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The Pitbull Advocacy Article
All About Pitbulls and the Roles They Fill in American Society
A Response to Breed Specific Legislation of the Pitbull
Daniel Blasco, Blasco Family Bulldogs©, 2013
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I have a number of goals in writing this article, and as such, it's a long one. To begin with, one of my goals is remedying widespread ignorance regarding Pitbulls, and "Pitbull type dogs." There's a great deal of misinformation and urban legend out there regarding Pitbulls, and in making it to the end of this article, the casual reader will be better informed than most, regardless of whether you like the dog or not.

Another goal I have is for Pitbull owners, or potential Pitbull owners to gain a stronger understanding, appreciation and respect for their dogs. I want Pitbull owners to be good Pitbull owners, who make the necessary investment to own good Pitbulls, and who set an example of responsible, conscientious dog ownership. Too often dogs of all breeds are not treated as they should be, sometimes with less than positive outcomes. As human beings who own animals, we have a responsibility to get it right, and to do what is truly best for our dogs.

However, the goal I have most strongly on my mind, admittedly, is to offer a reasoned response to breed specific legislation of the Pitbull, minus the hype, and with no creative massaging of the facts. I am very much opposed to breed specific legislation, and I want you to understand why. So, it's a longer article, sorry about that, but there's a lot that needs to be said.

This article also contains a boatload of photos, because as we all know, a picture speaks a thousand words. Be advised, that some of the photos, as well as some of the written descriptions, may be alarming or offensive. Please read the article yourself, before you let your children read it. My own small children will not be reading it, without mom and dad nearby.

At Blasco Family Bulldogs©, we do not breed Pitbulls or Pitbull mixed dogs. We breed American Bulldogs and various Mastiffs. In other words, Blasco Family Bulldogs© has no vested interest in the Pitbull debate. As such, I hope to provide a somewhat balanced and unbiased perspective, providing the reader enough credible information to form their own opinions.

To learn more about the differences between Pitbulls and the dogs they are most often confused with, and to get detailed physical descriptions of the Pitbull, as well as other dogs, to aid you in identifying the similar, but also quite different and unique "bully breeds," I'll recommend my own article on the topic, located here: No, American Bulldogs Are Not Pitbulls.

Lastly, I feel it is important to mention, that the subject of Pitbulls in our society is an emotionally charged topic, and I understand why. I am heart broken, and deeply moved, when I see pictures of little kids chewed up by dogs. Many people hold passionate positions, opposite my own regarding Pitbulls. I acknowledge you. I acknowledge and I also understand your positions. I respect you, and I believe your views have a place at the table. Further, it is you I am speaking to specifically, when I say, that it is my honest desire, to contribute to a real and functional solution, that causes me to take the position I've taken, very much against breed specific legislation. Please hear me out. There is common ground between us, and there are solutions to be had.

Now, without further ado, let's talk dogs...

Tonight's Exclusive: CANINE KILLERS!!!

In the 1940s (and before), German Shepherd Dogs (a) were the popular dog of bad guys. Infamous military dogs of World War I, mobsters used them during prohibition to guard illegal alcohol. (The alcohol was made illegal in the first place, of course, in an effort to control behavior by banning a thing. It worked so well, gang wars erupted on American streets, our government having created a new and lucrative black market: alcohol supply, controlled exclusively by gangsters.

In the 1960s through the 80s, it was Doberman Pinchers (b) and Rottweilers (c). Dobermans in particular were everywhere when I was growing up, used by the military, police, by basically anyone with anything worth guarding... in particular, by criminals.

Any dog able to be trained for a nefarious purpose, runs the risk of becoming popular for nefarious purposes. During the 1970s and 80s in South America, the Bouvier (e) was popular among drug cartels. In Pakistan, narcotics traffickers use the Gull Dong (d) and Bully Kutta (g). Hashish dealers in Turkey prefer the Kangal (f). Throughout eastern Europe, different versions of the Ovcharka (h) are used for both, legitimate and nefarious guarding alike. However, in all cases, while each breed has violent applications, it is also true, that the much larger number of dogs of that breed, are actually found as loving family pets, innocent of all charges.

Countless dogs are capable of injuring, or even killing a human being. Whichever one is popular in an area, bad guys systematically train into nasty specimens. Then, that's the dogs you hear about in the media. If it bleeds, it leads; no mention of the larger majority of the same breed of dog kept peacefully by loving families... and public opinion is formed.

It's not just big dogs capable of harm either...

"Since 1975, dogs belonging to more than 30 breeds have been responsible for fatal attacks on people, including Dachshunds, a Yorkshire Terrier, and a Labrador Retriever." (1)

Pitbull Politics in Context

Today, Pitbulls are the fad breed of choice among bad guys. So then, as is typically the case in our culture, when a few human beings abuse or misuse a thing, we try to outlaw the thing, rather than holding the human being accountable for their actions or irresponsibility. Maybe there's a reasonable reason for that too. Humans are pretty clever. They're hard to stop when they're committed to doing something stupid or illegal. Law makers would need a real plan, if they wanted to stop a small group of humans from performing a particular action, but outlaw the thing they're currently misusing, and everyone is home by 5:00 p.m., no muss, no fuss - angry constituents demanding a solution, pacified.

And you know, when a few members of a political action committee get their five minutes with their Congressperson, and he or she sees the 8x10" color photos of little kids missing fingers, hands and noses, what further research is needed...? Do we really expect that man or woman, to spend more than a few minutes developing their position on any particular issue, when there are hundreds of issues to vote on? I'm not advocating for lazy politicians here, I'm just putting the political element into context. Politicians do not typically solve problems, they subdue the loudest voices with the easiest to reach, and most convenient legislation. Pitbull and general dog education, therefore, must be more widespread, because in the end, it's our problem to solve.

Taken from the American Humane Association (AMA):

Breed-specific legislation (BSL)
  • In response to these statistics, many communities have enacted breed-specific legislation (BSL) that prohibits ownership of certain breeds, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers and others.
  • Any breed of dog can bite, and research suggests BSL does little to protect the community from dog-bite incidents.
    In fact, BSL can often have unintended consequences — such as black-market interest and indiscriminate breeding practices — resulting in subsequent breed overpopulation that leads to increases in the number of homeless, stray and euthanized dogs.
  • Enforcement of BSL has been shown to be very costly and extremely difficult to enforce. One county in Maryland spent more than $560,000 maintaining pit bulls (not including payroll, cross-agency costs and utilities), while fees generated only $35,000.
  • Responsible breeding and ownership, public education and enforcement of existing laws are the most effective ways of reducing dog bites.
  • American Humane supports local legislation to protect communities from dangerous animals, but does not advocate laws that target specific breeds of dogs.

