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Heroic Pit Bulls

Pit bulls have a pretty crummy reputation these days. Between the myth of a pit bull’s “locking jaw” and the constant news stories depicting the dogs as ruthless-attackers of innocent children, it’s no wonder that many people have grown afraid of the breed. The fact is these dogs are no more evil than any other breed. Indeed, pit bulls usually score very high on dog temperament testing, they have a passing rate of 84% compared to the average dog score of 77%, and their sweet disposition around children has earned them the nickname of “nanny dog.” Sharky, shown below, is an internet sensation that shows the loving side of the American Pit Bull Terrier.


Video Link

Many famous people, alive and dead, have had the dogs as loving pets, including Mark Twain, Helen Keller, Humphrey Bogart, Jessica Alba, Michael J. Fox and more. One of the most adored dogs in film history, Pete the Pup of Our Gang, was a rescued pit bull terrier. Even most of the notorious Michael Vick dogs have forgotten their ugly pasts and become loving family members.

War Dogs:


There are a number of famous pit bulls that have served as members of the armed forces, and, despite the fact that the army and navy have outlawed pits on base, at least one marines squadron still has a pit bull serving as their mascot. This is nothing new, pit bulls have been serving in the armed forces for hundreds of years. A pup named Jack Brutus (shown at left, photo Via The Smithsonian Institute) served as official mascot of Company K, First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. While Jack was merely a mascot and never actually served in the action, other war dogs have.

The most notable of these dogs is Stubby, the most decorated dog in American military history. Stubby was a stray dog that wandered into the U.S. encampment of the WWI 102nd Infantry. He befriended the soldiers and was sent out to France. Stubby served to brighten the men’s spirits while they battled in the trenches. He warned the troop of gas bombs and German attacks in the middle of the night. Stubby once found a hiding German spy and bit him in his pants until U.S. soldiers came to capture him. At one point, Stubby got too close to a grenade and his front leg was injured, later he was gassed.

Photo Via The 102nd Infantry Regimental Museum

After he returned home, he became a celebrity and was made a lifetime member of the American Legion, where he took part in every parade and every convention until his death in 1926. Stubby met Presidents Wilson, Harding and Coolidge. He received a special golden hero dog medal created by the Humane Education Society (later the Humane Society) that was attached to his jacket, sewn by ladies of the rescued town, Chateau Thierry. Other medals he received include the Purple Heart, a New Haven WWI Veterans Medal, 3 Services Stripes and many more.

An interesting side note, some people credit Stubby with creating the halftime show at football games. When his master attended Georgetown University to study law, the pup became the football team’s mascot. Between the two halves, he would play with a football on the field to entertain the crowd.

There are other wars that pit bulls have been noble fighters during wartime, including the war on drugs. Popsicle was found in a freezer on a drug dealer’s porch in New York. He was starving and almost frozen to death. To make matters worse, officers assumed he was used in an illegal dog fighting ring. But Popsicle was destined to do more with his life and was soon enlisted in a drug-dog training school in Virginia. The class was notoriously hard and of 500 dogs admitted the year before, only 4 dogs passed. The Popsicle proved to be smarter than average though, and graduated first in his class.

Within only two months, Popsicle took part in the largest drug bust ever made at the Mexican border. He sniffed out over 3,075 pounds of cocaine from a pineapple truck. He was later featured on Oprah and received a Significant Seizure Award from the U.S. Customs Department. (Image Via James Tourtellotte, [U.S. Customs Website])

Source #1, #2

Rescue dogs:


Pit bulls are notoriously loyal family pets and there are many records of them risking their lives to save their owners. These dogs are great protectors from snakes, and rescuers in a variety of emergencies.

Snake Attacks:
Weela was a rescue dog abandoned in an alleyway at only four weeks old. She was saved by the Watkins family of California. One day when the family’s son was playing in the garden, Wella ran across the yard and knocked him to the ground. Within seconds, Weela was bit in the face by a rattlesnake that was hidden in the garden, saving the boy. The dog made a full recovery and later received the Ken-L Ration’s Dog Hero of the Year Award in 1993 after she helped save 30 people, 29 dogs, 13 horses and 1 cat in a heavy flood. Reader’s Digest included a story about Weela’s heroism, but as is all too common when pit bulls do good deeds, they neglected to include the fact that she was an American Pit Bull Terrier. (Image Via Pitbull Advocate 101)

Dixie Butler had a similar story. On November 11, 1999, Dixie jumped between the her family’s children and a deadly cottonmouth snake. The snake bit Dixie many times in the face and eyes. She, fortunately, survived and went on to receive the Hero Animal of the Year Award and was inducted into the Georgia Animal Hall of Fame.

