her suggestion as well. If it was still present during the next training classes, the behaviorist would have been back with a new training regimen. If that didn't sort out the problems, I would have euthanized the dog at that point. That's what I would have done.

    Also, she didn't return when she "got loose" - how was she trained to return? My dogs have gone through intensive training on their recall word. It doesn't matter where we are, if I yell their name followed by their recall word, they can't get to me fast enough. Again, this was trained at a very early age (starting at 10 weeks) and continues to this day. But we were running around the yard and the park, screaming the word, waving our arms and looking like idiots for weeks to get them to this point. Training is a lifetime thing, so they still hear the word a few times a week. It has been a lifesaver when they have slipped the leash on a crowded street (only happened twice, but scary nonetheless).

    To me, this sounds like every other owner that fails their dog. I'm not sure why she was put down? You got a screaming death threat so the dog had to be put down? There are a lot of missing pieces to this story. I'm not sure if you put her down because she didn't return to you when you called her? If the aggression continued to build? I have so many questions based on what I'm reading here. A good trainer and behaviorist would have told you early on to put the dog down if the aggression warranted it. Our friends bought a lab from a breeder and were recommended to euthanize at 6 months because of his aggression and lack of response to training. This decision was not arrived at lightly - after two trainers and a behaviorist consulted together, this conclusion was arrived at for this particular dog. So your dog never bit anyone, but was aggressive? It barked at people - what did the trainer suggest to help eliminate this behavior? As you can see, more questions than answers by this post.

  5. past pit bull ownerJune 27, 2010 at 6:58 PM

    To Jennie Bailey,
    I'm a little unclear as to the purpose of your questions. You are assuming there was an animal/dog behaviorist available for consultation? Or are you simply trying to be patronizing? We lived in a very rural area, and this happened 19 years ago. I know it's hard to imagine anymore, but the Internet was in its infancy (only made available for public use in 1989) and we not only did not own a computer, no one else we knew did either. Today, I can google "animal behaviorist" and get some information, but that was impossible then.

    In fact, when I do a search for "animal behaviorists" today, right now, and go on the website for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (or do you suggest some other organization?) and do a consultant search, in the location that we lived, I could only find one listing within 100 miles. I was unable to reach this person to inquire about fees for services, but are you really saying that unless an owner is able and willing to drive with their animal 100 miles and pay the fees for an animal behaviorist, that they are unfit to own a pit bull? Well, I'm with you on that. If someone had told us that then, we would have passed.

  6. Past PB owner don't worry about Jennie. Look at this picture of her and it will tell you all you need to know -- http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_K0jyBT60hkU/TBfE6x71SrI/AAAAAAAAAN8/9ghhLIeH9xI/s1600/Good_Focus+For+Website.jpg

  7. Past PB Owner,

    For what it's worth, I believe you did the right thing. Not everyone can afford a behaviorist or trainer, and that in no way makes them bad pet owners. I can't afford anything beyond the basics for my dog, yet he's healthy and happy. I do all my training myself, which helped me have a closer bond with my dog.

  8. past pit bull ownerJune 28, 2010 at 6:23 AM

    I had to take my Heeler pup back to the dog park today for the first time since the pb attack. It scared the living daylights out of me to do it--I think both of us were dealing with a little post-traumatic stress syndrome. But I wanted to show her that she was a normal dog, and all her dog communication signals still work. She needed to see that most dogs still respect the traditional signs of friendliness and submission.

    It was amazing to see her sense the different levels of comfort/aggression and whatnot in the dogs that were there. The labs, she was all over, bouncing and being annoyingly puppyish. A female Samoyed appeared, however,and she and I both sensed a different, more guarded attitude. Immediately, she was Wham! down on the ground in the traditional signals for submission. Everybody spoke everybody else's language, and a fight was avoided. It all works great when all dogs are speaking the same language.

  9. past pit bull ownerJune 28, 2010 at 6:33 AM

    I would like to respond to one more comment by Jennie Bailey, and then I won't respond to anything else. It was immediately obvious that she feels a sense of superiority because she hasn't had a problem with her dog so far. Great for her--I desperately hope it continues. And no, our pit Maddie never did actually bite anyone, and I will go to my grave thankful that I woke up AND DID NOT LET THAT EVER HAPPEN. I am not regretful of the timing of events; I don't wish we had allowed more signs of aggression to manifest while we dithered and pissed around, waiting to decide to put her down. Let me make my priorities ridiculously clear: I will always put people before animals. Always, always, always. No exceptions.

  10. PPBO
    I know exactly what you are talking about. It is a beautiful thing to see the gentle breeds at the dog park. They know when to back down and they really do try to avoid fights before they ever happen. Pits on the other hand are totally different. I have been amazed at dog parks to see how Pits react differently to the same scenarios than other breeds do. And I am not talking about my Pit. There is no way I would ever take mine to a dog park. A fighting breed at a dog park is not acceptable, period. I am glad your pup seems to be doing okay, hopefully it will quickly get over the trauma without any damage to it emotionally. With a great owner like you that understands dog behavior backing her up she will probably forget about the whole thing. There is a Heeler dog down the street from my house and he and the owner walk a few miles everyday. They stop by my house and chat with me when I am out and I've always thought that dog was one of the most well behaved, playful, obedient dogs I've ever saw. I think maybe that is just the breed so I think you did a great job selecting your new pup. This goes without saying that both of you are very, very, lucky to have gotten out of that situation with the little damage that was done.