All Breeds of Dogs Can Bite

Any dog can be aggressive, and bite. Any dog can have a bad moment, and bite. Any dog can be made aggressive by human beings, and bite. All dogs have the propensity, to bite, and there is no dog breed in existence, that has never been known to bite a child. Because of the shorter height of a child, such bites are often in the face, with even dogs as small as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and Jack Russells, typically drawing blood, and leaving scars upon flesh and psyche. All breeds of dogs can bite. ALWAYS beware of dog! It's a dog thing, not a breed thing.

From the left: Golden Retriever, Border Collie, Pomeranian, Poodle, Jack Russell, Schnauzer, Dachshund, Pharaoh Hound, Chihuahua, Black Lab, Collie, Retriever, Husky, Shiba Inu and a Chinese Crested. These are generally considered "non-aggressive" breeds of dogs, caught in the moment by photographers. In most cases, these are dogs many parents would feel safe letting a three year old run up to and hug... with those mouths right about at face level, and children being typified by many awkward and sudden movements, that can trigger a problem dog to attack. Also mentionable, every one of these dogs regularly crunches up dry dog food, and dry dog food is quite a bit harder than your nose, lips and cheeks, especially those of a child. Any dog can bite, and all breeds of dog have a propensity to bite. As such, owner responsibility is the issue, not the breed of dog.

Stories We Don't Usually Hear About... Dogs Other Than Pitbulls, and Their Victims

Here below are a few dog bite stories covered locally, that didn't make it into the national or world news. The reader should make note, that while we have all heard of Pitbull dog bite stories, these particular stories are stories that you probably did not hear about: Dogs other than Pitbulls doing the biting...

Grandmother Recovering After Dog Attack: A Denver grandmother was viciously mauled by two Boxers in an unprovoked public attack, sustaining multiple injuries, and in a city with the strongest breed specific legislation in the country.

Boy, 6, injured in dog attack: A German Shepherd mix jumped a fence into the next door neighbor's yard to attack a little boy, repeatedly.

Jack Russell cross bites one week old child in 'jealousy' attack: A Jack Russell Terrier commits an unprovoked attack in the home of a one week old baby. The Jack Russell killed the baby!

Girl, 13, mauled in police dog attack: A trained police German Shepherd Dog on the loose, attacked a 13 year old girl repeatedly, unprovoked on a public street, and also attacked the two men who rushed in to save her. Attack resulted in multiple human injuries.

Deaf Fife postman bitten by dog leads to police charge: A Collie mix commits an unprovoked public attack on a Postal Carrier.

Girl healing from attack: A 7-year old girl must undergo facial reconstructive surgery, after a German Shepherd mix commits an unprovoked public attack, and again, in Denver, with breed specific legislation strictly enforced.

Family dogs maul toddler: Two Huskies commit unprovoked attack on child in her own home. The Huskies, killed her.

Woman faces charges after dogs attack golden retriever: Three dogs, a Blue Heeler, an Australian Cattle Dog and a Catahoula Leopard Dog, commit unprovoked public attack on Golden Retriever.

Boy's Face Attacked By Dog In Vicious Attack: A Border Collie mix commits an unprovoked public attack of a nine year old boy, with 20 stitches required.

Boy recovering after attacked by neighbor's dog: A Pointer/Hound mix commits an unprovoked attack in the home of neighbor on a six year old boy, with 400 stitches required.

Judge orders Pomeranian dog 'Gizmo' to leave Aspen, Colorado — permanently: A Pomeranian who is a repeat dog bite offender, kicked out of town, but neither euthanized nor confiscated to protect his next potential victims.

Redding Woman Attacked by Neighbor's Dog: An Aikita commits an unprovoked public attack with injuries.

Fruita girl, 7, dies in dog attack: Alaskan Malamute attacks and kills 7-year old girl in her own back yard, in unprovoked attack.

Little girl recovering after dog attack: A Great Dane ripped off a little girl's ear when she tried to pet him.

Belgian Malinois attacks, kills 9-year-old girl in Zamboanga City:A Belgian Malinois commits an unprovoked public attack on a nine year old girl. It took only three quick bites and she was instantly dead.

Dog Bite hospitalizes two children: A Coon Hound commits a public attack of two little girls, aged two and ten outside their apartment, with stitches required.

Warning after dog attack near baby in Kelbrook: A Labrador/Lurcher mix on the loose, kills another dog in an unprovoked public attack.

"Last year in Hall County, there were 84 dog bites to humans reported to the Central Nebraska Humane Society. Of those incidents, 11 involved pit bulls. The highest number of bites by breed involved Labrador retrievers, which were involved in 22 of the bite cases." (5)

“Obviously the ratio of dog bites per dog versus dog population seemingly would be relevant in this case. Candidly, this Court feels that Pitbulls do not cause the most bites in the United States. Certainly the bites of mixed breed dogs far exceed those of the Pitbull because there are many more mixed breed dogs than Pitbulls. Moreover, even local statistics indicate that, for example, the Chow bites more frequently than the Pitbull.” (2)

"In several countries, certain dog breeds are considered “fighting dogs” and are subject to legal regulations. In Germany, these breeds include mastiff, bull mastiff, bulldog, bullterrier, pit-bull, Tosa-Inu, and others. Media reports that have focused on aggressive behavior of fighting dogs and special training for dogs to make them more violent have led to an increased public awareness. This may explain why we did not identify any of these fighting dog breeds to be likely to attack more frequently than average. On the basis of the dog population in our catchment area, German shepherds and Dobermans were the most aggressive breeds. These findings are similar to other reports." (3)

Nonetheless, Pitbulls are today's topic of canine controversy, specifically, breed specific legislation, whereby lawmakers throughout the country, in a knee-jerk reaction to dog biting incidents, are in the process, one township, one city at a time, of trying to outlaw the ownership of Pitbulls, and "Pitbull type dogs." The owners of Pitbulls, understandably live in fear of such legislation. The owners of many other genetically unique breeds of dogs, those sometimes ignorantly confused as Pitbulls, live with the same fear.

