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Tackling The Latest Pit Bull Debate (MA)

Discussion in 'Breed Specific Legislation' started by Suki, May 29, 2007.

  1. Suki

    Suki Little Dog

    TacklingMay 28, 2007

    Tackling the Latest Pit Bull Debate

    [​IMG]A statewide ban on pit bulls has been bandied about, so both sides of the debate gathered at the State House to present their positions. And supporters of pit bulls outnumbered the opponents.
    Testimonials from experts also bolstered the pit-bull supporters' view. The director of the animal behavior clinic at Tufts said he was against the ban and that owners should take tests and that the state should go after illegal breeding operations. And why should a responsible pit-bull owner be punished for the actions of others?
    In a statement prepared for the debate, Joyce Linehan of Dorchester described her decision to adopt a pit bull. She was reluctant at first but became "smitten" with a pit bull. She also notes that she wouldn't adopt another because, like a realistic dog owner, "I know the limits of my time and resources, and one dog is the right thing for me."
    Linehan is one of many responsible owners of good pit bulls. Trainer Kenny Lamberti, who has trained dogs in Boston for six years, says that training a pit bull is a lot like training any other dog. You have to be willing to take the time to do it.
    Lamberti encourages people to rescue pit bulls. Many pit bulls who have been abused can be retrained, he says, but not all of them are lucky. He says, "You can't always fix them," but he tells the story of his own 4-year-old pit bull, Diamond, whom he rescued at 1 year old. His experience says, "You absolutely can reacclimate them."
    Giving support to those who say the owner is responsible for the dog's behavior, Lamberti says that training a pit bull requires work and advance planning. Owners must know what kind of dogs they want. For example, a "couch potato should get a middle-aged pit bull" because the younger ones get frisky.
    He also advises that owners should spay and neuter the pit bulls and start training the pit bull early and "use positive training principles." You don't hit the dog – and Lamberti's overall suggestion seems to be that you will get what you give when it comes to a pit bull.
    The more we hear from both sides of the debate, the more complex the issue becomes. The pit bull debate is a version of the classic "nature vs. nurture" argument – and not everyone will agree that a pit bull can be nurtured into a loving dog. But we feel safe in saying that a ban isn't going to change all the stupid or irresponsible pit-bull owners overnight. If they don't have a pit, they'll just get another burly dog, and the attacks will keep happening.
    Image of a pit bull courtesy of Joyce Linehan.

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