Flower Power: Pit Bulls of the Revolution
October 4, 2015 11:34 PM   Subscribe

Sophie Gamand has created a photographic series of pit bulls wearing flower crowns to challenge the common association of pit bulls with violence. Inspired by Rococo and Baroque traditions of portraiture, the photographs reveal another side to these often-maligned dogs.
posted by Athanassiel (188 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
I guess this is 'dogs don't bite people, nasty owners make dogs bite people'.
posted by colie at 11:52 PM on October 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


After the photos were taken, each dog shook their head mightily, then ate the flowers in one giant gulp.

And then had tummy issues, since whooo boy, do pit bulls get tummy issues.
posted by alex_skazat at 12:11 AM on October 5, 2015 [14 favorites]


Well, colie, all I can say is that my pit/bulldog/staffie what have you mix is only interested in licking humans, greeting humans, and playing with her cat. We are always watchful, since she is very strong, but she is a cannonball of love.
posted by oneironaut at 12:17 AM on October 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


The thing is with dogs like this is that while yes, most of them are sweetness and light, when they attack they are capable of damage far above and beyond what other dogs will do. There's a reason you don't see headlines about labradors etc. savaging toddlers.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:09 AM on October 5, 2015 [22 favorites]


I thought these were beautifully done: thanks Athanassiel for the post. Garmand’s other series of canine portraits are no less striking: I particularly enjoyed the set depicting hairless dogs.
posted by misteraitch at 1:10 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't know, that little wire-haired terrier "whisky" taught me a fucking lesson about respecting dogs...
posted by mikelieman at 1:11 AM on October 5, 2015


I would not advise anyone to show these pictures to young children. You need to tell them that if you are in a big city and you see one of these dogs, get the fuck away from it. Photos of chihuahuas with hats on are fine tho.
posted by colie at 1:14 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


There's a reason you don't see headlines about labradors etc. savaging toddlers.

Because violent asshats don't select labradors as pet dogs?
posted by el io at 2:05 AM on October 5, 2015 [48 favorites]


From a quick search, there seems to be a lot less enthusiasm for building up labradors' muscles than pitbulls', where there's targeted advertisments and forums about supplements, exercise routines, videoes and such.

There are folk out there who either want to revel in the natural vitality of their dog or want to turn it into a mean-looking weapon.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:13 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


The dogs in the photos above look really sweet, though.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:14 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


These dogs are beautiful. It's the irresponsible people/owners who are the monsters.
posted by fourpotatoes at 2:43 AM on October 5, 2015 [15 favorites]


This really requires a matching photo-set of Chihuahuas with piercings, tracksuits and chunky gold chains.
posted by rongorongo at 2:49 AM on October 5, 2015 [18 favorites]


I don't consider these dogs monsters - they aren't responsible for the intentional breeding that led to their physique and temperament. However anyone who thinks that taken in totality they are equally as safe around kids as most other dog breeds, or that they aren't favoured by a particular segment of society precisely for that aggressive nature is deluded.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:10 AM on October 5, 2015 [26 favorites]


Look at these vicious pit bulls with children. LOOK AT THEM.


posted by pxe2000 at 3:42 AM on October 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


Gee, the two raised-by-asshat pit bulls that attacked my Australian Cattle dog sure looked cute too. Right up until they kept coming and coming as I carried her over my 6 foot 4 head all the way down the block. Biting her, jumping as high as they could to try to get her, and then hurling themselve sat my knees the whole way home.

See the thing is, once the switch flips, you can't control them. Enjoy.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:12 AM on October 5, 2015 [15 favorites]


-considered-perfect-nanny-dogs-children-until-media-turned-them

...that damn media again.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:20 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm a dog lover (as you probably know given the number of photos of my Husky that I sneak in here) but I'm afraid I'm with Abehammerb Lincoln on this one... cute until the switch flips.

I had a client, referred for PTSD after being attacked by her friend's pit bull, the client never saw it coming. She knew the dog, had interacted with it frequently, leaned over to pet the dog and its response required over 100 stitches in the client's face.

Then there were the two people on their morning walk down a country dirt road near the next small town over from mine who were killed in separate incidents on the same summer morning, attacked by a group of pit bulls that had gotten out of the dog owner's house, dogs that had never harmed anyone in the past.

So, yeah, they can be cute, and I'm sure that there are adorable pups out there that will never harm a flea, but a pit bull is a pit bull, I will always err on the side of caution.
posted by HuronBob at 4:37 AM on October 5, 2015 [16 favorites]


I'm very much on the anti-pit-bull side. I don't care what reasons lead this breed to be far more dangerous to children, other dogs, and all other living things. They are, and I want them all gone. You want a dog, get an old english bull or lab or whatever.
The only people who don't get pits because of their dangerous, brutal, vicious reputation are the reflexive contrarians who are getting them to make a point about #NotAllPits.
The hallmark of these breeds is savage, unrelenting, unprovoked attacks. It's what the breed has been shaped for.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 5:04 AM on October 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


There are not many breeds that spontaneously without warning or growling jump and bite a six foot man in the face. Not face level, not taunting, not in an enemy or high stress situation.
posted by sammyo at 5:37 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


rongorongo: This really requires a matching photo-set of Chihuahuas with piercings, tracksuits and chunky gold chains.

Chav-huahua?
posted by dr_dank at 5:39 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I would have expected better from Metafilter.

My sister had a pit bull that she raised from a puppy, and that was the sweetest dog in the world. He play-fought with my parents' lab for YEARS without become viscious.
posted by hwyengr at 5:50 AM on October 5, 2015 [26 favorites]


From what I've read, particularly from scientific studies, in terms of breed aggression, Pit Bulls are not high for owner- and stranger-related aggression1, but higher than average for dog-related aggression. I would have no concerns about a Pit Bull I raised and socialized myself, but criminal, abusive and/or neglectful owners are a major problem, and a reason to be wary.

When I was young, it was Doberman Pinschers that people were afraid of / reporting as vicious, and Pit Bulls or Pit Bull types did not ping the radar at all (in fact, I imagine only dog fancier types would have known what a Pit Bull was)... and since I'm oldish but not ancient, I have to conclude that this is a change in human society regarding dog ownership trends (dog fighting, and macho idiot status), as well as resulting reporting biases. I don't think it's likely that as a breed, Pit Bulls went from being basically unknown (aside from celebrity dogs like Little Rascals' Petey) to a bloodthirsty congenitally vicious canine scourge in a few decades. I'm not saying there isn't a problem, but the problem that exists is a human problem.

1: from a 2008 study, "Breed Differences in Canine Aggression," as reported here and other places; I haven't found a non-paywalled version of the study
posted by taz at 5:53 AM on October 5, 2015 [81 favorites]


HuronBob, I'd pause before supporting a complete ban on pitties - huskies are increasingly on the list.
posted by eisforcool at 6:00 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


One more anecdote, for reasons unbeknownst to any of us, my sister kept her pit intact. He died at the ripe old age of 14, never having attacked a person or animal. Unless you consider viscious licking to be an attack. Man, that dog had a tongue.
posted by hwyengr at 6:01 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Taz - those links are interesting; "beware of dachshunds" was the impression I got! But dachshunds don't attract the kind of abusive, negligent, or just plain irresponsible owners that pitbulls tend to do. In any case, I think the problem is almost always with the owners more than with the dogs, when dogs attack.

I hope the owner(s) of the pitbulls responsible for attacking the people that HuronBob talked about were held fully responsible for their dogs attacking people - especially the owner of the loose pack. Allowing a pack of dogs to get loose and roam is criminal negligence, IMO. I think that there would be a lot fewer dog attacks and "vicious dangerous dogs" if we could throw the book at bad owners. We need better and stronger anti-cruelty and animal control enforcement.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:07 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Unless you're running a zoo (or maybe a farm), you shouldn't keep any dangerous animals. You should be looking for something that is generally least aggressive and least capable of causing serious injury if it ever is aggressive. When in doubt, get a cat.

To that end, there should be standardized tests to measure dog breeds to see whether they attack (people and other dogs), how hard they attack, how hard it is to shake them off, and what kind of damage they do, all without the owner being there to calm them or call them off. (But I wouldn't want to be the stunt midgets whose job it would be to play the running children in the "mauls running children to death?" portion of the tests.)

Test a representative sample of real dogs. Combine that with a solid statistical examination of police records, hospital records, etc. Ban the killers and maulers and set the annual licensing fees really high for the ones that probably won't do any serious harm but apparently would if they could (frequent bite reports to police or hospitals).
posted by pracowity at 6:12 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have known precisely one dog (of many) who had serious problems with biting people, to the point where he had to be put down (it was really sad). That dog was a yellow lab. So does that mean I should be calling for a yellow lab ban?

The only people who don't get pits because of their dangerous, brutal, vicious reputation are the reflexive contrarians who are getting them to make a point about #NotAllPits.

This is just demonstrably untrue silliness. The people I know who have pits or pit mixes mostly do because they wanted a rescue dog and pits/pit mixes are wayyyyyy over-represented in shelters. Because many people are irresponsible jerks.

I gotta say, it's so weird to see this kind of pitbull hate on metafilter, of all places. I used to have a vague sense that pitbulls were scary and violent too, but having had a dog for two and a half years, and thus having spent a lot of time in dog parks during that time, I have grown to have a real soft spot for pitbulls. They really can be the sweetest, goofiest, most love-ball-est dogs. I suppose they can be scarily aggressive too, but I just haven't seen it.
posted by lunasol at 6:30 AM on October 5, 2015 [45 favorites]


Yep, I'm aware that Huskies sometimes get on the dangerous dog lists.. I have no idea how that is determined but if you look at the chart that Taz posted, they are WAY down in terms of hurting strangers.

And, eisforcool, I don't recall stating that I would support a ban, I stated that I am cautious around pit bulls.

And, yes, the owner of the pit bulls that killed two individuals (one of whom was the aunt of a friend of mine) did get prison time for allowing that to happen.

And, finally, hwynger, I don't get that "I expect better of Metafilter remark..." What did you mean? Are you saying that we shouldn't post comments that relate to our experience...because, that's sort of what you did... This is a discussion based forum, folks often have different opinions from, perhaps, different sets of data, it's OK for us to talk about stuff here...
posted by HuronBob at 6:31 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


More anecdote: my favorite teacher in high school had a rescue pit bull. The only time the dog was involved in any kind of violent incident was when the chihuahua mix owned by my teacher's daughter turned aggressive in the middle of the play session. My teacher walked back in the room to find her daughter trying to get the chihuahua to release, because the pit bull was just standing there mournfully while a 10 pound dog hung from his left flank.

I would have expected better from Metafilter.

I would have too. The whole idea that because a greater percentage of dog bites are from pit bulls, therefore you shouldn't keep pit bulls as a breed because they are more dangerous is the same kind of BASED ON STATISTICS!!!!! reasoning that results in people assuming that you shouldn't hire a woman in her twenties for a career-oriented position, because she will probably leave to have kids.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:34 AM on October 5, 2015 [16 favorites]


Oh, I also meant to say, re this: "I would not advise anyone to show these pictures to young children. You need to tell them that if you are in a big city and you see one of these dogs, get the fuck away from it. Photos of chihuahuas with hats on are fine tho" – Actually, not totally fine. They are small, so less dangerous, but Chihuahuas are pretty high for aggression compared to other breeds, so kids should be careful.

In fact, kids should always be careful. It's not possible to tell by a dog's cuteness if it's prone to bite. I have an adorable dog, and people are always urging their little kids (even the scared ones) to pet my dog, and it makes me CRAZY. My dog has never bit a human, but she's unpredictable with other dogs (though never attacked one; she growls and and snarls sometimes). We always have her on a leash, so people have to specifically come to us to interact with the dog, and I don't think my dog would ever bite a person, but it frightens me with little ones. She's not used to children, and also hates loud, unexpected noises, and children can be unexpectedly loud and screechy in a delighted or frightened way, plus waving arms around and stuff. So I always get myself between the dog and the kid and I'm nice, but want to say, BAD IDEA, PARENT; STAHP THAT.
posted by taz at 6:36 AM on October 5, 2015 [31 favorites]


Of course there are some dogs that are more dangerous than others due to their physical characteristics. Otherwise there'd be dudes walking around with lions on chains, which frankly is what some of the men where I live would like.
posted by colie at 6:37 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


What did you mean?

I guess I meant that I didn't expect this crowd to believe in what amounts to eugenics for dogs, believing that one breed is inherently dangerous by the nature that they're that type of dog. That's 6:00 news bullshit.

BTW, I have to muzzle my dachshund anytime there are children in the house.
posted by hwyengr at 6:38 AM on October 5, 2015 [15 favorites]


Here's the 6:00 facts from the American Veterinary Medical Association (via Wikipedia):

A 20-year (1979–1998) study by the American Veterinary Medical Association into fatal dog attacks on humans concluded that "fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem (pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers)," and that "pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers were involved in more than half" (67%) of all the 238 recorded dog bite-related fatalities (DBRF) in the United States during that period, with pit bulls accounting for 66 deaths. They also wrote that:

It is extremely unlikely that they accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities.

posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:42 AM on October 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


but a pit bull is a pit bull

But what is a pit bull?

It's interesting that the American Veterinary Medical Association study concludes from the statistics that "fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem" but then identifies the "specific breed" as "pit-bull type dogs," which obviously is not a breed at all.

There are a number of different breeds that are commonly lumped under the "pit-bull type dog" classification, and my experience is that a terrier who just bit somebody is much more likely to be called a pit bull than a similar terrier who didn't. The AVMA study appears to be affected by that.

I loved the photos.
posted by layceepee at 6:50 AM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


Simple solution via legislation: all dog owners will be 100% responsible for all actions performed by their dogs, and all dog attacks will be treated as premeditated. Therefore if your pit bull kills someone, you get charged with first-degree murder. Enforce owner responsibility.
posted by JohnFromGR at 6:53 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


GallonOfAlan, the next part of the Wikipedia article, immediately following your quote says:
However, the AVMA later reversed its position on breed being a factor in dog bite-related fatalities, stating in a comprehensive literature review of 66 dog bite studies:

Breed is a poor sole predictor of dog bites. Controlled studies reveal no increased risk for the group blamed most often for dog bites, ‘pit bull-type’ dogs. Accordingly, targeting this breed or any another as a basis for dog bite prevention is unfounded. As stated by the National Animal Control Association: “Dangerous and/or vicious animals should be labeled as such as a result of their actions or behavior and not because of their breed.”
posted by taz at 6:54 AM on October 5, 2015 [38 favorites]


77.5% of cases of canine abuse as of July 16, 2012 involved pit bulls.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:54 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would support, unconditionally, a ban on keeping animals of any variety for home or personal defense, because it's barbaric and unnecessary... and guess what kind of dogs people disproportionately choose for that?

