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Monday, July 7, 2008

Today in Put Bulls

posted by on July 7 at 11:04 AM

Apparently I have become the unelected leader of the anti-pit-bull movement in Seattle—all due to a few Slog posts. This email came in over the weekend…

I don’t know if you are interested in this but thought you should hear about this as I did a quick google search and your name came up as someone who may take interest from this story.

I just witnessed a pit bull (2 of them) attack tonight. I was photographing a family portrait at Discovery Park when these two pit bulls, unleashed came bounding by us. Then we started hearing hysterical screaming. When we looked back, we saw (what we thought at the time) a woman being attacked by the two pit bulls. It turned out it was her dog being attacked and she was trying to fend off these brutal dogs. Fortunately for her and her dog, two of the men I was with from the family portrait, ran over to help stop the attack. I thank God we just happened to be there as I fear it could have been a lot worse as she was all alone in the field by herself.

The dogs went on to attack another dog. In the meantime I had called 911 and they did arrive within about 10 minutes. I am not sure what happened after that.

And numerous pit bull fanciers—apologists, collaborators useful idiots, etc.—are sending me a link to a story in today’s Washington Post. A few have suggested that I don’t have the courage to post it to Slog. La la la, here it is. Dogs seized from pro-footballer Michael Vick’s dog fighting operation have been rehabilitated, which proves that pit bulls are lovely, wonderful animals—see, even pits that have been brutalized can be rehabilitated!

More than a year after being confiscated from Vick’s property, Leo, a tan, muscular pit bull, dons a colorful clown collar and visits cancer patients as a certified therapy dog in California. Hector, who bears deep scars on his chest and legs, recently was adopted and is about to start training for national flying disc competitions in Minnesota. Teddles takes orders from a 2-year-old. Gracie is a couch potato in Richmond who lives with cats and sleeps with four other dogs.

I trust the Washington Post will update us if any of Vick’s pits snap—if one of these dogs should be provoked by a squeaky wheel, say, or encounter a small child who fails to remain absolutely calm and stand there stock still when charged by a snarling pit bull. But defenders of pit bulls contacting me this AM aren’t reading the fine print…

Of the 49 pit bulls animal behavior experts evaluated in the fall, only one was deemed too vicious to warrant saving and was euthanized. (Another was euthanized because it was sick and in pain.)

Of the 47 surviving dogs, 25 were placed directly in foster homes, and a handful have been or are being adopted. Twenty-two were deemed potentially aggressive toward other dogs and were sent to an animal sanctuary in Utah.

Yes, the majority of Vick’s dogs have been deemed salvageable—sort of. Only a “handful” are being “adopted,” but that handful of dogs is more than vets and humane society professionals expected to save. But nearly half of Vick’s dogs were deemed unsalvageable and, again, the “salvageable” dogs rest have not lived out their lives. I don’t know about the parents of the two-year that adopted one of Vick’s pits, but I wouldn’t welcome a potentially violent dog into my home that had been chained, beaten, hanged, etc. Placing your child at risk of a injury or death to disprove a “stereotype” about a certain breed of dog seems the opposite of responsible parenting to me.

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"a few" pit bull posts

Posted by ha | July 7, 2008 11:07 AM

Eight in eight weeks.

Posted by Dan Savage | July 7, 2008 11:12 AM

Well, the WaPo has to report on pit bulls, now that every toddler can carry a machine pistol with him or her to put the animals down ...

DC is like that.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 7, 2008 11:14 AM

Thank you Dan, I cannot thank you enough for continuing to be the advocate. I still bear scars from my attack when I was four years old, and I still cannot forget the attack I witnessed about 8 years later, when a puppy was mauled in front of me- (I imagine I looked like that when I was being tossed around as a child).

Posted by Flinga | July 7, 2008 11:22 AM

Yes, maybe soon you'll get to write about how that 2 year old had both a mommy and a daddy...

Posted by sepiolida | July 7, 2008 11:22 AM

Dude, all pit bulls have a natural tendency toward animal aggression—it's how they were bred. Even though my dog plays nice with lots of other dogs I never take her to the dog park, because it's in her nature to be aggressive toward other animals and I can't predict if or when that will come out.

All these attacks occur when pit bulls are off leash and running wild, right? So their owners aren't following the law and because of that other people suffer. The bad owners need to be cracked down on.

Posted by Carollani | July 7, 2008 11:26 AM

Your wrong Dan. We can breed dogs to retrieve, herd, track, and be loyal, but not to be aggressive. Its just not possible and to say otherwise is just breedism. /sarcasm

Posted by Giffy | July 7, 2008 11:53 AM
Placing your child at risk of a injury or death to disprove a “stereotype” about a certain breed of dog seems the opposite of responsible parenting to me.

