With recent accounts of dog fights and dog attacks involving pit bulls, the question still rattles around in my head as to whether or not the problem is the breed or the owner at the other end of the leash. After WWI, the pit bull was known as "America's dog." Now this dog is public enemy No. 1. Is this dog really dangerous or in serious need of better public relations?
Bark or bite?
In a Supreme Court decision in Alabama, the court determined there is no genetic evidence that one breed of dog is more dangerous than another. Some pit bulls seem very high on the energy scale. Others just watch TV. Animal shelters admit that a dog with a "pit bull look" is often unadoptable. And yet the American Temperament Test Society, which measures animal behavior, maintains that in the areas of stability and friendliness, a pit bull scores better than a golden retriever. It's all very confusing.
Don't you think a pit bull can sense all that when he's approached? I'm pretty sure that dog believes you don't believe he's to be trusted. It still makes me uneasy to see a child playing with a pit bull. Is it an accident waiting to happen?
In Bluffton, a business called RecycleBulls finds homes for these animals. They claim to have placed 300 dogs with families in the last five years.
The dog supposedly has an undying willingness to please and is extremely strong for its size. Perhaps it is the dog's brick-like head and powerful jaws that cause a pedestrian to cross to the other side of the street. That reaction is most likely a result of something someone's heard or read.
A simple question on my Facebook page recently unleashed enough comments to fill a kennel.
Ronnie Drolet says he's owned a pit bull mix for six years and "the dog's been nothing but great for me." Terry Hamlin says, "I can only say to use caution." Cathy Stanlick warns that "... there is no way to know the trigger point."
We're supposed to assess other humans on their merits. Animal behaviorists tell us not to judge a dog based on appearance, pedigree or history. What's the barometer then, the wagging tail?
And what's the signal when the tail stops wagging?
Kibbles 'n' bits
Not sure we've plowed any new ground here. Raised a few questions, thrown out a few facts to support both sides, maybe, and mixed it in a bowl that probably resembles nothing more than lukewarm Gravy Train.
When a police officer has to shoot an attacking dog out of self-defense or a woman is bitten trying to separate two fighting dogs, the pit bull always gets the blame. Is the dog innately aggressive or merely extremely protective and loyal?
I'm not going to lie, the dog frightens me a little. Not sure I'd be the first in line to adopt or offer a hand if a fight broke out.
What's the answer? Maybe all pit bulls and all pit bull owners should go to obedience school. Final question, who wants that school in your neighborhood?
I'm just sayin'.
Reach Warren Peper at email@example.com