I am actually acutely uncomfortable around dogs and I've had tons of bad experiences with dogs. But none of them were with pitbulls, and all of them had to do with bad training, bad socialization, or just plain irresponsible pet ownership. I know someone who fosters rescue pit bulls and I'd sooner trust those dogs than my brother's out-of-control Akita/lab mix. Undisciplined larger dogs are a menace, period, but there is no reason to blame that on breed. I know more than a few owners of non-pitbull larger dogs who try to claim that their circumstance is different because their dogs have only destroyed other people's property or gotten into fights with other dogs, it's not like they've ever attacked a kid or anything. Everybody thinks that pit bulls are that violent because of genetics, but their special snowflake lab isn't violent, he's just not good with kids, he just has food aggression, not real aggression, and they're working on it, he's really such a sweetheart if you get to know him, and never mind that he's been that way for four years.
posted by Sequence at 6:55 AM on October 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


I would have expected better from Metafilter.

I can't imagine why.
posted by The Bellman at 7:00 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Maybe we can get the US presidential candidates next?
posted by bdc34 at 7:06 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you don't believe selective breeding can affect the personality of a dog, have you ever met one? Any working breed will demonstrate characteristics related to their intended task, even if they're never done it. Furthermore, many breeds have obvious and consistent personality trends. Any dog breed description will include a list of associated personality traits; dog breeding organizations attempt to selectively breed to these traits. It is totally plausible that there is at least one dog breed with a notable violent streak - and there's also the possibility that it's a genetic illness or disorder. Many breeds have them, and it's not inconceivable that one could lead to attacks - like some sort of genetic tendency toward schizophrenia or something.

Look, the statistics are not looking good for the Pit Bull. And why is everyone so set on defending them? It's just a dog breed, there's only like eighty million other ones. Maybe pick one that wasn't genetically bred for fighting. Even if yours is nice, they intimidate people and make them uncomfortable - its the open carry of the dog world. But maybe that was the idea, all along...
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:16 AM on October 5, 2015 [22 favorites]


what amounts to eugenics for dogs

That's a pretty silly word to use in reference to a domesticated animal.
posted by 7segment at 7:22 AM on October 5, 2015 [18 favorites]


The thing is with dogs like this is that while yes, most of them are sweetness and light, when they attack they are capable of damage far above and beyond what other dogs will do.

This just isn't true, and is a good reason to avoid breed bans...

in terms of breed aggression, Pit Bulls are not high for owner- and stranger-related aggression1, but higher than average for dog-related aggression.

This relates to the original breeding program they were derived from -- if you're breeding dogs for fighting, you want to be able to step in and break up a fight with, well, at least reduced risk of being munched yourself.

There will be a population of macho antisocial asshats who want aggressive dogs. Right now those people seem to usually get bully breeds -- 20 to 40 kg dogs bred for dog aggression but also for, at least mabe until recently, docility towards humans. Ban bully dogs, and there will still be macho antisocial asshats. But now they're likely to gravitate towards cane corso, dogo argentino, or other 40-70kg dogs. Or, God help you, black Russian terriers, actually bred by the NKVD to attack humans.

There's a reason you don't see headlines about labradors etc. savaging toddlers.

One of the biggest is that if a yellow lab attacks a stranger, it is very likely to be reported as a pit bull.

When in doubt, get a cat.

Cat bites are no joke and are extremely prone to infection.

Any working breed will demonstrate characteristics related to their intended task, even if they're never done it.

You'd be surprised how many dogs are totally fucking useless for what their breed was originally intended to do after 50-100 years of bone-and-coat-bone-and-coat dipshit conformation breeders have had their way.

And why is everyone so set on defending them?

I don't care for bully breeds; they're weird and kind of un-dog-like. But I'd rather that macho antisocial asshats had 20-30kg dogs not specifically bred to attack humans than 50kg dogs specifically bred to attack humans.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:24 AM on October 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


MeTa
posted by griphus at 7:26 AM on October 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


Maybe pick one that wasn't genetically bred for fighting.

In my case, I think that buying animals and deliberately bringing new animals into the world for profit while there are still animals in shelters are very high up there on the scale of Things That Are Wrong, and good luck with that in the US shelter system. I definitely agree that many people get them to look threatening, but many other people get them because there is an enormous population of animals who need loving homes who happen to be pit bulls or mixes. I do not support the wholesale euthanasia of already-living animals who have done nothing wrong because people think they might be more aggressive than other dogs who are also very capable of being aggressive.
posted by Sequence at 7:27 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love all puppies everywhere, I love pits especially, and I love this post (although not most of the comments). I want to take Garlic home with me! It's sad to see the anti-peeble bias is so stark even here -- to watch them be damned as a breed is heartbreaking. Forgive me for the maudlin-ness that is about to ensue.

I worked in direct action rescue (pulling and transporting from high-kill animal control centers) until my heart/psyche just couldn't handle it anymore. Most of the time, we couldn't place any dog labeled as a staffie/APBT or even staffie-esque for anything, not even the tiniest babies. We lost so many, sometimes dozens, every single euth day... goddamn, it haunts me. I still remember so many of their faces and names. Some were confused, some were scared, some were still hopeful and bright-eyed, some were completely resigned. Pledging so much money and working so hard to find placement for all of these healthy, happy dogs only to have them thrown into a gas chamber at the break of dawn the next day broke my soul. They did nothing to deserve this, as individuals or as a breed: We did this, all of this is entirely the fault of human beings. If the locals didn't just shoot or poison the dogs outright, throw them in a bag in the river or leave them to starve on the side of the road, they would leave defenseless puppies chained up to a post in front of the ACC in the middle of the night or over the weekend, literally throw them over the shelter fence, or even just sit in the car waiting until the ACC opened on euth day and straight-up walk the dogs directly into the execution room. Being faced with the horrific shit people will do to innocent creatures before disposing of them like trash will make you want to opt out of your membership in the human race.

Hugs and bellyrubs to every single puppy in every single shelter, on every single street, and in every single abusive home everywhere on earth. Sweet babies, I love you, and I'm so sorry.

As reparations for the depressing content of my comment, I will just leave this here: Darren & Phillip, Pyjama Pals from Brisbane Australia.
posted by divined by radio at 7:28 AM on October 5, 2015 [69 favorites]


I really liked these pictures! I think Jonas is my favorite.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:28 AM on October 5, 2015


To make the comment I actually originally came into this thread to make, Tumblr is going to have to seriously step up its flower crown game to compete with this, because those were way more elaborate than I was anticipating.
posted by Sequence at 7:28 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


I would have expected better from Metafilter.

99.9% of the time, Metafilter exemplifies the highest form of conversation - the enablement of idea sharing - in a civil and respectful manner. And this post is an example of this.
People are sharing their experiences and their opinions, and anyone who has paid the 5$ is free to agree, question or disagree with what has been said.

One does't have to agree with what has been said - there are certain topics where my opinions go against those most Metafilterites (?) - but when this happens, I either learn to expand how I think, support my position, or agree to disagree.

Expect better? If anything, this site continues - to this very minute - to remind me that there are far better, and are more intelligent people than I, and I am grateful to be part of that crowd. This site is objectively (in my opinion) simply the best!

end suckingUp
posted by bitteroldman at 7:29 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


objectively (in my opinion)
see what I did there? What wit!
Thanks, I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip your server!

posted by bitteroldman at 7:31 AM on October 5, 2015


This just isn't true, and is a good reason to avoid breed bans...

Ok, I'll bite. Please explain how my 2 kg maltipoo presents the same mauling threat as a 30 kg pit bull.

if a yellow lab attacks a stranger, it is very likely to be reported as a pit bull.

Please explain how you know this.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:31 AM on October 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


i just feel sorry for people who don't know how sweet and wonderful pits (and rotties) can be. as far fearmongering "and then a switch is flipped!" bs - rage syndrome in dogs was originally called "cocker rage syndrome" because it's most often found in spaniels - and yet, they never seem to make it on the breed ban lists. it's almost as if that list isn't created based upon which dogs are most likely to flip and do harm.

thanks for posting this adorable link, Athanassiel - sorry people couldn't follow the guidelines and keep themselves from shitting it up from go.
posted by nadawi at 7:45 AM on October 5, 2015 [15 favorites]


I am 100% in the camp of "It's the owners, not the breed".

Staffordshire Terriers have a very similar rep here in the UK (I think they are the same as pitbulls?) and I don't really understand the harsh attitude. I have 'met' maybe a dozen of them and all of them have been lazy sweethearts. I have always been careful to ask the owner if it was all right to approach their dog and most of their reactions are "Oh no worries, he's a big softie" and the dog proceeds to melt under my ear scritches.

In contrast I think the most I've felt endangered by a dog was in Scotland, by a Bichon Frise who was leashed up in the front yard of an elderly woman who lives next door to my husband's gran. When we tried to get in his gran's door, this "cute" dog would growl, yank against its chain and yap in alarm. If it got loose I am certain it would have went for my legs.

Give me this shmoopy anyday over that.
posted by like_neon at 7:46 AM on October 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


That schmoopy is Boom! He's the only "celebrity" I follow on Facebook.
posted by komlord at 7:54 AM on October 5, 2015


Tanizaki, there are many articles online discussing the issues with people labeling non-pitbulls as "pit bulls". Here's one.

Even one of the posters above refers to two people being killed by pit bulls, and in the news article they provide the dogs are referred to as bulldogs. Bulldogs and pit bulls are very different. There are many breeds with squat bodies and broad snouts, but in a world where pit bulls are all labeled violent and dangerous then any dog involved in an attack who has a squat body and broad snout gets labeled a pit bull, and thus the cycle of breed discrimination perpetuates itself.
posted by schroedinger at 7:55 AM on October 5, 2015 [27 favorites]


So, schroedinger, what you're saying is that a dog becomes a pitbull when an attack is observed?

Like a.... Schroedinger's Dog?
posted by I-baLL at 8:01 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ok, I'll bite. Please explain how my 2 kg maltipoo presents the same mauling threat as a 30 kg pit bull.

Well, obviously a large dog is always going to be more capable of causing severe damage in a fight. But capability to cause harm is not the same thing as likelihood of attacking, and I've frequently heard reports of smaller breeds being very prone to attacks, as taz mentions above regarding Chihuahuas.

Anecdotally, my 90+ pound dog loves everyone, people, dogs, cats, rabbits. (Unfortunately for her the last two don't usually love her in return.) She also has a very intuitive understanding of how to respond to dogs and people. Still, almost every smaller dog we meet (and we meet a lot of them) responds by growling at her and coming at her very aggressively. Fortunately, I think she's aware enough of her size to not feel threatened by it, and she's never shown any sign of returning the aggression, which speaks to my point above. If my dog chose to attack someone, she would be much more able to cause severe damage than a 15 pound dog, but she's never shown any signs of aggression, so compared to some of the very aggressive small dogs I've seen, I would say she's much less of an actual threat.

(I suspect part of the problem is that owners will let a 10-15 pound dog get away with things that a 70 pound dog couldn't.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:05 AM on October 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


Ok, I'll bite. Please explain how my 2 kg maltipoo presents the same mauling threat as a 30 kg pit bull.

This comment was meant as flippant, but I think it deserves a serious response. Firstly, any dog, including your harmless little maltipoo, can quickly kill an infant if left with them unattended. You would be shocked by how many fatal dog attacks are committed by tiny dogs like Pomeranians and Yorkshire Terriers.

The number one thing that could be done right now to prevent fatal dog attacks is drive home the point that leaving a small child, and especially infants and toddlers, alone with dogs is dangerous, regardless of breed.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:10 AM on October 5, 2015 [19 favorites]


if a yellow lab attacks a stranger, it is very likely to be reported as a pit bull.

Please explain how you know this.


From the American Veterinary Medical Association:
Owners of dogs that are identified by the community as ‘pit bull type’ may experience a strong breed stigma, however controlled studies have not identified this breed group as disproportionately dangerous. The pit bull type is particularly ambiguous as a “breed” encompassing a range of pedigree breeds, informal types and appearances that cannot be reliably identified. Visual determination of dog breed is known to be unreliable. As discussed witnesses may be predisposed to assume that a dog that bites is a ‘pit bull’.

The incidence of ‘pit bull-type’ dogs’ involvement in severe or fatal attacks may be associated with prevalence of at-risk dogs in neighborhoods with lots of young children. Owners of stigmatized breeds are more likely to have involvement in criminal and/or violent acts, so apparent ‘breed correlations’ may be due to patterns in owner behavior.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:14 AM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've been around big hunting dogs for most of my childhood, and all of the dogs I've gotten over the years, from shelters, have been big dogs. Some of whom have probably had pit genetics, just by virtue of shelter dog. But they only time I've ever been attacked by a dog was when I was a toddler, and it was a teacup poodle.

For the record, I still don't trust twitchy little yappy dogs, and if we're gonna start banning breeds, I recommend we start with the overbred little rats that never shut up. Also, don't leave toddlers alone with any dog, ever. That's just common sense.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:18 AM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


Just for clarity, I have nothing against any particular breed, nor do I want to visit eugenics upon any breed. It's a use-case thing. I wouldn't have quote attack dogs unquote anywhere near a situation where there are kids.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 8:19 AM on October 5, 2015


More to the point of this article, these photos are absolutely adorable, and I just want to snuggle each and every one of these pups.

I've known several really, really sweet pit bulls, including one who I used to play with when I was a toddler. I think this was before pit bulls really started getting this kind of notoriety, but that doesn't really have any bearing on the fact that the dog was sweet as could be. I don't think I was ever left alone with that dog, but I definitely was allowed to played with him.

The only aggressive pit bulls I've personally known belonged to a friend I had when I was in middle school. They had 3-4 pit bulls at any one time. They were kept in a fenced off pen and never allowed inside the house. Pretty much the only human interaction they got is when her parents fed them. If they needed to come out of there, they would be crated in a basement area. And yes, there were several occasions where one of the dogs got loose and attacked other dogs, but I mean, what do you expect? You're basically keeping them like wild animals, not allowing them to socialize with people or other dogs.

This was in the South in the U.S., and unfortunately that seems to be a pretty common approach to dog ownership. As someone noted above, it goes back to the cause and effect thing of people choosing dogs believed to be an "aggressive" breed, and then raising them in a way that basically ensures they'll act that way. Not that these people are planning on using them as fighting dogs, but they're seen as being for "protection," and so they're not treated like pets.

Ugh, it makes me so angry, I just can't even.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:23 AM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


I wouldn't have quote attack dogs unquote anywhere near a situation where there are kids.

They're not attack dogs with or without the scare quotes. From pxe2000's article referencing the United Kennel Club (emphasis mine):
[American Pit Bull Terriers] make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their love of children. Because most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog. The breed’s natural agility makes it one of the most capable canine climbers so good fencing is a must for this breed. The APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:24 AM on October 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


Ok, even though personally, I am not a fan of pit bulls - these are some seriously adorable photographs of these dogs. The first dog (Blossom) is just the happiest dog I have ever seen a dog wearing a flower crown. Seriously, that dog has made it in life.