More recently, Chief, a pit bull pet in the Philippines saved his family from a cobra. On February 12, 2007, Liberata la Victoria and her granddaughter, Maria Victoria Fronteras, were watching tv on the sofa when Chief bolted up and alerted the pair to a cobra 10 feet away. Maria pulled her grandmother into another room, where they waited, hoping the snake would leave the way it came in. After a while, Maria decided to peek out and see if the cobra was gone –unfortunately, it had edged within two feet of her and her grandmother, and opening the door had upset the snake. The cobra exposed its hood and was poised to strike when Maria screamed.


Image Via Marc Sabelita [Dogs In The News]

That’s when Chief ran between the women and the snake, grabbed the cobra by its neck and killed it. Unfortunately, the snake delivered a fatal bite to Chief’s jaw and the dog soon collapsed. As the pup breathed the last time, he continued to wag his tail.

Source #1, #2, #3

Lassies Incarnate:
Marley is a three-year-old pit bull terrier who belongs to a family with the same name. When a fire started up, the babysitter focused on opening a stuck fire exit that was rarely used. When she turned around, she saw Marley pulling the youngest girl in the family from the burning trailer.

Foxy helped saved her 82 year-old master from death. When Joan Maguire slipped on the ice on her doorstep and shattered her hip, she lied there in six degree weather, hoping that her flashlight signals might get her neighbor’s attention. The flashlight didn’t help, but her pit bull, Foxy, did. The pup laid with her to help warm her up, while barking for an hour and a half until help arrived. Officers at the scene agreed that without the dog’s warmth, Joan probably would have frozen to death. (Image Via Long Island Press)

In fair weather, these dogs have served as Lassie, going to get help when someone is in need. That’s just what little Gabby did when she saw her neighbor, Jim Roach, fall from a twelve-foot-high ladder. While Jim lay on the ground unconscious, Gabby licked his face and barked. Soon, she sprang into action and got the attention of her owner, Jeanne Davis, who adopted Gabby after she was pulled from an abusive home.

"She's barking and then she looks at me and runs back," Davis said. "It's kind of like something Lassie would do." Jeanne got the hint and started to follow Gabby, who led her to Jim. As soon as Jeanne approached her neighbor, the dog immediately stopped barking. Upon entry to the hospital, doctors discovered that Jim had multiple injuries, including four broken ribs, a fractured clavicle and bleeding on his brain.

Jim works as a psychology instructor and now tells his students about the kindhearted side of pit bulls that never gets media attention. "They're just a terrier," he said.

As for Jeanne, who was warned by many people not to adopt an abused pit bull, she says, "A lot of people said to put her down, that she's going to do something bad. I'm so proud of my dog."

Source #1, #2, #3,


Thank you for this... We've had a pit bull that we rescued four years ago. She's been the sweetest, most docile and amazing dog that I've had the privilege of 'owning'.

I'm constantly amazed at the reactions people give when we're taking her places, they see a picture of her or they learn I have a pit bull... I can't help but laugh. I try *not* to get on my soapbox and give my speech about how misunderstood these animals are.

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n204/aaronjaye/pheebsandbaby.jpg
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My husband and I were adopted by a darling little pit bull girl at a petsmart adoption event. She sat there with her big brown eyes and my heart melted. I spent 3 months at home with her, socializing her and making sure she would not be aggressive. She is now 10 months old and she's the sweetest, most amazing little girl ever. I'm really glad to read something about these dogs that shows how great they can be, its unfortunate that they are too often portrayed as vicious and fierce animals. Thanks Jill!!
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Pit bulls are great - unless they perceive you as a threat. I've been headbutted by one "friendly" pit and down the street from where I used to live, a pit was upset about a neighbor's tiny yipping dog and shredded it and attacked the dog walker. And let's not forget the poor child in the Oakland Cal area who had his ears torn off by pits and the family in San Francisco that was attacked by their own pits and lost their son.
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There is good reason pit bulls have a bad rep. Sure plenty are gentle, but the amount of deaths and maulings by pit bulls are way out of wack with their overall percentage of the dog population.

"A 1999 City Journal article stated that "Pit bulls and pit-bull crosses (not always easy to distinguish) have caused more than a third of the nation's dog-bite fatalities since 1979 and a comparable proportion of serious injuries.""

"Studies indicate that pit bull-type dogs were involved in approximately a third of human DBRF (i.e., dog bite related fatalities) reported during the 12-year period from 1981 through1992, and Rottweilers were responsible for about half of human DBRF reported during the 4 years from 1993 through 1996....[T]he data indicate that Rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs accounted for 67% of human DBRF in the United States between 1997 and 1998. It is extremely unlikely that they accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities." (Sacks JJ, Sinclair L, Gilchrist J, Golab GC, Lockwood R. Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998. JAVMA 2000;217:836-840.)

Many counties and a few countries ban them altogether. Some insurance companies won't cover households with a pit living there.

