Pit Bull Soapbox

I know, you've all heard from animal rights people that "Pit Bulls aren't the problem, people are the problem".

I dare you to take one look at this story and not agree with the above statement on at least some level.

This dog was found with his teeth sawed off or broken. He was a bait-dog for dog fighting.

Instead of banning the breed, we really need to ban the bad breeders - the backyard breeders that breed dogs for fighting. We need to crack down on dog fighting, and impose serious jail time for those involved in this brutal form of "entertainment". We need to educate the public, and we have to recognize that any dog can bite, not just Pitbulls. But it's an underground culture, and it's REALLY hard to catch the bad guys. More effort needs to be focused on those guys than on breed bans.

I broke up a fight at the dog park yesterday between a Pug, and a Jack Russell Mix. The Jack was really REALLY revved up, and if he wasn't so fat, he might have taken a chunk of my hand with him. I'm not joking - he really could have done some serious damage. If you look at just the fight, you think "who would let a dog into the park that would fight?" The Pug actually was the instigator. The whole time I was there, this Pug was pressuring, mounting, irritating the Jack Russell to the point the Jack finally had enough. I would have done the same thing if someone I didn't know very well was trying to hump my leg in a public place.

Alien dogs sent here to piss off other dogs, start fights, and take over the world.
 Mwhaa haa haaa.....

I was attacked brutally by a husky that my family owned....twice (and still wear the scars up and down my right arm). The first time was totally my fault, and my parents. I was 8 and shouldn't have been left unattended with a dog twice my size. I reached into his house to grab his food dish to fill it with dinner, and he bit me several times up my right arm. The second time, he grabbed me by my hair, pulled me to the ground, stood on my chest and went for my throat. I had my arm up in self defense, and if my brother didn't come to my rescue, who knows how bad it would have got.

No one heard that story on the 6'clock news.

The Dog Sled version of the Writers Strike.
And I will be honest, I've worked with some pretty tough, difficult Pits and "Bully Breeds" in my line of work. I can't say that every dog in a class or group are angels*.

*Except for Frenchies. All Frenchies are Angels.

I can say with confidence that I have not seen any more bites from Pits, Bulldogs, Staffordshires, Bull Terriers, Bull Mastiffs, Rottweilers, Dobermans, or other "bully breeds" than I have mix breeds, Coonhounds, Border Collies, Huskies, Min-Pins, Poodles, Havaneeses, Keeshonds, Aussie Shepherds, Dachshunds, Shih-tzus, Cock-a-poos, Shih-Poos, Poodle-Doodles, and Husk-orgi's.

Seriously. A Corgi + Husky. Happens more than you'd think, based on Google image search.

A word on the infamous Pit Bull Lockjaw. It doesn't happen. It never happened. They do not have "razor jaws that lock" - if they did, dinner would be incredibly infuriating. Every time they chew, their jaws get stuck.

They DO, however, have very tough muscles in their jaw that we bred into them for dog fighting, bull fighting, and other sports. If you don't teach a release cue, a drop it command, or any other basic skill - if you don't work with a dog to get it accustomed to people, or teach people to give the dog space when it's clear the dog is overwhelmed - if you get a dog to "look tough" but don't train it in an appropriate way (prong collars and choke chains are not the appropriate way- you can make dogs very reactive/aggressive that way), you will have a very big problem on your hands.

Funny - the same can happen with Little Dogs, but we just don't seem to care. Probably because little dogs can be picked up and Rottweilers can't. Think of the below photo. It's "funny" or "adorable" or mildly unsettling when a small dog is angry and revved up. What if this same expression was worn by a Pit or a Doberman? It's no so funny, and downright terrifying. Any dog that can get angry (read: all dogs) should be treated equally. This dog needs space.

You want Taco Bell? I got your Taco Bell right here....

