Story number 1 A 6-year-old Prairieville girl is still awaiting word on what permanent damage she may have after being mauled by a pit bull. The dog attack happened so fast her mother, who was just a few feet away, says she could not prevent it. Cara Gordon's mother was visiting her aunt at a Kenner motel when the little girl was attacked by a pit bull. In a split second, the dog took a chunk of flesh out of Cara's forehead. "Cara was no more from here, maybe two feet away when the dog kind of just pounced on her and took a piece of her forehead out," says Tracy Gordon, Cara's mother. It took doctors more than 100 stitches to put the chunk back into Cara's head. Doctors say it will be at least a year before they will know the extent of the nerve damage. Since the attack Cara has not returned to school. "I was upset, I did not want to go back to school. Because I thought people would laugh at me," says Cara. The dog meanwhile awaits a court hearing on September 10th to determine if it will be killed, which is exactly what Cara and her mother want. "I definitely want to see that dog put to sleep," says Tracy. Cara says, "I don't want that dog to hurt anybody else." story number 2 America has a four-legged problem called the American pit bull terrier. And the pit bull, its ''ridiculously amiable disposition' ' notwithstanding, has a two-legged problem called Man. These two species are not new to each other. They have intermingled for some 200 years, and some say their common history goes back as far as the Romans. But something has happened to the pit bull in the last decade that says as much about the nature of American society as it does about the nature of this aggressive animal. Far from being an aberration, the American pit bull terrier has become a reflection of ourselves that no one cares very much to see. ''They're athletes. They're wrestlers. They're dead game,'' says Captain Arthur Haggerty, a dog breeder and trainer in New York City who owns five pit bull terriers and has trained hundreds of others. ''They will literally fight till they're dead. If you found that quality in a boxer or a football player, you'd say it was admirable. Will to win. That's what a pit bull has.'' Others call it a ''will to kill.'' At least 35 communities nationwide have considered banning the breed from within their city limits, and while such ordinances have run into constitutional problems stemming from the difficulty in defining exactly what a pit bull terrier is, their number is growing weekly. The horror stories involving pit bulls are voluminous. Recent tragedies include the death of two-year-old James Soto, who was mauled in Morgan Hill, Calif., on June 13 by a neighbor's pit bull. The attack rendered the child ''unrecognizable as a human being,'' according to paramedics. Nine days later a national television audience watching the evening news was treated to the terrifying spectacle of a pit bull terrier attacking Los Angeles animal control officer Florence Crowell. The 33-year-old woman survived but spent five days in the hospital. On April 6, a retired surgeon, 67-year-old William Eckman, was killed by two pit bulls on a street in Dayton, Ohio. On that same day, 16-month-old Melissa Larabee of Jones, Okla., was killed by the family's pet pit bull, who bit her in the throat. In June 1986, 20-month-old Kyle Corullo was attacked by a pit bull in Ramsay, Mich., while playing in his grandmother's backyard. The dog, fighting off the child's mother, dragged the boy into a nearby lot and shook him to death ''like a stuffed animal.'' In the last 18 months, 12 of the 18 confirmed dog-related fatalities in the U.S. -- or 67% -- have been caused by the pit bull terrier, a breed that accounts for only 1% of the U.S. dog population. And the maimings are far more numerous. Often it is small children who are the victims of unprovoked attacks. There is no definitive source for animal attack statistics, but pit bull fanciers claim that statistics show other breeds of dog bite more frequently -- German shepherds lead the list -- and accuse the media of publicizing only pit bull maulings. DOG BITES MAN isn't news, they say, but PIT BULL BITES MAN is. Unfortunately the pit bull, when it attacks, doesn't merely bite man -- or, most horribly, child -- it clamps its powerful jaws down and literally tears its victim apart. ''The injuries these dogs inflict are more serious than other breeds because they go for the deep musculature and don't release; they hold and shake,'' says Sheryl Blair of the Tufts Veterinary School, in North Grafton, Mass., which last year held a symposium entitled Animal Agression: Dog Bites and the Pit Bull Terrier. ''Most breeds do not multiple-bite,'' says Kurt Lapham, a field investigator for the West Coast Regional office of the Humane Society. ''A pit bull attack is like a shark attack: He keeps coming back.'' ''A pit bull,'' says Judge Victor E. Bianchini of San Diego, '' is the closest thing to a wild animal there is in a domesticated dog." A fair assessment of a growing problem? Or a bad rap against an animal which has suffered far more at the hands of man than it can possibly repay? It has been estimated that there are half a million pit bull terriers alive in the United States today. What about the 99% who have never bitten a human being? Are these dogs ''loaded hand guns,'' as many have called them? ''There's something a little scary about wondering, Is there a time bomb ticking in my dog?'' says Dr. Franklin Loew, dean of Tufts Veterinary School, who opposes efforts to legislate against pit bull terriers and believes the breed is the victim of ''canine racism.'' Loew adds, ''The pit bull does seem to respond more than other dogs to people trying to bring out aggressiveness. But everything I know professionally tells me that this is not a dog problem, but a problem of dog ownership. ''What exactly is a pit bull? Defining it has proved to be a formidable legal hurdle because the pit bull is not a specific breed. Rather, it is a kind of dog, a generic catchall like hound or retriever. The breeds most commonly referred to as pit bulls are the American Staffordshire terrier, which is the term used by the American Kennel Club, and the American pit bull terrier, the term used by the United Kennel Club. The men who match pit bulls in fight today do not bother with such formalities; they refer to their animals as bulldogs -- a nickname which should not confuse pit bulls with the pug-faced and bowlegged English bulldog, a distant relative, or the bull terrier, another relation whose bloodline was softened long ago by crossbreeding with the English Terrier. Pit bulls come in almost any color; their ears may be cropped or uncropped; their noses either red or black; and their height and weight merely proportionate-- with the weight parameters ranging from under 20 pounds to upwards of 100. Their muzzles are wedge like, their jaws powerful and their heads blocky. A pit bull's coat will be short and glossy, shimmering over a compact frame tightly bound in muscle. All the dogs referred to as pit bulls are thought to trace their ancestry back to the bull-and-terrier, which was developed in England in the early 19th century. The bull-and-terrier was a cross between the early bull-dog -- the name comes from the fact that it was used in bull-baiting -- and a game terrier of some kind, either English, or fox, or black-and-tan. The bull-and- terrier dog was also used for bull-baiting, and was sometimes referred to as a butcher's dog. When a butcher wanted to slaughter one of his cattle, he would sic his bull-and-terrier on the unlucky bovine, and the game little dog would latch onto the bigger animal's nose, and the butcher, hammer in hand, would move in swiftly and bludgeon the cow on the head. At some point, no one is sure exactly when, gentlemen sportsmen began matching bull-and-terrier dogs against each other. One of the more popular establishments in London used for such purposes was the Westminster Pit, an enclosure that could hold about 300 spectators. Admission was charged at the door (two shillings in 1816), odds would be established, wagers were made and purses put up. It was all very civilized. Sometimes, after the dogs had finished chewing up one another, a fight between bears would follow. In 1835, the English parliament outlawed the whole bloody business -- bearbaiting, bull-baiting and dogfighting. All the law served to do was to drive dogfighting underground. The coal miners in Staffordshire were said to be particularly