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I would hope by now that we have finally overcome our hysteria
re pit bulls - one which was ill-founded and unfair to this
basically gentle breed. If any were found to be vicious, it
was the fault of exploitive and cruel owners who trained them
A great article on AlterNet today made me realize that we may
still be living in the dark ages when it comes to this gentle
breed who are depicted as cruel and vicious. This myth can be
dispelled by fair-minded people who will take the time to read
Joshua Holland's post- "Pitbulls Used to be Considered the Perfect
'Nanny Dogs' for Children-- Until the Media Turned Them Into
Brought up correctly as any other dog, they are basically sweet
and loving. My nephew would never have any other dog except a pit
bull. I'm glad he doesn't live in my city where they are banned.
Just last night, Dick Feagler-a current news TV pundit in Cleveland,
was showing back interviews he considered interesting, and one of
them featured a lawyer with her beautiful pit bull. I don't remember
what was being said because I was too mesmerized by this awesome
pitie- the subject of their conversation. Probably the lawyer was
making a case for her dog's wonderful, basic gentleness. But I
already knew that, and was able instead to enjoy looking at her
dog. He had placed his large head over the table lip, and he was
looking directly at the camera and us. He was gorgeous!
I'm glad he lived in Cleveland or some other suburb which had not
enacted a ban on them. In my city -Lakewood, despite many of us
voicing our strong disapproval of such a ban, 4 out of 5 council people
voted to pass the pit bull ban measure. I have long ago found out
that many of the people we vote for are often not qualified, and here
was a perfect example.
Shortly after this ban, poor Otis - a look-alike pit bull was
cornered near his home. His crime -he got loose from the fence
enclosure, and somebody called the police. And what did they do to
this poor harmless dog? T hey tasered him repeatedly even though
he offered no resistence or menacing qualities. Then these "macho"
police put him in their car, and brought him to the "shelter" where
he was impounded.
Can you imagine the shock to his owner? How would you feel if
your dog was mistakenly identified as a pit bull in this foolish
city, and then repeatedly tasered and imprisoned?
It became a media event when officials had to decide Otis' fate,
and even euthanizing him was on the agenda. Unbelievable.
But to our collective sigh of relief, a " beautiful" female lawyer
represented him, and she successfully proved to the court that Otis
wasn't a threat, wasn't even a pit bull. He certainly shouldn't be
put down- but rather be relocated if need be to the incredibly wiser
city of Cleveland where no such ban existed.
When the court agreed, she broke down in tears of relief- as we all
did who recognized from day one the injustice of what had happened
to poor Otis and his owner. Otis, many of us loved you too! You had
become a cause celebre, and I hope the Lakewood legislators and
police were embarrassed as they well should have been.
I think if Otis' owner had been wealthy, he should have sued the
city for mistakenly identifying his dog as a pit bull, for cruelly
tasering him, for locking him up, and for the expense of hiring
a lawyer to defend him -though she might have offered her services
pro bono. But I think at this point, he only wanted to shake off the
dust of the City of Lakewood and never look back. I couldn't blame
him at all if those were his sentiments.
Back to Holland's post. He notes that pit bulls moved from being a
favored "nanny dog" of the past to being villified today as cruel and
vicious. Holland believes this is due largely to the media which has
falsely portrayed the pit bull as a blood-thirsty monster. In reality,
this picture of them is false because when raised with love and care,
they are just like the rest of the dog population.
But sadly he notes, that many fall into the hands of irresponsible
breeders, dog-fighters, and people who want a tough-looking dog to
tie up in their yard. And many of them -if not all- refuse to have
their male dogs fixed because they think those big, swinging balls
make them look tough by proxy.
The American Humane Society noted that "86 percent of fatal canine
atacks involve an unneutered male." And a mong the disreputable people
exploiting pit bulls, a significant number of them had more criminal
behaviour records than other dog owners.
Sadly, it is reported that pit bulls are the most frequently abused,
tortured, abandoned, and euthanized breed of dog in the United States.
The media should bear some responsibility for this terrible injustice
to these much maligned dogs. Re this injustice, Holland found a fact
which should raise eyebrows, and hopefully embarass those who still
malign this tortured breed.