It's amazing scrolling through how she captures such distinct and clear personalities for each dog. even the doleful second to last (Thelma) who is clearly thinking "please get this off of my head,"
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 8:26 AM on October 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


I wouldn't have quote attack dogs unquote anywhere near a situation where there are kids.

I've been thinking this whole thread about an incident I vaguely remembered where a chocolate lab killed a toddler. I just googled "toddler killed by labrador" and I can't even tell which one is the incident I remember, because it returns so many news stories just in the past several years.

I'm a cat person and I freely admit I'm afraid of large dogs, in a general sense. I wouldn't like to have an animal sleep in my bed that could kill me if it decided to (and I also admit this fear is probably at least somewhat based upon being a cat person, because cats are little dicks who will turn on you in an instant. Imagine if they were three times the size they are! I'd already be dead). But a bunch of my good friends have pit bulls, and they are lovey and smart and some of them are fat and lazy and I've never seen any indication that any of them are riskier to own than any other large dog. So I'm really surprised at this thread - I've always been sort of ashamed of my dog fear as I know it's irrational. The open self-righteous hostility is pretty strange to see. I would not have expected this on metafilter.
posted by something something at 8:35 AM on October 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


When I wanted to adopt again, the shelters in southern Maine were full of pit bulls. Great selection of colors and ages. I don't want a pet that strong and possibly problematic with insurance, so when I visited Georgia, I came home with a wonderful dog. There's an awful lot of pit bulls. The only non-neutered male dogs I've seen at local dog parks are pit bulls. Some of the worst pet owners I've observed are dumb young pit bull owners. There are, for real, plenty of dumb young guys who want a tough dog in order to seem more tough. The breed has gotten a bad reputation for reasons that aren't the dog's fault. There are so very many pit bulls being killed at shelters that breeding them seems horribly irresponsible.

I adopted a Jack Russell Terrier, and he's pretty chill, but if he did bite, it would a lot less of a problem because of his size and construction. He's not great with little kids, mostly because he's little, and parents abandon all caution. No matter how many times I say Your child absolutely must be supervised if they want to throw the ball to my dog, people will leave little kids alone with him. He is so obsessed with The Tennis Ball that he loses all sense. And parents just refused to cooperate with me on that, because stupidity.

I've really liked and often loved most dogs I've ever met, but people, and the horrible way people behave about dogs pisses me off. Indiscriminate breeding, not neutering, not training, not understanding that they're dogs who still have some wild instincts, plus teeth and claws.
posted by theora55 at 8:36 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I guess I meant that I didn't expect this crowd to believe in what amounts to eugenics for dogs, believing that one breed is inherently dangerous by the nature that they're that type of dog.

But that's exactly what dog breeding is. It's the whole point of it. Dog breeding is where the idea of eugenics came from in the first place.

nor do I want to visit eugenics upon any breed

Um...
posted by Sys Rq at 8:37 AM on October 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


I feel like everyone who breathlessly insists that pit bulls are the "only dog who attacks without warning!!!!1!" have never before met a chihuahua or in fact any other small, highly aggressive, yappy breed.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:39 AM on October 5, 2015 [27 favorites]


I guess it's not especially surprising to see on metafilter except that the pitbull/pit mix prejudice has some really gross racial and socioeconomic intersections that you'd think would make people a little less inclined to shoot from the hip about it.

At least half of the dogs on my dog-infested block are pitties/pit mixes. When they're being walked by trendy rich white hipster couples with a dual stroller, nobody bats an eye. When they're in the yard of the Puerto Rican family (the one that lives in the sole house on the block that hasn't been torn down and replaced with a $2 million urban mcmansion), oh, THEN they are a scourge on humanity.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:41 AM on October 5, 2015 [40 favorites]


If you are in NYC and want one of these dogs, a bunch of them are at the Sean Casey Animal Rescue, which is also where we adopted our dog.
posted by griphus at 8:45 AM on October 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


(this is not a passive-aggressive way of implying that posters on this thread are racists. This is just a reminder that things coded "poor" and "minority" are often portrayed as disproportionately dangerous, and that our perceptions of things like dog breeds are filtered through those cultural portrayals.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:46 AM on October 5, 2015 [15 favorites]


Anyone who says “pit bulls are dangerous simply because they're big and strong and can do far more damage than a Chihuahua” should therefore be supporting a ban on all dogs over a certain size or weight.

Breed-specific regulation of dogs is dumb, especially in a world where dogs screw other dogs in an indiscriminate fashion and a dog's lineage often can't be identified (except for things like Wisdom Panel, which are heuristics at best and which are prone to give you wrong results if you don't do the cheek swab correctly). As with race in humans, the problem of breeds is not “breeds are an entirely fictional construct and all dogs are completely alike,” it's “breeds are a rigid system of classification that has nothing to do with how dogs exist in the real world.”

“Pit bull” is not a breed; it's an umbrella term for one of (or a mix of) several different breeds of dog that look similar. I would understand if people wanted to say "any dog heavier than 60 pounds needs to wear a muzzle in public." I would even understand if people wanted to say "no dogs should be allowed on public sidewalks, save for service animals." I don't understand why anyone would think that getting rid of all “pit bulls” would make anyone safer. All it would mean is that bad owners would find a new type of dog to ruin the reputation of.
posted by savetheclocktower at 8:49 AM on October 5, 2015 [28 favorites]


A friend of mine used to work at a private school in NYC, and one morning a bunch of students were freaking out because a pit bull was loitering outside the school. Some of the teachers went out to see what was going on, and they realized the dog was freezing and starving and begging for help, so they fed the dog some food, and locked her in a closet until someone from Animal Control could get there.

My friend was the one who got a call back from the pound. The dog, they said, had almost certainly been raised for dogfighting. She had multiple badly healed breaks and fractures all over her body (along with some new ones), most likely because beating a dog is one way to turn them vicious. But this dog, the vet said, was never going to become a fighter. She was in love with everyone. She didn't have a violent bone in her body. She would sometimes yelp when the vet touched a tender spot, but would immediately apologize by licking the hand. She was painfully thin.

She was also, get this, chipped. But when the vet called the owners, they said they wanted nothing to do with the dog. They had purposefully abandoned her in the city, basically, because she wasn’t going to make them any money.

My friend talked her parents into adopting this dog, because dogs were not allowed in her own apartment. I see this dog once a year, and she is the darlingest cuddle bug in the world. She adores her cat friends, even when they sometimes scratch her. The most dangerous thing about her is her tail, that wags with joy whenever anyone touches her or talks to her. She tries her very best to be a lapdog, and the human body can only take that for so long, but it is worth it to try. There are pictures of me and this dog where we are gazing into one another’s eyes while having long conversations. When you say “let’s get rid of all the pit bulls”, you are talking about her. Please try to understand why humans who love specific pit bulls are upset to hear you say that.

(Also, I’m going to push back on the attendant “no, CHIHUAHUAS are the worst!” thing going on here. Chihuahuas are the same as most other dogs. When owners teach dogs that being violent and erratic is good, most dogs will learn to act that way. Some pit bull owners do this because they like scaring other people. Some chihuahua owners do this because they think tiny dogs being aggressive is “adorable”. When chihuahuas are treated like the dogs that they are, they are charming and sweet.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:56 AM on October 5, 2015 [45 favorites]


We have a french bulldog - our upstairs neighbors have a pitbull and a chihuahua.

I'll take Smokey the Sweet Pitty over Maya The Shittiest Chihuahua In Creation ANY day of the week. We carry our dog past the chihuahua when they're both in the backyard at the same time, because she's tried to bite our dog several times.
posted by Windigo at 8:57 AM on October 5, 2015


Thanks Athanassiel for the post - I had a crying kid who is now giggling and mumbling herself to sleep about the doggies with the flowers(we made it through the bath and opera dog galleries too). How she got those crowns to stay on - my kid got a hat on to the dog for about fifteen minutes, but our big old mutt gets beaten up by our two tiny cats, so I guess the flower crowns are more than just pretty. That's patient calm dogs.

The small dogs in our neighbourhood lunge and snap at my dog-loving kid the most, and my super-sweet gentle mutt who gets bullied by our cats gets given a wide berth over the nasty Pomeranian because she's bigger and not fluffy. I wouldn't get a golden lab either with kids, or dalmatians or terriers. Or breeds. Mutts for me, as far as possible, friendly laid-back mutts that ignore the monkeys playing around them. But definitely not small dogs.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:58 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


My block is full of dogs, just full of them. Mine's a derpy, gentle greyhound, but most of the dogs on the block are pit bulls. There's also a couple little yippy dogs, one mini poodle and one small spaniel thing. The little yippy dogs are annoying but I'm not sure they'd actually hurt anyone. The pitties all seem fine and friendly, if a little excitable around other dogs sometimes.

Then there are the Bad Dogs. They are mutts, but clearly have lots of yellow labrador in them. These two dogs, for whatever reason, are vicious. They bark, a loud snarling bark, and lunge at their leashes any time they see another dog. I love dogs, my dog is 80lbs and I'm not afraid of big dogs, but these two terrify me. Their owner lets them off leash in a nearby grassy area and one of them once charged me and my greyhound. I seriously think about this worst case scenario all the time; luckily this time the dog at the last minute pulled up and decided to obey his owner frantically yelling at him from afar. This morning I heard the front door of their building close as I was walking my dog, and I literally ran home to not have to deal with them lunging and snarling at us at 5:45am.

If these dogs attack mine, he will die. It's almost guaranteed, with his thin greyhound skin and no body fat or thick fur to protect him from bites.

The pit bulls, on the other hand, don't worry me one bit.

As for the subject of the post, I want to smooch Every Single One of those sweet pups. Right on the face.
posted by misskaz at 9:07 AM on October 5, 2015 [11 favorites]


My personal rule is don't have any pet that is capable of killing you. If they're going to be around children and not just full grown-adults, the standard is even higher. But why would I want to take a chance on an animal capable of killing me?
posted by agregoli at 9:13 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


But why would I want to take a chance on an animal capable of killing me?

This also includes cats. Cat bites, while generally superficial as wounds go, can kill you due to the bacteria that live in cats' mouths.

When I got bit by my 90lb dog (I was breaking up a fight between him and our other dog, in that way that you're absolutely never supposed to) , I paid a quick visit to the ER, got it washed out and assessed, and a script for some pain killers. When my mom got bit by our family cat, she spent 3 days in the hospital on IV antibiotics.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:18 AM on October 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


My personal rule is don't have any pet that is capable of killing you. . . . But why would I want to take a chance on an animal capable of killing me?

As long as you recognize that this rule encompasses MOST dogs, certainly all large dogs, and not just pitbulls, I can't see any reason to complain about what you do with your life.

FWIW though all my tiny cat has to do is choose her timing wisely, and she could send me tumbling headfirst down the stairs.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:20 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Firstly, any dog, including your harmless little maltipoo, can quickly kill an infant if left with them unattended.

Yes, I think that's true. So what? I'm not an infant, and I don't leave infants unattended with dogs of any breed, pots of boiling water, or razor blades. Whether certain types of dogs pose greater risks than others has absolutely nothing to do with the care of infants. As an adult, I am more wary of a Doberman than a pug. You may have noticed the abundance of German Shepherd police attack dogs and the relative lack of Pekingese police attack dogs.

That said, I agree with your point that a small child should not be left unattended with a dog. I am mindful of the fact that dogs are wolf-like canid predators, which many dog masters forget as they anthropomorphize their pets.

You would be shocked by how many fatal dog attacks are committed by tiny dogs like Pomeranians and Yorkshire Terriers.

I enjoy being shocked, so let me have it.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:26 AM on October 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


I love the pictures. Thanks for posting!
posted by maurice at 9:31 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


No, it doesn't include cats. I'm talking about being mauled to death, obviously. If I can't fight off an animal that, if it turned on me, could kill me (and that includes large dogs), I would not want it as a pet. Everyone talking about chihuahua aggression and the like are missing the point of many here....I could kill a chihuahua with my bare hands, if I had to (and I can't imagine why I'd have to). A large dog? Much different. I would be in real mortal danger if it decided to attack me. Not my idea of a safe pet. I also don't prefer large dogs because in an emergency I believe I should be able to lift and carry the dog, if injured. These are just my opinions on pet ownership for myself.
posted by agregoli at 9:34 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


And look...I've met very cute, sweet pit bulls! But I was still a teensy bit nervous to be around an animal that strong.
posted by agregoli at 9:38 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like pits. Every pit I have personally known well has been, objectively, a Good Dog. I think calls for breed extermination are ridiculous. That said, my girlfriend's lab is recovering nicely, thank you, from the bites she received last week from a pit bull that she had played friendly with on previous occasions. It got annoyed, I guess, and clamped onto her and it took two people to pry it off while the owner stood there with his thumb up his ass. I get where y'all pit lovers are coming from but it can't be all schmoop all the time when a lot of people do have lived experience of pits fucking shit up. It's not all, like, wide-eyed suckers just getting spooked by The Media.

I should know better than to wander into this discussion but I'm still a little raw from that incident.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:44 AM on October 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Cats can maul too.
posted by I-baLL at 9:44 AM on October 5, 2015


Cats do not maul anyone to death, unless they are an infant or infirm, and I've never even heard of a single case vs. many large dog attacks causing death. Let's get real here. Cats are a huge derail, and not at all in the realm of what I was talking about in my comments.
posted by agregoli at 9:47 AM on October 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


Ignorance is a poor informant. I don't have any problems with not continuing any particular breed of dog--this doesn't mean you kill the ones now living. But something needs to be done about the species of mammal that believes cutting off a puppy's tail and trimming its ears (in order to make the dog more suitable for its job). Look to your spaniels and terriers, not just the Dobies, Rotties, and Pitties.

Since this thread is a general venting session, I say that all dog owners need to be licensed. They ought to go through a training course that teaches them how to handle the breed they want to own. Their licenses ought to be renewed every four years. If their animal does something inappropriate, the human should have his license suspended. People having dogs without a license will be given a heavy fine for the first offense, and prison time for each subsequent offense. Their dogs will be taken and given over to someone who deserves the privilege of having a dog. They should be required to register their addresses with the local chapter of crime watch, and their pictures should be recorded in such a way that people can google them--we need to know who they are and where they live.

Cats are a different story. As you all know, for uncounted generations, cats have trained people to feed them and take care of their young. Cat are clever enough at what they do that they don't need to be monitored with respect to the people they own.
posted by mule98J at 9:47 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yellow labs attack too.

Here's an article about a yellow lab who attacked a kid and about the pit bull that rescued the kid. Warning: Graphic image of injuries AND autoplaying video.
posted by I-baLL at 9:48 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


you know, this thread might move away from being a venting session if people stopped seeing it as a prompt for one...
posted by nadawi at 9:50 AM on October 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


My son was brutally attacked by a Lab-Shepherd mix when he was a kid. The dog came up to him, he turned around, it knocked him down onto his back and started tearing up his face. He had somewhere from 5-7 discrete bite wounds to his face and chest, as he had apparently tucked his chin in to protect his throat, which the dog seemed to be going for. The wounds went all the way through his cheeks, his ear was hanging off, and he was covered in blood and tissue. It was an extremely vicious attack. The dog was definitely trying to kill him.