The majority of the problem is likely the bad owners training them to fight, guard, etc, but that doesn't change the facts above.
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Yay!!! A positive pit bull article! Thank you! :-D

I work in a pet store and meet dozens of dogs every day. Here are some things I've noticed-

The breed that has tried to bite me the most?
German Shepherd

The breed that is either super-mean or extremely timid, no middle ground?
Chihuahua

The breed of the meanest, most vicious dog I have ever met?
Maltese

The breed that picks the most fights with other dogs?
Dachshund

The breed that has never growled, snapped, or tried to attack me?
American Pit Bull Terrier

Other breeds that are unfailingly friendly and sweet:
Boxer
Rottweiler
Boston Terrier
Shih-Tzu
Doberman Pinscher
Great Dane
Greyhound
Beagle

Other breeds that I've learned to stay away from:
Jack Russell terrier
Yorkie
Schnauzer
Dalmatian
Sheltie
Corgi
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All the pit bulls I've known have been smart, sweet, loving, friendly dogs. Well, not quite; one of them is dumb as a brick. But he's still sweet, loving, and friendly.
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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I can't thank you enough for writing this article. I have the most loving pitty mix ever at home, who I completely trust with my friend's children and take to the dog park everyday. I get upset on a daily basis by people's attitudes towards him. It is shameful and embarrassing when you show up at a dog park and half the people pick up and leave when they see you coming because of what type of dog I have, not because they know anything about that particular dog. Oh well, he still has a great time playing with whomever is smart enough to stay behind.

I am so happy to see someone has done their research and has displayed so well that pitties can be some of the greatest dogs out there. I have had multiple breeds of dogs over the years, but this was my first pitty and I can assure you I will never get anything but a pitty again, he is my best friend and the greatest dog I have ever had.
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I think these dogs have a bad rep too- but that's because hotshot morons think it's cool to have 'killer dogs' and train their animals to attack and be vicious.
Let's take these morons (the REAL animals) who treat their pets like this and throw them into a pit full of badly trained dogs. Not such a hotshot now, are ya?

PS- whoever can tell me what song that is on the video will be ass kicker of the year!

DJB
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Oh god, why did you have to post that Philippines story... I'm sitting here sobbing now.
Poor puppy :(

But yeah, so tired of pit bulls getting a bad rep. My DH's mother used to have one and she was such a sweet dog.
Also had a friend in high school that owned 2. Went over to her house and although they were strong (and liked to jump on me lol)... they were super friendly and gorgeous.

Out of all my experience with dogs.. I've found the meanest dogs are usually the smaller variety... chihuahuas especially.
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I've met some nice pitbulls, but i've also seen my dog (when she was a puppy) get almost killed by a roaming pit bull.. It all comes down to the kind of person that raises them.
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The problem with these dogs is they are so loyal that they easily become an image of their owner, thus a disgusting person creates a dog in the image of themselves. And all the poor animal wanted to do was please their owner - they know nothing else. To bad this breed seems to attract all the jack-holes of society, they truly are great.

Thanks for the positive article.
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here in australia, the staffordshire terrier is one of the most common breeds. it's very similar to the pit bull and has a reputation for even temper. All the staffys i've met certainly bear that out!
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I love to see pro-Pit articles, but their owners should be aware that they have an instinctive "fight something a bit smaller than you" thing going on.

That's not an slam against the breed, mind you. My own dog (not, as far as I can tell, at all a Pit) has the same problem. Bigger things are to be respected, tiny things are to be nurtured, but medium things are to be bitten.

It's a dog thing, and the revolving door of 'problem' breeds (Dobermans, Shepherds, Rots, Pits, etc.) should illustrate that. The little guys tend to be the most vicious, but they're saved by their ineffectiveness.
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@ LisaL, it made me cry too. It was very sweet.

@ Cb, you're right, they are involved in a lot of bites, but it does depend on the person who raises them. The truth is though, when they ban pit bulls, drug dealers and dog fighters merely adopt other dogs to do their dirty, like the rottweilers and pinschers. As your statistics said, rotts have attacked a disproportionate number of people as well, yet their name isn't nearly as feared and far fewer areas ban them.


To all pit owners: I have a pit bull(or staffi)/corgi mix and most people don't recognize him as a pit until I tell them. It is amazing the reactions that people give him (half say, oh, well, he doesn't act like it and the other half are suddenly terrified and run, even though they loved him before) and it really makes me sad that they are so misled about such a sweet animal.
http://www.muttskis.com/short_hair/percy-staffordshire-terriercorgi/
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Pit Bulls are without a doubt my favorite breed, and I say this having been in the middle of a fight between my own dogs and a pit bull who got loose, just wanted to play, scared the crap out of my dogs, and ripped a chunk of fur and skin off my one dog, resulting in surgery.

While I wish every dog could have a home, I also feel a small sense of satisfaction knowing that, because so many people seem to fear and hate pit bulls, I will have so many of the darlings to choose from when I finally adopt one of the little angels.

