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Author: toni

~ 03/05/10


MAMMAKAZE reader and neighbor Kory posted a very thoughtful and rational response to my emotional rant about Pit Bulls co-existing with small children.  Since not everyone reads the COMMENTS, I felt compelled to post it to give the other POV equal time.  See what you think:


I am rarely moved to comment by your posts, as I’m usually too busy laughing. Today though, I feel I must refute. As a previous owner of two American Staffordshire Terriers (Pit Bulls), it always piques my interest when I see them portrayed as monstrous threats to children / society by the media. I will address some of the points in your post, but first let me offer a different perspective on the “dreaded” Pit Bull.

My last Am-staff was part of my children’s’ lives since they were born. He was an incredibly docile and loving dog with both family and friends. Approaching strangers, adults and children, were always greeted by a wagging tail and a fat tongue. If our interest had been in owning an intimidating killer (it was actually to rescue a puppy from being euthanized), we had failed miserably. His tolerance level for being ridden and having his tail and ears pulled constantly by our two curious toddlers was impressive. Never so much as a growl was heard from him – a real trooper. This was his demeanor throughout his entire life. Even as he became almost completely blind in his last years, when a growl or snap from disorientation would have been justified, nothing but a wag of the tail. Years after his death, both of my kids continue to talk about him – my youngest asking when he’s coming back. His memory still evokes tears, especially from my daughter to whom he was a companion for most of her life.
This was my Pit Bull experience, but of course this is only one dog and all dogs are different. I am not naive to the fact that dogs of many breeds are vicious and that they do attack people and children. My problem is vilifying an entire breed based on individual incidents, the details of which rarely ever come out. Details like how the dog was raised or treated. Was it socialized or isolated? These things make a difference FOR ALL BREEDS.

Now to your post…
You stated that the daughter of an actor on “Ax Men” was killed by the family Pit Bull. The fact is that the dog involved was actually a Rottweiler. This doesn’t change the fact that there are dangerous dogs in the world, but the jump to associate any dog attack with a Pit Bull is part of what fuels what I believe is unwarranted prejudice against this breed. Another is posting pictures of Pit Bulls barking, yet another way to make them look vicious, but not at all a representation of their overall demeanor.

You referenced a quote from Katherine Houpt that I think makes a great point: That there are SOME people who own Pit Bulls (and many other breeds) for the sole purpose of encouraging aggressive behavior. So? This is hardly an argument for outlawing the breed (though it may be an argument for banning “machismo”). Just because some people choose to raise their animals a particular way (or abuse them), why exactly can’t my family save one of these beautiful animals and give them love and a good life? German Shepherds are trained by the Police to attack human beings on command… and also make great family dogs. You might as well outlaw any animal that has the potential of hurting a child, which is a lot. You then made the leap from a quote about SOME people encouraging aggressive dogs, to concluding that “pit bulls are bred to be aggressive,” and that “people who own them WANT an aggressive dog.” The implication is that the only reason someone would want this dog would be to have an aggressive pet. That’s a big stretch. Is there no scenario where this dog might actually be a PREFERRED family pet? Oh wait… there is.

Upon deeper research, you might have found that in fact American Staffordshire Terriers score extremely high on temperament tests compared to other dogs (, and in fact a make very good (and safe) companions for children. Did you know that this breed was nicknamed “The Nanny Dog,” because if its protective and gentle nature with children? There are endless websites that support these claims. For example, Wikipedia says this about the temperament of the American Staffordshire Terrier:

“The American Temperament Test Society conducts tests every year on thousands of dogs to determine the soundness of their temperament. The American Staffordshire Terrier routinely ranks well above many “popular” breeds such as the Beagle, Collie, Doberman Pinscher and the Cocker Spaniel.[5] This is a very intelligent, human-oriented, active dog and an affectionate family pet. Over the past 50 years, careful breeding has produced this friendly, trustworthy dog who is an especially good dog for children. One of the characteristics that most owners and breeders talked and look for particular in this breed is gameness. Gameness refers to perseverance, spirited, readiness of a dog to accomplish a given task.”

Finally, this is an intelligent, loyal, and beautiful animal that under the guidance of an unscrupulous owner can be dangerous. This can be said for countless breeds. My life and my children’s lives have benefited greatly from owning this breed of dog. Perhaps a better claim to be made of your post is that people with kids shouldn’t encourage their dogs to be aggressive, regardless of breed. That seems a bit more on target. If you want to outlaw something that kills a statistically significant amount of kids every year, start with backyard pools.

All the best,

Your friend, neighbor, and former “pit” owner.


First of all, I stand corrected. The article I read said the dog that killed the girl was a pit bull. Further investigation and later articles revealed it was a rottweiler. Although the other attacks I referred to were pit bulls.

As for Kory’s comments… Very good points, all. And true, it isn’t fair to lump all pit bulls in with the ones who have attacked children.

However, my question as a parent remains:

Is it worth the risk to have these potentially aggressive dogs around your small child?  WHAT DO YOU THINK?


Oh and Kory,  don’t get me started on those backyard pools. No matter how secure people think they are, every summer here in So Cal, there are mutliple drownings. Parents SWEAR they thought the gate was locked or that the kid was RIGHT THERE a minute ago…But that is for another rant.

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