Pitbull owners, and owners of breeds sometimes confused with Pitbulls have good reason to fear breed specific legislation...

Denver, Colorado enacted a Pitbull ban in 1989, revoked in 2004 and reinstated in 2005. Beginning May 9, 2005, Denver Animal Control Officers accompanied by Denver Police Officers, repeatedly pulled up to people's doors who owned Pitbulls, dogs that had never been the subject of even a single complaint, walked into people's fenced yards and even their homes, without permission or lawful warrants, and confiscated their Pitbulls. Most such dogs were family pets, often quite literally torn from the screaming arms of small children, horrified and confused by "Officer Friendly" showing up to steal their pet dogs. Between May 9, 2005, when Denver began enforcing that city's Pitbull ban, and March 20, 2006 (just under 11-months), Denver had euthanized 891 Pitbulls or "Pitbull type dogs".

In the few cases in which individual dog owners managed to actually get a day in Court, that Due Process, which is supposed to be automatically afforded the accused under our system of justice, had to be forced by families quickly hiring attorneys to defend them. Most of the owners of confiscated dogs received no Due Process whatsoever. Authorities simply showed up unannounced, took their dogs by force, carted them away, and killed them.

Furthermore, there were no DNA profiles done to even ascertain the breed of the dogs confiscated and killed. If it looked like a Pitbull, it was considered a Pitbull and destroyed. Many other breeds of dogs, having short fur and vaguely similar in general appearance to Pitbulls, were unlawfully stolen by authorities and euthanized. From 2005 to 2007, Denver had killed another 1,667 dogs visually identified as Pitbulls, and still without DNA confirmation of the breed being killed.

While the State of Colorado specifically outlawed breed specific legislation in 2004, Denver went to the State Supreme Court and won, reinstating one of the harshest, and most arbitrary Pitbull bans in the nation. The Denver Pitbull ban, and the associated sanction of having your dog stolen by force, perhaps not even being a Pitbull, and then being summarily executed, remains the law of the land to this day. There are also numerous other cities, townships and counties across the United States, that have also enacted breed specific legislation, either strictly regulating, or outright banning Pitbulls and "Pitbull type dogs," and Denver is not the only place euthanizing those dogs, though it is indeed Denver, Colorado, that does it, quite literally, in truck loads. (6) (7) (8) (9)

The Pet Pitbull, Then and Now

Over the years, a great deal of emphasis has been put on the Pitbull's history of bull-baiting and dog fighting. Often members of the press, looking to sensationalize a dog bite story in a three-minute segment, imply that because the Pitbull was originally bred for confrontational duties and dog fighting, the Pitbull must be genetically predisposed to being aggressive towards human beings. But this is not true - far from it!

Early in the Pitbull's history, the dog was primarily employed on farms, as an aid to the farmer in controlling unruly livestock. At that time, dog fighting was a regular practice, as a means of testing to see which dog was more worth breeding. Typically, neither dog in the fight was found injured afterwards; they had to be to work in the morning. Besides simply keeping order in the farmyard, the Pitbull was also bred very specifically, to act as an ever present, and protective shadow to the children of the household. (If you consider that even domestic livestock, such as bulls, rams, goats, hogs, and roosters, can be a legitimate danger to children, this makes a great deal of sense.)

This was a point of pride for the dog breeder, as well as the loving father of these children: to provide a dog that could corall an angry 2,000 pound bull if it got loose in the yard, drive off coyotes or a wild boar, outfight any intruders with ill intent, yet still be so gentle as to not be mom and dad's dog at all, but the baby's dog, a child's playmate. Incidentally, the American Bulldog was bred for the same purpose. He was the larger, Mastiff bred version, the Pitbull was the smaller, Terrier bred version, both filling essentially the same role in rural America.

It is the Pitbull's very ability to be aggressive when necessary, that makes him calm, cool and collected, in a family situation with proper socialization, training and love. The Pitbull was and is, a confident and mild mannered love-dog, when there's no bulls to bully, or other livestock to keep from trampling the kids, or wild boars, badgers or coyotes, to drive off from around the house.

Consider these vintage photos of the original bull baiting and fighting Pitbull, as he really was. And understand a bit of American dog lore here, dear reader: This was a time in history, in which a Pitbull who wasn't a game bred fighting dog, might well be taken out and shot for not being fit for his duties. So you're not looking at a different version of the Pitbull below, cherry picked friendly dogs, the "mean dogs" not shown. It's a fair bet that every dog below, if found worthy of being photographed beside a man's child, was also a capable fighting dog, steeped from nose to toes, in a no nonsense American working culture that demanded of their Pitbulls the ultimate canine dichotomy, to be both, lamb and lion.

And neither the dog, nor his rightful place among humans has changed much in 100 years...

Pitbulls are kept, almost without statistical exception, as well mannered, friendly and peaceful domestic pets by countless happy owners throughout the United States, and the world. Further, the Pitbull is a breed of dog specifically known for being an unusually child sensitive, and child loving animal, typically forming deep and very unique bonds with the children in their families.

Pitbulls and Police Make a Good Team

The Pitbull is found not only as an affectionate family companion dog, but they're also sometimes employed as police and military scent dogs as well. Pitbulls love to work! They are high energy dogs with excellent focus, and have very low maintenance and management requirements, making them some of the most employable dogs around. They've got good olfactory, making them especially useful as scent dogs. They're easy to train, allowing for shorter job training periods. They're highly sociable, making handler management almost effortless.

Compared to some of the other breeds used by the military and police, that often aren't able to go home at the end of their shift, but instead must be housed in a secure kennel compound, (and present higher public liability when on the job as well), the wider spread use of Pitbulls by the military and law enforcement could be a real money saver. A well trained, well loved Pitbull, is by far a more stable dog than the average high strung Belgian Malinois. Sorry Belgian lovers, but that's a fact.