Pit bulls make my heart melt. Thank you for the positive post.
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CB, you seriously can't trust articles like that. The CDC doesn't track dog bites by breed, and they never have. For one thing, they don't trust eyewitnesses to be able to accurately ID dog breeds, and for another, they don't consider breed an important factor in determining anything about individual bites. No state in the US tracks bites by breed, either. Texas used to, but gave up after finding (yup) that breed wasn't the determining factor in bites, and most people couldn't tell what they were looking at anyway.

A woman named Marjorie Darby took a very interesting look at this and found that if even 1% of the entire pit bull population of the US were to attack someone, that would break down to (with very conservative estimates on pit bull numbers and very generous definition of "attack") more than 14 serious attacks by a pit bull somewhere in the US every day. Anyone who tracks these things - and there are plenty who do - can see instantly that this is a crazy-high number, especially considering that so many of these things get national media attention. If this number were true, you wouldn't be able to turn on CNN one single day out of the year without a serious pit bull attack headlining something. But that's clearly not the case. Keep in mind that this is what would happen if ONE PERCENT of all pit bulls in this country actually attacked. Statistically speaking, looking at 1% of a population to draw conclusions about the other 99% is so far beyond ridiculous, it really should be beneath anyone's consideration.

For the record, Ms. Darby went further and found that 80 human fatalities were linked to pit bulls in the past 30 years (she did this between 1999 and 2003). She let that number stand, even though it's been pretty well proven that eyewitness accounts can't be trusted, and when in doubt, people call it a pit bull. Factoring in conservative estimates of pit bull populations, taking into account increasing population size, estimating an average 10-year lifespan, and running the numbers again, she found that 0.0002% of pit bulls in that period had been involved in human fatalities. Don't you wish humans themselves had such a good track record when it came to not killing people?

In my experience, people who love pit bulls are the ones who've met them. Those that think they're dangerous or demonic or equivalent to a mountain lion or a loaded shotgun are people who have never met one, and only ever seen them on the news or read about them in the paper. I find it astonishing that personal experience is discounted time and again, dismissed by people who say, "Well, you've never met a bad one" or "You've been lucky so far, but don't ever trust it" or "They just randomly turn on you, you can't see it coming" - these sorts of comments, almost without fail, coming from someone who wouldn't even pet a pit bull if offered a chance. What makes that person more of an expert than me, who lives with one, every single day? Why does that person deserve a soundbite on the news, when by their own admission, they would never have anything to do with these dogs?

For that matter, why is the occasional attack (by a chained-up, unsocialized, untrained) dog treated as though it's a truer representation of the breed as a whole than the hundreds of licensed therapy dogs? Or the K9 police units that can only use this breed as drug dogs because they lack the necessary aggression to do work typically given to German Shepherds? Or the literally hundreds of thousands of dogs every single day that do not bite anyone? It's mind-boggling, and infuriating, and frequently heartbreaking, because that sort of media bias and misinformation is exactly what leads to breed-specific legislation - outlawing of pit bulls, where the innocent majority are lumped together with the handful of guilty aberrations and labeled 'Vicious', 'Dangerous', or 'Only Safe Once Dead' despite all objective and subjective evidence to the contrary.

But this? This was a good article. I can't thank the folks at Neatorama enough for it.
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I also have one thing to add: You really have to look carefully at who the majority of these pit bull owners are. It depresses me when I'm out on any given street and see a wannabe thug or a misguided idiot walking his dog like it's a candidate for Extreme Macho Posing.

I rarely find an educated, responsible citizen with one of these wonderful dogs but when I do I am encouraged by their absolute devotion to "pit bulls." I believed all the myths and was convinced pitbulls were some vicious, murderous breed of dog - until I got one by accident. Now I'm one of those "crazy pit bull lovers."

It is a testament to the breed that people who give them a chance turn into such passionate advocates.

http://goodpitbullsites.wordpress.com/
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Pitbulls are truely great dogs. I have a friend who had one since it was a pup and it is the biggest lovable thing I've ever met. They unfairly get a bad rep due to bad training and even worst being used as fighting dogs.
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@kmarie "In my experience, people who love pit bulls are the ones who’ve met them"

That is certainly the truth, in my experience, although many of those people will make an exception for a specific dog, and still damn the breed.
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Glad to see this. I almost cried about Chief's heroic death. I love pits. Every one I've ever known was sweet and gentle. I'm happy that more people seem to recognize that violence isn't in their nature, but instead its a product of how they're raised.
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If you haven't seen this video about Pitbull attacks with photos on YouTube (it has over 1 million views) thought you might like to see how it dispells the myths!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL1trl1FMUw
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Every pit that I've met (then again, it comes down to the people you associate with) has pretty much been a big sack of love. I was surrounded by rotties as a kid and they're still my preferred breed now, but Pits also have a big spot in my heart. A properly trained (and this is true for all pets) and socialized Pit isn't going to go apeshit and murderous as the hysterical media has put it. Look beyond the dog and take a close look at every person who has owned one of the 'problem animals' you hear about. It tells you everything you need to know.

