July 23, 2007

Just read it.

There's an essential, hugely important post over on the BAD RAP blog: I Am Not A Machine. Please read it.

Maybe there's hope. Maybe there's a chance the tide of ignorance and prejudice will begin to turn.

Maybe a thoughtful reporter here, or an honest politician there, will realize that only the most ginormously cretinous haters can lump some 4 million pit bulls and pit bull mixes together --- some full-grown at thirty pounds, others over eighty; some of them titled purebreds, others mixed with who knows what; some chained out and forgotten, many well-trained and well-loved; some eager to fight another dog, others terrified at the prospect; some badly-bred and human-aggressive, many random-bred and glorious with people --- and label all 4 million of them "loaded guns," "time bombs" and "hand grenades."

Turning the tide will be an uphill struggle. [Straight Dope motto: "Fighting ignorance since 1973. (It's taking longer than we thought.)"] The most fervent haters want to grow their hate, not give it up. Kory Nelson, the bureaucrat behind Denver's pit bull ban: "Pit bulls are the 'nuclear weapon' of dog breeds compared with the 'hand grenade' of other breeds." (Last Thursday "KoryNDenver" joined a news discussion thread on the Vick indictment in order to post just one message, an anti-pit diatribe filled with misleading generalizations.)

Are some pit bulls bad news? Sure, and so are some border collies. So are some labs. But other breeds generally don't have to be chained out, neglected, untrained and badly-bred to raise the odds of a bite. Most non-pits have only to be unsocialized. Or unworked: a well-bred border collie without a real job can be as edgy as a drug addict, and twice as reactive.

Given the problem of hellacious overbreeding and the abuse and neglect many pit bulls suffer, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of them bite. The amazing thing, to me, is that so many won't bite even in the face of heartbreaking mistreatment. I don't know of another dog that can survive the worst and keep its great, rock-stable temperament intact the way an authentic pit bull can. This is the reason Michael Vick's dogs deserve to be evaluated by breed experts. It's the reason these dogs deserve a chance at a decent life.

Pit bulls aren't "nuclear weapons." They're not "machines." Good pit bulls -- and there are countless good ones -- are great-hearted, sweet-tempered, wonderful dogs. I have one snoring on my foot as I type, and I know how inherently stable and trustworthy around shrieking teenagers and visiting toddlers she is compared to my border collies or my old German shepherds. Want a terrific family companion? Want to invest time in a dog more than two degrees north of stuffed? Don't get a border collie --- adopt a pit bull. But first, read that great post on the BAD RAP blog.

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