Below from left to right: (1) Trooper Gardner and Pitbull K9, Brei, a Drug Detection dog with the Washington State Patrol. (2) SPC Alexander Reimer, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, and Pitbull dog Howard, Tactical Explosive Detection Dog (TEDD), on foot patrol in Zharay District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, on Tuesday, August 7, 2012. (3) Officer Billy Wells, Milwauki Police Dept. K9 Detection Unit, with Pitbull Shaka. Before Officer Wells got Shaka, she was scheduled to be euthanized in New York, just for being a Pitbull. (4) Next is Neville, Seattle's Coleman Dock Drug & Explosives Detection K9, who before being rescued and becoming a K9 Police Officer, was almost euthanized in Canada. (5) Last and certainly not least, Temple, Texas Police Officer, Jim Rankin poses with K9 partner Cyrus. Officer Rankin and Cyrus attended a Detection Contest in Vicksburg, Mississippi, placing 5th out of 100 attending professional police detection teams from all over the country. Nice work Officers!

Pitbulls Fulfill the Very Special Temperament Requirements of Therapy Dogs... Think About That

Pitbulls are also employed as Therapy Dogs. The Therapy Dog designation is an official certification awarded by the American Kennel Club (details). A Therapy Dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, to people with learning difficulties, and in stressful situations, such as disaster areas. Unlike Service Dogs, such as Search & Rescue dogs and Drug or Bomb Detection K9s, a Therapy Dog must be highly sociable, trustworthy without fault, and gentle enough to be freely handled (even roughly or clumsily) by seniors, small children, and the terminally ill, in the most fragile of conditions.

A Therapy Dog's job is allowing strangers to make unrestricted physical contact with it. Children and adults alike benefit from the comfort of dogs. In hospice environments, Therapy Dogs play a role in palliative care, by reducing death anxiety. Pitbulls are a common breed of dog utilized as Therapy Dogs. There are well over 100 licensed Therapy Dog organizations in the U.S. today; none of them have a breed restriction against Pitbulls. The most important characteristic of a Therapy Dog is temperament. These dogs deal with people so frail, as to be at risk of being injured by even the most innocent rapid or overly rough movements common to dogs. Therapy Dogs must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and predictably calm in any and all situations. Pitbulls fit that description with consistency, when paired with responsible, loving owners.

Pitbulls Are Everywhere

From Agility Competitions to French Ring, Search & Rescue to K9 Drug and Bomb Detection, from Weight Pull Championships, Obedience Trials and Frisbee dogs, to performing as television personalities, from Certified Therapy Dogs to simply being gentle family pets, Pitbulls fill every roll a dog can fill, loyally serving human beings, with almost no exception. They do it cheerfully, they do it without any form of temperament problems, without any form of special treatment, and with a stable-minded patience, and energetic joy that few other breeds of dogs can consistently muster.

Saying that a Pitbull is "dangerous," is much like saying a car is dangerous. Of course it is, when an irresponsible fellow, high on drugs or drunk on booze slams his car into a mom driving her kids back from soccer practice. However, I drive a car, you probably drive a car, hundreds of millions of people throughout the world drive cars; should that disturbed young man's terrible crime, be the catalyst for taking away the rest of our driving privileges, when the hundreds of millions of people making up the majority, are typically safe, responsible drivers, who do not kill people with our vehicles?

There are literally MILLIONS of Pitbulls throughout the United States. Statistically, less than .001% of them will ever bite anything more sinister than a dog biscuit, received as reward for performing any number of hundreds of professional duties, tricks and sports for their loving human owners.

The Bad Pitbulls...

It is true, however, that through no fault of their own, the majority of dogs found being used for illegal dog fighting in the United States, do happen to be Pitbulls. However, dog-on-dog aggression is not a natural tendency of the Pitbull breed. The proof...? Dogs used in illegal dog fighting must undergo terrible and cruel training, teaching them to kill or be killed, to attack another dog, or be punished with great physical pain. It is not uncommon for those demented and psychologically unfit individuals who fight dogs, to tie an unwanted dog to a tree or a post, then to cut the dog causing it to bleed, and then using cattle prods, to electrically shock the other dogs, if they fail to attack the bound victim. Illegal dog fighting is a crime against Pitbulls, perpetrated by members of the lowest common denominator of human refuse within our society, not a crime being perpetrated by the Pitbulls involved. The Pitbulls are the victims...

Similarly, law enforcement agencies report that Pitbulls are used for other criminal purposes as well, the guarding of illegal narcotics operations, tactical use against the police, and as viciously mis-trained attack dogs.

I would also be remiss not to acknowledge, that because the Pitbull is currently one of the most popular dogs, among good, decent and loving owners, but also, among the most grossly irresponsible and negligent within our society, and because, as a result, there are simply greater numbers of Pitbulls within our society than many other breeds of dogs, Pitbulls are indeed involved in more inappropriate dog biting incidents than many breeds of dog. However, a great many more dog breeds than just Pitbulls inflict serious damage when biting human beings.

From top left, Jack Russell bite, Weimaraner/Shorthaired Pointer mix, Cocker Spaniel bite, Golden Retriever bite, Dachshund bite, German Shepherd bite, Anatolian Shepherd bite, Pitbull bite, Collie bite, Boxer bite, Malamute bite, and Labrador bite. Of particular interest regarding the last, and one of the more horrific bite photos, is that the Labrador involved was owned by Sioux City Councilman Aaron Rochester, a strong proponent of breed specific legislation, who pushed for the Sioux City Pitbull ban currently in place. Apparently truly believing that biting is breed dependent, and that owner responsibility is not the issue, Councilman Rochester was not a responsible dog owner, and allowed his Labrador to rip off much of this woman's face, pictured in the lower right corner.

Dog bites are dangerous and sometimes fatal, and obviously, in most cases, the larger and stronger the dog, the worse the bite trauma. A Pitbull bite can be compared roughly equivalent to the bites of Shepherds, Collies, Weimaraners or Labradors. All are strong dogs, with big mouths, capable of inflicting great injury when they bite. With regards to the Pitbull specifically, it is neither more or less likely to bite a human being, and upon biting, it is neither more or less likely to do great bodily harm than any other dog of roughly equal size and bite strength. (We'll talk more about that phrase, "more likely" in just a minute.

The Pitbull's Magical Locking Jaw

Wait, but don't Pitbulls have a locking jaw that makes it impossible for them to let go...?