The fact that all of the adopted Michael Vick pits are doing great and those in homes with children... no incidents have occurred. Would you expect this from something that was a breed that was born to fight? No. I expect this from a breed that was mistreated, abused, ill trained, but then rehabilitated, socialized and properly integrated into a household. Sports Illustrated did a photo spread on them and the pictures were pretty incredible. You can clearly see that the pits have adjusted well and appreciate their new owners. Pits are the kind of dogs that love to cuddle and be as close as possible to those they trust the most. (To the point to where they practically smother you, but that's their charm.)

I did come across a breakdown of reported dogbites and noticed something: Small breeds, combined, had a higher percentage of bite incidents compared with larger breeds... So no, this wouldn't be a case of using a larger population to dwarf another number. As I said before, look beyond the breed and look at the owner. A lot of small breeds can be a problem because they're not properly socialized and trained. "Oh, he's just a little dog. He doesn't need to be trained not to bite like a big one." Bullcrap.

Whether it's a Pit or a Lab, an ill tempered, abused and improperly trained dog is a problem dog.

My parents had adopted a Britney Spaniel, a breed known for being loyal, smothering (ever heard of the "Britney Hug?") and aggressive under certain circumstances. When my mother went to get the mail, it was raining. She had a hoodie on and the hood over her head. We had the dog for one week. It growled and snarled at her, snapping at her until my father chased it away. It had been trained to respond that way to anyone wearing a hoodie. Turns out, it was given up for adoption by someone who lived in a bad neighborhood. We didn't know about this until we reported the issue with the SPCA.

Yes. A _SPANIEL._

If there is one thing I can point a finger at that contributes to the impression of Pits as a problem breed, it's their stubbornness in always wanting to please their owners. They're so eager to please, coupled with their looks, it's not surprising they get a bad rap as vicious dogs when in the hands of vicious people.
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Thank you so much for posting this article. My pit mix gets daily discrimination from people we encounter at the park, or on our walk. People literally cross the street to avoid him. No matter what breed a dog is, it is the OWNER and the TRAINING of the dog that determines its demeanor.

Below is a link to my favorite pro-pit video. Beware, it makes me tear up when I see it :(

http://gprime.net/flash.php/thepitbullproblem

I LOVE MY PIT BREED DOG!!!
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While I agree that there are many nice Pit Bulls, the thing is that every damn story about an innocent kid getting attacked by a dog, it's always a damn Pit Bull.
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Yeah, beautiful creatures til they rip your face off.

I've seen creepy people with Rottweilers, too, though.

I'm more afraid of the dog (any breed) who's loving to its own owners, but distant or unfriendly to others. It doesn't care what it does to those others if it feels threatened. You can trust a Newfoundland dog - it helps most people.
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Limboslam, that's because whenever a pit bull attacks someone, the news says "A pitbull attack!"
On the other hand, when a German shepard attacks, they merely say "a dog attacked someone today."
They're all about sensationalism and the dog breed is only a big deal if it happens to fit their profile.
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LAPBC, thanks for the compliment!

Ted, if you're frightened of dogs that are friendly with owners and no one else, then pit bulls should be your favorite breed. Anyone who knows them can tell you that these are easily among the most people-friendly dogs available. As always, there are exceptions, but generally speaking, these are the worst guard dogs in the world. Many don't even bark at visitors. The only warning they'll give you that someone is coming is to wag their tails so hard they whack against the walls.

Church, you are correct in that many people will consider their pit bull the exception to the "rule", but this is symptomatic of a much larger problem. Regardless of breed, MY dog is never a bad dog. There's always a reason MY dog behaved aggressively. It wasn't HIS fault, it must have been the fault of whoever he went after. THEY must have done something wrong. In other words, it's not MY responsibility to identify, correct, or control my dog's behavior, because if he's wrong, then so am I, and we just can't have that. And that's how bites happen. And with pit bulls, it's much easier to say, "I thought he was that rare exception, but now I know everyone was right and you can't trust them not to turn on you" because that absolves you, as the owner, of all responsibility. It wasn't your fault, it was the breed. Of course, if the dog that attacked was any other breed, then everyone falls all over themselves to make excuses for it. "Well, Timmy shouldn't have pulled Rover's tail," or "He was just startled."

Which leads me into a rebuttal for Limboslam. Jill Harness is absolutely correct - the reason you hear about pit bulls is because that's what the media wants you to hear. A pit bull bite is treated differently than a bite by any other breed, regardless of severity. I'd like to expand the point a bit.