avid followers of the clandestine ''sport.'' Now, more than 150 years later, in an age of computers and biogenetics, the blood of those miners courses throughthe veins of citizens in these 50 states, and the blood of the bull-and-terrier dog's descendants continues to be splattered against the sides of pits. According to The Complete Dog Book, the official AKC publication, the pit bull first came to America around 1870. Some pit bull breeders date their arrival much earlier. Byron Fortenberry of Akron, Ohio, a breeder and author on canine subjects, claims that of the two dogs that came over on the Mayflower, one was a spaniel and one was''a small mastiff.'' Says Fortenberry, ''A bulldog was called a small mastiff in 1620. No way you can prove it was or it wasn't a pit bull, but more than likely that's what became our breed.'' Fortenberry does not explain how this particular small mastiff was able to reproduce itself -- perish the thought that it was bred to the lowly spaniel -- but one of the traits one discovers in talking with breeders of American pit bull terriers is that they consider the dog capable of almost anything, including virgin birth. At any rate, the breed was well established in America by the 20th century. In 1898 the United Kennel Club began registering American pit bull terriers under the auspices of C.Z. Bennett, who drew up breed standards and wrote a set of rules governing dogfighting. In 1909 the American Dog Breeders Association, which at that time was determined to distance itself from dogfighting, set up its own registry. These were the salad days of the pit bull terrier. The dog was the envy of the canine world. Buster Brown's floppy-eared pal in the popular comic strip of that era was his pit bull, Tige. Theodore Roosevelt had a pit bull in the White House. And a pit bull named Stubby, used in World War I to deliver messages between battalions, assisted in the capture of a German spy and was decorated for bravery by General John (Black Jack) Pershing. The pit bull was America's dog and was depicted as such in 1914 by artist Wallace Robinson, who created a poster in which an English bulldog, a German dachshund, an American bull terrier, a French bulldog and a Russian wolfhound were dressed in the military uniforms of each dog's country. The caption on the poster was a remark by the pit bull, who appeared in the middle, slightly larger than the rest: ''I'm neutral, BUT -- Not Afraid of any of them.'' Later, the most famous pit bull of them all burst on the American scene, a star who was, ironically it now seems, surrounded by a cast of children. That was the Our Gang canine pal, Pete, a predominatel white pit bull with a distinctive black circle -- almost certainly the work of a make-up artist -- around its left eye. Pete is celluloid proof that there was a time when the pit bull terrier had ''a ridiculously amiable disposition.'' In 1935 the American Kennel Club finally decided to recognize the American pit bull terrier as a breed. The club, however, could not bring itself to call the animal by that name. The AKC wanted its own name for this courageous, personable dog, and it wanted a name that did not include the word pit. The AKC settled upon the Staffordshire terrier because so many of the dogs had come from that area of England. In the summer of 1936 the first Staffordshire terrier was registered by the AKC. Pit bull lore has it that Pete was the first Staffordshire. It's a swell story, but not true. Pete was among the first, but the honor actually goes to a dog named Wheeler's Black Dinah. ''It was exactly the same dog as our American pit bull terrier, '' says Andy Johnson of the rival UKC, which currently registers between 25,000 and 30,000 American pit bull terriers annually. ''They even opened their registry to our dogs. The AKC just didn't want anything in their name that would remind people of the fighting history of the pit bull. It was like a family denying that it had horse thieves in its past. ''Perhaps. But most pit bull fanciers believe that in the 52 years since the Staffordshire terrier -- renamed the American Staffordshire terrier in 1972 -- was recognized by the AKC, it has become a dog significantly different from the UKC's American pit bull terrier. Not in looks -- which are nearly identical -- but in temperament. Why? Because over the years the Staffordshire has been bred to show, rather than to fight. In one of his books, pit bull expert and breeder Richard Stratton addressed this subject in his glossary of pit bull terms: ''American Staffordshire terrier. . . . The show counterpart of the APBT. Except for some game strains that are dual-registered, these dogs could not be expected to be as game as the APBT or to have the same ability. ''The ability Stratton is talking about is the ability to fight. The gameness he describes is the willingness of the animal to fight to its own death. American Staffordshire terriers have not been valued as fighting dogs for at least half a century. ''A true Staffordshire terrier is not a fighting dog, even though it came from a fighting dog,'' says the Humane Society's Lapham. Is it just coincidence, then, that none of the killings of people in the past two years have been attributed to registered American Staffordshire terriers? Probably not. ''The American Staffordshire terrier's chief requisites should be strength unusual for its size, soundness, balance, a strong, powerful head, a well- muscled body, and courage that is proverbial,'' reads The Complete Dog Book. ''As to character, they exceed being dead game; nevertheless, they should not be held in ill repute merely because man has been taking advantage of this rare courage to use them in the pit as gambling tools. These dogs are docile, and with a little training are even tractable around other dogs.'' Ginny Bazelak of Chepachet, R.I., president of the American Pit Bull Terrier Club of New England, feels the same way about the dogs that she has bred. ''They say pit bulls have natural aggressiveness,'' she says. ''I don't believe it. People who are breeding for aggressiveness will get it. For the last 12 years I haven't been, and these dogs aren't. My dogs are babies. They'll lick you to death. The people who fight dogs tell me I'm ruining the breed. They say my dogs are wimps.'' Sadly it is the responsible owners and breeders who are suffering the most from the recent wave of pit bull hysteria. ''You feel like a criminal walking your dog,'' says Bazelak. ''You're constantly approached by someone who says, 'That's a vicious dog,' as if it's a wild animal. I've stopped breeding mine. I don't want to add to the population right now. I'm disgusted with the American people who believe the problem's with the dog and not with the people raising the dog. ''But the hysteria, or concern, is understandable. To the untrained eye -- or even to the trained one, in many instances -- it is virtually impossible to tell a docile pit bull from a mean one. None of them looks like a wimp, and a friendly pit bull jumping up to lick you to death has an eerie resemblance to a pit bull jumping up to rip out your throat. Your best bet is to pass a fast judgment on its owner. Pit bulls do not usually growl before attacking; they seldom bark. The hair on their backs does not stand on end when they are enraged. These are not dogs given to threatening displays. The pit bull, when so trained, is all business, which has made it the dog of choice for drug dealers and street punks around the country. ''People whose insecurities are such that they need macho reinforcement feel a need for this type of animal,'' says Loew of Tufts, ''and they are available because of the overflow from illegal dogfights.'' ''I just saw a surprising statistic from a Los Angeles study, ''Steve Blackwood, a sergeant in the San Diego Sheriff's Department, said recently. ''In two out of three narcotics raids, pit bulls were used as the guard dogs.'' San Diego investigators also were told that local members of motorcycle gangs were stashing their drugs beneath the doghouses of their pit bulls. ''Street dope dealers and street gangs have gone to pit bulls,'' says Budd Johnson, an inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service who is based in San Diego. Law enforcement officials are seeing the same thing all over the country, and the pit bull populations in urban areas have mushroomed as a result. There have also been instances when pit bulls were used in armed robberies, in effect taking the place of a weapon, and