Daisy the pitbull fights stereotypes by being a lover

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

It finally happened. On Sept. 21, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, and short of a few exceptionally exhausting nights, I’ve enjoyed every minute with him.

Most people would probably agree that it’s normal for new parents to be a little nervous about bringing their bundle of joy home for the first time. There are so many unanswered questions that can scare a person silly: Will I be able to handle all those late-night feedings? Will I figure out how to interpret his cries? What if I do something wrong?

It’s understandable; newborns seem so darn fragile that it’s a wonder when you realize you won’t break them.

But one of my biggest concerns when bringing Gus home was how another member of our family would react to his presence. No, I’m not referring to a big brother or sister. I’m talking about Daisy, my husband and I's 3-year-old pit bull.

You see, Daisy was our first “child.” We adopted her about a year ago when her first owners simply couldn’t keep her anymore, and she’s been a fantastic dog.

Daisy is the anti-stereotype of her breed. The only aggression she has ever displayed has been directed at the squirrels in our backyard and her squeaky toys. If a stranger broke into our house, she would probably lick them to death. She’s great at cuddling. And best of all, she functions as an all-purpose kitchen appliance: vacuum cleaner, garbage disposal and a pre-rinse cycle for the dishwasher.

In short, she’s the perfect pet, and she became a part of our family very quickly.

Nobody said a word about my husband and me adopting a pit bull until we started telling people that I was pregnant. That’s when I realized just how easily people’s prejudices come into play, especially since pit bulls have been given a bad reputation.

Certain family members were the first to object. They were convinced that Daisy would hurt the baby or better yet, “chew the baby’s face off.” We were met with skepticism by some of our acquaintances. One even had the nerve to say, “Oh God, you’re going to raise a child around that dog?”

Well, Daisy, the vicious killer that she is, somehow managed to restrain her violent pit bull tendencies when we brought my son home. She was merciful and decided not to chew his face off. She still attacked him though … with her tongue.

Yep. We made a habit of lowering the baby to Daisy’s level periodically, so she could sniff him and get used to him. As soon as the opportunity arose, Daisy struck. Gus’ little head was within reach and out came the tongue. A few slurps later, my adorable son had a shiny new bald spot on top of his head.

My murderous pit bull had licked the newborn baby fuzz right off him. The poor kid looked like a bewildered old man. At that moment, we knew we had nothing to worry about, except for maybe more premature hair loss.

I try to keep my son’s head away from Daisy’s slurper these days. It’s been seven weeks, and Gus’ hair is just starting to grow back. I’d like to give it some time to get good and established before subjecting him to that kind of abuse again.

But I’ll tell you what, once my son starts eating solid foods, I just might have the ideal job for Daisy. Provided she can keep her killer instincts in check, I think cleanup duty would suit her perfectly. Spaghetti sauce won’t stand a chance against her tongue, and since she’s basically a Hoover on four legs, she won’t mind the job.

Heck. I’ll have the cleanest kid in town.

Jen Russell is a night news editor at the Missourian. When she’s not being chewed on by her dog, she welcomes your comments at


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Susan Fagan November 17, 2009 | 12:52 p.m.

That is a heartwarming story, but the fact is that many, many families have lost children to this breed of dog after days, months, or years without any problems between dog and child. Pit bulls were bred to fight to the death with other dogs and, because normal dogs NEVER fight with intent to kill, this meant they had to view the opponent as prey. The fact that they are predatory explains why pit bulls actually EAT the pieces they pull off their victims. As a gruesome but factual aside, one of the most disturbing papers I have ever seen featured pictorial reconstructions of the faces of children from the cheeks, lips, eyes, and scalps removed from the stomachs of pit bulls that had attacked them. Pit bulls and other fighting dogs have the strongest predatory drive in the canine world. This drive exists within every pit bull and it can be triggered very suddenly and without any warning - if your dog is ever excited past its threshold by your son's cries or perhaps simply the presence of another dog it may well attack your child. And because of the strength and determination of the breed, you will be very unlikely to get your dog off your child before your child is dead. I have a border collie and she is also highly predatory, but the predatory drive in the herding breeds has been modified by hundreds of years of breeding to chase-only behaviour (if it wasn't, they would kill the livestock they guard and herd), and although she has been through advanced obedience training she still herds, and occasionally has nipped, my children when she gets excited. Her behaviour is frustrating and annoying, but ultimately not particularly dangerous. Gambling that my dog is not ever going to be triggered to react as it has been bred to react is not something I would be prepared to do when my child's life could be at stake.