Just about every person I talked to from the police and the hospital called the dog a 'pit bull.' I knew the dog (it was a neighbor's), so I corrected them, but that assumption was there, and if I hadn't known, I might have just gone along with it. That is how a lot of breed identification happens. It's people just casually applying popular biases.

That night, the local news ran a story about a 'pit bull attack' in which a woman got between two dogs and suffered a single puncture wound to her finger. They even had her remove the Band Aid to show the cameras her owie.

Breed identification is sloppy and near impossible to do accurately, especially with mixed breed dogs. The media disproportionately reports stories about 'pit bulls,' while ignoring everything short of fatal attacks by pretty much any other breed. (And pit bull isn't even a single, discrete breed, but a sloppily defined constellation of many different breeds, some only cosmetically related.) Where I live, the breed identified as responsible for the largest percentage of injuries requiring hospitalization is....Labrador Retrievers! The numbers are probably higher than reported, even, because of the tendency to misidentify biting dogs as pit bulls.

I also knew a woman who was permanently disabled and stuck in a desk job after she was attacked by a couple of either yellow Labs or Golden Retrievers. It happens to a lot of people. The fact that the media doesn't consider those attacks newsworthy doesn't mean they don't happen. The media is a terrible source for statistical data.

Pit bulls aren't perfectly safe. But that's because no dog is. Perpetuating this simplistic notion that you can visually identify a 'safe' vs. an 'unsafe' dog by its physical characteristics is hugely damaging from both sides. It's a very common belief that certain breeds, including Labs, are consistently safe and even tempered, so people recommend them to inexperienced owners, they fail to train or contain them or even acknowledge that they're capable of aggression.

I'd have every excuse in the world to hate Labs and demand they be banned, but I don't and I won't. They're just dogs. They're big dogs, though, capable of inflicting serious damage, and people need to be more responsible about them than they are. But as long as people are operating on this absurd notion that a dog's apparent heritage is an accurate predictor of its behavior, people and dogs are both going to suffer.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:53 AM on October 5, 2015 [34 favorites]


Cats do not maul anyone to death

Not for lack of trying.
posted by maxsparber at 9:53 AM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


Speaking of: I like those pictures of those dogs!
posted by minsies at 9:53 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, that doesn't work very well now. Please ignore the "Speaking of", because I'm not talking about cats mauling things.

Instead: dogs! Dogs! Dogs!

(Thanks for the post.)
posted by minsies at 9:55 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Maxsparber, is it your intention to paint all cats as aggressive? Cause even in jest, that's silly as well. My cats are like cuddly throw pillows that love everyone.
posted by agregoli at 9:59 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's funny (in a sad way) that this kinda turned into pit bulls vs. chihuahuas because I've long held that chihuahuas are the pit bulls of the small dog world - the shelters always seem to be full of both breeds. People think they are toys and get rid of them when they realize that, after all, they are dogs. It's really upsetting.
posted by sunset in snow country at 10:01 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maxsparber, is it your intention to paint all cats as aggressive?

They're wonderful little cuddly balls of murder plots.
posted by maxsparber at 10:02 AM on October 5, 2015 [20 favorites]


Well, we disagree. You must know some nasty cats.
posted by agregoli at 10:08 AM on October 5, 2015


I think I was just nudged on metatalk to bring it to the blue, so I'll restate my thought here...

It seems that all of the anti-pit dog folks are armed with opinions and anecdotes/anecdata... Where it seems that pretty much every supporting link, citation, and quotations of supporting facts is brought up by pro/neutral pit bull folks.

Before I came to this thread I had a vague notion that it was problematic owners that were the problem with dogs, regardless of breed. After reading this thread, I'm absolutely convinced this is the case...

If you anti pit dog people want to start making actually compelling arguments, I suggest you bring some facts to the table, and not your fact-free prejudice.
posted by el io at 10:11 AM on October 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


[And just as quick general note: please try to keep things relatively cool in here. I know that dog ownership, dog violence, abuse of dogs, and personal experiences with dogs of both the profoundly positive and profoundly negative sort are stuff people have variously dealt with and are likely to have strong feelings about, but this thread isn't going to be the fulcrum on which any of these subjects are decided and it would be good to not have this conversation be an escalating fight between people who are coming at this from different angles. Y'all can and will disagree but try and keep it to the level of a conversation.]
posted by cortex at 10:19 AM on October 5, 2015


No matter what I hear to the contrary, I will always think labs are a-holes. Our lab mix was a total deck as well as a moron. I hated taking it for walks because it got mad territorial and would randomly bite people in the leg or pee on you if it got the notion. Not all the time, just sometimes, and never any warning. Its malevolence was invariably directed at the lower leg area of humans. It never to my knowledge tangled with or tried to pee on other dogs, being timorous as well as stupid. The other dog was an evil genius. It never bit anyone, man or beast--except the time I stupidly left a baby possum I was trying to maintain in an alive state in the living room overnight in a funfurlined shoebox, that is. Human error. That dog ruled with the sheer power of its personality, with chestthrusting, take-no-prisoners yapping and snarling for other dogs and doe-eyed displays of heartmelting cuteness for people. It was a mix too, mostly composed of that little terrier, what the hell are those things? That Wishbone was one of? Jack Russells, right. It was this little red Jack Russell mix who ruled the neighborhood. The lab bowed before it like it was its god. My brother's friend has a dapple gray pit mix named Blossom who is the sweetest dog on the earth. I wouldn't hesitate to put my head in that dog's mouth. But you don't know what you're gonna get with dogs. We maybe just happened up on one of the two asshole lab mix dogs ever whelped in the history of dogs. Blossom's littermates might be quite different in personality from Blossom. What I'm supremely tired of is all the "purebred" yap. It's pure idiocy, as far as I can see. Did we learn nothing from the Hapsburgs? Stop paying kathrillions of dollars for grotesque animals who've been deliberately created with too many teeth to fit in their jaws or not enough snoutlength to breathe or a spine three inches too long to live more than three years without crawling through the day in agonizing pain. Stop throwing money at slimeball breeders! Stop stop stop it.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:19 AM on October 5, 2015


Muzzles. If you take your dog out, put a muzzle on it. Even if it's a shitty little noisy snarling yappy dog. Especially if it's a shitty little noisy snarling yappy dog. I know two people who have had to get stitches thanks to a certain yappy psycho Yorkshire terrier. It gets away with it because the woman who owns it convinces the police that her poor tiny little doggy must have been frightened or provoked, but I know it never stops growling and barking when it gets out.
posted by pracowity at 10:20 AM on October 5, 2015


My sister-in-law has a scary hostile cat. It chased me and my two kids into the bathroom and wouldn't let us out until sister-in-law returned. Then it hid under the couch and pounced on my daughter when she walked by, drawing blood in several places. Daughter was upset and got over it. Sister-in-law sent the cat to spend the weekend elsewhere.

Sister-in-law and fiancé are now talking about getting a pit bull. I'm not sure what the visiting strategy will be if she does that. On the one hand, lots of people say pit bulls are cute and cuddly unless they are poorly trained. On the other hand, my daughter is four and there's that cat as an existence proof.
posted by alms at 10:21 AM on October 5, 2015


There are so many things in the world I wish I could muzzle.
posted by maxsparber at 10:21 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think Garlic is particularly cute.
posted by French Fry at 10:22 AM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


A large dog? Much different. I would be in real mortal danger if it decided to attack me.

I live with a human being who is much larger than me. If he chose to do so, he could maul me to death, no problem. If he took me unawares, he could kill me before I even knew what was happening. Not only that, but he regularly makes use of extremely sharp instruments, like cooking knives, and he is trained in martial arts.

Of course, I'm talking about my husband, who is a wonderful, loving being who would never harm me at all. I live with him because I know him and I trust him. It is hard for me to follow a line of logic meant to make dogs seem hideously dangerous when it would apply equally well to my loving husband.

Those doggies in those pictures? They look so sweet. You can see in their eyes, how hard they're working to please the photographer. What breaks my heart into a million pieces day after day is how much doggies try to make us happy.
posted by meese at 10:26 AM on October 5, 2015 [19 favorites]


I'm uneasy when I see pit bulls. I worry about them where my kid's safety is concerned. I have read the data presented here and in any number of similar studies and it is clear that the folks defending pit bulls are correct and that the character of the owner and the nature of the dog's treatment/handling/training of the dog are the deciding factors for whether a given dog is dangerous. Given that I have no way to instantly screen random dog owners and dogs I meet on the street, I am nevertheless uncertain whether any given pit bull my kid and I might come across is dangerous. And so, I worry. My respect for judging individuals and their dogs leaves me conflicted on what I think should be done about these dogs. But I worry.

I don't mention the above because I think it is a novel viewpoint or one that particularly necessitates debate. I mention it because it is, as far as I can see, directly analogous to the feelings many people have about guns, including a confoundingly high percentage of those who argue fervently against any restrictions on pit bulls.

I do not have an answer. I'm not coming for your dogs any more than I am coming for your guns. But I have trouble reconciling how so many people who use this argument about guns can get so incensed when seeing it used about dogs, with no apparent sense of irony.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:26 AM on October 5, 2015 [11 favorites]


These flower crowned pitties are the best pitties and they look so happy. I wish I had video of my brother's pit, who despite being about 60lbs is only happy if he can climb onto your lap and lick you right in the face. Pits are great dogs, so smart and eager to please that they are a breeze to train (in an afternoon, I had him rolling-over, spinning, and was working on teaching him to get on his hind legs and press the lightswitch on command). They want nothing less than to please their masters.
posted by dis_integration at 10:27 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


(FWIW, there is a pit bull some family friends have who seems like the sweetest old dog in the world. I care for her very much. I am still conflicted.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:28 AM on October 5, 2015


But I have trouble reconciling how so many people who use this argument about guns can get so incensed when seeing it used about dogs, with no apparent sense of irony.

Personally, it's because dogs are actual living creatures with the capacity to suffer. Guns aren't.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:31 AM on October 5, 2015 [19 favorites]


I'm uneasy when I see pit bulls. I worry about them where my kid's safety is concerned.

I can understand being concerned about your kid's safety around dogs. There are plenty of dogs that are dangerous around kids. I would suggest you have that same caution for every dog, whatever the breed. A small dog that looks harmless can seriously injure your child as well, and not being cautious around those dogs could increase your danger.
posted by el io at 10:31 AM on October 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


It is hard for me to follow a line of logic meant to make dogs seem hideously dangerous when it would apply equally well to my loving husband.

I did not and would not equate humans and pets as anything equal in this discussion. We are not talking about living with people. Seems simple to me - I stated I do not believe in having an animal that can kill me...includes large dogs, poisonous animals, etc. Has nothing to do with any other parameter of dangerous things in the world that could kill me. Talking about pets that could physically attack and kill me, and I made that clear. Also never said dogs were "hideously dangerous." I'm going to stop commenting now, so hopefully there won't be more exaggerating of what I said.
posted by agregoli at 10:35 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I decided to photograph them with flower crowns, to infuse a softer energy into their imagery.

This doesn't seem to be successful in the case of the one named "Apple."
posted by sageleaf at 10:36 AM on October 5, 2015


I was attacked by a dog eight years ago, with serious injuries that required multiple stitches and time off work. The dog was not a pitbull; it was a Malinois. I have anxiety around Malinois; I have anxiety around pitbulls. I have anxiety around any dog whose human doesn't seem to have it properly socialized or just generally doesn't give a shit what his or her dog does. I also have three dogs in my house and love them with what is only a feeble simulacrum of the unconditional love they give me.

The media-fed hate of pits doesn't help with the general anxiety. The fact that there are shitty people who raise and train pitbulls and other breeds to be engines of injury and pain doesn't help, either. This thread-fed hate of the single breed, or of dogs in general, fueled with furious messages like "they should all be killed" (pitbulls or any other breed), doesn't help or solve anything, for anyone, regardless of your feelings toward pitbulls. It escalates anger, hostility, and tension, and doesn't open or change any minds.
posted by blucevalo at 10:36 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


it's because dogs are actual living creatures with the capacity to suffer.

For me, this is why this is likely an unresolvable issue: dogs are living creatures best judged as individuals. They are also consumer products which are bought and sold and carry with them relative levels of liability which must be considered. So when someone says that each dog is different and must be treated as such, I tend to agree. When someone argues that we should look askance at a consumer product repeatedly tied to children and adults being horribly maimed, I also tend to agree. Even if a product has this connection because of misuse by terrible people as opposed to being defective, this is still an entirely reasonable viewpoint.

(I could have easily switched the order of those points. I didn't mean by putting the second one last that it should be the deciding factor. I legitimately am torn here and do not know what the right answer is.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:38 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


There are plenty of dogs that are dangerous around kids. I would suggest you have that same caution for every dog, whatever the breed.

QFT. Being cautious around dogs, especially dogs you don't know, and especially when children are involved, is a good and important thing to do. Opposing policies that target specific breeds, and thus lead to good dogs being put down, is also a good and important thing to do. (IMO.)
posted by heisenberg at 10:48 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


But I have trouble reconciling how so many people who use this argument about guns can get so incensed when seeing it used about dogs, with no apparent sense of irony.

The arguments against pit bulls and guns aren't even remotely similar. Guns were created and are used expressly for destruction of lives and property. Guns are by their very nature aggressive things. Dogs, even the most violent ones out there, are not.

They are also consumer products which are bought and sold and carry with them relative levels of liability which must be considered.

Seeing dogs as consumer products is a serious problem in how humans interact with dogs, actually. The transformation of pit bulls as literal "nanny dogs" into the kind of dog some people here want to portray the way we did Osama bin Laden and Whitey Bulger is absolutely the result of the consumer mindset. The difference with guns is that they can never be anything but a product to be used. Anyone who sees a gun as integral to human society or a part of their family should be considered insane, and rightfully so.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:49 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


It is true that the analogy isn't perfect. That goes both ways, of course. A gun has never broken free from its cage, run down the street and taken a child's face off

The very limited points of comparison from the guns/dogs analogy is that in each case, someone is saying, "[Thing] is tied to people getting hurt" and is being answered with "But I like [thing]! And it's really the owners who are to blame. Also, other categories of things also hurt people."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:52 AM on October 5, 2015


The arguments against pit bulls and guns aren't even remotely similar.