No, a Pitbull has the same jaw mechanics as any other dog's jaws. There is no locking mechanism in his jaws, and his jaws are not in fact stronger than the jaws of a dog of roughly equal size, bite radius and width of cranium, with a few exceptions for more frail, less athletic dog breeds. The Pitbull's magical locking jaw is a myth, an urban legend about Pitbulls, containing not an ounce of truth. Also, much has been said about old time dog fighters needing to use what is called a "break stick," a wooden wedge to separate a Pitbull's jaws when it has clamped down during a fight. In reality, any dog of over 25 to 30 pounds or so, having latched onto something with its mouth, will be very difficult if not impossible to pry its jaws apart without a break stick, wedge or lever of some kind. Dog bites are dangerous; ALL dog bites can be dangerous.

Pitbull Statistics Unraveled

If a statistic is cited, but that statistic is being misused and is irrelevant, and that citation is repeated over and over again, by dozens of zealous, cause-motivated bloggers, and none of them correct it, even after dozens of other bloggers fact-check them, and publicly accuse them of purposefully misinterpreting their statistic, does that constitute a big, fat lie...? You decide...

One statistical "misinterpretation" regarding Pitbulls regularly repeated, is that only 5% of dogs in the United States are Pitbulls, "yet they account for a much higher percentage of dog bite incidents." The original source of that statistic is the AKC (American Kennel Club), AKC Dog Registration Statistics (10). The AKC is an organization that currently registers only a fraction of dogs, from a diversity of breeds, currently kept as pets throughout the United States. That 5% is a statistic of how many Pitbulls the AKC registers (under the name Staffordshire Terrier), compared to how many dogs of other breeds the AKC registers.

Specifically, the AKC registers the Staffordshire Terrier, which is one type of Pitbull. However, there are two other kinds of purebred Pitbulls, and numerous mixed breed dogs primarily of Pitbull origin, that are not registered by the AKC at all. In reality, even the larger percentage of Staffordshire Terriers are not registered with the AKC, because most pet owners simply don't care if their pet dog is registered or not. (11) If you stop and think about that statistic for a minute, you could actually get similar statistics by visiting one single first grade classroom, in one single more affluent, white neighborhood, and upon finding no black or Hispanic students in that classroom, concluding that black and Hispanic children don't actually exist in America.

AKC membership costs money and has strict requirements for members and their dogs to meet. It is a membership specifically for dog owners who wish to show or breed their dogs. That is a very small percentage of overall dog owners. The fact is, we know that Pitbulls are one of the more popular breeds of dogs in the country, as is evidenced by how many of them are euthanized every day in America, just for being Pitbulls.

Furthermore, you can pop open another browser page right now and type in, "Pitbulls for sale." Start clicking links and count how many Pitbulls you find for sale in the first 10 search results pages. Now do the same for German Shepherd Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Labradors, Collies, Malamutes, Huskies and Boxers. Any bets on what you're going to find...? I'll save you the trouble, Pitbulls are by far more popular than any other type of dog big enough to typically cause catastrophic tissue damage when they bite.

Proponents of breed specific legislation often pull (or they themselves fall for) that old marketing trick, once used by one car manufacturer against another: "Toyotas are involved in more accidents than any other car in America today! Buy a Ford, it's safer for your family..." Well of course Toyotas were the most dangerous car in America, with more people being injured or dying in Toyotas every year than any other car in the country, after all, one in five cars on the road was a Toyota, slickster, and being among the cheapest cars, they tend to be driven by the youngest, and least experienced drivers!

The situation with the Pitbull is similar. Statistically speaking, if you are a young, male citizen of the United States, under 30 years of age, you are more likely to have been irresponsible with credit, and have a low credit score. (12) You are also more likely to commit a crime and go to jail (13); more likely to father a child you then don't provide for financially (14); more likely to not take care of yourself, and eat a lot of fast food (15). And of course, you are more likely to crash your car. Furthermore, the car you crash is more likely to be the most inexpensive car available, and that car will tend to be the most popular in your age group (16).

Dog owner statistics are only reasonably similar. If you are a young, male dog owner, in particular, a young urban male dog owner, odds are good that you have chosen a Pitbull for your pet dog, rather than a Pug, a Maltese, or even a German Shepherd. Further, based upon all the other areas we can observe young urban males being statistically far more irresponsible in their lives than any other age demographic, odds are also pretty good, that you don't take care of the pet dog you've chosen as responsibly as many other dog owners would. So, the statistics are dramatically weighted. That group of human beings most likely to own a dog that bites a person, favors a particular dog breed, and thus, the dog breed catches the blame.

A Few REAL Pitbull Statistics (17) (18)

(1) Since 1992, the breed most involved in fatal attacks has been the
Rottweiler, and not the Pitbull.

(2) Over the 37-year period from 1965-2001, Pitbulls were blamed for an average of 2.48 human fatalities per year. As the CDC themselves point out, this in no way accounts for the many thousands of dogs likely misidentified by the person being attacked, or animal control authorities. However, let's go ahead and use that number of 2.48 Pitbull fatalities per year. By comparison...

About 40 people per year die by drowning in 5-gallon water pails. A person is 16 times more likely to drown in a 5-gallon water pail than to be killed by a Pitbull.

Approximately 50 children in the US are killed every year by their cribs - 25 times the number of children and adults killed by Pitbulls.

Approximately 150 people are killed every year by falling coconuts. You are more than 60 times more likely to be killed by a Palm Tree than by a Pitbull. Should all Palm Trees found in public places be cut down...? By doing so, we could save the lives of more than 60-times more people than breed specific legislation might potentially save, if we assume that those people with killer dogs don't simply get killer dogs of a different breed.

Each year, about 350 people drown in their own bathtubs. You are 151 times more likely to be killed by your bathtub than you are by a Pitbull.

Roughly 500 human deaths per year are caused by aspirin. You are more than 200 times more likely to die from taking aspirin than from a Pitbull attack.

Every year, more than 2,000 children in the US are killed by their parents or guardians, either through abuse or neglect. A child is more than 800 times more likely to be killed by their adult caretaker than by a Pitbull.

(3) It is estimated that 5,000,000 dogs per year are killed in shelters. Since in many places Pitbulls make up 30-50% of the shelter population, and are the breed least likely to be considered for placement, it is a highly conservative extrapolation that 25% of those dogs killed are Pitbulls, or roughly, 1.25 million Pitbulls killed per year... just for being Pitbulls.