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Jenni November 17, 2009 | 3:22 p.m.

Wow, Susan. Where did you get all these crazy notions? "Normal" dogs never fight with the intent to kill?? Pit bulls eat their victims?? The border collie's "predatory drive" is limited to "chase-only" behavior???? Why don't you ask the 9-year-old Finley, WA boy whose face was ripped off by a border collie this past May if he thinks that was "chase-only" predatory behavior. Why don't you ask the little 5-year-old girl was riding her bike in Spokane, WA and was viciously attacked by a border collie what she thinks about that statement. Your misguided and inaccurate thoughts on pit bulls are shocking. Have you done your own research or did you pull this nonsense from the web somewhere? I'm betting you got it from a biased site which will remain nameless here because they don't deserve any free PR. Let's get one thing straight here. ANY dog can get overly excited and bite. ANY breed of dog can attack without warning. ANY breed of dog can get agitated by a child's screams or taunts and lash out at that child. Stop demonizing one breed of dog and spreading your outlandish lies. Really... it's time to stop the madness and focus on the real problem here -- the irresponsible owner.

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Susan Fagan November 17, 2009 | 5:37 p.m.

I'll have to answer in two entries as I am sure I'll go over the allowed characters. I'm happy to provide some documentation but, as I'm not writing an essay I can't give you citations - you'll have to actually read through the material I suggest and satisfy yourself. And, for context, I have a Master's degree in human behavioural science. I am NOT a canine behaviourist, nor do I pretend to be, but I have done a fair amount of research into the pit bull problem because I have contributed to research on the kinds of humans that own these breeds.

Aggression amongst normal dogs is ritual in nature. Normal dogs stop aggressing when one dog gives signals of submission. Fighting breeds do not. Pit bulls, for example, are known to disembowel a dog that rolls to its back to display submission. For background on the intent and outcome of fighting amongst typical (non-fighting breeds) dogs you can see any of Alexandra Semyonova's works, Jean Donaldson't work, Ian Dunbar's, papers by Randall Lockwood, and/or any good canine behaviour text. Semyonova said it well when she stated that the "evolution of the domestic dog has been dependent on the loss of the killing bite".

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Susan Fagan November 17, 2009 | 5:38 p.m.

Pit bulls, and all fighting breed dogs, DO eat their victims in chunks as the flesh rips away. They do this because they are, in their attack, attempting to kill and eat. This is a function of the fact that they were bred for predatory drive - specifically the kill. The specific paper I referred to is titled Pitbull Mauling Deaths in Detroit and I believe the lead author was Loewe. There are many, many other references for this fact, you could do a medline search with "pit bull" and "reconstruction" for a start.

Border collies can certainly bite. I have already admitted that my own has nipped at children when excited in order to illustrate that breed characteristics emerge in states of arousal. Border collies, however, are not predatory in the way pit bulls and all fighting breeds are because their aggression has been redirected into pure chase behaviour. If it wasn't, they would kill the livestock they are used to herd. Pit bulls on the other hand, would and DO kill livestock, frequently, because the KILL aspect of predation is what has been selected for in their breeding. Does the occasional border collie severely attack someone? Absolutely, but this is an exception and not genetically selected for. Again, I'd recommend any good canine behaviour textbook for a reference.

I have found that people who want to own fighting dogs such as pit bulls generally really love to say "all dogs bite" and imply, of course, that killing behaviour is completely normal within the canine population as a whole. But I don't believe, and research does not support, the canine as ticking timebomb. And, of course, not every member of a given fighting breed will aggress in its lifetime, but the genetics of these breeds mean that any given individual dog of these breeds has a significantly higher likelihood of aggressing and a significantly higher likelihood of exhibiting kill behaviour (vs bite and retreat)if aggressive behaviour is exhibited. As I stated previously, it is not a chance I am willing to take with my children.

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Charles Ludeke November 17, 2009 | 6:13 p.m.