Perhaps it's different in the USA because you can of course just buy a gun. Here in London there are a great many young men to be seen training up their dogs (usually Staffordshire Bull Terriers) to be used in the same manner as guns; i.e. 'I need this to defend myself from the bad guys and also to be seen as fearsome.'
posted by colie at 10:54 AM on October 5, 2015


I'm running my mouth though, and need to shut up before I get sorted into the "portray[ing these dogs] the way we did Osama bin Laden" camp as a matter of convenience for one side or another.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:54 AM on October 5, 2015


The dogs in the post really are cute as hell. I hope it's a given that we all agree on that.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:58 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


QFT. Being cautious around dogs, especially dogs you don't know, and especially when children are involved, is a good and important thing to do. Opposing policies that target specific breeds, and thus lead to good dogs being put down, is also a good and important thing to do. (IMO.)

Absolutely! I don't believe that people, as a general rule, treat dogs with the respect that they should. If you don't know the dog, you shouldn't touch the dog without asking her owner if it's okay. Children should be taught never to approach a strange dog and should always be supervised around them (children are annoying and your sweet dog may not like getting her tail pulled 45 times in an hour.) People should be taught how to read a dog's body language. A lot of these stories of dogs attacking "out of nowhere" are due to the people involved not knowing how to reach the dog's body language. Dogs rarely attack "out of nowhere".

I've owned three dogs in my life. Currently I have what I think is some sort of cattle dog mix, and he probably has some pit bull in him, because most shelter dogs have some pit bill in them. He is the sweetest and most patient dog of the three. He was attacked at a dog park a few months ago and immediately rolled over on his back.

My previous dog was a basset hound who was very bitey and who I had to have muzzled outside of the house.
posted by Automocar at 11:00 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Those are some tolerant dogs to be wearing flower crowns while being chill. Who's a good floral puppy? All of you are, yes you are.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:01 AM on October 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


I loathe all dogs -- foul, leg humping creatures that they are. Pit bulls are just one of many breeds I'd never wish to be around.

That said, the pics were fantastic.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:14 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Some of those dogs are really working those crowns for all they're worth. It's all in the head tilt.

I knew a lot of pit bulls when I worked at a vet clinic that helped with a pit bull rescue group. During my time there, the majority of dogs that tried to bite me were cocker spaniels, one of whom lunged for me and was luckily brought up short by his leash. His owner, laughing, said something like, "He's a little stressed out by the vet's office!" as the dog snarled and snapped. The Lhasa Apso I had as a kid was also a bitey jerk, but nobody took him seriously because he was a little fluffball.

On the other hand I've had a tiny bit of dog apprehension start in the past couple of years. As far as I can tell, it's because two dogs that were likely either pit bulls or mixes charged me, growling, while they were off leash in a public park. Thankfully they eventually pulled up and returned to their owners, who walked past me without so much as a cursory apology for their asshole dogs.

I think my conclusion is that while most dogs are great, I really dislike people.
posted by PussKillian at 11:19 AM on October 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Of course, I'm talking about my husband, who is a wonderful, loving being who would never harm me at all. I live with him because I know him and I trust him. It is hard for me to follow a line of logic meant to make dogs seem hideously dangerous when it would apply equally well to my loving husband.

It is probably hard to follow because the lines of logic do not equally apply. The first reason is that human beings are not dogs. My dog lacks higher reasoning facilities, eats by putting his face into a bowl of food, and craps outside without wiping his ass. I'd be amazed if any of these applied to your husband. You understand very well that there are countless reasons why we treat humans and dogs differently.

A second reason is that you know your husband is lovely. I don't know that about him if I happen see him walking behind me on a dark sidewalk or trying to sell me some exciting new product. The great majority of people are perfectly lovely, but that doesn't mean I don't exercise caution in my day-to-day interactions with them.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:23 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I live in a building that has neither a no-smoking policy or a no-dogs policy, so basically management's view seems to be bring all the dogs and the dogs can smoke 'em if they got 'em. Most people who live on my floor have dogs. Mostly little yappy dogs. The people next door have a Sheltie so aggressive that he has to be muzzled and restrained in order to leave their apartment (and I hear them shouting at him all the time to LEAVE IT or GET DOWN or whatever, through our thin walls). Lady across the hall has a French bulldog who's pretty mellow around humans but if I make the mistake of trying to leave my apartment while he's out wandering in the hallway by himself, he'll bolt into my apartment and try to go after my cat. Guy down the hall (who thankfully is moving out this month) has a chihuahua mix of some sort that I've seen try to attack every person and animal it ever encounters, with a shrill high-pitched shriek not unlike a harpy or a banshee. No kidding, that little bastard scares the shit out of me, because it looks just like the dog that tried to tear my nose off my face when I was a kid.

The only dog that isn't a complete shitshow with terrible socialization and piss-poor training? The pittie two doors down. I am not a huge dog lover, but that dog RULES. He's calm in the face of all the yapping puffballs on our floor, rarely barks, doesn't piss on the floor like the yappy dogs do (and the one time I saw him poop in the hallway, out of fear, his owner was mortified and ran to get cleaning supplies... something I've never once seen the yappy dog owners do, they just go, "tee hee! somebody had to tinkle!" and then peace out like the carpet's gonna clean itself)... and it just now occurred to me that he HAS to be. Because people who are willing to let fear override everything else would rather he and every dog like him be wiped from the face of the earth. So he has to be a model minority of sorts.
posted by palomar at 11:27 AM on October 5, 2015 [14 favorites]


I'd like to just ask those who form opinions based on media reports to read this article here.

About halfway down the page are pictures of dogs involved in fatal attacks--the only type of attacks that are usually consistently reported. All of those dogs were identified by the media as pit bulls, and subsequently included in the dangerous dog statistics. The arguments about breed ID are not just canned responses. If you hear people bringing that up a lot, it's because it's true, and it's kind of a big deal.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:59 AM on October 5, 2015 [11 favorites]


taz: "from a 2008 study, "Breed Differences in Canine Aggression," as reported here and other places; I haven't found a non-paywalled version of the study"
As always, if anyone would like a copy of a paywalled paper, for the purposes of the academic discussion we are currently having, please don't hesitate to memail me an email address I can send a PDF to and a promise not to distribute that PDF any further.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:35 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Urban Outfitters should start selling this calendar immediately. I am dead serious. It completely fits their aesthetic.
posted by maryr at 12:35 PM on October 5, 2015


I suspect part of the problem is that owners will let a 10-15 pound dog get away with things that a 70 pound dog couldn't.

This is the key. At our dog park, the owners of the 'bully breeds' are the ones talking to their dogs, coaxing them out of any play that might get aggressive, and generally making sure their dogs are well socialized and not assholes. The ones who laugh and say "Oh she's just a softy!" or "Oh look he's humping the big dog, how cute!" are the owners of smaller dogs or dogs not generally tagged as aggressive.

Two dogs have been banned from the dog park this summer because of aggression issues. One more is on the watch list for excessive humping and snapping at other dogs. The humper is a chihuahua, one of the banned is a Jack Russell, and the other is German Shepard mutt. I would say that the large majority of dogs in our dog part are at list partially Pit. There's a lot of rescues and that just goes with the turf. So despite a higher concentration of Pits in the group, there are still no Pits in the "bitten another dog" group.

These are gorgeous pictures and I hope they help people understand that you can no more tell if a dog is a "bad" dog by looking at him than you can tell if a man is a "bad" man just by looking at him.
posted by teleri025 at 12:47 PM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Best Friends Animal Society does a lot of work on "pit bull" breed discrimination including alternatives to breed discrimination legislation, resources for preventing breed discrimination in your community, a comprehensive overview of why breed discrimination is ineffective, an application that generates a locality-specific report for combating breed discrimination legislation, and many other resources for pit parents and pit lovers. You can also join their legislative action center for updates on breed discrimination (and other pet-related) laws in your community.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:49 PM on October 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


However, the AVMA later reversed its position on breed being a factor in dog bite-related fatalities, stating in a comprehensive literature review of 66 dog bite studies

There's something a little off about that lit review. For instance, if you follow one of the citations for "there is no evidence that breed-specific bans reduce the rate or severity of bite injuries [in, sic] the community," the study actually seems to conclude the exact opposite, i.e., that dog bite hospitalizations in 2-20yos went down significantly in Manitoba specifically within communities that implemented pit bull bans.

Nevertheless, it's also true that you could get that result without pit bulls being specifically dangerous. One way this could happen is if pit bulls were just one of the most popular big dogs, and/or if there were a correlation between pit ownership and negligent/aggressive training, and after the ban, people chose smaller dogs or no dogs. For example, someone using a pit-bull for protection might decide to use an alternative method of protection; someone who raised the dog for fighting may stop being involved in dog-fighting after the ban, or move to a different municipality. It's still evidence that breed-specific legislation "works" to decrease injuries, but it's not necessarily evidence that pit bulls are intrinsically more dangerous than other dogs of comparable size.

(Still, it would be great to have a more reliable source than that review. I'm actually not sure the review even appears in the actual Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association -- it doesn't look typeset and I can't find a reference to it in either the JAVMA site or on Pubmed.)
posted by en forme de poire at 1:04 PM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Tee hee! somebody had to tinkle!
posted by dr_dank at 1:08 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm super late to this thread, because my physically very fragile mother (fragile, as in she's physically disabled, and is also a chemotherapy patient) recently was attacked by a pit bull as she was was about two steps out of her door into the hallway of her apartment building, and I am really not in the mood to be told I'm falling for scare stories in the media about the viciousness of pit bulls. And it was a bloody pit bull, not some different breed everybody involved has decided to call a pit bull. And it was a completely unprovoked attack, and she was barely aware there was a dog in the hall with her until the goddamn thing had its teeth sunk into her leg.

The fallout is she had a badly injured leg, extensive mental trauma, and has gone from being a confirmed dog lover, to somebody who freaks out at the very sight of a dog. I absolutely blame the irresponsible owner of that dog far more than the dog itself. (Guess what? Turns out my mother was not the first person that dog had attacked. Why the hell it got a second chance to maul somebody else is beyond me.) So, fine, I will not call for breed bans, but I would sure as hell love to see far more serious consequences for the assholes who own dogs, of any breed, who attack people.

Yes, the photos were lovely, and that's exactly as close as I ever want to be to a pit bull ever again.
posted by skybluepink at 1:29 PM on October 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


I would like to just step back and address what I think is the most important factor here.

Serious dog bite injuries are pretty rare, statistically. The vast majority of dogs, regardless of breed, improve people's lives. It is vastly more likely that a dog will save your life than end it. Dogs provide clear and quantifiable services to humans every day in capacities as service, therapy, search and rescue dogs; and as companions, the improvements in their human companions' quality of life is immeasurable. They bring joy and entertainment and companionship and love and acceptance to people like it's their job, because it is. Domestic dogs have a finely tuned evolved roles as companions for humans, and the vast majority of them are brilliant at it.

Despite being rare statistically, however, in any reasonably sized media market, non-fatal dog bite injuries are not newsworthy in themselves. Over a reasonable sized population, it happens fairly regularly. That's why "Dog Bites Man" is the classic example of a non-newsworthy story. So when you see a dog bite story in any but the tiniest markets, there is something else about the story they think makes it worthy of coverage. And currently, 'pit bull bites man' is still considered newsworthy. It attracts page views and comments.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:37 PM on October 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


I would sure as hell love to see far more serious consequences for the assholes who own dogs, of any breed, who attack people.

I think that's something we can all get behind.
posted by schroedinger at 1:55 PM on October 5, 2015


but I would sure as hell love to see far more serious consequences for the assholes who own dogs, of any breed, who attack people.

I'm really sorry to hear about what happened to your mother, skybluepink. That's absolutely terrible, and I completely agree that there should be far more serious consequences for owners whose dogs attack people (as wells those who attack other dogs unprovoked), and there needs to be much more consistent and swift action taken to identify dogs with this kind of aggression to make sure they don't have the chance to attack someone else, even if in some cases that means putting a dog down when it can't be rehabilitated.

Again, my heart really goes out to you and your mother, and I can completely understand why you would want to give pit bulls a wide berth after what you've experienced. (And I say this as a long time dog lover and owner who defended pit bulls as a breed upthread.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:06 PM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't know how reliable it is, but this is interesting. It seems that aggression comes in several forms and the types of aggression dogs display vary by breed. In figure 3, pits break the mean and zoom skyward for dog-directed aggression and dog rivalry, but they're far below the mean for attacking their owners and below the mean for attacking strange people. This makes sense given the reprehensible history of breeding of bull dogs generally: initially they were for bull baiting, because we liked to watch bulls get torn to shreds by dogs and bet on the outcome. Then when bullbaiting went out of fashion and got outlawed we bred them for dogfights, because we like to watch dogs get torn to shreds by dogs and bet on the outcome. Dogfights were not outlawed until relatively recently, so for ages we've bred the dogs to be docile with human handlers but murder on other animals. Dachsunds appear to have pretty short tempers, probably because of the constant pain from the being three feet long with three-inch legs thing they got going on.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:12 PM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I knew a lot of pit bulls when I worked at a vet clinic that helped with a pit bull rescue group. During my time there, the majority of dogs that tried to bite me were cocker spaniels, one of whom lunged for me and was luckily brought up short by his leash. His owner, laughing, said something like, "He's a little stressed out by the vet's office!" as the dog snarled and snapped. The Lhasa Apso I had as a kid was also a bitey jerk, but nobody took him seriously because he was a little fluffball.

On the other hand I've had a tiny bit of dog apprehension start in the past couple of years. As far as I can tell, it's because two dogs that were likely either pit bulls or mixes charged me, growling, while they were off leash in a public park. Thankfully they eventually pulled up and returned to their owners, who walked past me without so much as a cursory apology for their asshole dogs.


Pit bulls are noted (or notorious, take your pick) for being friendly to humans and aggressive toward other dogs, and I'm wondering whether the incident in the park happened while you were working at the vet clinic, because if it did, I'd be tempted to think the two pits were responding aggressively to smells of other dogs you picked up at work rather than to you as a human, and that they pulled up when they realized their mistake.

And I wouldn't be surprised to find that doggy smell was a factor in at least some apparently unprovoked attacks by pit bulls on human beings.

I've read a number of times that pit bulls do not back off when other dogs give the submission signal of rolling onto their back and presenting the belly, and will often just disembowel their opponent at that point, but I didn't find anything definitive about that to link to when Googling around just now, yet I did find an intriguing assertion on an Animal Liberation webpage (which I am not linking to) that pit bulls do not become submissive in defeat the way other dogs do, and will come after the dog that vanquished them with undiminished ardor on subsequent occasions, and those two things together, if true, seem to me to raise the possibility that pits are not wired to fit into dominance hierarchies the way other dogs are, and that the whole 'become the alpha dog' program for dealing with difficult dogs could be useless if not dangerous applied to pits.

A fiendish thingy's story, earlier in this thread, might shed some light on all this:
... My friend was the one who got a call back from the pound. The dog, they said, had almost certainly been raised for dogfighting. She had multiple badly healed breaks and fractures all over her body (along with some new ones), most likely because beating a dog is one way to turn them vicious. But this dog, the vet said, was never going to become a fighter. She was in love with everyone. She didn't have a violent bone in her body. She would sometimes yelp when the vet touched a tender spot, but would immediately apologize by licking the hand. She was painfully thin.