Breed Specific Legislation is all over the place to ban the dogs - or make it more difficult to have one. In Lowell, MA  - right in our backyard, there is legislation on the books that recently went into effect a few weeks ago, stating that if you have a Pit, or a dog that looks like a Pit, your dog HAS to be muzzled when walking. You have to post a sign that there are Pits on the premises of your home/apartment. You must abide by all the laws posted in the ordinance.  Yet, the mailman who goes by the house with the Feisty Fido Mix Breed that means business doesn't get the same type of warning.

How sad. And it's because of ass-hats like the guy

and this guy in England
and this guy in Oakland
and this guy in Chicago

who take dogs like this:


....and dogs like this (courtesy of Boston.com's article on Dogs in the News)...look at the burn marks on the dog, on the man, and the young woman's hands).

Fire survivors Darryl Steen, his daughters Darahne, 9, and Sierra, 16, sit with their pit bull, Diamond, after the dog received the 29th annual National Hero Dog Award from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Los Angeles May 4. When their apartment caught fire in October 2010, the dog barked to wake owner Darryl Steen. He rushed to save his daughters, grabbing Darahne, but he couldn't get through the smoke and flames to reach Sierra. Diamond not only wiggled through but shielded the teenager beneath a mattress until firefighters rescued them both. Sierra and her father were treated for burns and received skin grafts. Diamond spent six weeks at a veterinary hospital recovering from burns and smoke inhalation. (Damian Dovarganes/AP) #

...and dogs like this...

...and do things like this:

The American Pit Bull, Staffordshire Terrier, Mastiffs, and other dogs that are often referred to as "Pit Bull" are hearty dogs who are loyal to their people - and if people get training and help for their dogs, they can have amazing animals with undying loyalty as part of their family. A Bully Breed, or ANY dog that doesn't have basic skills to cope in the human world as well as the dog world (dogs have to be bi-lingual), needs to be worked with and given a chance. If that dog is too far gone, not wired right, drugs don't help, or is constantly living in such a stressful environment that they continue to bite dogs/people/etc., that specific dog should be muzzled or humanely euthanized depending on the situation. That rule should be for all dogs - Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Mixes, Shepherds, Fluffy dogs, Sporting Dogs, and Pit Bulls.

My dad humanely destroyed the dog that attacked me twice. He didn't muzzle our other 10 huskies, he didn't tell me to be afraid of all huskies, and he didn't act as if anything was wrong with the breed. Because I was taught at a young age that not all dogs will try maul humans, and how to read a specific situation, I was never afraid of our other dogs and am now helping people in their own scary situations.

If putting a muzzle on a dog doesn't necessarily make that dog safer, than it stands to reason that mandatory muzzle laws on an entire breed or look of dog won't make that breed safer. Address the underlying issues as to why a particular dog is biting or dangerous, and let everyone else walk their dogs in peace.


  1. Great post, Melissa!

  2. Yes, great post! We have two wonderful dogs who were rescues and both happen to be mixed breeds, and we are moving to the Boston area. Do you have any suggestions for finding vets, dog walkers, and boarding spots that are friendly to mixed breeds? We've encountered some "snobbery" in the past and want to be sure anyone taking care of our pups gives them the love & attention they deserve!

  3. congratulations on your move! depending on where you are moving to, i am happy to recommend some great people/services. you can email me at muttstuff at gmail dot com with what area you're moving to and i can cater those references (and give you some good hiking places, etc).


  4. Hi Melissa,
    My Name is Sue Schena, I work with your Dad in Wiscasset ME. He told me to wirte to you about my dog Helga. She has been pacing the porch non stop lately.

    It had turned into an obsession. Your dad thinks she is doing it out of boredom. Helga just turned 2 years old and she just started this activity about a month ago and it had gotten worst. She has a fenced in back yard with access to porch area too. She even does it when I am sitting on the porch with her. I have tried some games and recalls with her, but she would rather pace. She paces until she drops. I would like some suggestions to help her stop this porch patrol. Would you help me? Thank you for your time.

    Sue Schena