In my county a few years back, there was a front-page headline - "Pit Bull Terrorizes Neighborhood." According to the Animal Control Officers on scene, most of whom I know quite well personally, what they were actually dealing with was a friendly, playful puppy, eight months old, who had gotten out of his yard and spent about an hour playing the best game of chase ever with his owners and the two ACOs. He was never once aggressive, and absolutely no one was hurt. Several neighbors readily joined in to help catch him. But some residents of that neighborhood barricaded themselves in their homes and pestered the Animal Control offices, the police, and even 911 with frantic calls about a vicious dog who wouldn't let them leave their homes. And because it was a pit bull, they were taken seriously, and it became front page news. Never mind the fact that he was merely playing, or that his game was to get away from people, not to rush at them. Nope, something happened with a pit bull, so it was newsworthy.

Less than a month later, a lab quite literally tore the face off an elderly man, who required years of reconstructive surgery just to be able to chew again. One of the directors of the local shelter where I volunteer called the paper (same one as above) to report on the incident, and was told (exact quote), "Nobody wants to read about that. Call back when you have an attack by a pit bull." And then they hung up.

And that, Limboslam, is why you only read about pit bull attacks.

These are just some of my personal experiences, but this sort of thing would seem to be common practice. There are some pdfs on this page - http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/dog-news/ - that illustrate just how wide a gap there is between reporting on pits and reporting on any other breed.

I contend that such irresponsible reporting is a far bigger problem than dog bites by themselves. By labeling pit bulls and rottweilers as "bad breeds", and by focusing only on the worst possible examples of those breeds, by painting that as typical of the whole, the media is saying that these dogs are the unsafe ones. By unspoken-but-universally-assumed association, all other breeds are therefore safe. Not only is that completely untrue, it's a dangerous misconception, particularly when children are involved. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people make this point, and it's completely right - the difference between an attack by a seventy-pound pit bull and an attack by a thirty-pound collie doesn't make much difference when the baby only weighs fifteen pounds itself, lives on the floor at the dogs' level, doesn't understand warning signs, and can't run away from them.

And, statistically speaking, the overwhelming majority of dog bite victims are children. But breed is not the common denominator when it comes to bites. The ONLY common denominator is that most dog bites occurred when the parent was not supervising either dog or child. Children and dogs do not come with an inborn set of instructions on how to relate to each other, and unless BOTH are taught how to respect each other, you run the risk of tragedy. Now, if THAT could be put into the public mind as the main reason for dog bites, then I daresay we'd see a drastic drop in the number of bites. But as long as people keep thinking that this will never happen to them as long as they steer clear of certain breeds, it will continue. This question of breed is nothing more than a fear-mongering, paper-selling, sensational distraction from the actual problem and its actual solution.

If you want true, factual information about any of this - this breed, dog bites, dog behavior - sadly, you cannot trust the media to tell you the truth. You're going to have to do some research yourself, and maybe even go out and meet a pit bull before you issue a blanket condemnation of the breed based on what you read in the paper or saw on TV.
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We require licensing to drive a car or carry a hand gun, and dogs should be no different. Owners should be A) held VERY responsible for the actions of their dogs and B) forced to take some sort of training to prove they're not completely ignorant.

Any large breed has the potential to kill or seriously injure a person, and dogs are only being bred larger, so I don't trust _any_ dog I don't know. Obviously a bigger dog with stronger jaws is going to do more damage when it attacks. While I know of a lot more attacks by german shepherds and boxers than I do of pit bulls, but a pit is the last thing I want mad at me. Couple that with the fact that 80% of the owners are thug assholes, and duh, it makes the breed more dangerous than others.
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@paanta "We require licensing to drive a car or carry a hand gun, and dogs should be no different."

That's a flawed analogy. A handgun is inherently destructive. It serves no other practical purpose than to do harm. Cars come closer, but the analogy then doesn't work in favor of restrictions on breed. Drivers of SUVs and pickups are not put under heavier restrictions than drivers of cars, even though the bigger vehicles could potentially do more harm to pedestrians and other drivers. So why should owners of bigger dogs be put under heavier restrictions just because those dogs could potentially do more harm to people and other dogs? To do so would assume that the deciding factor is the size of the vehicle (dog) and not the responsible handling of said vehicle (dog) by the driver (owner).

I do agree entirely that owners should be held responsible for the actions of their dogs. Mandatory training for all dog owners would be nice, but it's impractical. You might as well try to institute mandatory training for parents - and personally, I think that's needed far more desperately than classes on dog ownership. In any case, I stand by my opinion that the general perception of dog behavior needs to change before human behavior towards them will change.

Since you equate dogs, and pits in particular, to handguns and cars, I looked up some of the stats on the fatality levels of each. I found slightly conflicting information on exact numbers for cars and guns, so I've rounded down on those. These are all from 1997, the only year where I could find numbers for all three causes.

42,000 - motor vehicle deaths
32,400 - gun-related deaths
18 - dog bite-related deaths, all breeds

Even considering that all those numbers are bound to go up as populations rise, 2008 only had 23 fatalities attributed to dog bites. Again, those are for all breeds.

