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Opinion: Stigma against pit bulls is unjustified

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Opinion: Stigma against pit bulls is unjustified

A male pitbull reacts reacts while being handled on March 29, 2019, at the Carbondale Humane Society.

A male pitbull reacts reacts while being handled on March 29, 2019, at the Carbondale Humane Society.

Jodee Harmon | @jlharmonphotography

A male pitbull reacts reacts while being handled on March 29, 2019, at the Carbondale Humane Society.

Jodee Harmon | @jlharmonphotography

Jodee Harmon | @jlharmonphotography

A male pitbull reacts reacts while being handled on March 29, 2019, at the Carbondale Humane Society.

By Elizabeth Biernacki, Staff Reporter

When you think of a pit bull, you’re actually thinking of three different kinds of breeds which have been mushed together into one.

“Pit bull” is not a breed. When we use the term “pit bull,” it should be understood to encompass American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and mixes of those breeds,” according to the Pit Bull Rescue Center.

With that being said, all kinds of breeds labeled as pit bulls are highly stigmatized due to their reputations as fighting dogs, understandably making people wary of their large jaws and muscular frame.

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Pit bulls make amazing pets for households, despite how scary they might seem. There are three criteria a dog has to meet to be suitable for a normal household: trainability, loyalty and tolerance.

Trainability: While it is true that some pit bulls were originally bred to be fighting dogs in the 1800’s, that does not mean that the whole breed is inherently “evil”; many pit bulls were also bred to do field work or be companions.

The dogs that were bred for fighting were not aggressive towards people. If they ever were, they would be killed or culled to avoid passing on that trait as it was undesirable.

[Pit bulls] used for fighting needed to be routinely handled by people; therefore aggression toward people was not tolerated. Research confirms that dog-aggressive dogs are no more likely to direct aggression toward people than dogs that aren’t aggressive to other dogs,” the ASPCA said in their Position Statement on Pit Bulls.

I have never once come across an aggressive pit bull myself during the years I have been volunteering with animal shelters.

Out of all the breeds out there, only a Labrador retriever has tried to take a giant chunk out of my left cheek and most certainly, almost succeeded.

Loyalty: “I’ve worked with hundreds of these dogs, and almost all of them were sweet, loving, and highly intelligent. None were any more aggressive than other breeds I’ve encountered,” Zak George, a professional dog trainer, said in his book “Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love.”

In his experience, George has found that pit bulls are some of the sweetest and easiest dogs to train. It all comes down to their drive to please people. Even some of the pits bred for dog fighting crave human affection and are extremely loyal.

Tolerance: The American Temperament Test Society tests all breeds of dogs for varying levels of tolerance exhibited when put through a controlled environment.

A failing score is 70% or below and all three breeds associated with pit bulls passed with flying colors.

The American pit bull terrier passed with an 87.4%, the American Staffordshire terrier passed with an 85.5% and the Staffordshire bull terrier passed with a 90.9%, giving the three breeds lumped into “pit bull” an average of 87.9% passing rate for temperament.

This average of all three breeds scored better than some of the most popular dog breeds such as the Australian Shepherd (82.2%), Cardigan Welsh Corgi (80.5%), and golden retriever (85.6%) just to name a few.

The three breeds associated with pit bulls are admittedly quite intimidating to see on the streets but their large muscular bodies and jowls are only what’s seen from the outside.

This dog is extremely affectionate, trainable and tolerant which makes them amazing pets for a household. There are few dogs that are as loyal to their person as a pit bull breed will be if they would just be given a chance by the public.

Staff reporter Elizabeth Biernacki can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @EBiernacki_DE.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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8 Comments

8 Responses to “Opinion: Stigma against pit bulls is unjustified”

  1. Harve Morgan on April 2nd, 2019 5:35 am

    What??? Is this writer drunk? Or just acceptance of payola from the pit bull propaganda machine? Has to be one or the other, no one is that ignorant unless they are paid to be so. The pit has been allowed to prove itself to the public and the results are maulings and deaths. I suggest you take your head out of the sand and look around. People are dying from this mutant of canines, a breed designed specifically and selectively to kill other things. You can take the pit out of the killing pit, but you can’t take the killing out of the pit. It’s called genetics, look it up.

