Thursday, February 28, 2008

Can You Find the Pit Bull?

Pit Bull lovers in Minnesota, my home state, are currently battling attempts to introduce Breed-Specific Legislation which would ban ownership of "Pit Bulls," Rottweilers, Chow Chows, Akitas, Wolf-Hybrids, or any mix thereof.

One of the many problems with Breed-Specific Legislation is that there is no such thing as a "Pit Bull" as a breed. Several breeds are commonly classified as "Pit Bulls," such as the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

However, dozens of different types of dogs are commonly mis-identified as "Pit Bulls." Herein lies the problem. Even pit-bull fanciers, and persons that would be classified as "experts" can have difficulties determining whether a dog is a purebred "Pit Bull." Yet, Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) typically requires law enforcement officers or animal control officers to try to make on-the-spot determinations as to whether a given dog is a "Pit Bull."

Part of the problem underlying Breed-Specific Legislation is that is it usually based on the notion that Pit Bulls are somehow inherently dangerous. This idea is typically based on widespread media reports of "Pit Bull" attacks. The Merrit Clifton "study" and the Centers for Disease Control statistics are widely relied on by proponents of Breed Specific Legislation. The CDC freely admits that its statistics are unreliable, however, Clifton concludes that his study reflects that Pit Bulls are inherently dangerous dogs. Both the CDC study and the Clifton study rely on MEDIA reports of dog attacks. We all know the problem with that...a cocker spaniel attacks a child, and it isn't reported. A "pit bull" scratches someone and it makes national headlines.

Beyond that, given the fact that "experts" often have difficulty identifying "pit bulls" how on earth can one expect that victims of dog attacks would accurately identify the breed of the dog?

To illustrate this problem, please visit Pitbulls on the Web. Can you Find the Pitbulls? I consider myself relatively knowledgeable about dog breeds, but I was TOTALLY wrong! I'm sad to admit that I've seen this webpage many times before, yet I STILL can't pick out the pit bulls! Can you??

For more information on the battle against BSL in Minnesota, please visit A Rotta Love Plus.

For more information about Breed-Specific Legislation in general, please check out these resources:

The Merritt Clifton study so you can judge for yourself. Biased much?
The CDC study on dog-related fatalities.
Info on BSL from Pit Bull Rescue Central.
Understand-a-Bull: Great Resources about BSL.
Dog Bite Law, presents a balanced view of the issue of dog-bites.
Good summary of the issues from Dog-Play.
HSUS position statement on BSL.
More info from Bless the Bullys.
Good info from PitBulls on the Web.
From PitBulls: The Truth -- lots of great facts and resources. really good info about BSL.
BADRAP's take on BSL.


wildcatsthree said...

I don't believe for a minute that pit bulls are inherently dangerous. It's what they're trained to do that is dangerous. My husband is an insurance salesman, and the reason people with pit bulls, rottweilers and I believe chows are usually rejected for homeowners coverage is because of the way these breeds' bite tears the flesh, compared to a straight bite of other breeds. But that doesn't mean the breed is dangerous, just that they have a potential to do more harm. There are no bad dogs; it's what we do to them that makes them dangerous, so this legislation is ridiculous to punish an entire breed for the acts of man.

Ferox said...

I saw a study done on Adelaide and dog bites admitted to a hospital there. It was interesting to note that it was german shepherds which were responsible for the most dog bites sent to hospital, but that's largely due to the popularity of the breed. If you consider the numbers of any particular breed, it's actually a doberman which is most likely to give you a serious bite.

Brian Fitzpatrick said...

As an owner of a pit bull cross, we moved to Colorado Springs because the areas around Denver had such a ban in place already. Breed bans are idiotic IMHO. Why not ban idiot owners instead?

Anonymous said...

We adopted a beautiful 8 month old Pitbull from a County shelter in Mankato,MN. He is the most amazing,fun, loving dog. This shelter paid $1400 of donated money to send him to a training camp. He is trained to do almost anything you can think of. He even goes potty on command...really! He is up to date on all shots and he is fixed. Our problem is ....we have to find him a new home due to our finding that I have cancer and will be going through alot of stuff in the near future. We won't have time to give him all he needs. It is not fair to him to be put in a 4x6 kennel all of the time.
We contacted the Shelter......they won't take him back. Can you believe that!? These people get money donated from folks like you and I and put $1400 into one dogs training and they won't help us find a new home for him.
I have no faith in these places any longer and refuse to donate time or money to them ever again!!!