She was also, get this, chipped. But when the vet called the owners, they said they wanted nothing to do with the dog. They had purposefully abandoned her in the city, basically, because she wasn’t going to make them any money.

My friend talked her parents into adopting this dog, because dogs were not allowed in her own apartment. I see this dog once a year, and she is the darlingest cuddle bug in the world.
This sounds to me like a dog who is very resistant to developing conditioned fear, and conditioned fear might reasonably be a key component of submission and hierarchy both, I'd think.

I wonder whether they have some weird variation in their amygdalas, or perhaps a lack of certain connections between hippocampus and amygdala -- and that brings us back around to what they were first bred for, which was not, as I understand it, dog fighting, but bull baiting (thus 'bull') where a pack of such dogs fearlessly and relentlessly tore apart an enraged bull in a pit in front of a mass of screaming spectators, and only when that was outlawed were the dogs set against each other.
posted by jamjam at 2:17 PM on October 5, 2015


Pit bulls are so regularly misunderstood that theres a rescue organisation, Pittie Love Rescue dedicated to rehoming them, their website has a good summary of the facts about pitbulls:
In general, Pit Bulls are gentle, intelligent, obedient, courageous and loving dogs. As of February 2013, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers scored a 90.7% and 86.8% pass rate respectively with the American Temperament Test Society, surpassing the popular Border Collie breed which weighed in with a score of 81.5%, as well as the Golden Retriever at 85.2%. The pass/fail rate is a measure of each dog’s ability to interact with humans, human situations, and the environment. Just as with all other canine breeds, individual Pit Bull dogs can have behavioral problems. It would surely be a grave mistake to look at the actions of an individual dog, whether good or bad, and apply the expressed traits to an entire breed.
posted by Lanark at 2:36 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Pit bulls are noted (or notorious, take your pick) for being friendly to humans and aggressive toward other dogs, and I'm wondering whether the incident in the park happened while you were working at the vet clinic, because if it did, I'd be tempted to think the two pits were responding aggressively to smells of other dogs you picked up at work rather than to you as a human, and that they pulled up when they realized their mistake.

No, I worked at the vet clinic over 15 years ago, and the incident in the park happened about two years ago. We live in an apartment and only have cats, and that was even before my friend adopted Edith the Fat Beagle, who is my honorary part-time dog.

Most of the pitties I saw at the vet clinic were remarkably patient despite horrific treatment; they weren't all completely non-aggressive but most were very docile. The woman who ran the rescue had a bunch of her own and I made friends with a lot of them, but I know at one point there was a very bad incident with one of her new rescues, although I don't remember the details. Considering people would leave dogs tied to her front porch, I imagine the odds were good that she'd encounter a few that were plainly aggressive. She handled hundreds of them, though.

Besides cocker spaniels, the vet office is also where I learned to be wary of calico cats named Sassy.
posted by PussKillian at 2:49 PM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


My cat was just named Worst Patient Ever at our vet. We named him Attila for a reason.

I wish responsible pet ownership was taught in high schools along with, while I'm wishing, parenting, sex ed, and making a budget.
posted by chaiminda at 3:59 PM on October 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


Responsible pet ownership is of paramount importance.
That said, this is the thread for adorable pibble photos?
posted by amber_dale at 4:21 PM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


My sister's dog is chihuahua. Love that little spud, but it's the only dog I could never walk and let people pet. She hates kids. My dog? Jack Russell Pit mix, wants to love everyone, her only flaw being too exuberant. Knocking someone down? Yes. Biting! Never. She's scared of EVERYTHING.
posted by triage_lazarus at 4:39 PM on October 5, 2015


I've trained 3 poodles who hesitated at nothing.

When I was looking for a farm, showed up on the wrong day and there was a pit bull on a runner between two trees with big chain that slid back and forth on the runner. The only other pit bull I've been around had to be kept away from other dogs and strangers.

This one just didn't seem like that one. More like "Hooray! Somebody is here!" So I walk over and it wraps that chain around my ankles and we are rolling around in the mud.

Went back on the proper day with my five year old and the realtor and boy really wanted to play with dog. I warned him, told him what happened to me, he didn't listen. Realtor and I went in the house. The giggling never stopped. Boy was getting towed and really needed a bath after that.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:43 PM on October 5, 2015


I have extremely mixed feelings.

My experience with Pit types is family members owned two Pit mixes from the local shelter and I hung out there a lot and did some long term dogsitting too. I never at any point feared for my safety with either of them. Dog #1 had severe, crippling fear and anxiety issues. (I can relate.) We all believe he was almost certainly severely abused by a former owner. He was absolutely terrified by everyone but his owners. He never warmed up to me despite hanging out around him for years. I suspect former owner was likely a large man like myself and I reminded him of him. Every time I came in the house he would bark like a maniac, and if I tried to approach him he would run like hell and piss on the floor. If he eventually calmed down, any sudden movement from me like getting up from the couch would result in terrified barking resuming. There is no way this dog could ever be violent, he was too terrified and cowering was his response rather than fighting. Either somebody tried to train him for fighting and he just refused, or maybe someone beat any aggression out of him, or maybe the owner was just a shitbag in general, I dunno.

The dog was terrifying in appearance though, before he ran away and pissed. He is big, strong, and the bark sounded vicious. If I had encountered such a dog as a child I would have run and pissed myself before he got a chance too, and I didn't blame anybody for crossing the street when I walked him. Nobody who doesn't know him knows that he would never bite. But if he did, it would be terrible. I could not fight him off. That scares me. That's why I like chihuahuas. Yes, they can be little assholes, but they really have to pick their shots if they actually want to do damage. (Oh, and like cats they can find a way. I often said that family member's chihuahua, my favorite dog of all time, should actually be classified a form of cat based on behavior.) They are my favorite breed by far. Would have at least two of them if I didn't live with family members who have allergy issues.

I know other breeds of big dogs can be just as strong as pit types, but they just don't look that way to me. It's seems somewhat instinctual to me to be a bit put off by pit bulls. Obviously I'm a person that tries to work really hard to trust science and stats over instincts, but this is a tough one for me.

Dog #2 was also completely harmless. His problem was he loved you too much. If you were not literally hugging him for your entire visit to his home, you did not love him as much as he loved you, and he felt that way about everyone he met. It actually could get somewhat annoying. He was kind of a stereotypical dumb dog though, so maybe I could see him being the type of dog to do unknowing damage, but he never did. He had less of a pit type of appearance so maybe he wasn't even pit at all, I'm not sure on that.

So look. Here's the deal. I don't like big dogs, they are intimidating. I don't like dogs with a pit like appearance in particular because they look particularly strong and also because they are heavily associated with dog fighting and bad owners in general. I do feel that the open carry comparison holds some water. Yes, I know 99% of the time pits are perfectly nice and non-violent, just like 99% of people who carry a gun. But I can't tell who that 1% is and that 1% is terrifying. My reaction may be irrational, but I don't feel a flower crown is going to change it.

I'm not sure what the path to rehabilitation for the image of the breed is though. Step one would be to start enforcing dog fighting laws much, much harder and to find any irresponsible breeders and come down on them like a ton of bricks too. I can definitely see these dogs as possible nanny dogs when well socialized, but people aren't going to buy that until the other image changes not only from pointing out the actual nature of the dog but also by irradiating the source of the negative stereotypes which is the ongoing presence of irresponsible breeders, dog fighters, and crappy owners in general. I appreciate the government coming down on Mike Vick, and appreciate that he turned his life around to be a campaigner against dog fighting...but there is so much more we could be doing from a government standpoint to manage the pet population. It pains me to see so much of the burden for this issue being placed on non-profits. Doing welfare for people doesn't work well that way, and it doesn't work for animals either.

As a person who believes in animal rights, I would absolutely be in favor of tougher regulation to make sure owners are responsible. Just subsidize any stuff like classes so it doesn't end up another stupid burden on the poor. I guess I will have to add that to the long list of things the government should be doing I know they will realistically not start doing.

So a side note. There was an issue recently at a local shelter.

Bucks SPCA Puts Down Dog Adopted Just Days Earlier From Philly Shelter

They took in a pit bull type that had been in a previous shelter just days before. They said the dog did not pass the temperament test but the other shelter says the dog was fine. They were accused of anti-pit bias. The Bucks SPCA is where my family members adopted, and they passed both of family member's dogs even though the one had a lot of issues. They saw that he wasn't violent. They take in and find homes for a lot of pits like most shelters will. I find it very difficult to believe there is any anti-pit bias in that organization, but I do wonder how widespread that kind of bias is in general. With a breed that has a bad reputation, keeping them around may mean using resources for them when other dog breeds are more likely to find a home. And, like I said, when you rely on non-profits the resources are finite. It's a tough as heck situation.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:47 PM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Drinky Die, FWIW, it turns out my PA House representative is introducing Angel's Law to increase penalties under the state's anti-cruelty statutes, including dog fighting. My wife and I are going to try to attend the rally here to support it if we're in town. No idea what chance it has in the legislature, but Wolf would presumably sign it if it came to his desk.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:24 PM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thanks for mentioning it, I just sent a letter to my representatives.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:36 PM on October 5, 2015


This thread is the first I've heard of pit bulls being known to be more aggressive towards other dogs than humans, but it fits my experiences. The pit bull from next door, Leon, recently burrowed under the fence and beat the shit out of my rottweiler. Just locked onto the inside of his mouth and wouldn't let go. It was ghastly. Once they both backed off and I checked my dog out (he was hurt, but OK), I had Leon to deal with, because his owner wasn't home. Here was a creature who ten minutes earlier I'd almost expected to murder my poor old doggy, drinking water out of my hands with his blood-soaked tongue, letting me stroke him and leash him and clean his wounds, and generally gazing up at me in the most pathetically gentle way. It was very strange soothing him and looking after him after what he'd done to my own personal baby, but one thing I didn't feel was nervous or afraid in any way. Once it was me he was dealing with, he turned all the hate right off.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:05 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


They took in a pit bull type that had been in a previous shelter just days before. They said the dog did not pass the temperament test but the other shelter says the dog was fine.

At the same time, I don't know if I trust ACCT to do a proper evaluation of its animals. They are completely overloaded with animals 24/7/365, and have to put many, many, many down. In response to this they sometimes sign off on animals who really should not be signed off on and approve adoptive families (like that poor dog's) who really shouldn't be approved. The result is a shitty adopter who decides to dump their freshly-adopted dog in the road, and a freshly-adopted dog who is not socialized enough to be able to handle all the drastic scenery changes without freaking out.

I'm less mad at the Bucks SPCA than I am at fucking ACCT for their shoddy adopter evaluations. How much do you want to bet the dog was adopted during one of their "$1 for a kitten/puppy/pittie" specials? Ugh.
posted by schroedinger at 7:18 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread is the first I've heard of pit bulls being known to be more aggressive towards other dogs than humans

So you thought pits were more aggressive towards humans than dogs? That looks like what you are saying, but I have never encountered that thought before so I just wanted to make sure that I understood what you meant. No judgement! Just curious.
posted by futz at 7:41 PM on October 5, 2015


You would be shocked by how many fatal dog attacks are committed by tiny dogs like Pomeranians and Yorkshire Terriers.
googling 'fatal attack by pomeranian' yields a couple of results that describe the same incident in california and many others describing pomeranians killed by pitbulls fwiw
posted by p3on at 8:50 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I suppose I assumed aggression was more of an across the board thing. I didn't expect Leon to maul my dog, then turn sweet for me.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:53 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thank you for responding 2 3 🚙's 🌠, I don't really know what to say. If I were the owner of the dog that attacked your dog I would consider putting my dog down. I would want as many facts as I could first though. If I have a dangerous dog, as hard as it may be, I would choose to euthanize. How did your neighbor respond?

I would feel (and know) that I might have failed at being a dog owner. I am really sorry for you and your pup.

If you look through my posting history you will find out that I have a pit. I also live on my own on 2 acres and he has an enclosed 1/3 acre run. I would never allow him around kids or strange dogs. It is just a decision I made early on. He is a total love bug but it took him at least a year for him to trust me. It works for us but it was a challenge.

Doggie love aside, I would never tolerate injury towards another animal, bipedal or quadrupedal.
posted by futz at 9:57 PM on October 5, 2015


The pit bull that tangled with the Rott and then was instantly friendly with people in the example above has the historical, true pit temperament.
The pit bull and related bull and terrier breeds begin in England as fighting dogs. They were selected over hundreds of years by poor workers as dogs that would be aggressive in the dogfighting pit but friendly at home with the children. Another ritual in the pit was the humans running this nightmare would exchange dogs before the fight. Any show of aggression to a human and the dog was immediately killed.
The breed was simultaneously selected for dog aggression and selected for very stable temperament with humans, both with the handlers in the pit and the children at home living in close quarters.

Dog aggression comes in many styles. Some breeds are expected to be aggressive with game (rat terriers, bird dogs, etc.) and others are expected to be aggressive guards (shepards, rotts).
These aggressions are bred for, and breeding for a dog aggressive with rabbits/rodents will not create a dog that is aggressive to humans. (Dachshunds, spaniels, etc)
Similarly, a pit bull type that is properly bred to historical type should be bred to be aggressive to other dogs but so non-aggressive to people that the dog should allow you to pull it off another in a fight to the death in the dogfighting pit. As you would not expect your bird dogs aggression to suddenly redirect to humans when he has a bird in his mouth.
Of course, this temperament is the historical temperament and what fanciers of the breed are looking for (the dogfighting gameness being something some breeders try to minimize but others still select for), but backyard breeders and awful people don't understand that a TRUE pit bull has been selected for hundreds of generations to be very stable with people. The breed has been corrupted and millions (?) of animals mistreated.

A dog with one style of aggression will not automatically manifest aggression to people, and bull and terrier breeds should not display aggression to people. For the good of the breed and to preserve and promote it, people aggressive bull and terrier types should not be encouraged, bred, and many breeders would advocate they be culled.
Breed fanciers often remark that it's difficult for bull and terrier types to learn Schutzhund (attack the man in the sleeve) because attacking people is something this breed doesn't inherently understand.

Lots of dog trainers that use science believe dogs have different styles of aggression as I have described, and they train a dog aggressive dog differently than a people aggressive dog.

Here's some more info from the ASPCA on styles of dog aggression : https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/aggression-dogs
posted by littlewater at 1:04 AM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


"For the good of the breed and to preserve and promote it, people-aggressive bull and terrier types should not be encouraged or bred, and many breeders would advocate they be culled."
"For the good of the breed?" What is that? What is the breed, anymore, now that fighting them is out of fashion? It's unfortunate that aggression toward people crept in to the honorable tradition of breeding dogfight dogs, assuredly: is it still okay to breed them to be aggressive to other dogs? If not, what are breeders selecting for?
posted by Don Pepino at 6:15 AM on October 6, 2015


Riffing off corb's comment in the MeTa about class issues and rescue...

