Susan Wilson Article in The Huffington Post

This is where to talk about Pit Bulls!

Postby maberi » April 22nd, 2010, 8:23 am

I saw this article come through a post from AFF on Facebook.

I was rather surprised by the following line in the article. I would be interested to know if the writer misinterpreted the information given to her, or if this is really what is being said.

What I learned from Jane and Bernice is that people train these dogs to fight and they are good at it because they are doing what their masters want them to do.



http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-wil ... 44784.html

How, In Writing One Good Dog, I Inadvertently Became a Pit Bull Advocate

I have never been afraid of dogs. I've been a collie fancier, a dog show fan; and the kind of kid that missed my dog instead of my parents when staying with my grandmother. I'm that annoying person who comes up to you and wants to pet your dog. There was only one type of dog that I never approached, and when the subject came up on town meeting floor, I added my voice to the vote requiring their owners to restrict them behind tall fences. That fear wasn't based on any actual experience, but on the stories of attacks on children and owners and I, like many, accepted the conventional wisdom that pit bulls were bred mean and are unpredictable. When a friend's teenage wannabe gangsta son came home with a full grown pit bull, I told her that her insurance rates would go up and that she might even be denied homeowner's insurance. The dog went back.

The day that I picked out my tan and white puppy from a litter of 'terrier mixes' born in a southern shelter and imported north, I noticed that two of the four puppies were smooth-haired and lantern-jawed. They looked like, gasp, pit bulls. I had a moment of buyer's regret, thinking that this cute little Jack Russell-like dog was actually a pit bull cross with wire hair. I discretely smoothed out her beard until I was satisfied that her jaw was narrow and her muzzle long. I sure didn't want my insurance rates to go up.

So why then, with all these preconceived notions, was my canine protagonist, Chance, a pit bull? I needed a dog that was unlikely to be adopted. I needed a tough guy who essentially mirrored my human protagonist in attitude. Not knowing at the outset where the story might go, I also needed a dog that I might be able to sacrifice without guilt. Instead, I got Chance, the philosophical pit bull. And I got a lesson in pit bulls from one of the dog's strongest advocates.

Jane Rotrosen Berkey is founder and president of Animal Farm Foundation, a pit bull rescue in New York. She also happens to be the principal of the Jane Rotrosen Agency, with which I have been associated for a very long time. At the time I was writing this book, I had no idea she was actively rescuing pit bulls. Lucky for me, she was more than happy to talk with me and help me overcome a number of misconceptions. Enlisting the help of an animal behaviorist, Bernice Clifford, CPDT, also of Animal Farm Foundation, I was saved from perpetuating myths and promoting misinformation about the pit bull, even a fictional one.

In the book, I used the term 'anger-dogs' to describe the dogs made to fight. I thought that it described the breed, or, more accurately, the breed type, one that lived to fight; one that had a short fuse and that was innately vicious. What I learned from Jane and Bernice is that people train these dogs to fight and they are good at it because they are doing what their masters want them to do. Once called the nanny dog because they were so good with children, these dogs have become more associated in the public mind with gangs and violence than with family life. That connection has taken the pit bull from "Our Gang" to gangsta.

But in the novel I still needed to make my point, that these dogs are good at their jobs. Then it dawned on me--these dogs are like gladiators, slaves fighting to the death for their rulers' entertainment. And gladiators they became in One Good Dog.

It's old news about football player Michael Vick and his dog fighting ring. He's done his time and is back on the playing field, although still scorned by many. Many of those abused dogs were successfully re-homed. One, Hector, has become a one-dog ambassador for animal shelters and visits schools promoting good relations between kids and animals. It is a testament to the resilience of mistreated dogs that they have the capacity to forgive human beings for unconscionable behavior. Not every pit bull which has been fought can be saved, but many can. For some, the years of torment have made them too damaged, too far gone. But others can find new lives, like my fictional Chance, as devoted pets.

