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Home > Columnists > Alice Park
December 22, 2011

Clearing the air for pit bulls in New Jersey


The face of aggression. (Alice Park )

By ALICE PARK  
     News Editor

On Friday, a 5-year-old girl in Jersey City was attacked and bitten by a pit bull. She was walking past 34-year-old Antoine U. McRae’s home with her mother, when the dog, Beans, opened the gate with his head and grabbed onto the girl’s left leg. The girl suffered cuts, puncture wounds and a possible fracture to her shin bone. The incident, reported by the Jersey Journal and posted on NJ.com, was riddled with debates between those who called for a ban on pit bulls and those who defended the breed and put the blame on owners.

One user, BB316, said, “These ugly mutts should be banned EVERYWHERE, not just inner cities. Something in their genetic makeup/instincts makes them unpredictable and vicious. How many more children have to be attacked and/or mauled to death before they do something to get rid of these vermin?” The media tends to pick on the pit bull breed, even though facts indicate pit bulls are no more inherently aggressive or violent than any other dog. Contrary to popular belief that pit bulls are all mean, vicious and unpredictable, temperament tests conducted by the American Temperament Test Society showed that pit bulls had a passing rate of 82% or better. Other, not vilified dogs like the golden retriever, scored less, at 77%.

Defenders of the bully breed tirelessly continue to utter the mantra: “Responsible ownership.” NJ.com commentator Uniongoonz said, “You could train a Scottie, a Yorkie, a poodle or even a little Chihuahua to be a vicious animal. It all depends on how well the dog is trained and treated by his owner. Many of the not-too-well educated folks seem to be attracted to the pit breeds, because of its fierce demeanor and appearance. But this is in no way the natural personality of the dog.”

Reputable pit bull rescue organizations and experts, such as Diane Jessup, seem to unanimously find that human aggression in pit bulls is not standard behavior. In fact, they often suggest the dog be humanely euthanized if it has the tendency to show unprovoked aggression against people to prevent the defective gene from continuing in future generations, as well as for public safety.  “Those who know pit bulls know that they greet friend and stranger alike with the usual ‘bully grin’ and wiggling butt. A pit bull which snaps or snarls at people is NOT representative of the breed and behavior that is indicative of poor genetics.”

Many appear to think that if a dog attacks another animal, its next step will be to assail humans, specifically children. Historically, most dogs were bred to be working breeds—to hunt, track, pull and kill. Terriers dig to kill rodents, hounds trail animals with intent to kill, bird dogs live to chase, flush and retrieve dead birds, border collies chase, bark and bite, and yet, they all act as loving family members in the home, and don’t suffer from breed specific legislation. The simple fact is dogs have wild ancestry, which is still retained in their behavior. A responsible owner who has done the research would understand the breed of his or her choice and train and act accordingly. As pit bulls were originally bred to take down large animals, such as bulls and bears, they tend to be more muscular, stronger and more agile. While they do not have special, jaw-locking power, they have the determination and pain threshold to cause serious injury to the other animal if a fight were to ensue. A pit bull may not start a fight, but it will finish one if its owner is not quick and vigilant in stopping it.

Early socialization and training can prevent dog aggressive behavior, but it is never wise to leave pits alone with other pets. “Pit bulls can live happily with other pets; if not left unattended. Even the ‘best of friends’ can fight, and the outcome may be tragic. This can be true for dogs that have been together for years,” said PitBullLovers.com. Also, early socialization gives owners the opportunity to know and understand when their four-legged friend and family member is nervous, scared and ready to defend itself. A crucial aspect of training is letting dogs know who is alpha and who has control of any given situation, so that they never feel the need to take matter into their own paws.

Ultimately, the development of a pit bull is a complex combination of nature and nurture. An experienced and well-informed owner knows that raising a pit bull requires time and energy. A pit bull needs human interaction; they are not outdoor dogs meant to be left isolated in the extremities of weather. Plus, they are known escape artists. One experienced pit owner from Essex County has seen her dog somehow get out of fenced-in enclosures and open gates. Pit bulls are very intelligent and loyal, looking to please their owners. They are not lap dogs and require plenty of exercise, but it is easy to think they have “lap” tendencies, considering their people-loving, cuddling nature. Common breed standard characteristics in pit bulls can be used to describe other dogs, but because of the bully breed’s marred reputation, it is especially essential for potential owners and adopters to be well-informed, responsible and loving.

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WFTfan


06/04/2014
Whoever wrote this article should be banned along with the Pit Bulls. This sraticle is filled with nothing but lies, propaganda and myths from the Pit Bull Advocacy. These people have no morals, no sense of decency. They just want to continue their dogfighting, and be able to hide it in plain site. The more Pit Bulls there are out there as pets., the easier it is to cover up their dogfighting. All the attacks, and there are several everyday, most of them involving small children and hundreds of innocent normal pet dogs being killed everyday, one must really wonder what the true agenda of this advocacy is, what is so important that they put so many lives at stake and continue to spend millions on propaganda promoting Pit Bull as "great family pets", pay lobbyists to get their laws passed, ignore and look the other way when a small child is killed or totally ravaged by a Pit Bull.? Money, that is their true agenda. They play it both ways, they pretend to care about the Pit Bulls, and receive millions in donations every year, then they are involved in dog fighting. I certainly hope they are taken down soon, because they are selling the biggest lie since Big Tobacco. Pit Bulls are inherently dangerous. So says the Supreme Court in Maryland, so says anyone that knows anything about breeding dogs and so say Caesar Milan. Please keep you kids away from Pit Bulls folks, and buy Bear Mace and carry it with you whenever walking outside with your kids or dogs

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