Do pit bulls suffer from bad PR? Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, says that we should not vilify the breed. Consistent with his philosophy proffered in his books, site and shows, it is the human who needs to be trained. This is true, but when you follow the trail of destruction in their wake, may it be through human mismanagement, failure to properly train, or a lack of human interaction at all, this sample argumentative essay explains it is difficult to fully support Cesar’s point of view.
Pit Bulls and other large breeds.. A bad rap?
The question is not whether they can be trained to be kind and amazing, the question is do they maul people and sometimes kill them in one fell swoop? Another thought, Casey Anderson, a naturalist, and star of Nat Geo WILD Expedition Wild has a famous grizzly bear named Brutus, who has been his cohort and companion for years – would you like to interact with Brutus alone just because he has been trained?
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA) position on pit bulls is that you must consider each dog individually, and not evaluate them according to their breed (“Position Statement”). The renowned association’s position, similar to Millan’s, is that dogs can be bred to be aggressive and being a responsible owner demands effective socialization, benevolent training and meticulous supervision.
Breed specific legislation
One of the consequences of pit bull paranoia is called breed specific legislation. Breed specific legislation, are laws which govern or prohibit specific breeds in an attempt to reduce dog assailment against people or animals. Most breed specific laws are targeted on dogs historically viewed as threatening, or that have evinced “propensities for aggression and violent behavior”. In fact, the ASPCA called breed specific legislation, breed discrimination laws.
Regulated dogs often include
- American Pit Bull Terriers
- English Bull Terriers
- American Staffordshire Terriers
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers
- American Bulldogs
- German Shepherds
- Doberman Pinschers
- Chow Chows
In addition, laws have been created against mixes which include these breeds and even dogs that are not these particular breeds, but that resemble them.
The laws are an attempt by governmental organizations to protect its denizens through laws that require dog licenses, leash and muzzle laws, prohibitions against dog fighting, and complete exclusion of specific breeds from states and/or communities. The subject is quite contentious and conflicted. Some states deal with dogs on an individual basis, disregarding their breed, and are opposed to breed specific laws. Yet, others are all in, some 700 cities have already enacted breed specific legislation.
In Maryland, Prince Georges County ordinance Section: 3-185.01, has banned pit bulls. More specifically, the ordinance specifies:
“except as provided below, no person shall own, keep, or harbor a Pit Bull Terrier within the County” (3-185.01(a))
The penalty could include up to a $1,000 fine, imprisonment for the owner, and the pit bull could be humanely dispatched. According to DogsBite.org, a nonprofit public education website about dangersome dogs:
In the 11-year period of 2005 through 2015, canines killed 360 Americans. Pit bulls contributed to 64% (232) of these deaths. Combined, pit bulls and rottweilers contributed to 76% of the total recorded deaths. (“Breed-Specific Laws”)
Statistics like this are quite sobering and difficult to digest. The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) prepared a report that also indicated that the majority of dog bite related casualties were caused by pit bulls. Colleen Lynn, founder of Dogsbite.org, believes that the problem with pit bulls is genetic. Of course she acknowledges that the dogs are also affected by their environment, but she said that
“pit bulls bite, clamp, hold and shake. That’s totally genetic”.
Lynn does have a point. Humans do not teach pit bulls how to grab their victims. Their bite and grip is their own contribution to aggression.
The nature vs. training argument
What impact does training have on the behavior of pit bulls? Pit Bull Rescue Central, a pit bull advocacy site run by Marcy Setter teaches pet parents how to train the breed. Setter believes that if a dog escapes, it is due to the owner’s indiscretion. The owner is responsible for keeping the dog under control and ensuring that it is properly socialized with people and other animals.
Setter also believes that due to the image that pit bulls have, pet parents have a responsibility to ensure that their pit presents the appropriate image to the public. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently made a controversial policy decision regarding pit bulls . They have decided to side with several anti-pit bull groups.
The decision is clearly controvertible, but it is surprisingly founded in love. As a result of the inhumane treatment that pits receive, the organization has decided that by banning pits and discouraging breeding, they will save the bad life experience that so many pit bulls endure. The association’s goal is to stop the hurt and exploitation of pit bulls by preventing people from bringing them into the world. It is definitely a unique policy stance, but perhaps there is something to this line of thinking.
