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Pit Bull Roundtable: KFC Girl Was a Hoax, But the Issues Are Real

We decided to discuss this issue that has had a lot of people in an uproar this week. First, some background on our participants. You know Moretta and Laura, bajoelmar has written before for P-Mag and is a long-time shelter volunteer, and Peashelle is an animal lover and pit bull owner. We are members of a very elite Facebook group of dog lovers that is so exclusive and so judgmental that we don’t even think we should belong to it.

MORETTA: So did everybody see the Time magazine article and the response that challenged the vast majority of statistics provided by the author, as well as the authors? It was prompted by the KFC story, but turned into a “don’t focus on the KFC employees, focus on the pit bulls who are attacking children.” (Note: The KFC story is now being called a hoax.)

BAJOELMAR: Well I will say that I will sometimes take issue with the “it’s how they’re raised” comment. I feel like that’s a dumbed down version of the truth, which is, it is how they are currently handled.

How else would they have rehabbed all but a few of Vick’s dogs to be adopted into happy, loving homes? We’ve had dogs come into the shelter that were clearly used for fighting or bait dogs or whatever and are adoptable because of their sweet nature regardless.

The main reason I take issue with that is because I think it puts people off adopting. “But then you don’t know how it was raised.” I have no doubt Jackson was treated badly. His body language makes that very clear. But because of how he is handled here and because of his sweet nature he is an incredible dog.

Dog and groundhog
Jackson meets a groundhog. This encounter ended with Jackson walking away when his human ordered him to. Jackson and the groundhog keep in touch via Facebook. (Photo credit: bajoelmar)

BAJOELMAR: The response article I thought was incredible. I haven’t actually gone through and checked all of the sources on it but I found it very interesting that they said the report the author references for “a pitbull kills someone every 14 days” was discredited because the report was made by identifying the breed by looking at the bite?? Unfortunately this article is getting a TON of hits (may be why Time is so apt to publish something like this) and I don’t know if the response has been more negative or positive.

LAURA TEMPLE CARROLL: I just read it. I’d be curious to know if they’re identifying “pit bull” attacks based on media reports. According to the media any dog that isn’t too fluffy is a pit bull. Since pits are very common in my area I see a ton of them, and they communicate with other dogs just fine. Our dog parks are full of them, and if they didn’t communicate aggression and attacked suddenly and without warning I’d guess someone would have noticed that by now.

MORETTA: First rule of dog bites: There is ALWAYS warning. Even in that case with the little kid being stalked and the cat stepping in, there was warning. Do you know when that warning was given? Months before, when the dog’s behavior made it clear he didn’t like children or bicycles.

MORETTA: I was wondering if I could give a few statements based on what we are discussing, as they come up, and you could like them if you agree with them. Here’s one: The pitbull “breed” is widely misidentified both by authorities/ACOs and by the general public. I remember a so-called rescue expert attempting to convince my rescue partner that my beagle/lab mix Ginger was a pit bull based on a picture. She was just CERTAIN of it. And that’s what we are looking at. People who know nothing just swearing that any short haired, short eared, medium-sized dog is a pit.

Smiling beagle/lab mix
Gingerella Fitzgerald — NON pit bull (Photo credit: Moretta)

MORETTA: So bajoelmar and Peashelle, is it your impression that people know pit bulls when they see them?

PEASHELLE: No not at all. People are almost always surprised when I identify Chloe as one.

PEASHELLE: She’s no schnauzer.

Brown and white dog with pink collar and leash
Chloe, actual pit bull and actual sweetie pie. (Photo credit: Peashelle)

MORETTA: To me she is the classic Pit Next Door, all the way down to the coloring.

BAJOELMAR: I remember [shelter name redacted] having a poster that was all “Most people would say these are all pits. Only three are.” But I found that extremely hypocritical cause at [shelter name redacted] they’d all be labeled pit.

MORETTA: Have you tried this one? http://www.pickthepit.com/

MORETTA: I got it right the first time because I ROCK.