(4) Regarding fatal dog attacks, roughly .000385% of the estimated nationwide Pitbull population will ever be involved in a fatal dog attack. To put that into context, breed specific legislation seeks to take rights away from 99.999615% of the population of the United States, to combat the irresponsibility of .000385% of the population.

(5) In 2000, eight Pitbulls were involved in fatal dog attacks nationwide. By comparison...

26 people were bitten or struck to death by dog (all breeds);
65 people were bitten or struck to death by other mammals;
9 people were bitten or stung to death by nonvenomous insect and other arthropods;
31 people were bitten or crushed to death by other reptiles;
341 people died of drowning/submersion, bath-tub;
567 people died of drowning/submersion, swimming-pool;
327 people died of accidental suffocation/strangulation in bed;
9 people died of ignition or melting of pajamas/nightware;
55 people died of contact with hot tap-water;
12 people were killed by venomous snakes and lizards;
5 people were killed by venomous spiders;
54 people were killed by hornets, wasps and bees;
9 people were killed by other unspecified venomous animal or plant;
302 people died of alcohol poisoning;
270 people were killed during intervention involving firearm discharge;
80 people were killed by lawful execution.

In Calgary, Canada legislation was passed addressing owner responsibility rather than breed specific legislation. This legislation, now referred to as "the Calgary Model," has resulted in dog bite cases dropping to a 25-year low. While they were once proponents of breed specific legislation, regularly euthanizing many hundreds of Pitbulls per year, Calgary’s Bylaw Officers have now officially taken a stand against breed banning legislation, in favor of owner responsibility being taught and enforced. (19)

Look, obviously any dog that becomes popular for having a "tough look," is going to be especially popular among those people with an inordinate desire to look tough. Pitbulls don't have a natural drive to attack other dogs, or children. They're simply popular among criminals, and emotionally insecure males, and such persons tend to abuse and misuse them. As a professional dog breeder, I have said for years, that dogs tend to emulate their owner's personality. When you meet a Pitbull, known for being antisocial and overly aggressive, you usually find an owner in the middle of that story that effectively proves my point. Therapy Dogs, Service Dogs and the many millions of Pitbulls owned by responsible owners are not known for attacking humans, or other dogs. Pitbulls doing these things, are usually owned by irresponsible people.

“Breed-specific legislation does not address the fact that a dog of any breed can become dangerous when bred or trained to be aggressive. From a scientific point of view, we are unaware of any formal evaluation of the effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in preventing fatal or nonfatal dog bites. An alternative to breed-specific legislation is to regulate individual dogs and owners on the basis of their behavior” (1)

Important Factors in Keeping a Pitbull

All too often Pitbull and potential Pitbull owners get a Pitbull because they desire their dog to have a certain physical look. People often get married for the same reason and divorce rates hover at roughly 50%. Different breeds of dogs have different needs. As such, there's things you should know as a Pitbull owner, about the breed of dog you have chosen. It is unfortunate that I do not see this type of information on the websites of many Pitbull breeders. It is also unfortunate to the point of being, in my opinion, a professional irresponsibility, that the same animal control authorities happy to collect and euthanize Pitbulls, will also very often rehome Pitbulls to new adoptive owners, never having shared this information with them. So, here are two issues specific to the Pitbull that I think everyone owning, or thinking of owning a Pitbull should realize...

The Size Deception

A Pitbull is a medium sized dog visually, or by height, but more often a larger sized dog if measuring weight and bite radius. (I'm discussing "Pitbull type dogs" here, not specifically the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, or the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, none of which exceed 60 pounds.)

Very few Pitbull owners realize, that their dog can bite with all the power, reach and associated drama and trauma, as the average German Shepherd. The German Shepherd is SEEN as a big dog, and it is, but the Pitbull is often only slightly smaller by weight, by bite radius and by strength. You see, a Pitbull is a more compact dog, who looks far smaller than a German Shepherd, but really is only a bit smaller. So, the Pitbull haters do have a point, when they say that "a Pitbull bite is more dangerous than the bite of any other small dog." Of course it is, because a Pitbull is not in fact a small dog at all, but really a pretty large dog, on a short, compact frame.

Pitbull Temperament and Human Neglect

Have you ever noticed how most big dogs tend to be slower and a bit lazier in basically everything they do, but smaller, Terrier type dogs tend to be more energetic - a Hollywood action packed adventure sequence squeezed into a little dog? A Pitbull is a Terrier, a darned big Terrier, but a Terrier just the same. A healthy Pitbull is far more active than the average big dog. He wants things to do, games to play, friends to throw a ball or a frisbee for him. He wants his belly scratched for just a minute, and then he's up and on the move again. Terriers are the most physically and mentally active dogs in the world. They were bred that way to be fun, and to be tireless when performing a professional task. They like activity. They're highly social and intelligent, and they always want to be interacting with you.

That dog just described, is one of the neatest, most fun dogs you can own... if you want him for a round-the-clock companion - if you've got some time to invest is an actual day-to-day relationship with a dog. If what you really want is a dog big enough to protect you, or that the kids won't hurt by crawling on, but you can spend only 10 minutes with a day connecting with the dog, and the rest of the time he's satisfied to simply lay on the couch independently, a Pitbull is a really bad choice of dog for you.

Terriers being naturally social, can feel rejected, unloved and get surly when ignored for long periods of time - any type of Terrier. Terriers naturally being a very mentally active dogs, can get frustrated when there's nothing to do - any type of Terrier. Terriers being very physically active dogs, can get a bit hyper when not properly exercised, and then have explosive bursts of sometimes destructive energy - any type of Terrier. And a Terrier of any type, who lives out his days in your back yard, fitting that neglected, ignored description, that Terrier is NOT A FAMILY DOG, and should not be considered trustworthy as a family dog, much less a public dog.

You need to respect your dog and his particular needs. Different breeds have different needs. A Terrier is specifically developed for an active lifestyle, filled with lots of interesting distractions, and lots of time side-by-side with his or her humans, being pet, played with - being integrated into a combined human and dog pack. If you're more of a loner or low energy person, if that's not what you want in a relationship with a dog, and you are not someone who'll provide that for your Terrier, a Pitbull Terrier is definitely not for you. Most of them will be fine with minimal care and a certain amount of emotional neglect, but it's not what they're made for, and those dogs that become problem dogs, in my experience, tend to fall into that category of the neglected dog.

