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Pitbull Owner: Dogs Aren't to Blame

Animals aren't to blame for attacks, owners are responsible!

WFSB reported today that police shot and killed a pitbull for attacking another dog in New Haven on Sunday, May 20.

It seems like every time I turn around, the media is reporting about another pitbull attack.  In March, an 88 year old Waterbury woman was attacked when her neighbor's pitbulls broke loose. 

Seven months ago, a 20-month-old little girl was killed when she was attacked by three pitbulls in her home.  No charges were filed and no arrests were made in any of those cases.

It's interesting to note that 10 months ago, four Newfoundland dogs attacked and killed a labrador in Jackson Cove Park in Oxford. In that case, the owner and breeder of the dogs was arrested.

Incidentally, the term "pitbull" is used to refer to about 25 different breeds of dogs including American Pitbull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and any other animal that dog that has the appearance of any of those breeds.  That means that a half American Staffordshire Terrier Chow mix can be responsible for an attack and the media will still report it as a "pitbull attack."

According to a 2000 study done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on dog bite related fatalities there were 238 people killed by dogs over a 24 year period. During this period pit bull terriers or pit bull terrier mixes were said to be responsible for 76, or 32 percent of these deaths. The CDC does state that breed specific attack information is only recorded when there is a fatal bite. These bites represent only .0002 percent of the 4.7 million dog bites that occur each year. Other research shows that fatalities caused by pit bull-type dogs have decreased nearly every year since 2005.

Yet if you were to watch the news, you'd think two things: it's only pitbulls who bite and the attacks are getting worse.  The media has done a tremendous job of sensationalizing these attacks.  They know the word "pitbull" will get people fired up on both sides of the pitbull wars: those who think they should be outlawed and those who advocate for the breed.

As an owner of a pitbull it's hard not to be biased on this issue.  Our two year old, full blood Pit is the embodiment of joy and affection so it's really hard for me to see her as cold-blooded killer.  Do I think she has the potential to snap and bite? I'd be crazy to think that she couldn't.  The truth is, any dog has the potential to bite and be dangerous, no matter the breed. 

They are animals which is why it is so important to be a responsible owner. When people come to our house, we always have our dog on a leash.  In this way we wield the control and responsibility for her.  We have steadfast rules that include petting the dog on her back instead of her head and never touching her when she's eating or chewing on a bone.  We've taken painstaking measures to train her and socialize her.  Those things should be expectations for any pet owner, not just one of a pitbull.

I'm tired of the media reporting on only "pitbull attacks" but failing to report that most of the attacks are not by actual pitbulls.  I'm tired of owners of these "pitbulls" not being held accountable for their actions.

I don't believe that pitbulls should be banned but I do think that an owner of any dog who is not securely on a leash, properly fenced, trained and socialized, should be accountable for their failure to regard the safety of everyone around them, whether it be by fine or removal of the animal from the home. In every single case of an attack, there has been a failure on the part of the owner. 

It's a shame that so many animals are killed due to the iresponsibility of their owners. I don't see how it's the animal's fault for being an animal.  Blaming the dog for being a dog is like blaming a gun for being a gun. 

The headlines shouldn't read, "Pitbull Attacks Child", they should be "Dog Owner Fails To Be Responsible For Pet And As A Result A Child Was Hurt." 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Alicia Yost May 24, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Correction: it was The Dog Cabin, in Middletown.
Christina Jacobs May 24, 2012 at 08:07 PM
I think a very important part of your anecdote is the fact that the puppy was adopted at only 5 weeks old. That is WAY too early! They still have so much more to learn from their mom and litter mates at that age and should stay with them until they are AT LEAST 8 weeks. Several studies have shown that leaving mom too early can lead to behavioral and health problems later on.
Tina Aronson May 24, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Pit bulls, which is the umbrella 'term' used primarily for American Pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier,Staffordshire Terrier, and Bull Terrier. The term came from the days of pit fights and it is an unfortunate one at best. After years of dog ownership, and rescue work, I have yet to meet a more willing, loving, loyal, and intelligent dog as the "Pit Bull" I have the pleasure of living with a rescued American Pit bull Terrier who has captured many a heart. She is responsible for changes several people's minds about the breed and I will make sure she continues to do so...It is my mission to see Pit bulls portrayed in a positive light...I long for the day when the owners get the rap...not the breed! As for the 5 week old puppy, if it were properly socialized and stayed with the mother for AT LEAST 8 weeks, I bet my life it would not have displayed the same behavior...Again, not the dogs fault.
Danny Donahue Rescue 9-11 June 02, 2012 at 03:45 PM
any dog can be a threat but I like your point that you make early to mid way in your article it is the owners job just like its the parents job to teach their puppy or if we are talking about humans their child.
Karen's Dog Training Blog June 19, 2012 at 11:40 AM
It is illegal to take a puppy or kitten from the mother before the baby is 8 weeks old.

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