Vick, not the pit bull, is the true vicious animal

Pits in the news and info on Breed Specific Legislation.

Postby cheekymunkee » July 27th, 2007, 5:29 pm

Vick, not the pit bull, is the true vicious animal

BY JILL PAINTER, columnist
Article Last Updated: 07/25/2007 10:24:27 PM PDT

I met the cutest pooch named Tex on Wednesday.

He's 2 years old and sports attractive golden fur with a white tip on his tail. He loves to play soccer and Frisbee.

I played with Tex at his home at the Agoura Hills Animal Shelter. His bio says he has an engaging personality, is playful and great with the kids he's been exposed to - ranging from 5-12 years old. A wooden dog sign on his cage reads: "Always wagging."

Tex has lived at the shelter since March 2. The reason he hasn't been scooped up by now? He's a pit bull.

The breed alone conjures frightening images for many people. Yes, there are pit bulls who are aggressive and bite or do much worse. But ask yourself if they were trained to behave that way. Or maybe they weren't trained at all.

Unfortunately, Michael Vick is helping to perpetuate the stereotype that brands all pit bulls as dangerous when he was indicted by a federal grand jury last week on charges related to dog fighting.

The cruel details of a sick operation known as "Bad Newz Kennels" have been released and pit bulls were among those dogs who were allegedly drowned, electrocuted and body slammed - among other horrific things. Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback, might have millions of dollars and homes and cars and jewelry, but he doesn't have a conscience.
Vick's image and reputation were rightfully tarnished.

But what about Tex's reputation?

He's been in the shelter nearly five months. The Agoura shelter, unlike many, is patient in allowing dogs the time to be adopted. But Vick did Tex no favors.

If I was in Tex's paws, I'd sue Vick. I'd sue for damaged reputation and inability to get future work as a loyal friend to an owner.

Gabby Lotan, a 19-year-old volunteer, is worried that Vick's indictment will make it even tougher for Tex and the four other pit bulls at the shelter to be deemed adoptable, loving pets.

"Obviously, this doesn't make me happy at all," she said. "It's really horrible and sad. I don't want pit bulls to get a bad name. These are great dogs. People should look at (Vick) as bad, not pit bulls."

Of all the bad things Vick and his associates allegedly did to pit bulls, imagine the hurt they've caused Midnight, Bluto, Princess Leia and a 2-year-old so new to the shelter he hasn't earned a name from the volunteer staff yet.

Lotan took Tex out of his cage and brought him outside to play with us. He rubbed up against my leg, played Frisbee, took interest in my pen, loved to be petted, relieved himself and then took a seat in the shade.

Pretty scary, huh?

While Tex was playing, one of the shelter's pit bulls was adopted. Adoption day is a happy day for any dog, especially a pit bull.

Midnight, a black female with a four-inch scar on her back from some sort of burn, was on her way out with a new pink collar and leash. Her new home is with Carol Keller of Oak Park.

"I used to be completely opposed to owning one because I was under the misconception that they were dangerous," Keller said. "But then I was watching Cesar Millan (on "The Dog Whisperer") and spent time with them here over the last few months. I played with her in the (wading) pool."

Midnight, who's just 15 months old, was available because her previous owner moved and the apartment complex wouldn't allow pit bulls. Keller, too, had to check with her landlord to make sure it was OK for Midnight to join the condo association.

Vick is scheduled to be arraigned in court today in Virginia and could be behind bars soon, just like Tex, Bluto, Princess Leia and the dog with no name.

Yazmin Alvarez, a 24-year-old kennel attendant, told Keller she was going to miss watching Midnight prance around in the wading pool.

"Come here, Sweat Pea," Alvarez said as she got Midnight ready for adoption.

Sweat Pea and Baby are pit bulls? You bet.

Now, Keller might have some convincing to do of that in her neighborhood, which is usually busy with owners walking their dogs. She's worried about the reaction Midnight might receive, but she said she'll take it on as a challenge. She wants to prove Midnight is a well-behaved dog.

We can't say the same for Vick.

As part of her job, Alvarez goes in cages to clean and feed the dogs. She's more afraid to enter the cage of a small dog than a big one, like that of a pit bull. Alvarez said when small dogs get nervous, they're more prone to bite. She's never had a problem with a pit bull at the shelter. But she has a big problem with Vick.

"I'm just disgusted," she said after a deep breath. "It gives me goose bumps to know that if you're going to do that to an animal, what's next? I'd be afraid of what the next step would be."

So don't be afraid of Tex. Be afraid of Michael Vick.

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Jodi Preis
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