one case in which a 16-year-old girl was raped by a man who allegedly threatened her with his two pit bulls. ''You've got a bunch of kooks out there who are getting these dogs and making them mean and registering them,'' says Andy Johnson of the UKC. ''Every time somebody writes how mean these dogs are, the demand for them jumps up. You can make any dog mean if you work at it.'' Now, and historically, at the core of the breed's problems is dogfighting. This loathsome ''sport'' is, by most accounts, more widespread than ever in the U.S. At the same time it is even less humane, having passed from the hands of the old-time ''gentlemen'' breeders into the mitts of the borderline sadists. Once primarily a rural dementia, dogfighting has become a city problem as well, the outgrowth of the popularity of pit bulls. It matters little that dogfighting is illegal in every state, and a felony-level crime in 36 states. ''You can virtually find a convention (as dogfights are called in the jargon of the sport) on any weekend in any of the 50 states,'' says Eric Sakach of the West Coast Regional office of the Humane Society in Sacramento. There are probably more matches taking place today than ever before because of the popularity of the breed,'' says Stratton, whose books on pit bull terriers include such chapters of general interest as: ''Dimensions of the Dog Pit'' and ''Fluid Therapy for Treating Hypo-Volemic Shock.'' ''Dogfighting is the greatest perversion of the special relationship that exists between people and dogs,'' says Randall Lockwood of the Humane Society. ''It is people subjecting dogs to incredible cruelty. And now that has turned into dogs killing people.'' Dogfighters vehemently dispute this, and with a straight face one writer compared pitting a bulldog with taking a greyhound out on a run. When, as a youth, Stratton asked Mrs. William J. Lightner, thewife of a legendary pit bull breeder, if dog fighting was cruel, he recalls that she responded, ''It was cruel all right, but not to the dogs, for fighting was the very breath of life to them because of their breeding. But it was cruel to the people because it was hard not to get especially attached to your best dog, the very one likely to be matched, and sometimes they were lost.'' The dog, in the warped perspective of the dogfighting zealot, dies happy, fulfilled, like an Iranian soldier. Next stop, puppy heaven. As one pitman bragged to Benno Kroll, who wrote a superb account of dogfighting in the November 1979 issue of Geo: ''My dogs die with their tails up and wagging.'' Perhaps. They also die with their legs broken, their ears mangled and their flesh torn. ''We've seen them, with both front legs broken, push themselves across the ring to fight,'' says Blackwood, the San Diego sheriff. Many times the dogs die hours after the fight of hypovolemic shock -- dehydration -- since the prevailing wisdom says to dehydrate your animal before fighting him to cut down on his potential loss of blood. And sometimes a dog dies minutes after the fight from a bullet to the brain, if the dog happens to ''cur out'' -- refuse to engagein battle. Of course they don't all die. Pit bulls are incredibly hardy animals that, some folks would have you believe, are impervious to pain. The majority of the pit bulls recover from their fights, which routinely last more than an hour and sometimes as long as three hours, and live to fight again. Before each match, the handlers wash their opponent's pit bull, a tradition which started after some ''gentleman sportsman'' discovered that by putting poison on his own dog's coat, he could paralyze his adversary's animal. When the fight begins, the two dogs share the 16-foot-square pit with two handlers and a referee. It's close quarters in there, no place for a man-eating dog. And the bloodthirsty spectators, with fistfuls of cash, are separated from the participants by only a 30-inch-high wall. ''In the old days the fighting dogs were people-gentle,'' says Lockwood. ''But that's not true any longer. It's not unheard of now for dogs to come out of the pit and attack spectators. Some of our investigators have seen it.'' It has become a new game. It's commonplace these days for a dogfighting raid to turn up a veritable storeroom of illegal weapons and illegal drugs. ''People who think they are dogfighters are into it now, but they have no concept what it's about,'' says one pit bull breeder from Ohio. ''True dogfighters had a lot of money tied up in their dogs, and they didn't want to lose them. Today these clowns steal somebody's pet and put him in the pit without training him. Then they watch while the dog gets torn up. At best, they're sadistic.'' Training a fighting pit bull terrier is something the Marquis de Sade certainly would have appreciated. Treadmills are the most commonly used apparatuses, and sometimes a kitten or a chicken is hung in a mesh basket at the top of the treadmill to hold the dog' s attention. At the end of the hours- long workout, guess what the reward is? To increase the dog's biting power, trainers will hang tires from tree limbs, bidding their pit bulls to leap up and latch on, sometimes making them hang there for 15 to 20 minutes. Those are the sophisticated methods. ''In Toledo we arrested a guy who was paying kids to collect cats for him,'' relates Lapham of the Humane Society. ''He'd throw them into the basement where he kept his pit bull, to let him taste blood. '' Steven Creighton, a sergeant with the San Diego police department, recounts the gruesome tale of the arrest on Dec. 4, 1986, of 18-year-old James Madison. ''We got a call that a guy put a noose around a live cat's neck and threw it over a branch so that it hung about eight feet off the ground,'' says Creighton. ''Then the guy let a pit bull loose who attacked the cat while ((a group of neighborhood children)) watched in horror. He would let the pit chomp on the cat for a while, and then he'd lift the cat up out of the pit's reach. The dog was going crazy.'' The cat eventually died. Madison, who has pleaded not guilty, will go on trial next month for felony cruelty to animals and raising a dog for fighting. 'It's ridiculous,'' says Stratton. ''The taste of blood doesn't make a pit bull a better fighter. But people write that kind of stuff about people who train pit bulls, and these kids read it and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.'' And in some instances, it is literally the kids who get involved. Last year in Philadelphia five boys between the ages of 11 and 14 were arrested and charged with participation in a dogfighting ring in which the losing dogs were thrown out the window and hanged. All five were found guilty. ''They call it 'gambling the dog,' '' Sam McClain, a police officer with Philadelphia's 19th District, told reporters. In a follow-up article on Philadelphia street dog fighting, which appeared in the July 2 issue of Rolling Stone, writer Mike Sager described the training regimen of a pair of pit bull handlers, brothers aged 13 and 14: ''They'll starve him to make him mean, fatten him on twenty- five-cent-a-can dog food and leftover beans and rice, run him around the block behind their bicycles, feed him chicken blood, take him on a safari around the neighborhood looking for cats and strays, shoot him up with black- market penicillin and vitamin B12 to help heal his wounds, and rub him with used motor oil to make his fur grow back over his scars.'' Some feed their dogs hot sauce to make them mean, while others subscribe to a dosage of gunpowder. It is not clear whether these dogs, when they die, do so with their tails up and wagging. Who has suffered more, then? The pit bull for his association with man? Or man for his association with the pit bull? It should be pointed out that pit bull terriers serve man in a number of legal and interesting ways. They are not just guard dogs and fighters. The stamina and courage of the pit bull make the breed unparalleled as a hunting dog for wild pigs, a popular quarry in parts of the South and Southwest. Some ranchers, particularly those who graze livestock in brushy country where it is difficult to rope, use pit bulls as catch dogs for cattle. They can also be trained to herd sheep -- pity the coyote that would bother a pit bull's flock. And, recreationally, pit bull owners have started to show enthusiasm for weight pulling. '' The pit bull's the hardest-pulling dog in the world,'' brags Ralph Greenwood of the American Dog Breeders Association. Last year in Seguin, Texas, a 78-pound