Friday, June 20, 2008

Obligatory talking out the arse.

It always happens. After a well-publicized attack, all the experts come crawling out of the woodwork, sharing their 'knowledge' and insight. Why it happened, why Pit Bulls are or are not 'bad dogs', should or should not be wiped off the face of the earth. The stuff coming out of the mouths of the breed-haters is pretty maddening. Like this gem, from Justic of the Peace TreviƱo : "No one needs to keep these types of dogs. These dogs turn on you." Thanks, Justice. Now we know.

But perhaps nothing makes us grit our teeth more than when the they-should-know-betters start spouting nonsense that has no basis in fact. Dog trainer Cyndee Kendrick, cautioned owners to avoid games of tug, or anything that would require a Pit Bull to use its jaws. She said the game would mimic the conditioning used for dog fighting. Sorry, Ms. Kendrick, but playing tug with your dog won't turn him into a fighter. And what about people with other breeds, should they too worry that playing tug will turn their little Poodle into a fighting champion?

Nevermind the fact that dog fighting requires aggression towards other DOGS, NOT towards people. If tug DID turn your dog into a fighter, that doesn't mean he'd turn around and attack your kid. (Haven't we learned anything from the Vick Dogs? Fighing dogs aren't the monsters the media's always lied to lead you to believe.)

In the same article that quoted Kendrick, a veterinarian by the name of Dr. Steve Bentsen had this to say: "The thing about pit bulls (is that) the majority of them are probably fine. But it's hard to know which ones are fine." Really, Dr Bentsen? The fact is that lots of Pit Bulls across the nation are routinely temperament evaluated and placed in homes on a regular basis, with hairs on no human heads ever harmed. If Dr. Bentsen has a hard time reading Pit Bulls, it may have to do with a lack of education on dog behavior and temperament, not because Pit Bulls are so adept at hiding their true intentions.

Is it really so hard to predict canine behavior? It shouldn't take 8 years of college to understand that irresponsibly kept dogs are prone to getting into trouble. Reading just a bit about the Weslaco tragedy, it becomes very apparent that there was an accident waiting to happen in this home. First, the child's uncle and guardian had purchased the Pit Bull as a guard dog, and he wanted a dog that was aggressive. Pit Bulls are not and were never meant to be guard dogs, and no responsible rescue or breeder would ever place a dog in a home where the dog would be used as such. This dog obviously came from a questionable background. The dog was also kept chained in a yard, and lived under wooden pallets. Little Pedro's guardian says he would let the dog run loose only at night, when no one was around.

This wasn't a pet dog that was socialized and trained, this was a dog obtained for purposes of aggression, chained in a backyard. Chained, unsocialized dogs pose one of the greatest risks to children. The frustration that builds at being chained coupled with lack of social interaction and training makes for a deadly mix.

But the media keeps reporting on these 'loved, family pets' that turn on their owners, kill children, and terrorize neighborhoods. It's too bad that critical thinking is no longer in vogue. Sensation rules the day, and hey why not, since the newspapers make more money. Couldn't the public be better served by material that warns of the dangers of keeping guard dogs chained up in yards where children reside? And what of the responsibility of Child Protective Services, placing a child in such a home?

It is easier to demonize an animal than to take responsibility for ones own actions, ignorance, or neglect. There is nothing wrong with Pit Bulls. It's society that has the problem.


Our Pack, Inc. said...

Well said Mary!!!

Playing tug is actually a training method used to help ALLLLL breeds of dogs learn control. I use this all the time in practice and use in some of my training classes to teach basic skills not aggression.

These misunderstandings and people speaking publicly on something they clearly don't understand is like someone pretending to be a doctor and diagnosing an ailment.

Very scary.
Marthina McClay,CPDT

Jason said...

That was a great blog! I really do hope people will read these articles and start to realize what your saying.

First, your point about the media is right on. We live in such an emotional world and its a shame how the media plays off of it. And second, just like you said, its amazing how many "experts" come flying out of the wood work to give their "professional" opinion about this breed. Half the time they just sound ridiculous.

Great Blog!,