Victims of pit bulls and big dogs
Although not a pit bull, most people remember the savage attack against Diane Whipple who was killed by two large Presa Canario dogs as she tried to enter her apartment door in 2001. What is particularly memorable about the case was the apparent lack of compassion or concern shown by the dogs’ owners, Marjorie Knoller, and her husband Robert Noel, who were keeping the dogs on behalf of a prisoner, Paul Schneider, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood gang.
Schneider was serving a life sentence in Pelican Bay State Prison while trying to develop an illegal Presa Canario dog fighting business. Knoller and Noel, both attorneys, who knew that the dogs had a propensity to bite, arrogantly disregarded neighbors who requested that they be muzzled and in other cases be secured properly. During Knoller’s sentencing, even the judge commented on her profound lack of remorse as part of the basis for her potential life sentence.
Both attorneys were disbarred. After numerous appeals and much legal wrangling, Knoller’s second degree murder conviction was upheld. She received a sentence of 15 years to life. If ever there were a landmark case on the subject of dangerous dogs and the level of attention owners should pay to advance signs of hazard, the Diane Whipple case is the harbinger of all cautionary tales.
Yet the unheeded warnings persist. On April 21st, 2016, a baby, just three days old, was mauled to death by a pet pit bull mix. The family was in their home watching TV on the bed when the mother coughed. The sound startled the dog which thereafter bit the baby. The parents tried to pull the pit away from the child but it was too late. They rushed the child to the hospital, but the injury was fatal. Again, the baby was three days old, a stunning loss of life.
- On March 31st, 2016, an elderly woman was found dead in her home after being mauled by her pet pit bull. The dog, killed by a police officer, required two shots to prevent the dog from hurting first responders who also tried to get away from the dog.
- On March 28th, 2016, another elderly woman, 86 years old, was mauled by her pit bulls in her home. Neighbors reported that the pits had shown aggression before.
- On March 21st, 2016, a drug-addicted burglar, who broke into a home, was mauled by two large pit bulls. In this case, the dogs could’ve easily been simply protecting their home from an intruder, something dogs of any breed tend to do instinctively. Protection of a home or property is a key reason why many people get a dog in the first place. No charges were filed against the homeowner in this case, and the dogs were not taken from him as they were “just doing their job.”
This was just a small collection of stories about people killed by pit bulls within just a one month period of time. The list of human deaths at the hand of pits is a long one. What is particularly disturbing is the amount of pet owners that lose their lives. Strangers losing their lives at the muzzle of a pit bull is expected, but when the pet owner loses their life after caring for, loving and feeding the animal for its entire life, more thought about this controversy is necessary.
Dog fighting and it’s contribution to producing aggressive dogs
Dog fighting has been in existence since the time of the Roman Empire. In fact, the animals fought in the Coliseum, similar to the way they fight in pits today. Dogs were set against bears and bulls, but this was outlawed in 1835. Thereafter, dogs were pit against each other. Dog fighting was imported into America around 1817. Surprisingly, the contest was endorsed by the United Kennel Club which promulgated rules and certified referees. Dog fighting became illegal around the 1860s, yet it continued for a number of years and went underground around the 1930s and 40s.
The Humane Society of the United States indicates there are a minimum of forty thousand dog fighting entities in the U. S.. This number is likely to not include urban street dog fighting. Dog fighting continues to exist globally, and has risen to great popularity in Eastern Europe. In fact, the Russian Mafia has come to appreciate the lucrative nature of hosting such family events nationwide.
A Wendell, North Carolina man was charged with felony dog fighting charges. Fourteen pit bulls were seized from his property by Wake County Animal Control officers. The man was charged with 14 counts of dog fighting and cruelty to animals.
Why do people do this? Why do people enjoy this sick sport? Dog fighting is a very sadistic contest setup between two dogs, usually pit bulls, which are specifically trained to fight for the purpose of entertaining people who enjoy watching the blood sport and who often place bets on which dog will win. The fight, which is set in a pit to prevent the dogs from escaping, is often sustained for up to two hours.
The game is stopped once one of the dogs can no longer fight, or is dead. The strength of the pit bull’s jaw often inflicts austere bruising, profound wounds, and broken bones. Many dogs die days later from blood loss, infection, or shock. Officials describe that children are often found attending these events, which is child abuse, and develops a lack of sensitivity in a new generation, for the value of the lives of animals.
Despite the fact that dog fighting is a felony offense under state and federal laws, the atrocious events continue. In some states, attending a dog fight is also a felony. The host of the dog fight often continues to hold the contests because of the level of profitability involved.
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