  2. Bryan on April 2nd, 2019 7:04 am

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  3. Fataah Ewe44 on April 2nd, 2019 8:33 am

    This is an extremely misinformed puff piece that makes one wonder if author is backyard breeding pit bulls. Why is she laying out lie after lie? Dont buy a used car from her! Funny as to how pit bulls lead all other breeds in lethal maulings. Seems owners cant afford fencing to contain them. Running loose they kill peoples innocent dogs, horses, valuable cattle, and attack children wi life changing injuries. This is happening all over the country. The only thing that can stop them is a gun or bear spray. These are gladiator canines not pets. They can and will delight in killing, wagging tails all the while because they were & are bred for that task only. If you want a dog, get a real dog, a companion breed. Recently, another victim of a life changing attack:
    https://www.ibtimes.com/5-pit-bulls-attack-woman-bike-tore-her-apart-husband-says-2782143

  4. Patrick on April 2nd, 2019 9:12 am

    You can either choose to bring home a pet that was bred for fighting or choose one of the hundreds of other breeds that were not.

    If you choose the former, don’t be surprised when others criticize your choice.

  5. Mary Ann Redfern on April 2nd, 2019 3:45 pm

    LMAO, crock of pure BS. Pits were bred to K I L L….period. Never nannies, never farm animals, never useful for ANY decent and useful job…..just….killers. Sad but true. Arm yourself or face devastation from t/nasty beasts. Animal controls are USELESS.

  6. Sherry on April 2nd, 2019 6:26 pm

    All the evidence you need is google Pit bull attack and watch the thousands of news clips. Then go to you tube and due the same. They have earned their reputation from their attacks. Stupid stupid people can’t look at facts. They should not be in charge of their own life because they can’t make sound choices. Stop trying to advocate for the killer breed because you have blood on your hands when someone listen to your crap and gets one. Then it kills someone. That’s the fault of people like you.

  7. Lew Heifner on April 3rd, 2019 8:06 pm

    Stigma;

    March 2019, Dallas County, TX
    Johana Villafane, 33
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2019, Alachua County, FL
    Tanner Kinnamon, 2
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2019, Rowan County, NC
    Jacari Long, < 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    February 2019, Lubbock County, TX
    Johnnie Garner, 88
    Fatal pit bull attack

    February 2019, Riverside County, CA
    Angela Johnson, 54
    Fatal pit bull attack

    February 2019, Todd County, KY
    Ashton McGhee, 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    January 2019, Potter County, TX
    Ed Stanley, 85
    Fatal pit bull attack

    January 2019, San Bernardino County, CA
    Lana Bergman, 70
    Fatal pit bull attack

    November 2018, Newaygo County, MI
    Sharon Daniels, 77
    Fatal pit bull attack

    November 2018, Citrus County, FL
    Cecileigh Garris, < 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    November 2018, Clark County, KY
    April Collins, 45
    Fatal pit bull attack

    October 2018, Edgecombe County, NC
    Triniti Harrell, 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    October 2018, District of Columbia
    Angela Smith, 55
    Fatal pit bull attack

    September 2018, Baker County, OR
    Mitchelle Segerdahl, 53
    Fatal pit bull attack

    September 2018, Howard County, MD
    Robin Conway, 64
    Fatal pit bull attack

    September 2018, Siskiyou County, CA
    Teena Mawhorter, 74
    Fatal pit bull attack

    August 2018, Hamilton County, OH
    Della Riley, 42
    Fatal pit bull attack

    August 2018, Edgecombe County, NC
    Gurney Walker, 75
    Fatal pit bull attack

    August 2018, Montgomery County, NC
    Olga Rekhson, 64
    Fatal pit bull attack