Ms. Fagan, you don't have to write an essay to provide documentation. Reporters at the Missourian frequently source documents and information, and the stories are never referred to as an "essay."

That aside, I think Ms. Russell was correct in saying that the problem lies with the owner, not the dog itself.

If "all" pit bulls fight and bite "at their victims in chunks as the flesh rips away," then why has Ms. Russell's dog never done any of those things?

A friend of mine adopted a pit bull puppy several months ago and he never told me about aggression and biting from his dog. I only heard comments about how loving and loyal the pit bull was.

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Jen Feinstein November 17, 2009 | 7:42 p.m.

Charles: She didn't say she wasn't providing documentation, she just said she wasn't going to cite specific things within particular documents because she isn't writing an essay, just giving an informed opinion. And she didn't say every pit bull would attack, she said pit bulls as a breed were more likely to. I'm not even sure which side of this debate I'm on yet, but I just hate it when people try to twist words.

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Helen S. November 17, 2009 | 8:03 p.m.

My family, which is very white, very un-criminal, and very middle-class, had a pitbull named Pug when I was a small child. My parents got her as a puppy when I was a year old. They didn't even realize what her breed was then, because she came from the humane society as a LabX, but it became obvious she was a purebred pitbull as she grew. My sister was born 3 years after me, when Pug was 2 and all was well for several years. She was the "sweetest dog in the world", and she used to sleep in our beds and beg at the table, go for walks and visit the dog park. My parents were excellent dog owners, so there were no problems there. She was just your average, friendly family dog until the night she almost killed my sister. My sister was 4 1/2 so Pug would have been 6 and I was 7 1/2 and we were watching TV and laughing at something. I remember Pug coming in wagging her tail and then suddenly grabbing my sister's head in her mouth and my sister screaming and lots and lots and lots of blood. The dog would not let go and my dad had to beat her with things like a book and a snow globe until finally the vacuum cleaner was used and knocked her nearly unconscious and she finally let go. My sister lost about 1/3 of her scalp and her ear on that side and she has deep scarring on the cheek. My parents had a full exam and bloodwoork done before they put Pug down and nothing showed a problem. That was 20 years ago and my sister has had about 18 surgeries and she now belongs to a support group for people who have been attacked by pitbulls. Not attacked by dogs, attacked by pitbulls. I hope your pitbull is more stable than ours was.

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Jennifer Russell November 17, 2009 | 10:05 p.m.

To those of you who have expressed concern for my child's safety: While I genuinely appreciate your comments, I assure you that I did not adopt a pit bull "blindly," if you will.
I have shared a house with a pit bull since before I can remember. My parents always had pit bulls or pit mixes as pets. I've also had several friends over the years who have adopted pits. So I have some experience with the breed, and am very familiar with the breed's psychology.
The pit bulls I've known have always been ridiculously loyal and loving dogs, but they are also high-energy, very intelligent and can be stubborn. Therefore, once they learn something, it's hard to get them to "un-learn" it. One must keep an even hand with a pit.
I realize it might be hard to believe, but I have never - not once - had a pit bull show any signs of aggression toward me or any other person. No bites, no nips, not even a growl. In fact, the only dogs that have ever shown aggression toward me have been small dogs - what some would call "ankle biters."
So based on my own experience, I'd trust my pit around a kid before I'd trust a chihuahua. But that's simply my own prejudice. I'm sure there are good chihuahuas out there.

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Grace Gates November 18, 2009 | 1:51 a.m.

Your whole attitude and your article are just so facetious. These dogs have killed children, and lots of them, in situations just like yours. I can't imagine how the parents of those children would feel reading this. You've never had one be aggressive to you? So what? Why would one be aggressive to you, are you as an adult likely to be seen as prey? You say you understand their psychology, but I don't really think you do. Good luck to you, and I sincerely hope that one day you don't have eat your attitude because your dog has injured your child.

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Adam Hatfield November 18, 2009 | 1:29 p.m.