pit bull named Bighead set a record by pulling 5,650 pounds over rails for a distance of 15 feet. Clearly, though, steps have to be taken if man and the pit bull terrier are to continue to coexist. ''Dogfighting needs to be prosecuted,'' says Blair of Tufts, ''And effective vicious-dog legislation needs to be enacted.'' There are a number of reasons why ''vicious dog'' legislation is preferable to ordinances that specifically target the pit bull terrier. As has been noted, it is virtually impossible to define a pit bull in legal terms. There is also the nettlesome question of punishing innocent, responsible breeders of American Staffordshire terriers and American pit bull terriers for the abuses of irresponsible, often criminal, owners. And finally, the pit bull is not the only aggressive dog on the street. Rottweilers, Dobermans, German shepherds, akitas and chows are all breeds that can be aggressive and that are large enough to inflict severe damage on people and other animals. For that matter, any breed that is improperly raised or is allowed to run loose can become a menace. The population of this country is more than 240 million people, and ''Ninty-seven percent of Americans now live in cities, towns or villages,'' says Loew of Tufts. ''There are 50 million dogs in this country, more than at any time in our history. How are we going to live with them?'' ''We suggest a procedure by which a dog can be identified as 'dangerous' or 'vicious' that does not just take into consideration bites,'' says the Humane Society's Lockwood. ''A dog that assumes a threatening posture when unprovoked, that lunges at its fence when someone walks past, that chases kids -- that is a dangerous dog, even if it hasn't actually bitten anyone. The new thrust is to make owners responsible for their dogs before there's a problem.'' This much we have learned from the pit bull: The so-called ''one free bite'' concept of dog control is out to lunch. This is the policy in effect in many communities where a dog is not considered to be a problem until it has bitten on two occasions. In the case of the pit bull terrier, that is usually two occasions too many. David Sholes, a Rhode Island state senator, proposed and drafted vicious-dog legislation for his state in 1985. It is now considered a prototype for others to follow. ''We had a tremendous explosion of pit bull attacks, you were reading about a new one practically every week,'' says Sholes. ''One child lost part of a buttock, another part of her face. A pit bull managed to get on a school bus and terrorize the children. It was apparent that the current law was not working.'' The new Rhode Island law provides a workable definition of a ''vicious dog'': One that has either committed an unprovoked attack on a person or animal, or that approaches a person in an apparent attitude of attack when unprovoked. That is the key word: unprovoked. Any dog that is unlicensed falls into the ''vicious'' category until it is licensed. Rhode Island's procedure for having a dog declared ''vicious'' is as follows: 1) the complainant calls the local animal control officer; 2) the officer investigates the complaint and holds a hearing to examine the circumstances; 3) he then declares whether the animal in question is ''vicious'' or not; 4) if the owner of the dog disagrees with his verdict, he may appeal to District Court. Should his appeal fail, the owner of the ''vicious'' dog must keep it in a secure enclosure, at least six feet in height, that is both childproof from the outside and dogproof from the inside. The dog is tattooed for identification. Furthermore, the dog owner must show that he has a $100,000 insurance policy for liability, and he is required to display a sign that can be read from the road: VICIOUS DOG ON PREMISES. The dog officer has the right to inspect the enclosure at any subsequent time and without need of a warrant, and has the right to seize and impound the dog if any of the specifications are not met to his satisfaction. If the dog bites again, the owner is fully liable, much as if he had been keeping a wild tiger in a cage. ''Most owners would rather turn in their dog than comply,'' says Sholes. So the net effect was to keep these vicious dogs off the street. Of course the vast majority of problem pit bulls are unregistered and unlicensed. These are the animals that law enforcement officials must focus on, and quickly. Unlicensed dogs should be impounded. And anyone who knows of individuals who are keeping unlicensed dogs, or whose dogs are allowed to run loose, should be encouraged to report them to the proper authorities. ''We've got to make bad-dog behavior impersonal,'' says Loew. ''It should be like asking someone who is smoking in a no-smoking area to stop. No offense, but your dog is a problem.'' ''For a long time the judicial system has not taken dogfighting and dog- biting seriously,'' says Lapham. ''That laissez-faire attitude cannot persist. Dogfighting is not just aberrant behavior in a civilized society, it has become a lethal liability within that society. The best new ordinances and leash laws in the world will be worthless unless the courts deal with these people seriously. They have to send a message that says: You want to own these dogs, fine. But you'll pay the consequences if you screw up.'' It is a message that is already being sent. In February, Hayward Turnipseed of De Kalb County, Ga., was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison after three of his pit bulls attacked and killed four-year-old Billy Gordon as the child walked through a neighbor's yard. Michael Berry, 37, the California man who owned the dog who killed two- year-old James Soto, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. And Edlyn Joy Hauser, the woman whose dog, Benjamin, attacked animal control officer Crowell, has pleaded innocent to three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon -- Benjamin -- and intentionally inflicting great bodily harm. As for the American pit bull terrier, it, too, has taken its lumps. In the three weeks following those two grisly June incidents in California, more than 300 pit bulls and pit bull crosses were turned in to the Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control Department, most of them by owners whono longer wanted the responsibility of keeping them, or who had simply become frightened of their own pet by the breed's reputation. The animals were all put to sleep. Overpopulation of the breed remains one of the chief concerns about pit bulls, especially in already crowded urban areas. Law enforcement officials, animal control officers, animal rights groups and legislators are just beginning to address that particular problem. And the American pit bull terrier's aberrant sidekick? They're going to be dealing with the human part of the puzzle for a long, long time. Story number 3 Pit bulls drove my family from the Bronx. My pregnant wife and I had moved to Bedford Park, off Mosholu Parkway, late in 1997. Though the neighborhood had rough edges, we got used to it, at least for a while. After our son was born, however—and as spring blossomed, and we ventured outside more often—we found ourselves growing ever more frightened of dangerous dogs. Pit-bull owners had converted the little park in front of our apartment building into a dog-training ground, where they goaded their animals into attacking one another or taught them to hang from tree branches to strengthen their jaws and their tenacity. Not surprisingly, when the dogs were running wild, the neighborhood's young mothers gathered up their children and fled. Seniors cowered together on a few benches. Like the mothers, owners of small dogs waited until the park was pit-bull-free before taking them for a walk. The park had been lost as a public space, impoverishing the neighborhood. The dogs had taken over more than the park. Walking down 204th Street or past the gone- to-seed low-income housing abutting the Metro-North Botanical Garden stop, we regularly ran a gauntlet of thugs flaunting spike-collared pit bulls, bespeaking a world of anarchy and dread. As a friend and I walked home one spring night, we saw three stocking-capped toughs slouched against a chain-link fence, barely restraining a thick- necked, snarling pit bull. My heart raced, until I noticed two young cops walking in our direction, just beyond the bad dudes. My relief was short-lived. "It's a full moon, and dogs go crazy in the fooool moon," one of the thugs howled wildly, as he let the pit