Sorry today’s opening is a bit of a rant. A rant because I’m getting a very uneasy feeling for the way our pittie type dogs are getting a really bad rap in the media at present.
Social media went crazy when a mock ad for a dog fight was posted all over Facebook. There emerged 2 clear camps when it came to the ad. One camp thought it was great to bring awareness to dog fighting while others found it in very bad taste. I think it’s great that it caused so much hoopla and the that SPCA got so much coverage, I hope they received funds that equal the social frenzy. My personal feeling and this is my personal opinion, when I saw the ad was, oh boy there goes our hard work of trying to stop people seeing the pit bull types as killing machines. Some people only ever see that type of image of the pit bull. They’ve never met a therapy or police dog that is a pit bull. All they see is what’s portrayed in the media and sadly media outlets go for the hype.
There are so many pit types out there doing incredible work, but that rarely gets coverage outside the animal welfare sector. Not to mention the good stories don’t ever get the kind of publicity this stunt did. My background is media and I know all to well first hand that it’s all in the sensationalism. It’s not good “news” if it’s in actual fact good. Only the scaremongering and the vilifying of the breed is what gets people talking. I do however sometimes think both sides of the pit scale talk too much, we give fuel to the fire by always discussing the breed and isolating them almost like a different species to every other dog. Me included. Most of the time people maligning a pit bull are often shocked that the dog in question isn’t even a pit bull. My theory is all dogs have teeth, all dogs can cause harm. I take note of the dogs genetics and motor patterns as these play an important part in a dogs make-up. But that is just a part of my information I gather, it’s not all that dog is, many factors make up a dog. Every dog is an individual.
But if, as the SPCA have said, they have been alerted to other dog fights, and it has helped them in their fight against these despicable people. Then I will just work harder trying to redeem these beautiful dogs reputation but believe me getting that image out of the public’s mind is going to be extremely difficult. I hope that when the authorities are trying to punish these evil humans that are bust in dog fights, more of the people that were outraged will make the effort to stand there at the court to show the magistrate how wrong this evil is in our communities. Often the fighters families and friends way out number the people their standing up and representing the pit bull type dogs. Where are all those people who are apparently so outraged by dog fighting that caused a frenzy on social media. That’s where the SPCA needs your support and of course donations to help them fight this evil. It’s time to take your outrage and help those who are helping these dogs. More importantly to stop painting all pit bull type dogs as dangerous killing machines.
It’s been a bad month for the pit bull. I sat in horror listening to 702 who had an “expert” on saying we should ban pit bulls. I wrote an email to 702 explaining my unhappiness about there show but did I even get an acknowledgment of my email, no I did not. I hadn’t just sent an email ranting about how bad and one sided the show was. Or that the show was of great disservice to pit bull type dogs and their families. I had contacted the renowned dog behaviorist Jo-Rosie as she is an expert witness in the UK when it comes to dangerous dog cases. Jo has a degree in psychology and specialised in zoology; specifically attachment theory in young mammals. Qualifications achieved include a post graduate in canine psychology, specialised in aggression. I advised them in my email that this is an expert in the field, this is the type of person you should be speaking to when discussing Breed specific legislation. So I wasnt just complaining I was offering them to speak to someone who was qualified to discuss the topic but alas nothing was done about it. Since the incredible information provided by Jo-Rosie was not used by the radio show. I’d like you to take a good read of the following on why banning a dog because of it’s breed is farcical. Please also read Jo-Rosies article on the pit bull further on in the newsletter. Help us help these misunderstood dogs.
1. Measurements do not have any baring on behaviour. There was a criminologist called lombroso in the early 1900s who thought you could predict criminal behaviour by looking at how humans were built. So long arms, large forehead etc = criminal. This theory was thrown out and it is now laughed at….yet this is what BSL is all about. There is no scientific evidence to suggest physical characteristics dictate levels of aggression. It’s loony!
2. As a pit bull is a type not a breed and a dog is measured to see if they measure up to enough of the American breed standard characteristics (written to deem if a dog is the best in the show ring out of a group of known pit bulls) – it is extremely tricky and subjective to say one bully breed is a pit and one is not. I’ve measured staffs, adolescent labs and sharpei up to this standard.
3. Since bringing in the ban in 91 there are now MORE pit bulls than there were before in the UK. If this legislation had been successful the pit bull would now be extinct in this country.
4. From 1999 – 2011 despite pit bulls being banned there was actually a rise in dog bites treated at hospital (from 4328 – 6118)
5. If we have to venture down the breed route then based on the UKs bite stats, German shepherds do more damage than any other breed when they bite. Mastiffs and Rotties have a harder bite than a pit bull (higher bite pressure and bigger jaws). Malinois are the only breed proven to have a common polymorphism in a gene which causes inhabition of the dopamine transporter. These means that this breed can have a genetic predisposition which is linked to biting behaviour. The pit bull does not have this polymorphism.
6. Pit bulls were bred to bait bulls and bears – this means they get aroused easily and tend to be a bit over the top around other animals and are prime for dog fighting but not for sports where the dogs bite people. Part of the reason they are good for dog fighting, as a sport, is that they are good with people. The rules of dog fighting actually stress the importance of being good with people. The judge needs to be able to stop a fight and use an instrument to aid a dog if they become fanged (a common injury in dog fighting where dogs get their front tooth stuck through their gum) without aggression. The rules also state that each contender must be able to wash their opponents dog without aggression (to ensure the dogs coat has not been laced with anything which may put their opponent off). Whilst thankfully dog fighting is banned – as it is a disgusting sport – it actually does nothing to increase a dogs aggression towards people.
7. In the same vein there is no correlation between dog-dog and dog-human aggression.
8. My last point is that in the uk it is broadly recognised that deeming a specific breed SO dangerous they have to be banned glamourises them to precisely the type of owner that shouldn’t have a dog!
Thank you Jo-Rosie Haffenden for this incredible information.
For more incredible information from Jo-Rosie and her super pitt Archie go to: Jo-Rosie.com
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By Tracy, Trainer