Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fight The Stigma!

I have read many articles through the years about Pit Bulls. 99% of them were news reports of people being bit or even attacked by this "vicious" breed that is "trained to fight and kill". I was fearful. I had never seen one up close until one day we went to visit a friend we hadn't seen in a long time.

We pulled up and immediately this beast of a dog, a huge mass of muscle with that wide mouth full of teeth and tongue was clearly visible. My body went into fight or flight mode and I was scared to open my door to get out of the safety of my car. I saw the people in the yard urging us to get out and not be scared. I was in shock because there were tiny little children in the yard with this monster of a dog. One of these kids was barely able to walk. I feared this little girl would at any moment be killed by this vicious beast. But, my husband showed no fear and said "Come on", so I slowly opened my door and exited my safety zone. That dog would change my life forever that day.

We mingled and ate and chatted about old and current times with everyone but the whole afternoon I kept a close eye on that dog making sure I stayed just out of reach of his runner. The children didn't share my fear. They hugged and played with the dog as if it were a ten pound puppy. After a while, I had to do it. As an animal lover, I had to touch the dog. I wanted to pet him. I wanted to feel the fur and overcome this terrible fear I had been feeling.

I stand just barely out of his reach and it seems the dog senses something about me. I reach out and the dog latched on. No, not to my arm, he latched onto my heart. This massive monster was nothing but a gentle giant. All my fear was for nothing. This dog was no fighter. He was no killer. He was a licker and a lover.

We visited the friend many, many times after that and I spent more time with the dog than the people. The dog would always be so excited to see me, not so much my husband. A bond had formed between me and this dog. He would immediately grab my hand in his mouth and walk me to the sofa in the living room and give me all the kisses I could handle. Of course his owner would command him to the floor but he wouldn't just get on the floor, it was the floor at my feet where he would lay and stay.

When we would have to leave, he would whine and cry and I would depress as well. I could spend day and night with that monster beast and not fear for a moment. In time, the friend moved away and I never saw my beloved beast again.

I began researching Pit Bulls and it happened to be around the time of the Michael Vick thing. I had to learn the truth about these dogs.

First thing, there ARE indeed reports of these dogs biting people. In fact just about any time these dogs bite someone, it makes headlines. What doesn't make headlines is how those lovable Labs and precious Chihuahuas are responsible for more bites and maulings than Pits.

The stigma of Pit Bulls are because they are simply victims of bad dog owners. Owners are torturing the animal such as cutting (cropping) their ears and tails (often with scissors) and even sharpening their teeth in an effort to make them look tougher. These vicious owners place heavy chains and weights around their necks forcing the animal to build up muscle mass.

Pitties are people friendly and very dedicated to their humans. Unfortunately, even bad owners. These dogs were originally bred to be bull fighters. They were used to bring down big game to feed and protect their owners. Of course this led to dog fighting for sport and entertainment in the 1800's. Thankfully, dog fighting was officially outlawed in the early 1900's but these fights just went underground where they unfortunately still continue.

  • Pitties do NOT have "locking jaws". Lehr Brisbin of the University of Georgia wrote: "The few studies which have been conducted of the structure of the skulls, mandibles and teeth of pit bulls show that, in proportion to their size, their jaw structure and thus its inferred functional morphology, is no different than that of any breed of dog. There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of any kind of "locking mechanism" unique to the structure of the jaw and/or teeth of the American Pit Bull Terrier."
  • Pitties are NOT "ticking time bombs". The American Temperament Test Society showed the American pit bull terrier scored an overall temperament rating of 83.9%, compared to the 77% score of the general dog population.
  • Pitties DO feel pain. There is no such thing as a dog (or any animal) that does not feel pain.

There are tons of links for more information on Pit Bulls here and with a general search on the internet. In closing, I must say, I am now the proud owner of a Pit Bull.

Their love is like no other; their heart is pure as gold.
Yet while going on a friendly walk, they're faced with stares of cold.
They're so very close to human, in how they act and what they do.
Unless you've known their devoted love, it's impossible to explain to you.
They are greatly more MISUNDERSTOOD than any other breed.
We tend to punish this loyal dog, instead of mankind's deeds.
They are always and forever clowns, with a wish for center stage.
Yet while displaying this sense of humor, most people disengage.
They, oh, so want to make new friends, and run and jump and play.
yet when they happily approach, most people shy away.
Often I've seen children poke, or hop on for a ride.
And when I felt they might get mad, they've only beamed with pride.
I've seen these children yank and pull, with nary a reaction.
Yet media's not interested, unless they've put someone in traction.
They love to snuggle up real close, to give lots of loves and kisses.
Yet they suffer more than any, from unfair prejudices.
What animal do I speak of, whose love is so unique?
If you've truly known one, you know of whom I speak.
There is no creature on this earth who will ever make you merrier.
The animal I do speak of, it's the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Author: Patty Letawsky

Some Famous Pit Bulls:

Popsicle is the number one US customs dog. She was found in a freezer during a drug raid by Buffalo police in 1997. They found Popsicle as a 5 month old puppy, who quickly became a favorite. He graduated his training at the Canine Enforcement Training Center in Front Royal, Virginia, and went to work with his handler, J.J., in Texas.

RCA is a certified hearing dog in Alaska

Tahoe, Cheyenne, and Dakota are all search and rescue dogs in Sacramento, California. The three pit bulls worked none stop at the World Trade Center and Pentagon after 9/11.

Bud was the first dog to travel cross country in 1903. His goggles are at the Smithsonian museum.

Sergeant Stubby died on March 16, 1926, as a hero, yet today, many people do not know who he is. Sergeant Stubby is the most decorated dog in military history, and the only dog to have been promoted during battle. He fought for 18 months in the trenches for France during WW1 for 17 battles. Stubby warned his fellow soldiers of gas attacks, located wounded soldiers in No Man's Land, and listened for oncoming artillery rounds. He was also responsible for the capture of a German spy at Argonne. After his time in the war, Stubby met Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren G. Harding. He was, also, made a life member of the American Legion, the Red Cross, and the YMCA.

Jack Brutus was another famous military dog. Although, he did not get nearly the publicity as Stubby, Jack Brutus was the the official mascot of Company K, First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. He was much larger than Stubby and was never smuggled anywhere with his troops (as Stubby had been). Jack Brutus died in 1898 of spinal troubles and constipation. He was much larger than the famous Sergeant Stubby but was definitely a pit bull type dog.

There was also.......

Petey from The Little Rascals

Tige- Buster Brown Shoe advertisements

Life magazine- Many people don't realize the the American pit bull terrier is the only breed that has been on the cover of Times for three issues.

In poster image for the U.S. during the 1900's the American pit bull was the image people saw on various war posters, representing the country's strength and dignity.

Sallie - the regimental mascot for the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. She followed the men into battle numerous times, showing her bravery, loyalty and love for her men. During a battle in 1865 she was struck in the head by a bullet and killed instantly. The men buried her there, on the battlefield under heavy fire. In 1890 a monument was dedicated to her on the Gettysburg battleground.


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