bull lunge to the end of his leash at the cops. A confrontation seemed imminent, but the two officers nervously crossed the street to avoid it. "I guess we know who won that battle," my friend glumly noted, and we crossed the street, too. After a rash of unsettling incidents—including a tornado of eight unleashed pit bulls swirling across the park and the savage mangling of our neighbor's small mutt by another loose pit bull—we decided this was no place for a baby, and we left. We had learned that intimidating dogs can impair a neighborhood's quality of life and give the sense that no one is in charge every bit as much as drug dealing, prostitution, or aggressive panhandling. Though dog advocates would dispute it, our fear was justified. According to the Centers for Disease Control, dogs bite 4 million to 5 million Americans every year. Few attacks are fatal (25 in 1996), but serious injuries—everything from a gash in the arm requiring a few stitches to severed hands and fractured skulls—continue to rise and now stand at more than 750,000 annually, up nearly 40 percent from 1986. Dog bites are one of the top causes of non-fatal injuries in the nation. Children are the most frequent victims, accounting for 60 percent of the dog bites and 20 of the 25 dog-bite fatalities in 1996. Dog attacks are now the No. 1 reason that children wind up in hospital emergency rooms. Incredibly, nearly half of all American kids have been bitten by the age of 12. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that more than $100 million gets spent yearly treating dog bites in the nation's emergency rooms, and U.S. insurance companies paid out $250 million in dog-bite liability claims in 1996. Pit bulls and pit-bull crosses (not always easy to distinguish) have caused more than a third of the nation's dog-bite fatalities since 1979 and a comparable proportion of serious injuries. The rising number of attacks, and the unease pit bulls and other dangerous dogs cause in public spaces, have spurred many municipalities to crack down with legislation ranging from muzzle laws to bans on pit bulls and certain other breeds. New York City, with a million dogs, conforms to these national trends. In 1997, the Department of Health reported 7,075 dog bites in the city and some 1,000 complaints about frightening dogs. Gotham police and other authorities had to round up 892 biting dogs in 1997, 200 more than the year before. Of these, 294—33 percent—were pit bulls or pit-bull mixes, though they make up only an estimated 15 percent of the city's dogs. Recent pit-bull attacks in New York City have hit the headlines. In one horrific incident a little over a year ago, four unleashed pit bulls swept, barking and growling, through Richmond Hill, tearing at anyone in their path, as screaming passersby took cover on top of cars or fled indoors. Two of the enraged animals rampaged through a supermarket on 135th Street before police shot them to death. Powerful tranquilizer darts downed the other two dogs. Three people were seriously injured in the frenzy. Other recent attacks were no less violent. In late 1996, three pit bulls mauled an 85-year-old Bronx man to death. In 1997, two pit bulls severely injured a 12-year-old Brooklyn girl, and other attacks left a seven-year-old Queens boy with a bone-deep wound to his leg, and an 11- year-old Queens boy with a shredded arm. Pit bulls can inflict such terrible damage because their massive skulls and powerful jaws give them almost super-canine biting power. Pit-bull-inflicted injuries in New York City will almost certainly spike up because of a senseless new federal law ending a 60-year official ban on animals in housing projects. The New York City Housing Authority long looked the other way as project residents took in pets. But two years ago, after tenants barraged a newly installed quality-of-life hotline with dog-related complaints, ranging from organized dog fighting to pit-bull attacks on other pets, the authority launched a campaign against vicious animals in public housing. Intimidating dogs had many residents, especially seniors, living in a "state of fear and terror," as authority spokesman Hilly Gross put it. Though ambiguous wording in the federal legislation may allow the authority to retain some restrictions, the new law invites disaster by permitting lots of pit bulls within biting distance of lots of children and old folks. Pit bulls are also wreaking havoc on the city's public property. As Manhattan Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe observes, "Some pit-bull owners train their animals to fight by having them lock their jaws on rubber swings in children's playgrounds, which very quickly destroys the swings." The cost to taxpayers: $250,000 annually. "Perhaps more ominously," Benepe adds, "these owners have started to use young trees to train the pit bulls." Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, aware of the property damage and sensitive to complaints from "terrorized" parents, joggers, and senior citizens about roving canines in city parks, now is enforcing the city's leash law, requiring owners to keep their dogs leashed between 9 AM and 9 PM, unless they are using one of the city's dog runs. The new campaign, targeting Central and Riverside Parks, issues $100 fines for first offenders and doubles the penalty, up to $1,000, for each subsequent offense. So far, despite howls from some pet owners, spot checks show the percentage of unleashed dogs down dramatically, as owners have gotten the message. Mail to the Parks Department has run three-to-one in favor of strict enforcement. Stern's initiative follows closely on the heels of the Giuliani administration's proposed new dangerous-dog legislation, announced earlier this year. The mayor's proposal jacks up fines for owning a vicious dog, makes it easier for the city to label a dog dangerous, and requires pit-bull owners to purchase $100,000 in liability insurance before they can get a dog license. Predictably, the proposal has enraged dog owners. According to New York City Health Commissioner Neal Cohen, the city needs the new law because of its high number of dog-inflicted injuries. The existing dangerous-dog law, on the books since 1991, has been ineffective in practice, because it requires the Department of Health, which adjudicates dog-bite cases, to prove that a dog wasn't "provoked" before it can label the animal dangerous and require it to be muzzled or impounded. As Cohen observes, "It is almost impossible to define what a particular dog subjectively perceives as a `provocation.' " The law also requires lengthy hearings before the city can take action. As then-Corporation Counsel Paul Crotty complained after a pit- bull attack in 1997 killed a Queens man, "It's a dopey law that puts the emphasis on protection of due-process rights of dogs . . . rather than on the protection of people." But those priorities are just what dog advocates want. Lisa Weisberg, vice president of government affairs of the ASPCA, testified against the new law, arguing that its "proposed elimination of a hearing process to fairly and adequately determine whether or not a dog is truly dangerous is extremely disturbing and deprives a dog owner of his/her due process." In fact, dog advocates often embrace a strangely askew, doggy-centric view of the world. Gordon Carvill, president of the American Dog Owners Association, is a case in point. When I described to him the fear my wife and other young mothers in our Bronx neighborhood had about using the public park when pit bulls were on the loose, he defended the dogs. "Some people are afraid of any kind of dog—you know that," he admonished. "Dogs know when someone is afraid, and they're apt to be more aggressive." So the mothers are the problem. Carvill seconds Weisberg's objection that the city's proposal threatens the due-process protections of pet owners. But the law's biggest defect, he says, is that it singles out a specific breed, in its requirement that pit-bull owners buy liability insurance. (The city's desire to regulate pit bulls is in seeming conflict with a 1997 state law, similar to those 11 other states have passed, that bars breed-specific local legislation.) For Carvill, all dogs are created equal; different breeds don't have different hereditary characteristics. "There is no dog born in this world with a predisposition to aggression," he firmly states. But he's wrong, and dead wrong if we're talking about pit bulls. All men may be created equal, but not all dogs. Says