Not really an epidemic, is it?
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Thank you for this article, I have been around them my whole life and never have been attacked by a pit bull. I am really tired of all the negative articles about this breed of dog that means so much to me. Thank you again for this and I hope to see more of these positive pit bull articles everywhere else! LOL
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as soon as PEOPLE learn to treat dogs well there will be stories of dog attacks. i've had dogs all my life, from toy poodles to massive dobermans. i now have two children(4 - 14)and three dogs mini dauchsaund,pit,dobie. the pit is a rescue from a chian tied to a garage. she was starved to almost death.my husband and i watched her a few days until we realized that she was watching our daughter. the child could not have a better babysitter! both big dogs get along very well. then the mini wiener came and all heck broke out. the mini will attack at the drop of a hat. she is now the alpha female. when a fight breaks out the mini is the cause. so if feel the need to have a vicious dog get something under twenty-five pounds!
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my girl blue a 3 year old female pit bull saved our family 3 weeks ago from an intruder, she growled and barked and alerted us at 2 am before the person could get all the way through the door. in fact our steel door has three dents in it from blue's head because she was charging the door. after the police arrived she traveled room to room checking on "her kids" then laying down by the front door again...good girl blue. of course it wont be in the paper because she's a pit bull but shes our hero.
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Banning pitbulls is silly, but potential owners must be well educated about them like any potentially dangerous animal. It's similar to owning a python, foolish behavior often ends in disaster, pets get killed, people die. The parts about the pitbulls "saving" people from venomous snakes is complete nonsense. A snake views both the pitbull and us as large and frightening potential predators, and wants nothing but to escape. Even the highly "aggressive" African cobras will flee at the slightest chance, but pitbulls are predatory and territorial and will attack pretty much anything moving in their space.
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HIP HIP HORRAY!!! Finally a kind word about Pit Bulls. I have a Pit/Rott mix that I got from the pound as a puppy and my whole family was worried until I told them that my other dog (also a rescue) could ahve just as easily been mean and agressive even tho' she is a greyhound sheppard mix. That its all in the owner dogs are not born wanting to attack people or even other dogs it is something they are taught otherwise these morons who train their dogs to fight wouldnt have all kinds equpitment to teach them to attack. My girl is now 1 year old and is soo sweet and loving and smart the only time she barks is when a stranger comes to our door which is what makes her a good watchdog and family member (I have my son come tell us when someone is at the door)
I aslo read where the dog that attacks the most is the weenie dog those smaller breeds are the ones you have to look out for because they can come outta nowhere and their owners are always in denial about how agressive they really are just because of their size what they fail to remmebr is that they still have teeth.
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KMarie and other pit bull supporters who are sick and tired of the media's lying and fear mongering, thank you for standing up and speaking out for these dogs! KMarie, I am making a documentary about Pit Bulls. I would love to talk to you more about this if you read this please let me know if there is a safe and secure way to reach you not on a public website.

I too have grown weary of the lies that the media has been spreading about pit bulls. I have seen far too many reports on "attacks" that are not even close to an attack. I never hear of other dog bites and yet I know from my friends in shelters, dog rescues and just from my own experience that yes, other dog breeds can attack and maul just as bad as a pit bull. Small breeds are not always "ineffective". A pomeranian once mauled a baby to death. I've seen a chihuahua bite someone pretty bad and it required stitches. That was an adult. Had it been a child, it could have been worse. And as for other big breeds, the woman in France who needed to have a face transplant because her dog mauled her face was attacked by her labrador. Pit bulls are not the enemy, bad owners and bad reporting are. If more news stories were done about how kind, gentle and NON threatening most pit bulls are (my pit is the wimpiest dog and is friendly to just about anyone who should cross his path, stranger or not) then perhaps the thugs and idiots who get them would no longer see them as a "cool tough" dog that is a symbol for violence to them.

And to the commenter who said that large dogs are automatically mean to smaller ones, my pit bull who is 50 pounds regularly plays with and in fact often prefers to play with smaller dogs. He loves my niece's nine pound poodle. They play together all the time. Yes, some pits are a bit dog aggressive, that is a common terrier trait for ALL Terriers. But not all of them are. My dog is a classic "beta" and is submissive to all the dogs he comes into contact with. He loves to play with poodles, yorkies and other small dogs. Most of which are FAR more viscious than he could ever be.

Pit bulls LOVE people. LOVE them. They are people dogs. People need to learn how to deal with dogs in general. They also need to know that different breeds have different temperments. Pit bulls are a bit on the hyper side and are exuberent in their affection. Meaning they often jump on people in excitement and people often misconstrue this as "attacking" even if the dogs tail is wagging, and the dog isn't growling, biting or doing anything close to attacking, since they have been taught to automatically fear pit bulls. More schools and the media need to teach people, especially children proper dog handling etiquette, how to read a dog's body language and what to do if approached by a truly threatening dog and what to do to try and survive an attack. If more people knew these facts there would be less dog bites over all.
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Hi
This is awesome...!! I had a Pit which was like my son. I lost him about three years ago and every time I see a Pit I miss him so much!