Allow me to share my story. Throughout my entire childhood and young-adult life I had heard and was always lead to believe Pit Bulls were inherently viscous dogs. I never questioned this, what I believed to be, "fact". It was not until years into my college life that I began to doubt this information. My housemate had a dog in their hometown they wished to bring here to Columbia to live with us. Needless to say, Jagger was a Pit Bull. As absolutely nervous about the situation as I was, I did not want to be the roommate who said no. Jagger came to stay. I first met Jagger when I pulled in my drive and my roommate had Jagger out in the front yard, without a leash. I stepped out of my car and shut the door, trying to hide my bit of fear towards Jagger. I always feel he could sense my fear that day, and he bolted towards me. I tried to remain calm but it was very difficult to do. I just stood there. He pounced up on me, wagging his tail and licking me as if he had known me his entire life. He lived with me for a great deal of time to come. He filled that portion of my life with nothing but good memories. Hikes, dog parks, playing at home, afternoon naps. The list is endless. Needless to say, I began to wonder if Jagger was an exception to rule or if Pit Bulls are possibly not the demons they are made out to be. So I did some research. I am now going to give you the honest information I have found, citing sources when needed. I do not expect to suddenly persuade ever Pit-skeptic out there that Pits are flawless animals. I do, however, hope that you are at least inspired enough to look into legitimate information before making your mind up about the inherent nature of an American Pit Bull Terrier.

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Adam Hatfield November 18, 2009 | 1:32 p.m.

First of all, a little history about the origin of Pit Bulls is useful to understand the breed as a whole. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, Pit Bulls were not bred specifically for aggressive traits. It is debatable exactly what breeds were crossed in order to come up with the Pit Bull, but they are thought to be a mix of a terrier and a bulldog. The terrier contributed to the breed’s gameness while the bulldog provided strength. These dogs were never thought to be inherently aggressive, but more so known to have a high level of endurance and vigor. Given these traits, many owners in the dawn of the breed’s appearance trained Pit Bull Terriers to participate in both bull and bear baiting. Pits were also introduced to the realm of dog fighting so that spectators could have a form of entertainment and gambling. Other owners used the breed for more respectable causes such as driving livestock and as family pets.

Knowing the early history of the breed, one can easily understand why the breed has become stigmatized as an animal of aggressive nature. However, this is simply not the case. The breed as a whole, as I have come to find out, is very pleasant and people friendly. It is unfortunate that what people have done to this animal has created such a level of misconception and deceit.

Today, Pit Bulls have been useful in many other areas. As you will find out, aggressiveness is not inherent to them. They are used as therapy dogs for the disabled, such as that of Helen Keller’s Pit Bull. Because this breed is very sociable, Pit Bulls are also used in healthcare facilities to comfort patients. They are used as police dogs and service dogs as well as by competitors who harness the Pit Bull’s obedience to become title-achieving show dogs. These dogs’ true natures are that of fun-loving spirits who dream of being sixty pound lap dogs.

In fact, the American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS), an organization which studies animals’ reactions to startling and provoking situations involving other animals, people and strangers, observed American Pit Bull Terriers. What they found is just the opposite of what most people have heard about these canines. The ATTS found that 85.3% of American Pit Bull Terriers passed all procedures. You may be asking yourself, “What does this mean?” Let’s put this figure in perspective. The Pit Bull outranked the Standard Poodle at 85%, the Golden Retriever at 84.6%, the Maltese at 83.3%, the Jack Russell Terrier at 83.1%, the Australian Shepherd at 81%, the Beagle at 81%, the Weimaraner at 80.2%, the Border Collie at 80.6%, the Chihuahua at 71.1%, and the Schnauzer at 66.1%. Do you consider any of these breeds vicious by nature? Yet, for some reason, the American Pit Bull Terrier is deemed so.

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Adam Hatfield November 18, 2009 | 1:33 p.m.

Beyond the temperament of the American Pit Bull Terrier, these dogs are best described as energetic, athletic, water-loving, extremely sociable, and intelligent. They strive to please their owners in anyway possible. Pit Bulls enjoy being around people and other animals for play or even just to lie down for a bit of relaxation. Perhaps they can best be described as journalist Linda Wilson wrote, “Pit bulls are famous in circles of knowledgeable dog people for the love and loyalty they bestow on anyone who shows them a smidgen of kindness.” With Pit Bulls, as with all dogs, it is important to keep them socialized to both other people and animals or else they may become dominant and protective when placed in new situations. Otherwise, they are easily adapted to any environment in which they may be placed. Also, like all other energetic breeds, American Pit Bull Terriers should be given plenty of time to utilize their energy in positive means. For example, regular play and running time should be allotted to their schedules or they may become frustrated and destructive.