Katherine Houpt, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell and author of Domestic Animal Behavior: "Different breeds have genetic predispositions to certain kinds of behavior, though that can be influenced by how they are raised. The pit bull is an innately aggressive breed, often owned by someone who wants an aggressive dog, so they're going to encourage it." Pit bulls have been bred specifically to be aggressive. They're descended from the now- extinct old English "bulldogge," a big, tenacious breed used in the brutal early- nineteenth-century sport of bull baiting, in which rowdy spectators watched dogs tear apart an enraged bull. Victorian reformers, concerned about the coarsening effect bull baiting had on its devotees, banned it by the early 1830s, but enterprising bull baiters merely migrated to an equally bloody sport: organized dog fighting. As Carl Semencic, author of several informative books on guard dogs, and a big pit-bull fan, describes it, the bulldogge owners made a striking discovery: "a cross between the bulldogge and any of the game [i.e., brave and tenacious] and relatively powerful terriers of the day produced a game, powerful, agile, and smaller, more capable opponent in the dog pits." These bull-and-terrier crosses became renowned for fighting prowess and soon were the only dogs used in organized dog fighting in England and later in the United States. To preserve the bull-and-terrier's pugnacious traits, the dogs were bred only to dogs of the same cross. Thus was born the pit-bull terrier, "the most capable fighting dog known to modern man," Semencic enthuses. Though breeders, realizing the pit bull was an attractive dog when it wasn't scrapping, bred a less feisty version—the American Staffordshire terrier ("Pete" of the old Our Gang comedy series is a well-known representative)—the pit-bull terrier is first and last a fighting dog. Its breeding history separates it from other tough dogs like Doberman pinschers and rottweilers, which have been bred to guard their masters and their property. Pit bulls are genetically wired to kill other dogs. The pit bull's unusual breeding history has produced some bizarre behavioral traits, de- scribed by The Economist's science editor in an article published a few years ago, at the peak of a heated British controversy over dangerous dogs that saw the pit bull banned in England. First, the pit bull is quicker to anger than most dogs, probably due to the breed's unusually high level of the neurotransmitter L-tyrosine. Second, pit bulls are frighteningly tenacious; their attacks frequently last for 15 minutes or longer, and nothing—hoses, violent blows or kicks—can easily stop them. That's because of the third behavioral anomaly: the breed's remarkable insensitivity to pain. Most dogs beaten in a fight will submit the next time they see the victor. Not a defeated pit bull, who will tear into his onetime vanquisher. This, too, has to do with brain chemistry. The body releases endorphins as a natural painkiller. Pit bulls seem extra-sensitive to endorphins and may generate higher levels of the chemical than other dogs. Endorphins are also addictive: "The dogs may be junkies, seeking pain so they can get the endorphin buzz they crave," The Economist suggests. Finally, most dogs warn you before they attack, growling or barking to tell you how angry they are—"so they don't have to fight," ASPCA advisor and animal geneticist Stephen Zawistowski stresses. Not the pit bull, which attacks without warning. Most dogs, too, will bow to signal that they want to frolic. Again, not the pit bull, which may follow an apparently playful bow with a lethal assault. In short, contrary to the writings of Vicki Hearne, a well-known essayist on animals who—in a bizarre but emotionally charged confusion—equates breed-specific laws against pit bulls as a kind of "racist propaganda," the pit bull is a breed apart. Pit-bull expert Semencic makes a more sophisticated argument as to why pit bulls shouldn't be singled out for regulation. Pit bulls, he says, were bred not to be aggressive to people. "A pit bull that attacked humans would have been useless to dog fighters," he contends; "the dogs needed to be handled by strangers in the middle of a fight." Any dog that went after a handler was immediately "culled"—that is, put to death. But Semencic's argument assumes that the culling of man-aggressive dogs is still going on—which it isn't. As Robin Kovary, a New York-based dog breeder and pit-bull fancier, acknowledges, "Once the word got out, 20 years ago or so, to youths who wanted a tough dog to show off with, the breed passed into less than responsible hands—kids who wanted the dogs to be as aggressive as they could be." Geneticist Zawistowski gives the upshot: "Irresponsible breeders have let the dogs' block against being aggressive to people disappear. They've created a kind of pit bull with what I call `undifferentiated aggression.' " A Milwaukee man learned this the hard way in January, when he tried to break up a fight between his two pit bulls and had one forearm ripped off and the other so badly mauled that doctors later had to amputate it. Yet Kovary is at least partially right when she says, "It's the two-legged beast, not the four-legged one, we have to worry about." One needs nature and nurture to create a truly nasty dog. Raised responsibly, the pit bull's good side can come to the fore. "Pit bulls can be playful, intelligent, athletic, loyal, and useful in sports," Kovary explains. But pit bulls have become enmeshed in the brutality of underclass culture, magnifying the breed's predisposition to aggression. "In the wrong hands," Kovary warns, "pit bulls can be bad news." Abundant evidence of owner irresponsibility is on display at the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC), a nonprofit shelter that opened in late 1994 in the heart of Spanish Harlem, to take over New York City animal control from the ASPCA. Pit bulls are its biggest problem. More than 60,000 animals, half of them dogs, entered the shelter last year. According to CACC official Kyle Burkhart, "more than 50 percent of the dogs are pit bulls or pit-bull mixes—a huge percentage." That works out to 40 or so pit bulls a day, most of which have to be put down because of their aggressiveness. Waiting in the CACC's lobby, I got a firsthand look at the pit bull as a standard-issue accessory to underclass life: toughs in baggy pants and stocking caps paraded in and out continuously, negotiating to get their impounded dogs back or to adopt new ones. Three distinct classes of irresponsible—or, more accurately, abusive—owners are the source of the CACC's flood of pit bulls. First are the drug dealers, who use pit bulls, or pit-bull crosses, as particularly vicious sentinels. New York City cops had to shoot 83 dogs to death in 1997, most of them pit bulls guarding drug stashes. Burkhart showed me a few such sentinels in the center's dangerous-dog ward. Lunging against their metal cages, these pit bulls were the most ferocious animals I'd ever seen: pure animal fury. "This one would bite my head off if he had the chance," Burkhart said of one Schwarzenegger-muscled dog, brought in from a police raid on a crack house. Intimidated, I kept as far from the cages as I could. "Some of the pit bulls coming in will actually have their vocal cords removed in order to surprise someone lurking around a crack house," Burkhart noted. Dog-fighting rings also fill the CACC with abused animals. "Sometimes a raid on a dog- fighting ring brings us 20 or 30 pit bulls at a time," Burkhart tells me. The rings, moving clandestinely throughout the state, stage battles between pit bulls, sometimes to the death, as cheering spectators wager on the outcome. The dogs the CACC receives from the raids will often be missing ears or will bear deep scars from their battles. Manhattan Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe isn't surprised at the savagery: "We regularly find dead pit bulls in the parks; on one occasion, we found eight pit-bull carcasses dumped in Riverside Park. They'd been killed fighting other dogs." It's an unsavory crowd that participates, whether as trainer or spectator, in the blood sport, says ASPCA humane-law-enforcement officer George Watford. "The trainers preparing a pit bull for a fight throw a rope over a branch with a bag tied at the end; inside the bag will be a live cat," Watford explains. "You'll see a dog hanging from the bag, and it'll be a cat he's killing inside it, giving