I've overcome my prejudice with knowledge. But now I wonder what ever became of that pit bull I discouraged my friend from keeping.
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Postby PetieMarie22 » April 22nd, 2010, 10:10 am

So this lady wrote a book about a pit bull and never actually owned one? I, being someone that felt the same way as she did about pit bulls, have a hard time believing that you can truely understand a pit bull until you have loved a pit bull. Has anyone read this book? Is it worth reading?
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » April 22nd, 2010, 10:21 am

I actually just read it and really enjoyed it. The chapters alternate between the human's point of view and the dog's point of view. It's actually quite a touching book and I wouldn't have guessed that she hadn't ever owned a pit before.
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Postby PetieMarie22 » April 22nd, 2010, 10:26 am

Intresting. I'll have to put it on my reading list. I'm reading "For The Love of A Dog" right now.
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Postby mnp13 » April 22nd, 2010, 5:10 pm

GREAT....

So according to THAT piece if information, if you have a dog that is dog aggressive, you TAUGHT it to be that way?

Sometimes the people who are trying the hardest to help are doing just as much harm... *sigh*
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Postby mnp13 » April 22nd, 2010, 5:42 pm

I posted
his comment is pending approval and won't be displayed until it is approved.

"What I learned from Jane and Bernice is that people train these dogs to fight and they are good at it because they are doing what their masters want them to do."

I own three Pit Bulls, I also own two Pit Bull websites - www.ThisIsRuby.com and www.PitBullTalk.com The second is a discussion forum with over 1,500 members. I' quite sure that none of my members that have dog aggressive dogs have TAUGHT their dogs to be that way, and that their masters do NOT want them to fight with other dogs.

Those of us with dog aggressive dogs have NOT taught them to be that way. If my male was to have the opportunity to fight with another dog, would he be "good" at it? Well, that all depends on how you define "good." I hope to never find out. However, he certainly wouldn't be "good" at it due to my encouragement...

You do not get a "bird dog" and then lament the fact that you can't let your canary fly loose around the house anymore. You do not get a Greyhound and lament the fact that your bunny can't run around your living room. You don't get a Pit Bull and be surprised if it is dog aggressive.

Humans created certain traits as part of certain breeds. Some level of dog aggression is present in many (not all) Pit Bulls, and perfectly controllable in the VAST majority of them.

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Postby airwalk » April 22nd, 2010, 9:44 pm

It would be interesting to know if that statement was not repeated exactly as said or a bit out of context...because people did in fact create the breed with dog aggression. For many years they bred aggressive to aggressive to get aggressive...I wonder if that is more of what was meant rather than the individual dog and owner today?
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Postby maberi » April 22nd, 2010, 11:06 pm

Thanks Michelle, I couldn't agree more with your post. I thought I was the only one who found that statement odd...
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Postby mnp13 » April 23rd, 2010, 10:36 am

Matt:
A nice article, but the following line certainly raised an eyebrow "people train these dogs to fight and they are good at it because they are doing what their masters want them to do".


I posted on AFF's Facebook page as well...
"What I learned from Jane and Bernice is that people train these dogs to fight and they are good at it because they are doing what their masters want them to do."

?????

That's a rather "interesting" quote. I hope that she just misunderstood something and that's not really what AFF is teaching? ;-)


They responded:
Michelle, Matt and all - Susan's point is that she learned that dog fighting is a crime perpetuated by humans, not by canines. Dogs do not choose to fight. Humans train/force dogs to fight. Dogs particapate at the encouragement of humans. Thanks for keeping us on our toes!


:shock: Humans train/force dogs to fight. :nono:

Me:
What an unfortunate comment. Two of our three Pit Bulls are dog aggressive. We have NEVER encouraged that behavior and have worked very hard to control it with training and management. However, left to their own devices, our dogs would happily fight with any other dog they had the opportunity to. Dog aggression in Pit Bulls is as ingrained as pointing in Pointers, retrieving in Labradors, and crittering in Greyhounds.
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Postby maberi » April 23rd, 2010, 12:40 pm

Humans train/force dogs to fight


Horse sh!t. Dogs fight because they were bred to fight and they are put into a situation where they will fight. There is no training necessary. Ignoring that fact and trying to convince people otherwise is only setting up potential owners for failure.