    August 2018, Cook County, IL
    Karen Brown, 57
    Fatal pit bull attack

    August 2018, Philadelphia County, PA
    Jaevon Torres, 2
    Fatal pit bull attack

    July 2018, Duval County, FL
    Jaelah Smith, 6
    Fatal pit bull attack

    June 2018, Humboldt County, CA
    Donald Steele, 91
    Fatal pit bull attack

    May 2018, Broward County, FL
    Liana Valino, < 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    May 2018, Blair County, PA
    Gauge Eckenrode, 6
    Fatal pit bull attack

    May 2018, Harrison County, MS
    Georgia Morgan, 75
    Fatal pit bull attack

    May 2018, Carter County, OK
    Tracy Garcia, 52
    Fatal pack attack involving pit bull(s)

    March 2018, Milwaukee County, WI
    Hong Saengsamly, 49
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2018, Cape Girardeau County, MO
    Loxli Chavez, 1
    Fatal pit bull attack

    March 2018, Bexar County, TX
    Noah Trevino, 4
    Fatal pit bull attack

  8. Lew Heifner on April 3rd, 2019 8:08 pm

    If pit bulls “pass” The American Temperament Testing Society’s tests in greater numbers than golden retrievers and beagles, the correct conclusion is the testing methodology is grievously flawed. The ATTS is not designed to test dogs for suitability to be a pet. The test was designed for police work and for Schutzhund { you need to understand what that is so look it up } enthusiasts in 1977. The test does not certify any dog safe, or even pleasant. It tests for guarding and attacking instincts.

    The test is breed specific, not all breeds meet the same standards. The test is not a true “survey” sampling. The test is subject to a very strong self-selection bias; owners don’t test animals they don’t think will pass. In the beginning, we had no idea what was on the test so we went in cold. Now you can find endless videos of dogs taking the ATTS. Dogs are trained to pass the test. I am not into the Schutzhund hobby, nor do I want that skill set in my companions, so my dogs will never be tested. Naturally, the gentler breeds will fail the test more often than aggressive animals. By citing the ATTS, you have admitted that pits are very aggressive. Owners of dogs passing the test get a certificate in the mail. The certificate does not exempt any dog from housing restrictions, or local law, it does not impact insurance rates, does not get the holder 50 cents off on a cup of coffee at McDonald’s.

    The test has an open website. You can look at all the breeds, numbers of each breed attempting the test are shown, percentage passing and percentage failing are shown. When you look at the numbers, please keep in mind that the numbers are cumulative since the inception of the test 40+ years ago. More pit bulls are shot by police on the streets of American Communities EVERY year than have passed the ATTS in the last 40+ years.

    This disclaimer appears on the first page of breed stats. “The pass-fail rate is not a measure of a breed’s aggression, but rather of each dog’s ability to interact with humans, human situations, and the environment.”
    http://atts.org/breed-statistics/

    I highly recommend this material written about the ATTS.
    http://thetruthaboutpitbulls.blogspot.com/2010/08/there-are-three-kinds-of-lies-lies.html

    http://thetruthaboutpitbulls.blogspot.com/2010/08/there-are-three-kinds-of-lies-lies.html

    Rehabilitated pits that “passed” the flawed atts temperament testing:

    http://www.kesq.com/news/woman-in-critical-condition-after-being-attacked-by-her-own-dog/762723809

    http://www.americanews.com/story/society/2016/02/29/dad-saves-animal-half-hour-away-death-his-daughter-pays-price

    http://longisland.news12.com/news/dog-adopted-by-patchogue-family-attacks-daughter

    http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Rescued-Pit-Bull-Attacks-Teenage-Daughter-Euthanized-325519571.html

    Host Attacked; https://www.facebook.com/mary.urban.delaney/videos/10205426049553777/

    #GeneticsMatters #BreedMatters #WontBackDown #SpayNeuterPitsToExtinction #PittersHateChildren

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