Rescue dogs are cheap in terms of adoption fees compared to many purebred dogs. (I often see purebred puppies going for $700+, particularly if they have any kind of health testing on the parents, whereas rescue fees I rarely see higher than $200. My own dog came from an Animal Control in Georgia and her adoption fee was literally $25.) Rescue fees also often have vaccinations and spay/neuter folded in, which is not usually the case for puppies. Purebred puppies that are available for cheap tend to be... pit bulls and chihuahuas, plus or minus whatever regional breeds are popular with poor people for things like hunting. Very specific breeds that there are a lot of in the area. They also tend to be the most "irresponsibly bred" dogs out there, so if you're a person without a ton of money and you have any feelings or knowledge about animal welfare and ethical dog breeding, you default to rescue. (Hey, poor people generally care about ethics in dog ownership too--at least, all the ones *I* know do.)

Of course, I'm in the South, and our shelters are full of pits--not least because it's very common for adoptable dogs in rescue of any other breed to be shipped North to rescues there. But they almost never take pits, because there are pits in need of homes everywhere and pits are less adoptable than, say, hound dogs or cattle dogs. On top of that, because "pit type" is a very broad category and includes a lot of characteristics shared with other popular breeds of dog AND because pits are common in shelters, many of the mixes in shelters have some pit bull characteristics. For a lot of mixes, "lab mix" and "pit mix" are honestly guesses that could work about the same way, especially if the dog is kind of fat rather than heavily muscled. See these four dogs for an example of what I'm talking about. People wind up basing their category based on color more than anything else, which is... not, shall we say, well correlated with animal behavior. Especially given that you can get brindle or dilute blue from a whole lot of different places.

(My own dog fits this category. She is almost certainly either some kind of pit cross OR perhaps a Boston Terrier cross. I'm pretty sure it's the latter for a variety of subtle reasons based on the way that known Boston crosses tend to turn out, but I have no way of knowing for sure and in the end I still have a muscly, brindle dog with a short face and minimal body fat. I live in rental housing where pits are explicitly banned. It's very worrying to me that my dog could be evaluated totally differently by my landlords depending on how she is labeled. So there's also a very strong incentive for people in rescue and for dog owners to be careful about how mixes are labeled, regardless of what behavior the dog actually has. For the record, my dog is a quiet, happy friendly dog around people.)

So many of the dogs available in rescue are either obviously pits or sort of dubiously pit-ish. (Looking at my favorite local animal shelter, I see that perhaps 20% of the available dogs are not pit types... and many of those are elderly.) If you're broke and looking for a dog in rescue, and you live in an apartment, that creates additional stress and upset because the kinds of dogs easily available to you are not the kinds of dogs that are free and legal to actually have in rental housing. Which adds an additional stress onto people who don't own their own houses and who are trying to do the right thing by their dogs.
posted by sciatrix at 6:55 AM on October 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


If I were the owner of the dog that attacked your dog I would consider putting my dog down. If I have a dangerous dog, as hard as it may be, I would choose to euthanize.

Been there, done that.

My sister adopted a badly neglected pit bull. She was in terrible shape, but once no longer neglected and mistreated she turned into a really good dog. When my sister had a baby on the way I took the dog for about two years, and she was a great dog.

She was friendly with people, strangers and familiar, children, and other dogs. Until the time she brutally mauled this super-friendly golden retriever, which was not seriously injured but only because of our intervention. It was out of the blue; but I didn't feel like I had a choice, I had her put down. I was very sad but I couldn't accept the chance that it could happen again.

And I thought the photos were great, but they made me sad.

And a data point on the breed v. owner debate, the person who my sister rescued the dog from is currently in jail awaiting trial on a murder charge, and it's likely he killed two other people in the same manner. So, I owned a pit bull raised by a (likely) serial killer, and she was mostly a good dog.
posted by peeedro at 6:58 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The question of what breeders are selecting for does seem silly for many breeds.
Few bird dogs that are born today will ever swim home with the duck.
And it's even rarer to find a Dachshund owner that is regularly sending his dog down holes to kill badgers and other varmints.

But the dog fancy preserves these instincts, it is indeed the reason for dog breeds. Dogs should breed true to type, and dogs with personalities that don't match the breed standard should not be bred.

Criminals and other awful people will always be attracted to dogs as a status symbol and will exploit that dogs' characteristics.
Right now it's pit bulls, but this has happened to Dobermans, German Shepards, Etc. and it will continue with a new dog breed soon.
posted by littlewater at 7:08 AM on October 6, 2015


This New Yorker article is worth reading. I ran into it while looking for an article they did about dog breeding, health issues and the ASPCA, which I didn't find.
posted by theora55 at 7:38 AM on October 6, 2015


"The question of what breeders are selecting for does seem silly for many breeds.
Few bird dogs that are born today will ever swim home with the duck.
And it's even rarer to find a Dachshund owner that is regularly sending his dog down holes to kill badgers and other varmints."

Does it seem silly? Then what makes the "breeds" breeds?

I'm not having stunning success parsing this:

"But the dog fancy preserves these instincts, it is indeed the reason for dog breeds."

Antecedent of "it" is "dog fancy?" And "dog fancy" is the tendency in people to spend a lot of money to get a dog that looks like a wiener? Does "these instincts" mean gentle mouth in a bird-dog, tendency to spelunk in the dachshund, tendency to rip up other animals in a bulldog, tendency to run after a metal rabbit in a greyhound? But we're not breeding for the instincts anymore, I understand? We're breeding for phenotype merely? So bird dogs are bred to look like bird dogs and dachshunds are bred to look like wieners and pits are bred to look good in flower bonnets? That would be fine with me (except not the wiener bullshit taken to extremes and not too many teeth in the mouth and not hips that fly out of joint and not short snout so it can't brea- actually, you know what, that's not fine with me. Quit breeding for phenotype, too; all it does is produce animals born to suffer).

I'd just like to ask the breed enthusiasts this: what are we breeding this dog to be and do now that we have outlawed the thing we bred it to be and do for hundreds and hundreds of years?
posted by Don Pepino at 9:07 AM on October 6, 2015


Most of the dogs people identify as 'pit bulls' are not purebred, and many probably don't even have significant bully breed genetics at all. In fact, it has always seemed to me that pit bull shape is one of the more common types of mixed breed dog. A long line of dogs not actively bred by human selection seems to lead to certain common characteristics. One common type are the sort of Shepherd or Dingo looking dogs like Carolina dogs, and another common one is a more muscled, short coated, blocky headed type that parses as 'pit bull' to casual observers.

There are also a lot of breeders that have created breeds not recognized by major kennel clubs, such as those big hog-catching dogs in the Southern US and big burly dogs like the American Bully (different from American Bulldogs) and any number of other breeds like that. Many of these dogs are bred by amateurs, either for some specific job or for appearance.

It is difficult to overstate just how diverse and unquantifiable the definition of 'pit bull' is in public discourse. It's pretty much a nonce term, which is a big part of the reason that people's wires get crossed so often discussing it. Everyone is talking about different things, and most people aren't even aware of it.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:34 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


They bring joy and entertainment and companionship and love and acceptance to people like it's their job, because it is.

Indeed it is, and indeed they do, when they are trained correctly. They can be, and are, also trained (not just pit bulls, IGWS), by a perhaps statistically minute but still not infinitesimal number of people who are sociopaths, for aggression and violence. I have seen both sides of the coin, been through an attack by a weaponized dog, yet still love dogs and have them in my home. But I'm also anxious and trauma-triggered around strange dogs. I live on a street with many dogs who are strangers to me, and I have to admit that the one I'm most afraid of, though she seems a complete sweetheart, is the pitbull a few houses down who is left to wander the yard and street unsupervised and leashless by her insanely irresponsible, doesn't-give-a-shit owner.

Many of the comments from people here who are similarly anxious or who have been injured or traumatized or whose loved ones have been injured or traumatized brings it home to me emphatically as a dog owner/human how critical it is that dogs are properly socialized and trained, not just around other humans but around other dogs as well.
posted by blucevalo at 10:08 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Don Pepino, you are asking very broad questions that the dog fancy addresses internally, and also is addressed through hundreds of years of breeding and selection. It is difficult to distill so much information into a small response; a full response would be hundreds of pages long and contain lots of history. But I will try to help you understand where the pit bull fancy lands on some of your questions. And, this is from the perspective of registered dog owners, breeding only for their own, not puppy mills, rescue groups, or backyard breeders. The dogs I am talking about are sought after and resold mostly within the fancy community. You will not find an ad for these dogs; they are spoken for before conception.
As ernielundquist points out, the label "pit bull" is so broad that it is useless.

You ask:
But we're not breeding for the instincts anymore, I understand? We're breeding for phenotype merely?

Incorrect. The American Pit Bull Terrier has a very broad standard when it comes to looks. Almost any color is acceptable, and a very wide range of heights and weights. There are dogs that are more "terrier type" (small and wiry, looking almost exactly like a rat terrier) and the "bull type" (heavily muscled and looking like a mastiff).
If you look at the breed standard for most other dogs, there is a much smaller window for color, height, and weight.


You follow up with:
I'd just like to ask the breed enthusiasts this: what are we breeding this dog to be and do now that we have outlawed the thing we bred it to be and do for hundreds and hundreds of years?

The characteristic you are asking about is called gameness. It is bravery in the face of death. While it was created in a horrific manner, gameness is still a key personality trait of the bull and terrier breeds (which there are many). Some breeders select more for it, some select less for it.


This gameness is the characteristic that I want in my dogs. Always. If I wanted a guinea pig, or a goat, I would get one. But I want a dog, the most "dog" dog you can find.

These pit bulls today are doing lots of interesting things with their gameness, from flyball to pulling literally thousands of pounds on sleds. These activities activate their ability to keep trying in the face of difficulty.

I came to pit bulls through my ex-husband. I kept the dog and lost the guy, the dog was a lot smarter.

How gameness came through in my dog, Ronnie, was an unwillingness to quit, and a willingness to try almost anything. The spirit of a well-bred pit bull is the pinnacle of dog-ness. Balls, running, swimming. If I asked him to perform those tasks until he died, he would. I would have to watch to see if his paws were bleeding when we were running. He would rather run on bloody stumps than stop before I told him to. That is gameness. And he was a terrible swimmer, he probably almost did die doing that!

He was great with other people, even though he was kind of goofy and jumpy and happy.

Like most pit bulls, his pain tolerance was through the roof, and three times broke his tail off and had to have the vet cut parts off. He broke his tail by wagging. Wagging so hard he hit the wall or floor or concrete and broke his bones in happiness. Happy blood spraying with each wag.

It is difficult to explain the exuberance and desire to live every second to the fullest and happiest that this gameness brings to a pit bull.

If you do some research, you can see that even many of Michael Vick's fighting dogs were rehabilitated and lived with families. Dog aggression is not the same as people aggression. Wallace the Pit Bull was one of the Vick dogs that went on to become a champion in a couple areas, I think temperament and Frisbee (?).

The downside to the gameness is many pit bulls still have that dog aggression in them. Bird dogs go for birds, terriers after vermin, pits go after other dogs.

My pit bull was MY dog, and while we worked hard to socialize him, he was never going to be a dog that was safe around other dogs. He was always leashed when outside my yard. My yard was very securely fenced, and he never escaped, I was very cautious. He was not a dog park dog. He was not able to do many of the dog sports I wanted him to participate in because he was not reliable enough around other dogs. Which is ok, because the reason we had him was to be MY dog, not to be a friend to other dogs.

Every dog owner has a duty and responsibility to know every dog bites. Every single one. And each owner needs to know what situations their dog may bite another human or animal, and it is the owner's responsibility to manage that.

It involves endless training and management. Most people are not willing to recognize that, and even fewer are willing to do the training and management needed. I would guess I spent about 10-15 hours a week doing training style activities with Ronnie.

If you are interested in pit bulls, I encourage you to research starting with the history of the bull and terrier breeds, and also trying to sort out "what is a pit bull"? That will keep you busy for days.
posted by littlewater at 11:26 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


"He would rather run on bloody stumps than stop before I told him to. That is gameness."
Yes, okay, I'd forgotten about the pulling contests and feats of strength things that are the new (and maybe innocuous? I don't know enough? Do dogs get tore up from the floor up trying to pull piles of cinderblocks all the time probably?) substitutes for bullbaiting and now dogfighting. But gameness is not dogness anymore than wienerness is dogness. Gameness doesn't make him more dog than a dog that feels pain, shows mercy, will stop before it's seriously injured or dead, it makes him less dog.

"Dog aggression is not the same as people aggression." Right! Upthread I linked a study that showed this exact thing. What I'm asking is, so? Why are we still breeding for dog aggression when dog aggression is not a desirable trait?

(PS All this past tense = Ronnie's gone? I'm so sorry. Ronnie sounds like an awesome boy. If somebody forced me at gunpoint to stop talking about how all breeding is terrible and say which "purebred" dog I like the best, I would say pits, one because every single one I've met has been hilarious and sweet, two, because they look like happy furry sharks, and three because they have that gameness you speak of and will do anything for you. I just don't think our particular species merits devotion on that scale. Dogs are slavish and devoted enough naturally.)
posted by Don Pepino at 11:54 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]



"Dog aggression is not the same as people aggression." Right! Upthread I linked a study that showed this exact thing. What I'm asking is, so? Why are we still breeding for dog aggression when dog aggression is not a desirable trait?



Oh yes, this is a huge debate in the dog show community in particular. Some do want that aggression, as it is one of the core characteristics of the breed as it was founded.
I cannot even scratch the surface of the opinions on this one. Opinions in the community run across the board from those that select for more aggression and those that realize it's easier to trot 6 dogs around a show ring when they aren't aggressive towards each other and would rather let that instinct die, even if that is a founding characteristic of the breed. If you are curious about this you can dig into the show dog boards.

As well, all breeds have individuals that are more or less aggressive to other dogs, so removing that trait entirely is probably not possible anyhow. And intact males are generally more aggressive too, and dogs that will be bred are intact, of course.
posted by littlewater at 12:09 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm definitely one of those "It's the owner, not the breed" people, especially with pits since I don't think that "pit bull" is a coherent category. But I also recognize that the breeding does affect behavior, and I get more than a little annoyed at what read as overly naive apologia for pit bulls in general.

First off, I don't think most people — even most dog owners — realize how hard a dog is to train well and keep. Our neighbor, who's a great person, just had to move out because her lab/retriever mix wouldn't stop barking. It's her first dog, and (like children) there's often very little ability to point out the ways that her irresponsibility with the dog was contributing to its behavior problems. She was almost always gone for at least eight hours a day, the dog is young (about a year) and with those active breeds needs a lot of running around to wear out. She then put the dog's bed right behind the only door to the place, where people walk past all the time — meaning that though they're on the other side of the door, they're still functionally in the dog's space. In order to try to get the dog over the barking, she was responding by yelling at the dog, which tends to just be more loud noise and attention for the dog, and she wasn't doing any positive reinforcement of quiet responses. She's lucky that he's a friendly dog, but she's just clueless about actually doing the work required to own a dog.