the pit bull the taste for blood." The spectators are just as bad, Watford says: "When we raid a ring, not only will there be shotgun-armed lookouts, but we'll search people and find drugs and weapons, and we'll always find people wanted for rape, murder, robbery charges." Finally, the CACC gets pit bulls owned by teenagers and gang members—"young punks," Watford calls them—who raise the dogs to intimidate. "It's a macho thing," Watford says. "These punks will get into the typical park scenario, a `my dog is tougher than your dog' thing, in which they let the dogs fight." I recalled a Bronx mother screaming at two teen lowlifes fighting pit bulls in the park in front of our apartment building. The teens, sporting military fatigues and shaved heads, ignored her and went on with their barbarous fun. Typically, these teens lose interest in their brutalized—and usually unneutered—dogs and let them loose, swamping the city with stray pit bulls. What should New York City do about its dangerous dogs? One possibility: ban the pit bull, as England has done. Unfortunately, thanks to the 1997 state law nixing breed- specific legislation, such a ban would entail a difficult battle for state permission. And if the city bans the pit bull, what's to stop thugs from shifting to other breeds that can be made into weapons, such as the Canary dog or the Dogo Argentino? Outlawing them all would be an extremely divisive policy. What about the city's idea of forcing pit-bull owners to buy pricey insurance policies? It makes little sense. Given that a paltry 10 percent of the city's dogs have licenses, only the law-abiding minority of pit-bull owners—not the louts who terrorize park-goers—are likely to comply with the new requirement, assuming it can get past the state objection to breed- specific laws. Moreover, those who wanted to comply would have a hard time finding an insurer. Though homeowners' policies generally cover dogs, few insurance firms will issue one to someone with a dangerous animal. Much sounder are the city's proposals to eliminate "provocation" as a defense for a dangerous dog's behavior and to pare away legal protections for dangerous dogs. As Cornell's Katherine Houpt underscores, "If a dog has bitten someone, we should consider it dangerous until proven otherwise. Who cares if a child has poked it with a pencil?" The city's best course would be to require the owners of all dogs weighing more than 40 pounds to keep them muzzled in public, as Germany does with potentially aggressive breeds. A muzzle law is not unduly harsh to the dogs. As for its impact on owners: sure, it might diminish the thrill a tough gets as he parades his pit bull down a crowded sidewalk and nervous pedestrians give him a wide berth. And that would be all to the good. As Mayor Giuliani and Police Commissioner William Bratton discovered when they prosecuted nuisance crimes like public urination or public drinking and helped restore civic order, Gotham can do a lot of good simply by enforcing laws already on the books, as Parks Commissioner Stern is doing with the leash law. New York makes little effort, for example, to ensure that its dogs are licensed, though the law requires it. The Canadian city of Calgary, which had a problem with dangerous dogs in the eighties, halved aggressive incidents through strict licensing enforcement: it let officials keep computerized records of complaints against individual dogs and impound them or require them to wear a muzzle if they posed a clear threat to the public. Eighty percent of Calgary's 100,000 dogs now have licenses; 90 percent of New York's 1 million dogs don't. The city should step up licensing enforcement. These measures would strike a prudent balance between the enjoyments of pet owners and the city's responsibility to protect its citizens and keep its public spaces from going to the dogs. Because of these storese and picture and i have seen some of these dogs i as scared of them is anybody eles scared of them???
" like a stuffed animal" is exactly the instinct to shake prey these dogs employ. All dogs were bred to serve man. The way these dogs were bred... My dogs have their problems (Labs)...don't have anything nice to say.
BC Babe: Thank-you for having the consideration to put this article up. So many want to gloss over the true PB nature. I'm sorry, too. They do what they were bred for. It is also good that some folk try to breed them away from their nature. Iam in a glass house, Labs dig, bark and chew...some bite.
Fighting dogs is gross and just wrong. People training dogs to fight also wrong. I think the laws need to change. Not to ban APBT but to ban underage (21) kids from having these dog and to stop the fighting. I think the laws should put these people (sick People) in jail for LONG periods of time for training fighting dogs and for attending the "show". I watch Animal Planet and all these people get is a slap on the wrist and their dogs PTS. Not enough. I see alot of people on this site with APBT. Everyone seems to love thier dogs and the dogs seem to be happy. I would like to see the "fighting" line stopped. But can not see banning the "pet/show" line as they are just dogs. I also thing that the owners of any breed of dog that bites should be held responsible. its your dog. You should know what it will do and you are the one who needs to protect other people and animals. My friend has a GSD. He bites. She has gotten a muzzel for him that he has on if she has company. I am glad she sees the problem and is dealing with it. Me I would not have a dog around that I could not trust. (3 Kids) All in all very sad.
I bet you all the dogs in that story were NOT ABPTs. You know why? My uncle asked if those dogs we were watching on TV were Pit Bulls..... THEY WERE MASTIFFS! So apparently, someone needs to stand up & let this nation know what the heck an ABPT DOESN'T look like! ---Allie the Chihuahua http://www.dogster.com/?41063 ---Mönica the Kitty http://www.catster.com/?57596
I am not afraid of a breed. I am afraid of an agressive dog of any breed. Back in the day that Rottwielers were the damned breed I had a beautiful male named Samson. He lived a long happy life and never bit anyone. However, just trying to walk down my own street I have been chased by a gsd, a chi, and various mixes. Not literally a chase, but they growled and barked and scared me until I had to go home because I didn't know what they were going to do and I had my kids with me. I, like I'm sure most if not all pit owners on this site will agree, that pits that were trained to fight can be a problem, as can anydog that has been trained improperly. Actually, I have seen on Animal Cops, roosters that were trained to fight, that would slash the AC's arms up if given the chance. I honestly believe that it is how any dog has been trained that makes its temperament good or bad. I understand that some dogs, pits, rots, etc have strong heads/jaws and can inflict more damage than most other breeds. On the other hand, I must say the only dog that has ever seriously bit me was a poodle. I think owners that do this need to spend some serious time in jail as well as fines. You are right that they often get a slap on the wrist. But that goes for any dog, not just pits. I do not personally own one, but not because I am afraid, because there are just other breeds I want to own. To each his own. That does not mean I have a problem with them. I have friends that own them and they are truly beautiful animals. I think we need to educate people on the trainer/owner problem instead of a particular breed problem. The cities that are banning these dogs are making a mistake. They need to ban the people who own dogs that have been trained to fight (like the guy with the cat) from ever owning another animal. That story is just sick, but it is that type of person giving these animals a bad name. He has no right to ever own any kind of animal. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't let the stories scare you away from the breed, but from owners that own and train dogs of any breed to act this way. My honest question to the rest of you is this: Once one of these poor animals (any breed) has been trained this way (ie cat story) what do you feel should happen to the dog? Can they be "rehabilitated" or is it too late for them? I have no opnion, I honest want to know. One more thing Allie is right, many people are too quick to jump on the pit band wagon and it is uncommon to see these stories about other breeds, although I know they happen.
