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Pit Bulls, Dogfights Sell Papers

With all that is going on in the world, my local newspaper decided that a pit bull attack was front-page news. But if you read the article closely, it's clear that calling this a "dogfight" is a misnomer and that if a poodle or golden retriever had been the perpetrator, this likely wouldn't have even made the paper. So here's the letter I wrote to the editor this morning:

"Shame on you, Daily Herald, for sensationalizing a story, deliberately misleading the public, and perpetuating the myth that wherever the pit bull goes, violence follows (“Caught In Dog Fight," 1/29/08).

"This past Tuesday's front-page headline said, “Woman Hospitalized After Pit Bull Attack,” leading readers to believe that the pit bull attacked her. In truth, the pit bull attacked the small dog the woman was walking. She chose to get involved and risk harm. There is an enormous difference between a dog who is aggressive toward dogs (especially small ones that appear to be prey) and a dog who is aggressive toward people. After quoting neighbors’ concerns for themselves, the Daily Herald missed an opportunity to educate the public instead of reinforcing that fear.

"If anyone deserves the public’s wrath, it’s the owner of the pit bull. Neighbors report that he keeps two pit bulls on leashes in a garage. By reinforcing the myth that pit bulls are vicious, the Daily Herald encourages people to perceive pit bulls as monsters, not dogs who deserve attention, training, love and the basics, like a warm place to sleep in this zero degree weather. Had the owner taken the time to socialize his dogs and keep them in the house, this tragedy never would’ve happened."

If space had allowed, I would've shared the story of my mom and my pit bull mix, Shelby. Three years ago, my mom was walking Shelby through my semi-rural neighborhood. A 120-pound Great Pyrenees escaped from the back of a pick-up truck and grabbed 65-pound Shelby by the head and froze. My mom was bitten on the finger trying to protect Shelby, and the Great Pyrenees's owner lost a fingernail attempting to pry her dog's mouth off of Shelby's head.

My mom and the other dog's owner both required trips to the emergency room. Fortunately, they were both going to be okay. We then brought Shelby to the Great Pyrenees's owner's vet. I was absolutely livid when the staff assumed that Shelby, being part pit bull, had initiated the fight. How can the staff at a vet office believe such horrible breed stereotypes? When I told them that Shelby was the victim, they were surprised but unapologetic. Thankfully, Shelby's ear and head wounds completely healed. She still thinks everybody is her friend. If only that were so.

Julia Kamysz Lane

January 30, 2008 in Current Affairs, Health, Humane, Legislation, media | Permalink


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Pits get a bad name as well because of poor training by their owners.

Posted by: Joe the Dog Lover | Sep 9, 2008 8:05:29 AM

You Go! GREAT letter and I echo your thoughts on the matter. The media never covers every angle.

Posted by: ThoughtsFurPaws | Feb 11, 2008 1:10:42 PM

Here's another one:

I feel terrible that the woman was knocked down by her neighbor's dog, but it hardly qualifies as an attack.

Posted by: Ken Foster | Feb 4, 2008 11:29:38 PM

Thank you for posting this. It is so upsetting to me that this happens so often.

As a professional dog trainer, and one who deals with aggression often, I see so many other breeds that have issues, but somehow they don't make the front page like the Pitt does.

For the most part this is a people issue anyway. Shame on people for not properly training, or working through issues in any breed dog.

Pitts get a bad rap. There are tons of good Pitts. Just like people, there are a ton of good ones, and there are some that need some serious help!

Posted by: Jt Clough | Feb 4, 2008 9:05:24 PM

SB1880 -
A bill to amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit dog fighting ventures.

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Posted by: Find Legislation | Feb 1, 2008 3:41:43 PM

Sad yet all to common. I have had the same problem over the years owning akitas. If something happens people are quick to blame the big bad akita. Nevermind that their dog was the one giving a hard stare or being reactive towards them to provoke a defensive response. I wish more people would realize that the media's job is to sell papers and news so the advertising gets seen. NOT to print the exact truth unfortunatly. That is the only way those stories will lose their power.

Posted by: Marie | Jan 30, 2008 9:41:16 PM

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