BAJOELMAR: I have not! But I picked it on my first try…lol

MORETTA: But every single one of those dogs would be considered a pit by most shelters.

BAJOELMAR: Sigh. Yeah.

PEASHELLE: Referring back to the kid that was attacked and saved by the cat: why the hell was that dog loose? If people would train and control their pets it would save a hell of a lot of trouble. Of course this depends on people not getting more dog than they can handle.

MORETTA: Talk about a situation where the owners were entirely to blame. That brings me to the other issue — the HUGE issue that my rescue had, which is that there are so few dog owners who understand the responsibilities of owning a pit bull. Our rescue took in about eight pits from Katrina, including puppies, and it took us about nine months to place them all. NINE MONTHS. Six months is normally our outside time frame. It wasn’t because they didn’t get apps, it was because the applicants were nightmares. They wanted to use the dog as protection, they didn’t want to alter the dogs, they wanted to keep the dogs outside — the list goes on. There simply aren’t enough good owners around.

PEASHELLE: I think there many people whose hearts are in the right places, but shouldn’t be living with pit bulls.

MORETTA: Have you ever encouraged someone to adopt a pit bull or discouraged them from adopting one? In our rescue, I routinely discouraged people or directed them to other dogs because I could tell that the owners simply would not understand or fulfill the responsibilities of ownership.

PEASHELLE: All the pit type people I met were savvy and I was new to it. I don’t think I know any regular people that have gotten a new dog larger than 15 lbs. since I became educated.

BAJOELMAR: Absolutely. There are certain people who I knew were not up to it, or people in apartments who are likely to be moving again.

BAJOELMAR: Went to How to Train your Dragon 2 today. Made me think of pit bulls the entire time.

MORETTA: OK, I’m going to lob a softball question first. Everyone how do you feel about breed bans? I’ll start — pointless and ridiculous.

LAURA TEMPLE CARROLL: I think history has shown us that assholes will find another breed to make dangerous.

PEASHELLE: They are ignorant, solving no problems and creating others; they’re an impotent attempt at placating people who are afraid of the wrong things.

BAJOELMAR:  I absolutely agree with what everyone has said. Breed bans are a waste of time and energy. Not to mention I think it targets the wrong people. If someone is using a pit to fight do you think they care that they’re not allowed in the area? It stops people who are trying to adopt a family pet. And all it does is affirm others’ fears that these dogs are bad news.

BAJOELMAR: Where we live now they passed a law saying that all pits have to be fixed. I agree with that law, I just wish it weren’t breed specific.

MORETTA: I agree with mandatory spay/neuter of all dogs unless medically contraindicated. As far as pits are concerned, I do think it’s more pressing because there are simply not enough responsible adopters out there, which means that these dogs are at serious risk. I’ve said before that pits are routinely the subject of the most horrific abuse. Spay/neuter can save these animals from horrific treatment. There are worse things than dying — rescue has taught me that.

Dog looking sweetly at camera
Chloe again, because we can. (Photo credit: Peashelle)

By Moretta

Moretta will take that applause. Her Twitter is https://twitter.com/GobezMoretta.

9 replies on “Pit Bull Roundtable: KFC Girl Was a Hoax, But the Issues Are Real”

Our rescue has always had the policy of doing the spay/neuter for the dog at around six months, except for big breeds. That gives the dog a little time to mature and benefit from those hormones, because from what I understand they help the dogs grow and flourish in the early months. However, in terms of the trade-off for the dog, the case for spay/neuter is incredibly strong. It removes the risk of certain cancers entirely, and prevents male dogs from roaming. (Roaming is a huge problem — that’s one of the main reasons why dogs get hit by cars.)

I’m very proud I picked the pit on the first try! I do have a question about mandatory spay/neutering. I agree with it for the most part, but when you have working dogs (especially hunting/herding dogs) does removing their source of hormones damage their muscle building, energy levels, instinct drives, etc?

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