Dig Baton Rouge

Pit Bull Attacks: Fault of man or beast?

By Katie East

It’s rare to hear someone who doesn’t have an opinion on pit bulls; people either love them or hate them. Over the last few years, the media has made a point to report every time there’s a pit bull attack. You literally never hear about any other breeds attacking people or children, and it’s not because it doesn’t happen. It’s a hot-button issue that has staunch supporters on each side of it; that always makes for good news.

Are pit bulls a dangerous breed? Somewhat. They’re not more likely to attack than another breed of dog but when they do it is more likely to end in death due to the strength of their jaws. Are they prone to violence? Not necessarily. They are easily trained into being violent, though, since it was why they were originally bred.

Then again, they were also historically known as the “nanny” or “nurse maid” dog because of their temperament. In fact, pit bulls were immediately put down if they showed any aggression toward humans to ensure the wrong type of pit bulls weren’t bred further.

Since there’s nothing engrained in a pit bull’s DNA to make them violent, why should we ban them just because if they attack someone it is more likely to lead to death? Exactly 92 percent of all fatal dog attacks are from male dogs. Why not outlaw all male dogs then? Because it’s not fair to criminalize a specific animal before they’ve ever done something wrong.

It’s like the opposite of those bumper stickers that say: “Guns don’t kill people; People kill people.” I think pit bulls don’t kill people; pit bull owners kill people. Every once in awhile, a well-trained docile pit bull attacks someone out of nowhere. Most of the time though, it’s a dog that has been beaten or trained to be aggressive.

Pit bulls are extremely loyal and easily trainable. It is very important who trains and owns them though. I think you should have to pass a test to own a pit bull. Really, I think anyone who owns any breed of dog should have to undergo some minor training. Owning a dog you don’t understand or know how to handle is as dangerous as owning a firearm you don’t understand or know how to handle.

I was a dog-walker for a couple of years. As you might have guessed from the slant of this column, I love Pit bulls. That doesn’t mean I think everyone should own one. I once had a large pit bull (probably Mastiff mix) attack a dog I was walking and rip open her ear.

The sweet, well-behaved dog I was walking happened to be mostly pit bull as well. Did she fight? No. She sat with barely a snarl and took the abuse because I had her trapped on a leash. The Miniature Pinscher between my feet certainly put up a fight though.

Do I blame that 100-pound “beast?” Nope, I blame the 90-pound, 5-foot-1 woman barely holding him. The dog slowly dragged her down concrete stairs while she laid almost completely horizontally and screamed like a maniac. Honestly, I didn’t even sense the dog was dangerous or was coming at my dogs. I was just transfixed on this insane woman’s cries. Imagine what that kind of weak-ass attitude and wailing did for her dog’s behavior.

After the woman denied the attack, I spent hours, covered in dog blood, making sure I found out who she was and reported her to the apartment’s security. It was a complex filled with children, and I felt it my duty to inform someone.

“We’ve had several complaints about that dog before,” the officer said after pointing her out on security footage.

I wasn’t complaining about the dog, though, just the woman. She was the problem. She had a loaded gun and didn’t even know what the safety was.

So how do we protect people from vicious dogs by Pit bull or any other breed? Earlier, I mentioned that most fatal attacks were by male dogs. Even more damning is the fact that 94 percent of them weren’t neutered.

Here’s an idea: quit defining what an “aggressive” breed and start forcing tenants to have proof an animal is spayed or neutered before letting them sign a lease. It keeps from the overcrowding in animal shelters and gives pit bulls a fighting chance – no pun intended.


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