This post is in response to a number of readers' comments on the article Media coverage of Surrey pit bull attack prompts protest by Vancouver pit bull owners.
I did some extensive research a few years back for a cover feature in this magazine on dog bites, breeds, and lax bylaw enforcement in Vancouver. One thing that was confirmed for me by several politicians in jurisdictions where breed bans (pit bulls and some other more exotic breeds) were being considered was the speed and thoroughness with which pit-bull owners, fanciers, breeders, and people in the pet business would deluge them with e-mails, phone calls, faxes, and letters. Campaigns are mounted on several popular Web sites devoted to pit bulls, and the word soon spreads around the world. Even though Doogie claims not to have a pit bull, you can comfortably be assured that he is among this bunch. The e-mails are always the same, utilize the same facts (specious, misleading, or factual), are usually of the length seen above, have the same tone of outrage and the same slogans, and are full of links.
These crusaders always point to other breeds that bite that they claim are not reported on, and they talk about media conspiracies. The simple truths are these, and no amount of misleading talk about pounds-per-square-inch bite power or slight differences between breeds that are lumped together as ”pit bulls” for good reasons will change these facts.
Yes, chihuahuas and toy poodles may bite more frequently, but that’s because their numbers are so vastly higher that those of what are considered to be pit bulls. Those small dogs are lucky if they break the skin. Also, most bites from other dogs--the vast majority--are defensive (correctly perceived or not) and usually just a nip. When a pit bull attacks, it doesn’t need a reason. It doesn’t have to feel in danger. And it usually doesn’t bite and back away. It hangs on and chews, often causes massive injuries, and many times death. That’s what it was bred for, and that’s how some idiots train them.
Pit bull owners like to paint themselves as responsible, caring, loving people, and many of them undoubtedly are. But in my experience with pit bulls and their owners, I have almost universally been greeted with expletives and threats if I ask them to leash their dog or move out of a schoolyard or playground (both against the law in Vancouver and most other jurisdictions). As well, in most reported Vancouver cases of injury to a person or their dog from an unprovoked, unpredictable attack by a pit bull, the owners either flee, attempt to flee, give false names, or try to blame the victims.
There’s usually a good reason for assumptions and stereotypes concerning almost anything, and with the pit bull most are generally true. There’s a reason many insurance companies in North America won’t offer home insurance to pit bull owners. They don’t deal in stereotypes--they deal in hard facts. One of the most common things you hear if an owner has been tracked down is, “He never did anything like that before.” No kidding. If they are known for one thing more than anything else, it is their unpredictability. Pit bulls as family pets who have been fine with children before have suddenly turned on them. And no, it doesn't happen all the time, but when it does it can mean death or permanent disfigurement.
I personally feel that anyone who would leave a young child alone in a room or backyard with one of these dogs should be reported to the local children’s authority.
You might think I hate dogs because of this post. No, I don’t. They’re not to blame for traits we bred into them. It’s often the owner I hate, though.
And a breed ban is the only way to get them out of circulation for good. None put down, just allowed to grow old and die, along with a strict enforcement of leash and muzzle laws.
Then we won’t have to see the horrible pictures we’ve seen locally here the past few days of two vicious pit-bull attacks.