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Do Pit Bulls Have a Chance To Reform Image?

Discussion in 'Breed Specific Legislation' started by Vicki, Sep 27, 2007.

  1. Vicki

    Vicki Administrator Administrator

    Underdogs chew through grisly stereotypes

    by Laila Kearny, staff writer

    One of the most notoriously tyrannical canine breeds may have a chance to reform its image. The pit bull, seen by many as a ruthless predator, may just be a victim of circumstance, thrown into the pit of an almost literal dog-eat-dog world.

    Around the time when most current SF State students were still waddling in diapers, the American Pit Bull Terrier, commonly referred to as the “pit bull,†began to develop a dangerous reputation. But with dog fighting and mass pit bull euthanasia cases hitting the news this year, the stories of these animals are finally being told. Animal experts are forced to debate whether the controversial dog has received an undeserved reputation.

    “When I grew up, it was what we called ‘police dogs,’ or shepherds that people were afraid of,†said Carl Friedman, director of San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control and SF State alumnus. In the last two decades pit bulls became known as leaders of the villainous dog pack, which in past generations was led by German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers, he said.

    Since the 2005 mauling of a 12-year-old boy by his family’s pit bulls in San Francisco, fear of the breed has grown to extreme levels across the U.S., prompting some cities to ban the breed entirely.

    Friedman helped to pass a law in 2006 that requires San Francisco County residents to spay or neuter their pit bulls with few exceptions. “It was the only dog that we were killing who were healthy and [had] good behavior traits. We were inundated with them.†The spay-neuter law has reduced the number of pit bulls in local pounds by 21 percent, according to a study done by San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control.

    Pit bull owner and San Francisco native Tony Bickel thinks that the new law is “great, because it stops breeding for the wrong reasons.†Bickel, who found his dog, Shamus, tied to a pole with two broken legs and abandoned in a SOMA alleyway, said, “there are a lot of really bad people training pit bulls for an image.â€

    Pit bulls got their fierce image due to their genetic history, Friedman said. They were bred in early 19th century England in order to bring down bulls by biting them on the nose. The act later turned into a form of the blood sport called “bull baiting.†After the sport was outlawed in 1835, dog-on-dog fighting became a popular substitute.

    Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit bulls (BAD RAP) will work with the ASPCA to evaluate the more than 50 remaining pit bulls seized from Michael Vick’s property, according to a press release issued by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

    Vick is an NFL quarterback who recently plead guilty to charges connected to dog fighting. The two groups will help to decide whether the dogs should be retrained as police dogs, euthanized, or adopted out as pets.

    “(Pit bulls) aren’t going to make good companions,†Ryan Huling, SF State campus coordinator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals 2 (PETA2), said. “PETA is in favor of ending the breeding of pits, and spaying and neutering all the pits who exist now,†Huling said.

    Bickel disagreed with PETA’s belief that “all pit bulls are aggressive.â€

    “They haven’t met Shamus,†he said.

    The pit bull debate is a matter of nature, Friedman said. “It’s like people. There are some that are aggressive and there are some that are very benign.â€

    E-mail Laila Kearny @ lailak@sfsu.edu

  2. Vanella

    Vanella Little Dog

    Excellent article Purple....I cross posted and pasted your forum name all over it....;) Hope thats ok?

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