Save suffering pit bulls by curtailing breeding
By Ingrid E. Newkirk
Updated: 01/28/2009 07:40:38 PM PST
AS someone who has spent 25 years rescuing pit bulls from conditions we wouldn't visit on our worst enemies, I applaud the city of Lancaster's adoption this week of an ordinance requiring all pit bulls to be spayed or neutered.
Pit bull breeding bans truly are needed to protect the public as well as the pit bulls themselves, probably the most abused breed in dogdom.
Through no fault of their own, pit bulls have become the dog of choice for people who don't know or care about dogs and who want this particular dog only because a pit is a "macho" possession - a reflection of the image they want for themselves.
Most of these dogs live on chains - if you can call it living - attached to a stake, metal drum or dilapidated doghouse. To make them "mean," they are often starved and beaten. They are not social, or if they are, they are not to be trusted around children or other animals, especially small ones. They are hardheaded by nature and suffer the brunt of that trait, too, by being treated abominably.
PETA's staff has cared for a mother pit who weighed about a third of what she should have weighed - her hip, back and rib bones protruding. We euthanized her worm-infested, scared-to-death, unsocialized young pups. If someone wants a puppy, there are more than enough other puppies to choose from in local shelters - ones who will not have to go through an ordeal to be socialized.
This particular mother dog had been chained to a male pit who
dragged her wherever he wanted to go on his small chain, periodically turning to attack her. She was as sweet a being as anyone could ever want, or so it seemed, but she was no sweeter or more deserving of a home than all the dogs on Death Row in shelters. Also wonderful was the male pit we found in this same yard with his chain embedded into his festering neck. The family had two more pits, and they wished to breed them and sell the pups.
This story was not unusual. We were not surprised. We also had two huge, strong "bruiser pits," as we call them, in our custody who were so difficult to handle that only a very strong person could walk them, one at a time.
They came from a yard where they lived on chains, and after we sterilized them (free of charge in our clinic), they had to go back there. They will die on those chains one day, and they are dangerous. They are fine around adult humans, but they get fixated on any small dog or cat and work as a pair if they can, equally excited and unmanageable. This is not unusual for pits. If I said this about a collie or a beagle, it would be surprising.
Please consider this: It is safer for other dogs and for small children to have a chance encounter with a poodle, cocker spaniel or mixed hound than it is for them to have one with a pit bull. Of course, that's a generalization, but it's also true.
If you had a Chihuahua or a child and someone said, "Behind Door A is a pug or a Labrador, and behind Door B is a pit; you choose which door we will open," which door would you choose? Right.
So, knowing that pits and pit mixes are responsible for more attacks than other dogs - not just fatal attacks, but ones in which an eye or limb or self-confidence is lost for life - is it right to suggest that people should continue breeding this kind of dog? Especially when other wonderful dogs are crying out for homes?
There are more reasons for pit bull breeding bans, but these are just a few.
Ingrid E. Newkirk is the president and founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which can be reached via www.PETA.org.