What I would really like to know is at the top of the article is a video with a pit...what do you call his/her colour? I have never seen it!!!

Regards

Jurie
South Africa
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My sons first word wasn't mom or dad it was kanga, our staffordshire terrier. He learned to get over baby gates by using hand signals to tell her to si & stand as he stood on her. She knocked him down once by jumping over the baby gate (at his beckoning) and I swear she felt horrible because she wouldn't leave his side even went & slept on his floor while he took a nap that day. She was a very passive dog, got beat up by ferrets even. I personally never saw her so much as growl. My sister was watching her while I was on vacation and kanga went ballistic on her broth-in-law growling, showing her teeth etc. & backed him into the corner where he literately pissed himself in fear (sister called her & she came running tail wagging and all) about a month later my sister found out he was a pervert who had abused his own children & had embezzled alot of money from her husbands company as well. I love apt & amstaffs (most don't know the difference) & it's a shame people are so ignorant about them.
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I use to take care of 3 pits for someone & had no problem w/ them... the way I see if people want to ban Pit Bulls then I hope they know if they are going to heaven then they still have to deal w/ them to... God made these wonderful dogs... They have every right to be on this earth and living w/ Wonderful loving people as much as any other dog or animal. They were here longer then we could imagine. They are innocent...
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I came across this today and cried with the story of Chief.. and I love the comments from other Pittie owners who will gladly stand up for their pit kids and tell the truth about what wonderful dogs they are!

I am owned by a 6 year old pittie named Boss, he is the most awesome dog I've ever had, other than a pit/chow mix I had before that was stolen from me. I got Boss from an abusive idiot who kept him in a small crate for the first 9 months of his life in a closet. The moron got the dog but didn't want his landlord to find out, so he would beat Boss if he barked and one of those beatings broke Boss' leg. When I got Boss he weighed only 30 pounds and his leg joint is permanently misaligned and there are spots on his belly and chest that won't grow hair. The vet said the hair follicles died from being forced to lay in that small crate with no padding at all and laying in his own urine and feces.

Boss is a very happy, loving dog! Even after I got him when he would see his previous owner (an old neighbor) he would run to him wagging his tail and jumping on him happy. A very good example of their loyalty even when the care they get is horrible.

Boss and my 2 1/2 year old son are best friends. If you see one, you see the other. They even sleep together in my son's small toddler bed. I have the cutest pictures of them in that bed. One night they started out curled up together butt to butt. My son is a wild sleeper and always ends up with his legs hanging off the side of the bed, well that night he was hanging his legs off and don't ya know the dog had his butt and tail hanging off the bed too laying side by side with him! Cutest thing ever!

My son is ADHD and had Oppositional Defiance Disorder and I hate to admit but he has done some mean things to Boss, including cutting the dogs ear with scissors he had snuck away from me when I was working on the toilet and had used them to open the package of replacement parts. I was working on the toilet, heard Boss howl in pain and he came running to me dripping blood. He never tried to harm my son in return and even licked his face when he was crying from getting punished for hurting the dog! I'm not proud of what my son has done to my dog, please don't take it like that..what I am proud of is my dog's reaction to it. He is such a good dog!

And whoever posted they will go after things smaller than them or something along those lines..not true. My dog lives in the house with 3 cats..at one time I had 8 cats. One of the cats and him share breakfast in the same dish every morning and they sleep together and play together constantly.

I love my dog and will never be without a pittie again. The day I got him was in my eyes equal to the joy of my sons being born!

Thank God for each and every one of you who are owned by these fantabulous dogs and give them the respect and love they deserve!
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I grew up in a house where we had every kind of dog under the sun labs, shepards, rotties, even a wolf, but I was never allowed a pitbull. I ended up with a pitbull by chance when I was 19 and had my own place. I fell in love hard and I have never had any other kind of breed since. My first pitbull Chopper got alot of dirty looks & negative comments. One day while at the river a two year old got swept out into the current & out of every dog there labs, goldens, sheps ect, my pitbull was the only one that swam out after him. He pulled him back to shore by his diaper & licked his face franticly.(Some vicious killer). I have had 3 more pits since, one of which was rescued from terrible abusive conditions & have never had an aggression issue with any. In fact I have a big 85 pound pit & he was scared of my mouse & wont go near the ferrets at the pet store. All my pits have been great with kids & all other animals. In fact my first pit changed my families minds now all my siblings own one & my mom wants one. Please dont judge pits by the bull the media feeds you. Go out of your way to meet one & fall in love for yourself.
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