Amen, brother. People who put their political/social opinions ahead of their children's health and safety shouldn't be parenting in the first place.

Posted by Big Sven | July 7, 2008 12:03 PM

You know, I was thinking about this over the weekend, because you keep posting all these reports of pit bull attacks, yet among all the pit bulls I've ever known, there haven't been any attacks or anything like that.

I think the reason why is that all the pit bulls I've known were owned by adult singles and/or childless couples and were properly confined inside the house/yard and never left the house/yard without a leash. Those dogs had ZERO contact with either children or the elderly, who seem to be the two groups most vulnerable to pit bull attacks. I think there could be a linkage there.

I have a couple friends who own a pit and just had a baby. That is the kind of situation that worries me.

Posted by Hernandez | July 7, 2008 12:06 PM

Of course, the salvageable female dogs have had all of their teeth removed so they don't attack the males when they are forcibly bred. Yeah, that tends to make a pit bull gentle.

Posted by DENVEROPOLIS | July 7, 2008 12:36 PM

My extreme dislike for people who let their dogs run off-leash in public parks transcends considerations of breed. I mean, I guess people who let their Shepherds and Rottweilers and Pits run free ('Oh, he's friendly!') are arguably the most psychotic of this group for willfully subjecting others to the danger of grave injury, but even Scottish Terriers running around off-leash are pretty irritating.

On any given weekend during the summer in any given park an officer could spend all day writing tickets for this infraction. Unlike in the breed-ban debates, in these cases the distinguishing responsible owners from irresponsible is relatively easy: The responsible ones walk their dogs on a leash.

Posted by flamingbanjo | July 7, 2008 12:37 PM

Thank you for this post.

Posted by Julie Russell | July 7, 2008 1:04 PM

So I was one of many who sent this, huh? I just can't imagine sleeping in bed with 4 pit bulls. Sorry, pit bull owners. It's all those episodes of Animal Cops I watched. Oh, and living near Detroit didn't help. And living in Baltimore doesn't either.

Posted by Balt-O-Matt | July 7, 2008 1:23 PM

Dude, are we really still talking about this? Really?


Posted by Mike in MO | July 7, 2008 2:03 PM

For those ignorant people who obviously never walk around the streets & parks in Seattle, you need to know that irresponsible owners come in all manner of shapes and sizes, as do their aggressive dogs. I am sick and tired of hearing the hype surrounding pit bulls, though for those journalists(?) who cannot come up with newsworthy articles these reports will certainly get ratings.

A message to all the irresponsible dog owners in Seattle - LEASH YOUR DAMN DOGS whatever the size or breed! I am sick of having to defend my (leashed and well socialized) pit bulls, when aggressive pooches roam free and harass us almost constantly. Ban ignorance and stupidity!

Posted by Faith | July 7, 2008 2:56 PM

If the people who claim pit bulls are harmless care to put their money where their mouths are, then they should be more than happy to see laws that penalize the owners of dogs that attack. Your dog attacks a child, $100,000.00 fine. Your dog attacks again, your home. Third attack, ten years in jail. Is a pit bull worth that?

Posted by Vince | July 7, 2008 4:07 PM

@16 - great, but what about the pit bull owners who run hedge funds?

I say we go with my exploding collar for the owner ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 7, 2008 4:38 PM

While it is undoubtedly true that many people own cheerful, friendly pit bulls, so many show up on the news for attacks on other dogs/people because a significant percentage of them do show the aggressive personality that they were indeed bred for. While some may not realize that a personality trait can in fact be bred for (war horses in the roman to medieval eras, bear dogs in Europe, the original german sheperd) pit bulls are no more then the result of their genetic programing (much like the modern dalmatian is prone to deafness and the cocker spaniel exhibits rage syndrome).

By exposing these unfortunate incidents, people may someday realize the modern pit bull needs some genetic "help". If pit bull enthusiasts want to ensure the future of this breed they need to start cross breeding with other breeds to improve the pit bulls temperament.

Side note, while you may not believe you can breed for aggression, European governments apparently know better. In order to get a breeding license for your mare or stallion the animal must pass either a 100 or 300 day (depending on breed) testing on conformation, athletic ability and temperament!!!

Posted by Trish | July 7, 2008 7:17 PM

Just three words: Pit Bull Extermination. Short, sweet, deadly.

Posted by Rocky | July 7, 2008 7:32 PM
Posted by c | July 14, 2008 6:58 AM

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