Pit bulls have a bad reputation. They are usually portrayed in popular culture as vicious and aggressive dogs, indeed bred for the fighting pits. And when news such as the incident where a pit bull mauled and killed a smaller dog leaving its owner traumatized definitely don’t help improve the breed’s reputation. The incident took place earlier this month in northwest Calgary. A 16-year old girl was walking her bichon frise and Shih Tzu cross, a small dog, through the neighborhood when a pit bull attacked it and killed it, leaving the girl traumatized. The owner of the attacking dog has decided that she will put down the 1-year old Pit Bull, CBC News reports.
The teenage girl who was walking the small dog reportedly missed school and needed counseling following the incident. One of the neighbors described the incident as follows.
“It was just so violent and so out of our control. There was nothing we could do to stop it. It could have easily turned on one of us, and it was just so terrible to witness that.”
According to the owner of the Pit Bull, who identified only as Rachel, she had just moved into the neighborhood and her dog got out through a gap in the fence to attack the little dog. She says that she is grateful that no human being was hurt in the attack.
“I feel so, so bad for the little girl. I feel bad for anyone who witnessed it.”
Neighbor Sherry Loewen describes the event as a wake-up call for all pet owners to be responsible for their pets, especially when moving into a new environment. The parents of the teenage girl whose dog was killed have said that they forgive the pit bull’s owner, but they believe that the incident could have been prevented if they had been more responsible with their dogs.
The pit bull has been seized by authorities, and the owner could face a fine up to $10,000 under the responsible pet ownership bylaw of the City of Calgary. The owner has also decided that she will be euthanizing her pit bull.
Pit bulls were created by breeding bulldogs and terriers together. They were meant to be fighting dogs for blood sport, and as such were selectively bred to be aggressive and vicious. Today, a few hundred years later, such games are illegal, but the breed lives on, and with a bad reputation. Many people argue that pit bulls are not vicious breeds by birth and it is the owners of these dogs that lead them into becoming vicious. While it is true with any large/working breed of dogs that an inexperienced owner can lead it to becoming aggressive and vicious, incidents of aggression from pit bulls are more commonly reported than with other breeds, possibly owing to a bad reputation.
The United Kennel Club, the second oldest Kennel Club in the United States and possibly the world’s largest performance dog registry, describes the characteristics of the American pit bull terrier as the following.
“The essential characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier are strength, confidence, and zest for life. This breed is eager to please and brimming over with enthusiasm. APBTs make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their love of children. Because most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog. The breed’s natural agility makes it one of the most capable canine climbers so good fencing is a must for this breed. The APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable. This breed does very well in performance events because of its high level of intelligence and its willingness to work.”
While many pit bulls are gentle and happy family dogs, incidents such as these have led to several countries around the world and some states in the U.S. to impose restrictions and in some cases outright bans on the ownership of the breed.
[Feature Image by Audrey Lohkamp/Shutterstock]