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RANDALL LOCKWOOD, PhD
Randall Lockwood, who said he has witnessed the best and worst of pit bulls, said illegal dog-fighting is perpetuating dogs that are hazards to humans and other animals. Shaped by dog-fight enthusiasts, they are "a perversion of everything normal dogs should do. What they've created is a canine psychopath."
"Fighting dogs lie all the time. I experienced it first hand when I was investigating three pit bulls that killed a little boy in Georgia. When I went up to do an initial evaluation of the dog's behavior, the dog came up to the front of the fence, gave me a nice little tail wag and a "play bow" -- a little solicitation, a little greeting. As I got closer, he lunged for my face."
The pit bull, in its purebred or mixed form, has been responsible for most of the fatal dog attacks on humans in the last two years. In 1987, there were eight deaths from dog attacks in the country, and seven involved pit bulls. In 1986, there were 13 deaths, seven involving pit bulls. But pit bulls have been victimized by hype.
The dogs are no strangers to ordinances. A pit bull ban was passed in London in the 1400s.
These dogs can be canine crocodiles. They have a dark and bloody history.
In the United States, pets are considered property in the eyes of the law. And one of the most hotly defended rights of the individual is the right to own anything, no matter how stupid or dangerous the choice — even when what someone wants to own is a threat to them, their family, and the community around them.
FRANKLIN LOEW, dean of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine
I'm not aware of any other breed of animal that has ever been singled out this way. This is man biting dog.
HUGH WIRTH, veterinarian
RSPCA Victoria president Dr Hugh Wirth said the dogs were a menace and were not suitable as pets for anyone.
"They are time bombs waiting for the right circumstances.''
"The American pit bull terrier is lethal because it was a breed that was developed purely for dog fighting, in other words killing the opposition.
"They should never have been allowed into the country. They are an absolute menace."
“The fact of life is that the community doesn't want American pit bull terriers. They've said it loud and clear over and over again - they want them banned.”
GRAEME SMITH, veterinarian
My views about associating a breed with dangerous behaviours were challenged over time as I saw the impact of Pit Bull attacks. Talking to owners with dogs of this breed who have themselves been turned on, it became clear that these animals are unpredictable and when they attack they can cause serious injury or death.
It is very hard to give Pit Bulls the benefit of the doubt.
Avoiding the identification of dogs and their behaviours by their breed means the legislation in place can be such that allows these Pit Bulls “one free bite.” This “one free bite” can have fatal consequences.
If it looks like a Pit Bull, it is a Pit Bull.
What’s at stake is the safety of people and their own pets in the wider community, there is no room for gambling with an unpredictable animal.
And that is so often the case. No one knows where these dogs are until they come out and cause some form of grief. My position is about protecting the public and other animals from these animals.
NICHOLAS DODMAN, BVMS, ACVB, ACVA
Rottweilers were originally bred to guard the money of peasants returning home from the city of Rottweil in Germany, so their fierceness was prized. Staffordshire bull terriers and pit bulls were programmed to deliver a full crushing bite to the noses of bulls. "They're locked and loaded," as Dodman puts it.
on breed profiling
But Dodman defends the practice. "The insurance companies have no ax to grind," he says. They base their decisions on actuarial statistics showing that certain breeds in certain homes are a recipe for trouble and the cause of lawsuits.
on the MA muzzling law
After a spate of attacks by pit bulls this summer, Massachusetts lawmakers passed legislation requiring the dogs to be muzzled in public. Some pit bull owners protested, but a Tufts expert says the law may be a good idea. Breeds like pit bulls and Rottweilers, says animal behavior expert Nick Dodman, are hardwired for aggression.
“Some of these dogs are as dangerous as a loaded handgun,” Dodman– director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at TuftsSchool of Veterinary Medicine – said in an interview with The Boston Globe Magazine.
Genetics play a big role.
“No doubt about it, pit bulls are genetically predisposed toward aggression,” he told the magazine. “Justas certain breeds of dogs were bred to herd, certain were bred to hunt, certain to point, and others to swim.”
While most pet owners accept that their dogs have certain genetic behavioral characteristics, there is still resistance to the idea that some dogs are more dangerous than others.
“Everybody accepts [genetic behaviors like herding or hunting] until you throw in the word ‘aggression’ and things like a full, crushing bite, which some breeds were specifically bred for in the past.”
Statistics on dog attacks reinforce the link between certain dogs and dangerous behavior.
“It’s like a scene from “Casablanca” when they say, ‘Roundup the usual suspects,’” Dodman told the Globe.“It’s always German shepherds, chow, husky, pit bull.The numbers do the talking.”
He added that pit bulls and Rottweilers alone account for more than 50 percent of the fatal dog attacks every year. Despite the danger, the owners of these dogs often fail to take proper precautions.
“A lot of owners of aggressive breeds are suffering from denial and ignorance, because no one wants to be fingered as having that kind of dog,” Dodman said.
“Genetics does play a role and people who think it doesn’t are kidding themselves,” says Dodman. “The pit bull is notorious for a very hard bite. They are always No. 1 in the lethal dog bite parade. The dog was bred for pit fighting. It was bred to never give up, to bite and hang on.”