Furthermore, a Pitbull has a prey drive, and anyone saying differently does not understand the dog. A Pitbull carefully socialized and trained, not left alone for long periods, always properly exercised, always part of the family, these, in my experience, are always good dogs. However, take that same dog and drop it in the back yard, ignore it for six months and let it run back and forth for tireless hours agitated at everything allowed the freedom of being on the other side of the fence, that dog is changed now, and not in a good way. You'll cause the dog to revert to its guarding and protection instincts. It will become aggressive, territorial, depressed and filled with nervous energy. Such dogs visiting the dog park once or twice a month (or similar public outings) can become prey driven, aggressive towards strangers and strange animals, and not stable in human society.

Such changes in a dog can be subtle. The dog doesn't tell you, "hey, dummy, you've ignored me for six months and I've become a great guard dog, minus the formal commands that would otherwise control me." That dog will look about the same to you as it always has, and you being its owner, it's very unlikely the dog will be aggressive, with you. After all, you're the dog's master, the person who feeds and waters it.

That ignored, neglected Pitbull, however, may not be the same dog he was back when you were interacting with him for a couple hours a day, back when he was being socialized and trained. You've emotionally abandoned that dog, and now it's a different dog. (Think about how some humans act when the love of their life goes off and finds a new love. Most stay fairly normal, contain themselves, maintain their behavior within normative standards. Then again, some don't. Some people just flat lose their minds, right?) A Pitbull is a Terrier, and Terriers of all types are specifically designed for heavy human interaction, lots of activity, socializing and love. Do differently with your Pitbull, and you are placing the dog in an unnatural and very uncomfortable role, and the results may not be predictable.

As an owner of a Pitbull Terrier, you have a responsibility to understand and provide for this dog's needs - all of its needs, not just food, water and a nice place to sleep. If you own a Pitbull that you cannot trust in a public situation, and that dog is not a well secured guard dog, you should surrender that dog to animal control authorities, not simply rehome it. That goes for any breed of dog. If you have a dog that you cannot control, you do not have a right to endanger innocent people and other animals within our society, just so you can keep your dog. If you have failed in your responsibility to maintain control of your dog, you now have a responsibility to get a professional trainer involved, or turn that dog over to your local animal control authorities.

The ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), established in 1866, was the first such organization in the history of the North American continent. The ASPCA funds scholarly research and employs hundreds of Animal Behaviorists, Vets and Trainers, at dozens of facilities, and through dozens of different programs throughout the United States. The sheer volume of vital professional services the ASPCA provides to animals, pet owners, breeders and other animal professionals dwarfs any similar attempts by any other animal organization in the country, and they are a 501c3 nonprofit, that doesn't make a dime for doing it. This is a portion of their long-standing, published position on breed specific legislation regarding the Pitbull (found here):

"There is no evidence that breed-specific laws — which are costly and difficult to enforce — make communities safer for people or companion animals. For example, Prince George’s County, MD, spends more than $250,000 annually to enforce its ban on Pit Bulls. In 2003, a study conducted by the county on the ban’s effectiveness noted that “public safety is not improved as a result of [the ban],” and that “there is no transgression committed by owner or animal that is not covered by another, non-breed specific portion of the Animal Control Code (i.e., vicious animal, nuisance animal, leash laws).”

Following a thorough study of human fatalities resulting from dog bites, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) decided not to support BSL. The CDC cited, among other problems, the inaccuracy of dog bite data and the difficulty in identifying dog breeds (especially true of mixed-breed dogs). The CDC also noted the likelihood that as certain breeds are regulated, those who exploit dogs by making them aggressive will replace them with other, unregulated breeds."


Pitbulls and breed specific legislation is an emotionally charged topic, because it is a reaction to very sad and often horrible dog bite stories. When I see pictures of people chewed up by dogs, especially children, it breaks my heart, the same as it should break anyone's heart. At the same time, however, I myself have bred, raised and trained aggressive guard dogs for many years, and have never had an inappropriate biting incident. This is because I am a responsible dog owner.

While Pitbulls are not an inherently aggressive breed of dog any longer, even those few that are dangerous can be kept safely. The proof...? Michael Vick's dogs were rescued and rehomed, not euthanized, and such dogs - even those dogs that have been treated cruelly, made aggressive, and taught to hurt other animals and people, are kept in safety all over the country, rehomed by rescue groups.

"The stigma associated with the breed has been caused by careless dog owners who do not socialize or properly train their dogs. Any breed of dog that is left tied in a backyard without experiencing the outside world is bound to have issues. It also seems that careless dog owners tend to choose the pit bull in particular, possibly due to it's “tough” reputation.

Therefore the majority of neglected, untrained dogs appear to be pit bulls. But even with all these neglected dogs, there are even more sweet, trained and well socialized pit bulls that belong to loving families. According to rigorous testing by The National Canine Temperament Testing Association, the golden retriever, poodle, border collie, English setter, German pointer and numerous other breeds are considered more likely to become aggressive than pit bulls.

The average score of the 122 breeds tested was a mere 77 percent. Pit bulls scored a 95.2 percent on these testings. (The higher the better.)

Not only have pit bulls scored extremely well on temperament tests, but they have been serving key roles in search and rescue efforts, excel in agility training and work nationwide as therapy and service dogs...

... Another aspect that needs to be mentioned is that most attacks by other dog breeds are misclassified as “pit bulls” by media reports. The fact is, there are far more stories of pit bulls helping, or saving lives, than endangering or ending them.

It seems that the term “pit bull” is only splashed across the headlines when the story is negative. Unfortunately, fear and negativity sells, and this breed is paying the price. If only we were to take the time to look beyond the negative hype, we would find the truth about pit bulls." (4)

Summary Positions

At Blasco Family Bulldogs© we do not breed Pitbulls. That means we don't really have a vested interest in this debate, which is why I felt a responsibility to advocate for the wonderful breed known as the Pitbull, because perhaps if you see a professional breeder who does not breed Pitbulls advocating for the breed, maybe that will make you stop and think. In our own breeding pursuits, the Pitbull is not big enough, or naturally aggressive enough to easily fulfill the family guardianship and property protection duties we breed for. However, we are sharply opposed to breed specific legislation that would ban Pitbulls. It's wrong. It is unfair. It is a senseless, knee-jerk emotional reaction, in no way founded upon facts, and in no way effective towards ridding our society of the stupid people that actually cause the problem of unwarranted dog biting, or the many countless other dangers stupid people present the rest of us, with otherwise benign objects.