Similarly, my brother and his ex-wife had a pit, Zeke (I know, right?), that ended up needing to be put down. They picked him because out of the puppy scrum, he approached them — which is a sign that he was likely to be more aggressive in interactions with people. They got him from what I'd consider a dubious breeder — a puppy mill in Ohio that churned out a bunch of aggressive breeds. Starting from a puppy is difficult with most dogs, if only because of the endless dynamo of puppy power, and my brother and his ex-wife were also leaving Zeke alone for long stretches and doing relatively little exercise. What exercise they did do tended to be things like wrestling or tug of war, which reinforced the aggressive instincts of the dog and meant that he was socialized to leap on strangers, to be territorial about his toys, and to be aggressive in defending his food. That was compounded by the fact that pit bulls are relatively dumb dogs — their ceiling in trainability and responsiveness to contextual commands is much lower than, say, a collie or spaniel. Being dumb, aggressive and energetic means that the requirements for owners is higher than a dog that's only two out of the three.

When Zeke was about two, my brother and the ex took him to a family reunion, where they once again ignored him for most of his time, and left him in the car. They told a cousin — a eight- or nine-year-old girl — that she could play with him, gave him some food in the car and left her unsupervised. She reached out to pet the doggie, didn't read his cues and got bitten on her face, requiring nine stitches to close the gash on her cheek. An inch higher and she would have lost her eye; luckily the "scared for life" prognosis ended up being overly dire.

We told my brother that biting a kid's face is one of those things that basically requires either an intense amount of training or putting the dog down. You can't just dump them in a shelter because you shouldn't be risking someone else's naive safety just because you fucked up, and while it sucks to have to put a dog down, if they continue to be aggressive and don't respond to training, that's pretty much the only option. Unfortunately, they hemmed and hawed and half-assed some training, even after Zeke went after a couple other dogs in the neighborhood, and then (if I recall correctly), some neighborhood kid made a quick move to pet the dog, and he bit the kid hard enough to break the kid's arm. That was when they finally had the dog put down.

I don't blame Zeke, I do blame my brother and his idiot ex-wife. But they were both the kind of people who would pass around cute pictures of pits and coo over them, with basically zero recognition of the type and amount of work training the dog would require. The next dog they got was an English bulldog who was sweet (and slobbery) as anything, but even as a moron was clearly the brains of the outfit between the three of them.

The other thing that colors my impressions of pits is that I grew up in a housing project where there was dog fighting and people raising dogs to fight. Again, I don't think pits are evil or anything, but their breeding makes them more attractive to stupid, cruel people, and without any other information about an owner, when I see someone with a pit, I am much more wary than I would be with a poodle or husky or whatever. The percentage of pit owners that I have known to be responsible and attentive to the level required by a pit is dwarfed by the number of morons who don't understand that a pit takes more work than most dogs, not less.

One thing that I did appreciate in this thread was the links to alternatives to breed bans. My parents still live in my old neighborhood, and they've had a ban on pits that stays on the books despite spotty enforcement and semi-regular defeats. It has some deterrent value around discouraging people who are casually considering an aggressive dog, but hasn't been very effective at eliminating the hardcore bad owners out there, and having the pit thing front and center actually seems to make their aggressive dog policy weaker because it's all nominally tied to "aggressive breeds." That they also don't apply their policy to dog attacks outside the property limits (rather than accepting things like police reports or court findings) meant that an asshole who bred Perro de Pressa dogs for fighting only recently got kicked out because he managed to fuck up paying his rent — his dogs had killed a pet dog in the attached park (technically outside the project's property but effectively within it), ripped up another woman while she tried to protect her puppy from an attack (including permanent tendon damage to her hands), and been general terrors. But because they weren't "pit bulls" and because this happened on land that was 100 feet off of the property, there were no consequences and he kept selling aggressive dogs to neighbors. Now that he's finally gone, there are still a handful of morons who bought those aggressive dogs and it's just a matter of time before there's another attack.

Sorry, long comment short (too late), I tend to empathize with people who want a breed ban or think that pits are especially dangerous even though it doesn't look like the breed bans work and even though the reason pits are more dangerous than your average dog is mostly because of their appeal to assholes and morons. I'm wary of efforts to "rehabilitate" the image of the dog with an equally simplistic view of flowers and cuddling rather than an acknowledgement that the concern over pits isn't entirely unfounded but that the source of it isn't in the dogs per se, and a recognition that pits are honestly not the right dog for most people. It's great if you have the space and time to have one, but the people most likely to get one are the folks most likely to not have that space and time.

Finally, just wanted to mention that the most vicious dog I ever knew was a farm rescue German Shepherd named Jenny who my parents agreed to take from a neighbor who couldn't handle her. She was OK with my parents, but clearly considered herself ranked above children, and her favorite activity was getting into the barn to eat kittens. The only time our old sheepdog got her back up was around Jenny, and finally my parents ended up just driving her off to the middle of nowhere because back then my mom still couldn't stand to put down a dog, even a mean kitten-eating bitch.
posted by klangklangston at 12:23 PM on October 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


Many of the comments from people here who are similarly anxious or who have been injured or traumatized or whose loved ones have been injured or traumatized brings it home to me emphatically as a dog owner/human how critical it is that dogs are properly socialized and trained, not just around other humans but around other dogs as well.

Absolutely. The thing about breed related legislation, though, is that it doesn't accomplish that.

I live in Colorado, and you know which county in my state has the highest constant rate of serious dog bite injuries? Denver. The only one with a countywide pit bull ban. And it's significantly higher, not just a glitch.

Nobody can definitively explain why that is, but I have a couple of guesses.

1. Animal control is so busy trying to enforce the ban that they don't have the resources to address real problems such as neglectful owners and individual dog behaviors.
2. Classifying dogs as dangerous based on appearance creates a false sense of security that causes people to take early signs of aggression less seriously as long as the dog in question is not an officially 'dangerous' dog.

Another thing to keep in mind is that overall, rates of dog bite related fatalities don't change that much over time, but the breeds of dogs involved change all the time. If there really were some specific breed or type of dogs responsible, this rate should increase commensurate to the popularity of those dogs increased, but it doesn't.

If people really want to address dog bites as a public health concern, the best way to do so is with education and positive improvements to animal and human welfare, not with sloppy, counterproductive stereotyping.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:39 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I noticed the class thing with rescue dogs when I was in a meeting with a bunch of senior professors, and one other staff member.

We started talking about dogs, and the faculty members were all extolling their wonderful golden lab/golden retriever/purebred whatever that they has seen grow up on webcams at the most wonderful breeder four states away and they took a road trip vacation to go pick her up when she was ready, and then they looked to hear from my fellow staff member and I about our dogs, but we basically have garbage dogs, and by that I mean not that they are bad dogs because they aren't but that they were discarded at some point like someone's dirty kleenex, so what was there to say?

"My dog was discarded by his family who wanted him destroyed because his health was ruined by an ailment they had failed to treat and he was in such terrible shape, vets could not decide if he was 5 years old or 10 and we spent a full year and a fortune getting him back on his feet" is kinda a conversation killer.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:00 PM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Again, I don't think pits are evil or anything, but their breeding makes them more attractive to stupid, cruel people, and without any other information about an owner, when I see someone with a pit, I am much more wary than I would be with a poodle or husky or whatever. The percentage of pit owners that I have known to be responsible and attentive to the level required by a pit is dwarfed by the number of morons who don't understand that a pit takes more work than most dogs, not less.

By the way, as a person who wrote a personality profile of a beloved pit bull above, I just want to say: I think this is an eminently reasonable position, and one that I largely share! Many dog owners are terrible at it, and that makes the rest of us less safe, and that sucks. Dogs that are dangerous need to be put down. Owners who are incapable of training dogs should not be allowed to keep owning dogs.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 1:06 PM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think it's likely that one reason Denver has a higher dog-bite injury rate than other counties in Colorado is that it is far more densely populated than any other county in Colorado. The link posted above points out that Denver County has seven times as many bite-related hospitalizations than does Larimer County, which has about half of Denver County's population. But it fails to point out that Denver is about 34 times as dense as Larimer County (~3,900 people per square mile vs. 115 people per square mile). More density means more interactions between people and dogs, and I would guess more bites.

I know I pass a lot more dogs on the street now that I live in a city than I did when I lived in a rural area, in part because there are more dogs that live near me, in part because people walk their dogs around here rather than just put them out in the yard, and in part because I walk everywhere rather than hop in the car to go where I need to go.
posted by burden at 1:40 PM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


but their breeding makes them more attractive to stupid, cruel people, and without any other information about an owner, when I see someone with a pit, I am much more wary than I would be with a poodle or husky or whatever.

I actually kinda judge hard when I see someone with a husky (although I try hard not to!), because I live in the fucking desert and those poor dogs have a ton of fur. And have super high energy so they're not really apartment dogs, but good luck leaving them in the yard of your house, though, because they are escape artists. Don't even get me started on poodles.

But more seriously, I'm involved in dog rescue in a shitty part of the country, everyone I know who has a "pit bull" is a serious dog rescue person, not a stupid, cruel jerk.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:46 PM on October 6, 2015


The apartment building where I live introduced breed-discriminatory legislation into my lease the last time I re-signed. I don't have a dog right now, and I got exactly nowhere when I tried to complain about bad clauses in the lease before, so I'm just quietly not happy about it.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:10 PM on October 6, 2015


I want to add this article to the thread as worth reading:

The Dangerous Individual('s) Dog: Race, Criminality and the 'Pit Bull' (abstract)
posted by thetortoise at 2:14 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]




Thanks for posting these pictures. They are adorable.

Molly is the spitting image of our second rescue pitbull, Holly. She was a rescue from Connecticut. She had spent her whole previous life as a breeder, tied to car and never once having been inside. She had scars from being forced to lie in her own urine. When we got her she was down to 45 pounds, which very rapidly ballooned to 70 in our house with endless food.

She raised two of our cats from kittens. grabbing them with her paws and gently licking them. The cats even when adults would return the favor by running up to her and aggressively jamming their faces in hers. She loved playing with them as best as she could.

She eventually developed bladder cancer and we had to put her down. She was such a tough old thing that we barely even knew she had it.

I was not a dog person. Loathed dogs growing up. Holly and Rocky (our other pit) turned me into one. I miss her.
posted by bitterpants at 4:04 PM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


I love that several of the earliest comments suggested chihuahuas and cats as appropriately harmless.

Those are two examples of animals that would as soon eat your face as look at you.
posted by Scattercat at 5:27 PM on October 6, 2015


Not my cats.
posted by agregoli at 7:01 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


ernielundquist: I live in Colorado, and you know which county in my state has the highest constant rate of serious dog bite injuries? Denver. The only one with a countywide pit bull ban. And it's significantly higher, not just a glitch.

Nobody can definitively explain why that is, but I have a couple of guesses.

1. Animal control is so busy trying to enforce the ban that they don't have the resources to address real problems such as neglectful owners and individual dog behaviors.
2. Classifying dogs as dangerous based on appearance creates a false sense of security that causes people to take early signs of aggression less seriously as long as the dog in question is not an officially 'dangerous' dog.


Or, you have the causation backwards, and the people of Denver sought the breed-specific legislation because they have a serious dog attack problem, and not the other way around.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:30 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, the Denver law was instituted in response to overblown media coverage of isolated 'pit bull' attacks. The stereotypes in the media were even more over the top then than they are now.

Reported non-fatal dog bite rates were higher at the time that ban was instituted, and they have been going down significantly throughout in the US since the 90s, in Denver and everywhere else. The rate of fatal injuries is small enough that most trends aren't statistically significant, except for the one where it stays pretty stable over time.

You guys are allowed to go look up statistics yourselves if you want to test various hypotheses, but I haven't seen anything that convincingly supports the notion that breed discrimination has any positive effect on public health.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:47 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Those are two examples of animals that would as soon eat your face as look at you."

uh everyone knows that cats steal your breath while you sleep duh
posted by klangklangston at 10:04 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


But more seriously, I'm involved in dog rescue in a shitty part of the country, everyone I know who has a "pit bull" is a serious dog rescue person, not a stupid, cruel jerk.

Why do you suppose all those pits need to be rescued in the first place?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:10 AM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


an influx in villainy proximate to a decline in damsels has left more dogs tied to train tracks than ever
posted by klangklangston at 10:14 AM on October 7, 2015


I admitted it was a shitty part of the country!
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:19 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here in SF there is a law on the books that requires you, as a relatively new relocated hipster to the bay area, to own a minimum of 1 rescued pit bull. I mean these things are everywhere. Except the dog park, their owners just don't seem to bring them out to play with all the other doggies. Not sure why.

When I was 16 I was attacked by my neighbor's pit while I was playing basketball with his kids. I bear hugged one of them jokingly and picked him up in the air, which is when the pit launched at me from behind and locked onto the back of my left shoulder, its top teeth in my upper back and its bottom teeth sinking into my arm pit.

I was lucky - the dog's momentum swung it's lower half forward in front of me and before it could start shaking me I was able to hit it hard in the stomach with my free hand, causing it to gasp just enough that it lost it's grip.

Its owner and I were on top of it in the next instance, trying to calm it down.

I am generally of the "There's no shitty dogs, just shitty owners" camp, but there is the occasional bad dog, simply due to breeding and genetics and whatnot (just like we have the inevitable, unpreventable extremely shitty humans). But the majority of bad dogs are attributable to bad owners, and the majority of dogs are not bad ones, not by a long shot. The one that bit me certainly wasn't.

As a Dobie owner, I don't wish the unfair aspersions once placed on our breed on any other breed or their owners, but it's something of a relief to be seen as not the most dangerous dog in existence any more. I wonder who gets the moniker next?
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:01 PM on October 9, 2015


By the way, looks like the original site has moved the portraits in the link - they are now here if anyone wants to see them.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:31 AM on October 10, 2015


http://www.maximumfun.org/can-i-pet-your-dog/cipyd-12-lesli-margherita-and-pit-bull-month

At about 19:19 they start talking about the month. I heard a story about Skittles and Doug that people will enjoy.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:00 AM on October 13, 2015


I wish I had seen this thread before it hit metatalk.

I'm a life-long dog owner who was raised German Shepherds. My whole family has this breed and has had way longer than I've been alive.

At this point pretty much everyone I know has rescue dogs. I have three currently.

One of my dogs is a pitty mix. She is the most placid, submissive dog I've ever had.

I know a lot of people with rescue pitties.

Fear is fear.

Dogs aren't always safe.

I have been bitten by dogs rather badly, but none of them were pitties. The owner is really the important part of this scenario. People make bad choices about companion animals. That is not about the individual animal.
posted by syncope at 9:11 PM on October 13, 2015


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