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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Soap Box Lecture About Pit Bulls

Mayzie is an example of a well-trained, well-
cared for pit bull. 
You know I love dogs, right? I love all animals, but dogs are one of my very favorite "special interests" that I can talk about for days and days. Don't get me started talking about dogs! Awwww, ya got me started! 
I was reading this post over at Heavily Unmedicated, and I left a comment, but my comment kept getting longer and longer, and then I remembered reading somewhere that if your blog comment turns into a giant paragraph, you should really just write about it in your own blog and give a shout out to the original blogger. 
Her post was about her neighbors, who let their unneutered, untrained pit bull run loose in the neighborhood. The dog chases neighborhood children, chases other dogs (even right into their own houses), and destroy people's property. (He's torn one neighbor's screen door right off the hinges, and knocked down a basketball hoop and started chewing it up!) The blogger, whose name is Nicki, points out that when people allow their pit bulls to behave this way, they are helping to give the entire pit bull breed (which is actually like twelve separate breeds that can all be referred to as pit-bull-type dogs) the bad reputation that they have had in the recent past. 
I have mentioned I volunteer at a pet rescue organization. We get a lot of pit bulls. I have never met a mean one. I actually laugh at how lovable and sweet our pitties are! They will sit on your lap, lick your face, roll over on their backs and beg for belly rubs, put their giant heads on your lap when you sit down. Most pit bulls really are big babies. They are also very intelligent and loyal dogs who are eager to please their owners. However, you should note that the rescue organization I volunteer with takes the pit bulls from high kill shelters and places them with very responsible foster parents, who work with the dogs and constantly train them. They also carefully screen people who want to adopt any dog. 
Because pit bulls are so strong, and because of their reputation as being mean, tough dogs, they tend to attract the wrong kind of owners. Some of these owners may not even have bad intentions, but because they don't put enough thought or effort into owning a pit bull, things go awry. 
Lets imagine two hypothetical pit bulls. 
The first pit bull we'll call Dozer, is adopted from a rescue organization by a young couple who love big dogs. They know people who have pit bulls, they've done a lot of reading about pit bulls, and they've talked a lot with the staff from the rescue organization about this particular dog's personality. They enroll Dozer in training classes right away, and work with him every day to make sure he is obedient and has good manners. They take him on daily walks on his leash, they take him to the dog park to help him learn to socialize with other dogs, and they let him have free time to play in their securely fenced-in backyard. When they eventually decide to add a baby to their family, they do more research and more training, to make sure that Dozer is comfortable around the baby and knows to be gentle... and even then, they don't leave the dog unsupervised with the baby. Dozer is neutered, gets regular veterinarian care, and is up to date on all of his vaccinations. 
The second pit bull, we'll call Killer. A young couple who really loves big dogs decide that they want a pit bull. So they go on Craigslist and find a neighborhood teenager who has started his own backyard breeding operation to make extra money, and is selling pit bull puppies. They choose the biggest puppy because it will probably grow up to be the toughest. They plan not to neuter their dog, because neutering him will take away his manliness. At home, they play games with him that encourage him to bite and wrestle. When they walk around the neighborhood with their dog, if they see someone walking a smaller dog, they joke about letting their dog eat the smaller dog for lunch. When they bring their dog to a friend's house, they are proud of the fact that their dog can "win" in a play fight with the friend's large dog. Eventually they get a little bored with Killer and they let him spend most of his time, unsupervised, roaming around the partially fenced backyard. One day Killer sees some children running down the sidewalk, screaming, as they play a game of tag. Killer gets excited, wriggles his way out of the fence, and chases the children. When he jumps on one of the children, he knocks her down. The child is frightened and tries to hit the dog. The dog gets frightened too, and bites the child. 
Are either Dozer or Killer bad dogs? No... they were both innocent, happy puppies when they started out. But one got lots of love, supervision, and training... and the other got not much of any of that. 
But when you open the newspaper, what you will read is a story about Killer, the pit bull who severely bit a small child. The owners will attest that Killer never bit anyone else before that, and people will use that to explain that all pit bulls are likely to snap, even if they have never hurt anyone else before. Killer will be euthanized, and the town will start the process of banning "Bully breeds" because they think that is the only way to keep something like this from happening again. 
You won't read in the newspaper stories about Dozer, the upstanding Canine Good Citizen! Okay, you probably won't read about Dozer because I just made him up. But here are some very real pit bulls you can read about online, dogs who are doing good things and being ambassadors for their breed. 
Booker... Corbin... Daisy... Inara... Lilly... Lovie... Mac... Maisie... Mayzie... Mr. B and Miss M... Pauley James... Rita... Star and Dozer (the real Dozer)... Tommy... Turk and Rufus... Zoe.





2 comments :

  1. This is a very IMPORTANT post. Like you, I believe there are no bad companion animals, just ignorant people. Bravo for writing such an eloquent, passionate and REAL post.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment! I'm always glad to hear from people who agree that there are no bad animals. Its frustrating that there are a lot of people who DON'T feel like we do, and people even set up blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to banning "bully breeds!"

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