I apologize for the lack of posts this month. I’ve been travelling, working, and slowly losing my mind. I started this post last week and now I’m finishing it because it still rings true.
There are a few things I love dearly in life. Hanging out with dogs is one of them, and it’s even better when those dogs happen to be of the bullie variety. At some point in my life, I fully intend to start my own pit bull rescue.
Naturally, every time I read stories like this, my heart sinks a little because I know that the anti-pit bull fervor will go back up to a fever pitch and that a whole bunch of ignorant things about pits will make it into the media, thus perpetuating the “pit bull=bloodthirsty killer” stereotype.
A 5 year old boy was mauled and killed by a pit bull last Wednesday night in Weslaco. Yes, it’s a tragic occurrence that should never have happened, but I was also very angered by the reporting of the story as well as the sensationalism that’s pervasive in these types of stories. From an article that was published the day after the mauling:
Hidden behind the tidy garden shed, far away from the picnic bench and playhouse in the wide, well-kempt yard, was Greco’s den.
The 1 1/2-year-old pit bull, described by his owners as sweet and submissive, lived here under a roof of wooden pallets and played with the children of the house.
Until he killed Pablo.
Wednesday night, according to witnesses, Greco flew into a frenzied rage stoked by a passing dog and tackled 5-year-old Pablo Lopez, fatally mauling him in a powerful attack.
Thursday afternoon, Greco was Jekyll once again, wagging hopefully at a visitor to his quarantine kennel at the Palm Valley Animal Center, a private, nonprofit animal welfare agency in Edinburg. But the bloody wounds along the right side of his face and leg from a sheriff’s deputy’s shotgun blast were painful reminders that Hyde lurked within. […]
Pablo toddling out the door alone. Greco the dog, agitated by another animal. The den and the chain. The leap and the bite, the powerful jaw clamped down on the boy’s neck. The screams.
I utterly despise the sensationalism that always goes into pit bull attack stories.
And from the original breaking news report:
Palomo recalled hearing about 20 seconds of screaming, and then nothing. He said the dog locked its jaws around the boy’s neck, quickly killing him.
“These types of accidents can be prevented,” Justice of the Peace Treviño said, cautioning the public about owning pit bulls.
“No one needs to keep these types of dogs,” she said. “These dogs turn on you.”
First off: pit bulls don’t have locking jaws. If they did, they’d be classified as a different species. I’m ready to rip the newspaper a new one for not doing a little research and reprinting that sentiment. Second, I’m ready to rip J.P. Treviño a new one for saying “no one needs to keep these types of dogs.”
“Pit bulls” have been historically bred to have aggression toward other dogs, but they should never show aggression towards people. Ever. (I say “pit bulls” because “pit bull” isn’t actually a breed; a whole bunch of breeds fall under the “pit bull” umbrella). They’re not good guard dogs because they’re so friendly, and if you have an aggressive pit on your hands, you’ve got a problem.
Unfortunately, wannabe-gangstas and plain ignorant people give pits a bad name, when in reality, pits are also the beloved family pets in thousands of homes. It takes a lot to raise a pit: a lot of education, a lot of exercise, a lot of socialization and training. They’re strong dogs that need exercise and socialization, and to keep them chained in your yard (as was the case in the Weslaco mauling) is just asking for trouble.
So of course it just drives me insane when I hear about ignorant people being somehow involved in pit bull bites/maulings, because the sensationalism just drives the public’s fear of/hatred toward pits. I used to be one of those people, thinking that they were insane dogs who would suddenly snap and lock their jaws around my arm. I’m ashamed to think of how many pit bulls I was terrified of at the first shelter I ever started volunteering at (because the director wouldn’t let anyone touch the pit bulls, then proceeded to repeat the locking jaws myth). These dogs never stood a chance; every single pit entering that shelter was euthanized regardless of its (usually sad) personality, which is pretty common policy in shelters across the nation.
It wasn’t until I started working at the ASPCA that I had to walk these dogs as a part of my job. I fell in love with them–one dog, Madsterina the Incorrigible (my own personal name for her), in particular–and haven’t looked back since.
So grrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Damn the media, and damn ignorant dog owners for fueling these bullshit breed stereotypes.