The American Veterinary Medicine Association HAS NOT identified this
breed group as disproportionately dangerous. T ested for skittishness,
agression, and their ability to differentiate between threatening and
non-threatening humans- of the 30,000 dogs tested -83 percent of them
passed. Of this group, the pit bulls showed an above average temperament,
with 86 percent making the grade. They are the second most tolerant
breed tested by AVMA following the number one dog in this category-the
Golden R etriever.
Though some years ago I was not armed with all the "facts" re the pit
bull, except with knowledge of them any common-sensed person should
have, I still jumped at the opportunity to respond to local CBS manager
Bill Applegate's editorial on whether pit bulls should be banned. I
was grateful to him for broaching this subject, and for asking our
opinions. And I was happy that my short thoughts on the subject were
approved, and that I could get them across in a Channel 19 Editorial
My college course in Public Speaking revealed that I had no knack
for it, but still I knew that I could not forgo this oppor tunity
to speak up on behalf of animals when I could. In the 90's - our
local Cleveland NBC, CBS, and ABC TV affiliates offered us
opportunities to voice our views on any and all topics. I looked
eagerly for the chance to express some of mine. All three gave me
On NBC I asked support for The Research Modernization Act which, if
passed, would lesson cruel and needless repititive animal research.
A poorly informed Congress didn't agree, and the Act wasn't passed.
On the ABC affiliate, I spoke against the horrors of allowing Pound
Seizure to continue where dogs and cats could be removed from shelters
to be used in often cruel research venues. I believe that today Ohio
and many other states no longer allow this cruel practice.
I thought I would give someone else an opportunity to experience what
appearing on TV was like, and asked a young friend to voice my opinions
on this subject which I felt she also shared with me re the cruelty
of hunting. It was a mistake. After her first showing, she received
a threatening phone call from a hunter, and then frightened, asked
the station to take the segment off.
Now once again I would be able to share my views re the Bill Applegate
editorial on the subject of banning pit bulls. Here were my thoughts:
"I wholeheartedly concur with Mr. Applegate regarding the foolishness of
banning a breed of dog-the pit bull.
Discrimination is an ugly word-ask women, blacks, the handicapped and
they'll agree. Pit bulls should not be discriminated against either.
What we should do is make a law which forbids people from using pit
bulls as guard dogs. (or fighting dogs) Under this law, if you train
them to be vicious, you will be held responsible- not the dog. If you
punish the offending party, I think there will be fewer incidences of
pit bull biting because the breed is not by nature any more vicious
than any other dog. Let's make the real culprit pay, and he has two--
not four feet.
And most of all, for me -I believe that God doesn't make vicious dogs.
We do that all by ourselves."
At this time, I also became aware of Nathan Winograd's story of "Mindy"
which I had found on the internet. Now looking it up on the internet
again, I was surpised to find my own account of it there. I had
forgotten that I had written about her on Our Echo. It is a sad story
of how this poor little innocent pit bull was cruelly treated at a
Pennsylvania "shelter" because of her unforgiveable crime - she was
a pit bull.
Some parts of her story need reprinting here. Mindy's life started off
well enough, but then she accidentally wondered off from her loving
family when a back door was accidentally left open. She then found a
dear lady who would leave scraps of food on her porch for her. But
then her luck ran out. Some local thugs used her as bait for dog
fighting. Finally, they left her tied to a fence covered in bite wounds
and gurgling blood.
The officers who came out re the report of this distressed dog, though
even seeing her in this deplorable condition, were still afraid to
approach this gentle pit bull who had never even so much as growled
They put the long "catch-pole" with the metal noose around her neck
and tightened it. That must have hurt. Because she would not walk,
they dragged her, and out of fear, she defecated on herself.
If you think that she would receive kind and compassionate treatment
at the "shelter" you would be wrong. If interested, please go to the
internet where you will find both mine and Nathan Winograd's account
of this very sad story of Mindy.
I had been so moved by her story that I had asked the Lakewood Observer
to publish it at the height of the banning pit bull debate going on
in Lakewood's council chambers and in the media. They refused. I have
never picked up a Lakewood Observer paper since then.