Two more maulings in one week that have left two children hurt - must mean all pits have to go.
Both East Bay attacks — one in Concord and — happened less than 24 hours apart.
Well hold on there! Many factors are involved and I thought I would ponder and share my thoughts with you.
First off, as a trainer committed to saving dogs from euthanasia, it really breaks my heart to see what is going on. The situation is not so easy to place in any one container.
Let’s start with the understanding of: ANY DOG CAN BITE!
Big dogs and little dogs can and do bite. I’ve been bitten several times when visiting a client and none of them have been a pit-bull-looking dog. So what is the deal with this? Little dogs just don’t do as much damage. They have little bodies and little teeth; they don’t have the jaw power that larger breeds have. So, less damage, no fatal bites, and very little or no reporting done. This is not an interesting story for the media machine to cover.
So what is it with the pits? Why do we hear so much, why are they so dangerous?
The first thing to consider is there are many dogs that get clumped into the pit bull range. Recently there was a test to see if you could pick out the pit bulls from pictures of about 30 dogs. I flunked the test!
There are actually many breeds that look similar to pits and most dogs are a mix so the pit-looking dogs are even more numerous. These pit-looking dogs are very popular right now along with Chihuahua and Chi mixes.
This really becomes a numbers game. Since there are many more pit-looking dogs out there, the likelihood of an incident is greater. When German Shepherds and Dobermans were in vogue, they were the bad dogs. This is all about volume and size!
You may ask, "why would anyone want a pit-type dog?" it’s because they are loving, funny, smart, loyal and playful dogs. Unfortunately, most dogs are not trained well from the time they are pups. Pups are manageable but once they grow up and become young dogs, often they are given up to shelters. Whoever now adopts these dogs has the big job of doing all the training that should have been done by the original owners.
And what about all the pits that never get proper training, you ask? They can be time bombs waiting to explode. But wait, there is more to consider. Not all dogs have the same personalities or temperaments. We don’t take that into consideration! We don’t take the time to learn our dog’s body language to understand what we are being told!
Way before a bite, there are many signals the dog is giving us. We just do not understand what is going on! Have we taught our dog bite inhibition and soft mouth? Is our dog fearful and are we managing that? Are we leaving our dog unattended with little children?
No dog should be left unattended with children, ever. Dogs do not respect children, they see them as under them in the family structure; therefore if dogs are annoyed by them, they will feel they have the right to correct them. The way dogs correct is by going stiff, staring, pushing out, growling, and snapping. Babies and children do not know how to read dogs. Unfortunately, a dog’s correction can cost a little child its life!
So who is really to blame: the dog that is trying to correct the child, the child, or the parent/adult who is completely oblivious to the situation?
I say the adults — the adults who don’t take the time to train/teach their dogs; the adults who don’t learn to read their dog’s body language; the adults who don’t teach their children what to look out for; the adults who leave children and powerful breeds alone unattended; the adults who want their dogs to be bullies and tease and taunt them to become agitated and bite.
And yes, the adults who do not have the courage to put a dog down when the dog is a threat to babies, children and adults.
The adults need to pay the price but unfortunately it is the millions of pit-bull- looking dogs that pay the price with their lives, with sitting bored silly in back yards, and locked up in shelters and rescue groups.
So please, don’t be so quick to blame the dog. If you know someone is not caring for their dog properly, call animal control and report it, leave notes in someone’s mailbox about the situation, stick a training brochure under their door.
Every one of us can make a difference — let’s get these dogs cared for before the time bomb goes off.