Monday, April 16, 2018

No, a pit bull is not a death machine

I recently saw a comment on a facebook post that all pit bull should be banned because they are automatically going to kill everything they come into contact with. I have a huge problem with that as a rescue worker and a pit bull owner.

The thing is, every time you read about a deadly dog attack and you see pit bull attached to it, this could have gone several ways. Pit bull is not really a recognized breed. Most of the time, they are identified visually by several characteristics, like blocky heads, weight range, and coat type. My pit bull? Was stolen from a guy running a dog fighting right. Has a big, beautiful blocky head. Wrong body type and wrong coat. My pit bull is tall and willowy, not short and squat and she has a different coat than what you would call a "purebred" pit bull. She's still listed as a pit bull mix at the vet, I call her a pit bull, and anyone that looks at her would see pit bull.

So, where does a shelter dog with a slightly blocky head fit in? Unless you get a DNA test, someone is going to look at the blocky head and call it a pit bull. You could walk into the shelter and adopt a lab mix on paper then find yourself with an eviction notice unless you get rid of your dog because something about it screams pit bull to someone. You're shit out of luck unless you get a DNA test and even then, that may not work.

I was bit by a dog while working in a pet store. The dog looked like yellow lab mix to me. Nothing about the dog said pit bull. BUT apparently before the dog bit me, he lunged at several employees. I'm not even going to comment on his owner not getting him out the store after that, but the dog lunged at my face and got my thumb. Everyone the dog lunged at call him a pit bull. Me, who got bit, saw a yellow lab mix and this was years before I ever adopted a pit bull.

There's also this horrible thing going on with breeding dogs right now and pit bulls are included in this. People are combining random breeds to call them hypoallergenic and charging tons of money for essentially a mutt. My other dog was adopted at a rescue. I was told he was a mix. One day, I randomly google his mix and came across his designer hybrid name and a ton of bizarre looking dogs that look like mine. "But JB, they are breeding for temperament and coat!"

Trust me, there was no valid reason to put together the two breeds my little dog is. My vet probably hates me when I bring him in for his dental cleanings because he's too bowlegged to get a vein and he's got an under bite. But he's MY dog and I think he's fucking adorable. I'll face punch you if you tell him he's weird looking to his face. He's already neurotic enough and spent 6 months on Prozac.

They are also doing the same thing with the bully breed. Breeding bulldogs with pits and various other dogs to get a short, squat, muscular dog. You've also got the issue of "status dogs". People who buy pit bulls and various other dogs because they "look scary" or make the owner look macho or whatever the fuck they are trying to achieve. When I was working at a pet store, years ago, someone came up to me and asked me for a supplement to make his dog big and muscular. Making a dog big and muscular is a lot like making a human big and muscular and I told this to him. He proceeds to ask questions looking for a quick, easy fix for a buff dog to walk by his side. I told him there is no shortcut. I explained he could supplement eggs, meats, and proteins into the dog's diet, but he would still have to exercise him. Dude proceeds to ask me where the eggs the middle of the pet store.

Where am I going with all of this? Pit pull identification is largely visual. With all the cross breeding and horrible things we are doing to dogs so that they fit some sort of perfect visual we have in our heads, whether it be teacup and fit in your purse or large enough to compensate for something you're lacking in, you could very well read a story about a pit bull attack and the dog has 0 pit bull. The dog was simply given that breed because it bit and it fit certain visual criteria.

My pit mix was stolen from a fighting ring when she was a puppy before she ended up at the rescue, then with me. Does that make her automatically aggressive? No. My little designer hybrid is 15 lbs smaller than her. She loves toys and he does not. But he does like to take her toys away from her and sit on them so she can't play with them. Is there fighting over this? Nope. I know it's happened because I hear her wailing. She won't take them back from him.

She's not even a good guard dog. She doesn't bark when the doorbell rings or someone new comes over. The only time she barks is this high pitched, wailing bark in the morning because I'm too slow bringing her breakfast to her. I'm not even going to start when my cat wants to stand across the room and give her the stink eye. It involves wailing and her hiding under the bed. Puddles also totally ruin her day.

Do pit bulls attack sometimes? Yes. Do other dog breeds as well? Yes.

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