I've never trained Earl to retrieve but that dog is constantly bringing me things and carrying stuff around when he gets excited. He's a retriever, he retrieves
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Postby mnp13 » April 23rd, 2010, 1:16 pm

Michelle, with all due respect, we disagree that dog aggression in pit bulls is ingrained. Dogs are individuals and dog-dog aggression is a dog trait, not a pit bull trait.

:shock:

I responded with the "agree to disagree" crap.

I don't even know where to begin.

Yes, of course dog aggression is a dog trait. Any dog of any breed can be dog aggressive, just as any dog of any breed might retrieve or point or herd or any of the zillion other things that are "breed specific tasks" that might not be part of that dog's breed.

But saying that dog aggression isn't ingrained in our dogs is like saying retrieving isn't ingrained in Labradors. It just doesn't make sense. Some dogs show it more than others, sure, and in the case of many they may never show it at all - but the very foundation of the breed was dog fighting...

This is just so frustrating.

Bad press is bad of course (duh), but denial isn't any better.

According to what was just posted, I somehow told/made/forced/encouraged Riggs to attack Inara? Because that is what is being communicated here. It turns all of us with dogs that are "hot" into automatic bad owners, no matter what we did or did not do.
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Postby LMM » April 23rd, 2010, 2:01 pm

What facebook page is this?
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Postby maberi » April 23rd, 2010, 2:14 pm

Animal Farm Foundation's facebook page

AFF does wonderful things for the breed but they recently started on an American Shelter Dog direction where they don't label pits as pits but rather shelter dogs. I'm not a fan of this at all and don't think ignoring the genetic traits that have been bred into a dog is the right way to go. Breed traits definitely aren't everything, but they do give us some important information into the lives and behaviors of our dogs and they shouldn't be ignored.

I was informed on another board that Jane outwardly admitted that people do a disservice to the breed by stating their specific needs and requirements. That statement alone says a lot about what they believe
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Postby mnp13 » April 23rd, 2010, 2:15 pm

Animal Farm Foundation.
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Animal ... 1042412075

I emailed them, because I think this is a discussion best taken off line for now. I sent them a link to the Inara/Riggs video and thread. I don't know if it will make a difference, but we can hope. :|
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Postby madremissy » April 23rd, 2010, 3:42 pm

I wish they knew my story about Gotty and Kinzyl. Never taught them to fight and they were fine until they turned three it was on. :( Thanks for making me understand why. If I can understand after not knowing anything about pit bulls you would think that she could understand the dogs. It is sad.
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Postby amazincc » April 23rd, 2010, 7:02 pm

maberi wrote:
I was informed on another board that Jane outwardly admitted that people do a disservice to the breed by stating their specific needs and requirements.


I don't get that... :?

I still wish, to this day, that I had educated myself when Mick adopted us... I truly believe that I did some "damage" by NOT knowing/learning about the specific needs and requirements of a Pit Bull very early on. :(

This time around isn't without the occasional hic-up either, but at least I'm prepared and know what to expect. Makes all the difference in the world, as far as I'm concerned.
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Postby LMM » April 23rd, 2010, 9:19 pm

maberi wrote:Animal Farm Foundation's facebook page

AFF does wonderful things for the breed but they recently started on an American Shelter Dog direction where they don't label pits as pits but rather shelter dogs. I'm not a fan of this at all and don't think ignoring the genetic traits that have been bred into a dog is the right way to go. Breed traits definitely aren't everything, but they do give us some important information into the lives and behaviors of our dogs and they shouldn't be ignored.

I was informed on another board that Jane outwardly admitted that people do a disservice to the breed by stating their specific needs and requirements. That statement alone says a lot about what they believe



Oh GOD duhhhh Jen, AFF lol

And are you serious? I am extremely disappointed.
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