The reasons the Pit Bull Terrier has been dealt such a tough hand has very little to do with the breed itself and has much more to do with human action. Again, Pit Bulls are very intelligent and trainable canines. Given this and the fact that Pit Bulls are strong, loaded with endurance and are eager to please, they have long been TRAINED to participate in fighting rings. However, fighting rings were only beginning of the stigma that surrounds their breed. Others abuse the dogs’ skills in order to intimidate others from coming onto private property. In fact, manufacturers of methamphetamine are commonly known to keep Pits around their labs, trained with brut force in order to behave aggressively to intimidate others from approaching. Again, the Pit Bull is TRAINED to become aggressive.

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Adam Hatfield November 18, 2009 | 1:33 p.m.

In order to reiterate the fact that viciousness has nothing to do with an inherent characteristic of the breed, take a look at the fate of the NFL star Michael Vick and the Pit Bulls found in his possession. As many of you are familiar, Vick had fifty three Pit Bulls he had been using in illegal dog fights. These Pits had been born, raised and trained to become aggressive no-mercy fighters. After this activity came to light and the dogs were seized, the Pit Bulls were placed in the care of a Pit Bull rescue society. Some of the animals were still puppies, others were long-time fighters covered in battle wounds. Yet all but one of the Pit Bulls were successfully rehabilitated and adopted out to caring homes, where they are now pets and therapy dogs. All but one were returned to a state of mind where they once again felt comfortable, trusting and happy to be around other people and animals. All but one. After all these dogs had been taught, after all the physical and mental abuse they had endured and after all the treatment these dogs had received throughout their lifetimes, they still had it within themselves to become loving animals. Does this sound as if viciousness comes naturally to this breed?

Perhaps one of the leading causes for the unawareness of the Pit Bulls’ true nature is the media. We have all seen, at one point or another, a story loaded in spin so much that what is reported is somewhat unrecognizable from the event that actually took place. Pit Bulls have suffered tremendously from this aspect of misrepresentation. Pit Bull are strong and intimidating looking canines and have a violent history. Many people view these dogs as ticking time bombs of rage. Therefore it is logical for the media to grab a story, add sensation and run with it in order to grab viewers’ attention and increase ratings. In fact, there is an article that discusses the media’s reporting of Pit Bull attacks. It explained that for many of the stories covering dog attacks, the media is actually unaware of what breed of dog is involved. Many times hear-say has turned the story into a Pit Bull attack when, in all actuality the dog involved is not Pit Bull. Meaning, what is reported is not at all accurate. Visit the website I reference at the end of my letter and see for your self how easy it may be to mistake the many different breeds.

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Adam Hatfield November 18, 2009 | 1:34 p.m.

For a first hand example of this point, several months ago a story was run through my local Columbia news station about Pit Bulls who had wandered from home and aggressively approached some passers-by. One dog had actually bitten an individual. I decided to test the theory, so I called the KOMU news with a very simple question: How do you know these were Pit Bulls? I found it unbelievable. The news crew was completely unable to answer my question. I was transferred from employee to employee, and finally to a manager at the station. No one had seen any actual documentation showing what kinds of dogs were involved. No animal specialist was at or called to the scene for breed identification. No owners were there to confirm the breed. Nothing but the whirlwinds of tales coming from around the event was reported. These may or may not have been Pit Bulls. Regardless, though, the margin of error when reporting a story without any legitimate documentation of breed is appalling.

Another aspect of faulty media coverage is the lack of background checking with Pit Bulls that are involved with attacks. As we have discussed, this breed is at high risk of attracting owners with malicious intent. Were the Pits involved coming from homes who allowed their animals to behave aggressively? We do not know. This is never thoroughly looked into. All that is typically reported is an owner who says, “I’m shocked. My dog was normal one minute and then neurotic the next.” End of investigation. However, as intense testing by the ATTS has concluded, this sort of behavior is not a trait typically associated with the American Pit Bull Terrier. This raises one serious question to consider. If an owner is responsible for faulty upbringing, such as training the dog to behave aggressively or simply not adequately socializing the animal, is he or she going to accept responsibility? Doubtful. Rather they will place blame elsewhere and point the finger to the only beings involved who have no voice to speak for themselves: the dog.