At Blasco Family Bulldogs© we believe in education, and the lawful responsibility of individual dog owners. While we recognize there are those who purposefully act in an antisocial manner, using dogs trained to be dangerous for nefarious purposes, we also recognize that most antisocial, out-of-control dogs got that way by accident, because of an owner who simply did not know how to socialize and train their dog properly. While we believe that no breed specific legislation is helpful in reducing unwarranted dog biting incidents, we do believe that legislation which promotes dog owner education, and prevents repeat offenders from having dogs is a good idea.


(1) Breeds of Dogs Involved in Fatal Human Attacks In the United States Between 1979 and 1998, Jeffrey J. Sacks, MD, MPH; Leslie Sinclair, DVM; Julie Gilchrist, MD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Vet Med Today: Special Report, JAVMA, Vol 217, No. 6, September 15, 2000.

(2) Francis X. Gorman, Municipal Court Judge, Toledo, OH, July 8, 2004

(3) Analysis of Dog Bites in Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years, Johannes Schalamon, MD, Herwig Ainoedhofer, Georg Singer, MD, Thomas Petnehazy, MD, Johannes Mayr, MD, PhD, Katalin Kiss, MD, Michael E. Höllwarth, MD, PhD, Pediatrics Vol. 117 No. 3 March 1, 2006, pp. e374 -e379

(4) America's Nanny Dog, Tyla Hafstrom, My Word, The Times-Standard, September 25, 2007

(5) ANY DOG CAN BITE, Socialization key to preventing dogs' aggressive behavior, Sarah Schulz, The Independent (, February 9, 2013

(6) Denver pit bull owners in a panic over ban, An average of more than 3 dogs a day impounded or destroyed, Associated Press, July 21, 2005

(7) With Ban In Place, Denver Euthanizing 3 Pit Bulls Daily, City Has Impounded 380 Pit Bulls, Destroyed 260 Since May, ABC 7 News (, July 21, 2005

(8) One City's Experience, Why Pitbulls Are More Dangerous And Breed-Specific Legislation is Justified, Kory A. Nelson, Municipal Lawyer, July/August 2005 Vol. 46, No. 6

(9) Denver: Selective counting and the cost to dogs and people, National Canine Research Counsil, 2008

(10) AKC Dog Registration Statistics, American Kennel Club (, 2012

(11) AKC Most Popular Breed List Shows Declining Breed Registration, Steve Dale, Good News for Pets (, 1999

(12) Credit Score Statistics, Statistic Brain (, 2013

(13) Prisoners in 2011, E. Ann Carson, Ph.D., and William J. Sabol, Ph.D., BJS Statisticians, US Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2012

(14) Child Support Statistics,, 2002

(15) Fast Food Consumption of US Adults: Impact on Energy and Nutrient Intakes and Overweight Status, Shanthy A. Bowman, PhD and Bryan T. Vinyard, PhD, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2013

(16) Car Crash Statistics Based on Age and Location, Auto Safety,, 2013

(17) Fatal Dog Attacks, Karen Delise

(18) Numbers of Deaths Due to Injury, United States in 2000, National Safety Council

(19) Calgary finds the laws to stop dog bites and shelter crowding, Sharon Sakson, The Examiner (, 2009

Other Authorities
& Some Books You Should Read...

Throughout this article you'll notice there were a number of direct quotes not appearing in the Bibliography, because their sources were provided within the body of the text itself. In writing this article, I also relied upon books in large piles from my own shelves, which I did not specifically cite, because having already read those books, I didn't feel like going back and digging up a bunch of specific quotes.

There's quite a few people online today, arguing this point or that regarding the dog loosely referred to as the Pitbull. I visited a few blogs recently, one in particular, in which the writer was making accusations against other writers who defend the Pitbull. She had a lot to say, but the general gist was that those defending the Pitbull make up facts, lie about the Pitbull's real history, seeking to promote a breed of dog that from the beginning, was a misbred psychopath unfit for any use but dog fighting. I believe the vintage photos I've provided, more than proves otherwise, actual fighting dogs of the early 20th century, consistently photographed with the children they were specifically bred to accompany.

However, her evidence of this fantastic conspiracy of Pitbull lovers, "all telling the same lies" without formally cited sources...? Well, she had compiled Google search data, and being unable to find certain information breeders commonly refer to in articles on the Internet - information which is common knowledge among professional breeders who spend their entire lives studying dogs and their histories, she concluded that they all must be lying... hundreds of them... because she could not find their information in book format on Google. Her blog gets a lot of hits, as do many like it, and a great deal of misinformation is being sewn about the Pitbull and its history. So, I am providing below a list of books, real, printed books, which anyone wishing to argue history issues regarding the Pitbull, should have had on their shelves so long, as to be covered with a thick layer of dust, as are my copies.

The Working Pitbull, By Diane Jessup
Colby's Book of the American Pitbull Terrier, By Louis Colby and Diane Jessup
The American Pitbull Terrier, By Joseph Colby
Fatal Dog Attacks, By Karen Delise
History of the Fighting Breeds, By Dieter Fleig
The American Pit Bull Terrier: An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet, By Jacqueline O'Neil
The American Pitbull Terrier Scrapbook, By T.L.Williams
American Pit Bull Terrier Handbook, By Joe Stahlkuppe
American Pit Bull and Staffordshire Terriers: Everything About Purchase, Care, Nutrition, Breeding, Behavior, and Training, By Joe Stahlkuppe
The Sporting Bull Terrier, By Eugene Glass
The Pitbull Fact and Fable, By K.S. Matz
The World of Fighting Dogs, Carl Semencic
Pit Bulls Revealed, Tim Amherst
A Complete History of Fighting Dogs, By Mike Homan
This is the American Pit Bull Terrier, By Richard Stratton
American Pitbull Terrier - Fact or Fiction, By Dawn Capps

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