  11. PPBO, you'll learned like all of us have learned that pit nutters like Jenny are never telling the truth. They make up stories to go along with whatever they are reading. Same with this one. I doubt seriously that she has any control over her pits.

  12. PPBO,

    I'm glad things are going better for you and your pup. Hopefully your pup will continue to do well with other dogs and there will be no lasting after effects from the horrible encounter with the pit bull. And, yes, it is great when dogs can read other dogs body language!
    I'm also glad you have your priorities straight - people come before dogs. I am a firm believer in that. That is one reason why I refuse to own an aggressive breed of dog.

  13. Looks like Jennie has never done one iota of research because if so, she would understand that training cannot undo a dog's genetics, any dog of any breed. How is it that I can adopt adult dogs with issues and never need the services of a behaviorist or even a trainer (and have no skills in these areas myself) yet every pit bull owner seems to have both on speed dial? It has NOTHING to do with how a dog is raised. Dogs don't need to bite people to be aggressive - a responsible owner sees the signs and prevents the situation from getting that far. And clearly breed bans work VERY well - some people take their dogs and leave while the rest who stay become even more of an obvious problem and are dealt with. Either way, they clean up the area. Responsible people DO NOT own pit bulls, plain and simple. They don't put other people's pets and child at risk. I understand how some people can get a pit or pit mix unknowingly, but to choose this type of dog purposely, that is anti-social behavior.

  14. I think she did a good thing. I commend her for doing the right thing before things got out of control as they often do with this breed.

  15. ...so because YOU let your dog get loose and your DOG chased a pregnant woman YOU put it down?

    Notice the dog only did what it does. It chased someone, who looks different from other people, is walking in a manner that's different from other people, and likely tensed up and looked right at your LOOSE dog with fear.

    A rottweiler, pincer, boxer, mastiff, dogo, dane, even poodle would've done the same. I'm sorry your dog had to die because you're irresponsible. Bad ownership is not an excuse used against bsl. Your support for what's basically racial profiling for dogs is an excuse for your own ignorant irresponsible dog ownership.

    See if the dog whisperer would agree that you should let your dog loose on a pregnant woman. I don't think he'd do that with his own lead dog, a pit bull trained by the world's top professional. What of any dog trained by you?


  16. past pit bull ownerAugust 2, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    Seriously, "the dog only did what it does"?! So you want to blame the pregnant woman for being pregnant? Good Lord, the idiocy and casual disregard for human beings. I don't really care what "the dog whisperer" has to say about the whole situation. Or you. And yep, I killed a dog--if that's the way you want to phrase it, doesn't bother me--to save people from being hurt. Even in the context of it being potential harm, I would do it again IN A HEARTBEAT.

    So many people seem to be missing my point. My point in sharing this was, most people who adopt or buy these dogs are told with the utmost sincerity and fervency that THEY ARE JUST LIKE ANY OTHER DOG. And if you haven't had any exposure to the breed, why wouldn't you believe that? It's emotionally appealing: the problem is it isn't backed up in statistics or facts.

    I honestly don't even know what to say to the silly racial profiling argument. Dogs are not people. They are not equal to people. Even idiot people. Personally, I would love to euthanize all idiot pit bull owners and breeders, but the law and my personal ethics won't let me. Darn.

  17. Actually, the northern breeds (i.e. Husky, Malamute, Spitz, etc.) are the Houdinis of the dog world, as they seem to be able to scale (or essentially walk through) double fences, enclosures with tops, etc. I have lived next door to Husky enthusiasts for 6 years now and even after extensive research on fences, etc the dogs keep getting into my yard. I am the very proud owner of two beautiful American Pit Bull Terriers, one of which is a rescue (he was a bait dog) and has one ear entirely missing and only half of his eyesight left. He's lived with another MALE APBT for the past 3 years and they get along BEAUTIFULLY, just as they did on day one. They do everything together. When the Huskies get into the yard, the dogs romp and play. No dog aggression there, even from a bait dog.
    While I believe that aggression can be inherited (to some extent), as a Bio Major I find that in the study of Nature vs Nurture, Nurture plays the more significant role, being as a female dog who was abused (and therefore aggressive) will act as such on her newborn pups and the pups' first 8 weeks of life are then subjected to aggression on the mother's part. This kind of other-correction/discipline that some mother dogs take part in map out the blueprint for the rest of the pups' lives.
    In conclusion, less people need to be breeding dogs; People who breed dogs need more knowledge on WHAT they're breeding and HOW they're treating their animals; People need to STOP judging breeds by isolated incidents and START educating the public on the risks of owning ANY breed of dog.
    Read "The Pit Bull Placebo" by Karen Delise.
    Be aware that the most common breed of dog to bite is your lovely Retriever chillin' with you children. :)


For truthful information about Pit Bull dogs, go to these other sites --