If you were to look up statistics about dog attacks in the United States, you will find interesting figures. The majority of all dog attacks are on children. Even though Pit Bulls are known to be excellent with children, this is an area of concern. Children should never be left unattended with an animal. They are unable to read animals’ gestures to tell they’re becoming annoyed with their tails or ears being tugged, their backs being climbed upon, or their heads being squished into comical faces. Children should be supervised around any animal that could, if provoked, induce injury. Otherwise, however, Pit Pulls are as caring, compassionate and comfortable with children as children are with them.

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Adam Hatfield November 18, 2009 | 1:37 p.m.

Secondly, keep in mind figures about dog attacks are far from accurate. There is much under reporting of events when the average dog bites or aggressively approaches another individual. People are simply not threatened by most common dogs. When it snaps, snarls or bites, people typical deal with the situation at hand and go on. However, when a dog of a “vicious” breed does the same, it is nearly always reported due to our fear of the animal. Anyway you choose to consider the statistics, the figures are unintentionally skewed which creates an illusion that Pit Bulls and other intimidating breeds are responsible for a much higher percentage of dog attacks than what they are actually accountable for. To know to what extent is impossible without a report of every aggressive encounter with all dogs.
In order to get accurate information about American Pit Bull Terriers, I am giving you a list of several legitimate sources of information. These provided me with the information I have discussed. This includes the website for the American Temperament Testing Society, the Humane Society, the Animal Planet and Bad-Rap, an organization that specializes in working with and advocating for American Pit Bull Terriers. I encourage you to take a little time to read what each has to say. They have so much more information than what I could briefly present to you in this letter. Also, please take a second to complete the “Identify the Pit Bull” quiz located within Pit Bulls on the Web link. It will aid you in understanding how easy it is to mistake various breeds of canines with the American Pit Bull Terrier. You may find your results surprising.

American Temperament Testing Society –

Animal Planet -

Humane Society of the United States –

Our Park, Pit Bull Advocates for Compassion and Kindness –

Pit Bulls on the Web –

(Report Comment)
Jan Miller November 18, 2009 | 1:39 p.m.

To Susan: I'm insulted when you talk about the "kinds of humans that own these breeds". I own this breed and have owned them for 12 years. They are wonderful. I have a college degree, am a intelligent woman in her 40's, and work in the computer field. So what do you think are the kinds of humans that own these breeds? Well I can tell you that they are normal families that own this breed. In addition, the whole terrier group displays a trait called gameness, not just pit bulls.

To Grace: When you say "these dogs have killed children", you fail to mention that there are thousands of other incidents of children getting killed or injured by dogs of other breeds. You just don't hear as much about those in the news because the media is completely biased when it comes to pit bull incidents. That is part of the problem, the media!

To Jennifer: I'm sure your dog is wonderful and I wish I could meet him. I have two of my own that would never hurt anyone and have lived with young children in the house with no problem at all.

Also, there has not been one documented case of a dog bite incident that was not the result of an irresponsible owner.

Petey from the Little Rascals was a pit bull you know. There was never a problem there. And Sargent Stubby, also a pit bull, was the most decorated dog in the military.

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Adam Hatfield November 18, 2009 | 1:53 p.m.

In continuation of my opening story, I would like to share with you my current status as the parent of a Pit Bull, Dexter. Dexter has been a part of my life for the past couple years. He, too, has never displayed any conspicuous behavior. He is allowed to play with any other fellow friendly animal, regardless of its size, shape or breed, and he very much enjoys doing so. He particularly likes our ferret, Gizmo. Although, I obviously observe their playtime because Dexter doesn't understand the weight difference between the two of them.

I am often asked if I had to train him, or have him professionally trained, to be well-behaved and non-aggressive. The answer is no. Dexter has received no more extensive behavior modification than the Spaniel I grew up with. The only behavior modification either received that I am aware of is to not potty in the house.

To this day I have not met an aggressive Pit Bull. Again, I know they are out there, as there are aggressive dogs of any breed. However, a Pit Bull Terrier is no more likely to naturally be viscous than any other breed.

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David Friesen November 18, 2009 | 3:08 p.m.