Every time I get on here it seems somebody is bashing Pit Bulls. They are great dogs and make good family dogs. My sister has Pit Bulls and my kids have been raised with them. They play with her dogs, ride on there backs, feed them, take them for walks, and help bath them. Pit Bulls are not the way everybody thinks. They are wonderful dogs if they have a owner who is responsible and doesn't teach them to fight an be aggressive.I think that who ever posts these thing should read about all the good stuff these dogs do before bashing them. Pit Bulls are used alot for therapy and rescue dogs. Did you know that???? STOP BASHING THE PIT BULLS!!!!!!!
Another thing, when will people realize it is not safe to leave a baby or toddler unsupervised with any dog? I would never allow my dogs off leash. I would never let my dogs approach babies or toddlers. It's irresponsible.
I do NOT mean to be rude to anybody who has a pit bull, but I am so scared of them! It's not that those dogs are mean, it's just my fear. Ever since I was little, I was petravied of big dogs, and come on, pit bulls aren't small at all! I've never gotten to know them because I haven't been around them much. Now I have a small breed, and I am perfectly happy with him!
I have read all of this propaganda before. Parts are very interesting such as the origin of APBTs. Many of the statistics are sad but true. Many undesirable people are using the APBT as an extention of themselves. The more undesirable stories that are made public, the more desirable they become to the criminal world. That's what criminals hope to achieve, by placing fear into people. I have 2 APBTs. I'm not a criminal, drug dealer, dog fighter, weapons dealer. I'm middle-class, small business owner, home-owner, tax paying American citizen. My APBTs are just as friendly as a Border Collie, maybe more friendly. I'm sure in time more people like myself will have APBTs which will disspell all the ugliness and the myths associated with APBTS. Once the fear-factor is gone, criminals won't find them so appealling. Like your article stated, APBTs were once looked upon as an American symbol. Strong hearted and loyal. In time more people like myself will continue to crusade for this breed and restore its reputation as an all American family companion, rescue dog, therapy dog. This breed shouldn't have to prove its worthiness to people, but people should prove that they are worthy enough to have them.
I agree, they are so very very frightening, those monster man killer dogs! Looks like somebody better call 911 for us at my house before we are viciously mauled. trying to suffocate a baby http://pages.ivillage.com/holly42/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/mini-100_2547.jpg Thinking about mauling my husband http://pages.ivillage.com/holly42/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/mini-100_2550.jpg with my son. She's playing gentle so she can attack him when he's off guard http://pages.ivillage.com/holly42/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/.pond/mevrydogneeds.jpg.w300h200.jpg Maybe ate a baby and stole it's clothes? http://pages.ivillage.com/holly42/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/mini-babycrop.jpg Putting sand on Missy in hopes of defending themselves http://pages.ivillage.com/holly42/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/.pond/mkidsdogsand.jpg.w300h200.jpg That's just a few. I have more with other pit bulls and other kids. I have more friendly pit pictures than there are nasty pit articles in the original post. Missy doesn't have to gloss anything over. What you see is what you get. Plus some doglicks.
EVERY SINGLE TIME I FIND SOMEONE BASHING PIT BULLS IT IS BORDER-COLLIE-BABE! SHE DOESN'T LIKE THEM AND IS TRYING TO CONVINCE US THEY ARE DANGEROUS STUPID ANIMALS! Grrrr....it's annoying becuase my pit bull mix is the sweetest dog in the world! ANY dog could attack a person, and some people MAKE UP stories framing themw hen it is other dogs! It's annoying, and I hate it! This is a pet lovers website! If you HAVE to post things bad about pit bulls, take it somewhere else, please!
There is nothing wrong to be afraid of a dog. But if you are ever around any dog and show that you are nervous around it the dog knows and will act off your uneasyness. Back in the 80's my family had 6 rotties and my friends were afraid to come to my house because of the dogs. They just didn't understand that my dogs were nicer than any dog I have ever been around. I think every dog breed has its bad seeds. But in my eyes it is not the dogs fault but the owner. My mothers boyfriend has a beautiful pit puppy and she is the sweetest pup I have ever been around. So in really, I wouldn't bash a breed if you haven't even been around one.
I agree, I can honestly say, that at the shelter more labs and shepards and even, as much as I don't like it Pomeranians have been put down because of aggression then Pit Bulls. Unfortunately, we do put a lot of pits down but not because they are aggressive, it is more because people hear about one dog attack, pit bull or not and then we get dumped off everyones, at one time, "beloved" pet. Border Collie Babe, Have you ever owned, or even been around a Pit Bull, that was raised and treated properly? We don't adopt out Border Collies to everyone at our shelter until they hear all of the "not so good" things about them, such as the fact that they can and will herd children and if they don't comply will nip at them, why because that is what they were bred to do, Herd. Also, they have a super high energy level and will get bored and destructive if not properly entertained or given an actual job to do. Now don't think I am bashing BC's, I love them I have owned two of them and am enthralled with them but they have their own 'issues', maybe you should do some research on other dog breeds and their instincts instead of coming on here and being no better then the news media who over-hypes everything. I am a complete lover of chows but you know what? There are soooo many bad characteristics about them. And a chow raised wrong is a mean chow, no two ways about it. I know, I do chow rescue. But I never see you on here worried about the fact that chows are one person or one family dogs unless they have EXTREME socialization. Quit bashing pits and read up on other breeds.
OH MERCY , I'll be replacing my dog's into another home for the simple fact, they are so darn vicious. Ohhh just check out the horrible stuff that goes on at my house with my dog's. (viewers beware) here is Bolo about to Bite the face off this child http://pic12.picturetrail.com/VOL426/1428780/4267965/54777203.jpg here he is once again about to maul this other dog beside him http://pic12.picturetrail.com/VOL426/1428780/4267965/55868617.jpg here, my too are about to eat this child alive http://pic12.picturetrail.com/VOL426/1428780/4267965/69323646.jpg My , who is about to eat who in this pic http://pic12.picturetrail.com/VOL426/1428780/2939555/61891846.jpg Don't jugde all Pits like they are all the same, as with any breed.