Thanks for the info Adam. I have a 2 year old pit who cuddles with our cat, tiptoes through puddles and has stopped growing at 40 pounds. (And has been fine around a 1 year old niece.) And yet she still gets worried looks from people who would blame the breed before the owner. But not all pits were fighters--many were used for cattle drives, and have been owned by the likes of Fred Astaire and Franklin Roosevelt. Anecdotal evidence can lead anyone to be terrified of anything, but the bias against pit bulls is more attached to media fervor and socioeconomic discrimination than anything else. So many thanks to those who are responsibly raising and loving their dogs, writing articles and hopefully changing minds.

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Jennifer Russell November 18, 2009 | 3:38 p.m.

Grace: If you noticed in my previous post, I mentioned growing up around pit bulls. So in answer to your "So what?", I was once a child around pit bulls and thus, according to you, would have been seen as prey. Still, no aggression.

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your thoughts and stories. For anyone who's interested, I'd like to offer a great in-depth series on pit bulls:

(Report Comment)
Erin Schwartz November 19, 2009 | 10:06 a.m.

Helen S:

Just so you know, a family friend had her face bitten badly by her family dog of three years - a Visla. Any dog can have hidden violent tendencies. This dog, they found, has sleep aggression believed to be from being weened too early. He was sleeping on her bed, as he always did, and when she woke up and moved him, he lunged.

The dog is still with the family - with much training, I may add. She has since adopted her own dog upon moving out on her own, but visits her family often.

Not every dog will bite. But some do. And some can get past it, while some cannot. Classifying a certain breed as dangerous only spreads more fear. There are humans out there that commit crimes, but not all of us are criminals.

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James Meyer December 3, 2009 | 8:30 p.m.

So, there are many stories of people being attacked by pitbulls, so some of us may assume that it is nature rather than nurture that causes these aggressive tendancies in the breed.

There are countless stories of people being robbed or murdered by black people. In fact, there are more black people than white people in jail for violent crimes. I suppose we could apply the same logic and assume that there is something in a black person's DNA that makes them more aggressive. . . Oh wait! That's racism!!!

As for what kind of parents would want a pitbull in the same house with their child, what good parent would raise their child next door to one of those naturally violent black people? Damn!! Racism again!

Now for the disclaimer. I am not saying that Susan or any of the people arguing against pitbull ownership are racist. I am merely illustrating the point that logic that would be condemned as groundless prejudice in one situation does not become any more meritable when applied to another situation.

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Pama Cain January 27, 2010 | 1:45 p.m.

Admittedly, I did not bother to read all of the comments--unless you have owned a Pitbull, you have no idea what you are talking about. Do your own research, don't believe everything you hear. News purposely puts out stories to stir controversy or people wouldn't read them.

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doug ruebke January 29, 2010 | 11:46 p.m.

As most pit bull owners state; Any dog can bite at any time. You need to talk to a veterinarian or doctor to realize that your putting you baby's life in danger! Any dog can bit at lightening speed and given the power and holding strength of a pit your baby will be dead before you could react. I don't care what breed of dog you have, your actions of letting a dog that close to a baby's face classifies you as a irresponsible dog owner. You should be turned into a Child Protective Agency!!!!!!

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Adam Hatfield April 4, 2010 | 11:32 p.m.

I am very entertained with the comment above. You see, Mr. Ruebke, I happen to be finishing up my Doctorate as a health care provider, and I am very confident in the information I share. I base my decisions on facts and evidence-based research that provide the conclusions which others an I have discussed above. Not from misleading or faulty conclusions adopted from media scandal and/or myth.

Also, my Pit and I (as you might have guessed since I, myself, am a health care professional) are in close contact with a very reputable veterinarian in town who (with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine) is very adamant that Pits are not dogs of a 'vicious' or unusually dangerous breed.

As I said above, all contact between children and animals of considerable size and strength should be supervised. Judging from the fact that this contact between Daisy and Gus was being monitored by this responsible mother who is very familiar with their loving family pet who seemingly has shown no previous signs of unprovoked aggression, you have NO right or reason to deem and proclaim her as an "irresponsible dog owner" or worthy of being reported to a child protection agency.

Maybe next time you decide to make such claims, you yourself should consult the professionals that you believe will support your ideology beforehand.

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