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Who's Crazier—the People Trying to Ban Pit Bulls with a New Petition or Furious Pit Bull Owners?

Dog Shitshow
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Seattle resident Ellen Taft—critics have called her a "dog hater"—has seized on a recent attack by two pit bulls to renew her crusade for a citywide ban on fighting breeds. Two pit bulls running loose in South Seattle "attacked a 3-year-old girl and 74-year-old woman," the Associated Press reported on July 27. "One of the dogs allegedly jumped up and bit the 3-year-old in the face."

In response, Taft called on media outlets to promote a Change.org petition asking the Seattle City Council and Mayor Mike McGinn for sweeping legislation to "eliminate all fighting breeds." Specifically, it says fighting breed dogs that are already in the city should be spayed and neutered, and new fighting breed dogs should be prohibited outright. Finally, the petition asks for "safety precautions such as muzzles" when the dogs are in public.

Taft has run a petition before, which she withdrew after feeling intimidated by political opponents. And she scheduled a rally last September to oppose fighting breed dogs in the city but again, she canceled. Taft's critics responded to the canceled rally by posting photos of pit bulls with babies.

Whether pit bulls are actually dangerous is, of course, debated. The breed was responsible for 128 fatal attacks in the United States from 2005 to 2011, according to an analysis of news reports by Dogsbite.org, which also says pit bulls are responsible for most fatal dog attacks. Meanwhile, some pit bull proponents point out that while their dogs may be responsible for more fatal attacks, it's because there are now more pit bulls being kept as pets. They say rottweilers and German shepherds have a higher kill rate.

Taft expects her new petition, which has only 228 signatures, to get more traction than previous efforts because it automatically blasts elected officials with e-mails.

"A lot of people out there support my position," Taft says, "but they throw up their hands because the pro-pit-bull people get all the good press, the attention, and the sympathy. A lot of supporters are afraid to speak out because the pro-pit-bull people use ad hominem arguments and say we should be executed."

Taft may be zealous, but within days, the pro-pit-bull lobby proved her correct.

Pro-pit-bull people started their own petition—1,390 signatures as of press time—that calls on the mayor and city council to "impose safety precautions such as muzzles when Ellen Taft is walked in public spaces to protect people and pets from being verbally attacked by Ellen Taft" and "evict Ellen Taft from Seattle." One petition supporter added, "She is obviously rabid and needs to be euthanized."

Taft also got several personal notes. On Facebook, one person told Taft, "I hope a pit bull eats your face off." She also received a couple of e-mails this week, one saying, "You are too old and ugly for this" and another calling her "a pig."

So that settles it: The pit bull lovers are fucking nuts and Ellen Taft looks sane and dignified in comparison. recommended

 

Comments (51) RSS

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1
Just like people, there are good and bad dogs.
And just like people, it's all in the way you raise them.
It's unfortunate that the Stranger needs to jump in this fracas and drag another "issue" into the arena to divide the populous. Doesn't The Times or King 5 have that handled? Are you hurting for page views?
Posted by You'reBetterThanThis, Aren'tYou on August 8, 2012 at 9:28 AM · Report this
2
Dogbites.org is just about the worse site you could site dog bite statistics from. It is inaccurate and biased. that 128 bites is more like over a 20 year period.....

also ban ALL fighting breeds? The Boston terrier was originally bred as a fighting dog....are you going to make me muzzle my 25 pounds viscous attack dog?
Posted by bite me on August 8, 2012 at 9:37 AM · Report this
3
I have two (female, for what that's worth) friends on FB that almost daily post sad pictures of pitbulls that are on "death row" and need to be "rescued" NOW.

There does seem to be a mania to the lovers...
Posted by WenWino on August 8, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
4
Pit bull lovers are angry because their dogs are being stereotyped. I volunteer at an animal shelter and the pit bulls we receive are the most kind, loving dogs I've ever met. Behavioral issues of any dog stem from the owner and whether they are properly training and caring for their animal to bring out its true nature. Behind every damaged dog is a severely damaged owner! Bottom line, banning any breed of dog is going to get us no where. Educating the public on how to train your dog and the importance of having a lifestyle that meets the needs of your dogs would be a much better use of this fear driven/hatred energy.
Posted by OW on August 8, 2012 at 11:18 AM · Report this
5
I'd sign that petition. My dog was attacked by a pitbull and was seriously injured.
Posted by WithinReason on August 8, 2012 at 11:31 AM · Report this
6
Pit bull lovers are upset because their dogs are being stereotyped. I volunteer at an animal shelter and can tell you first hand that the pit bulls we receive are the most loving animals. Behavioral issues are not a reflection of pit bulls, but are a reflection of their owner! And that goes for all dogs. All breeds require training and a certain type of lifestyle. Educating people on how to train their dogs and the specific lifestyle needs to bring out the breeds true nature would be a better use of this fear driven/toxic energy displayed by Ellen Taft.
Posted by OW on August 8, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
7
The notion that the disproportionately high number of fatal pitbull attacks is due solely to poor care/training is a tired old trope that is demonstrably false. Why, for instance, do we not hear of frequent incidents of deadly maulings by poorly trained Golden Retrievers? The simple fact of the matter is that pitbulls, as with all dog breeds, have been bred for centuries to express certain, highly-specific, genetic traits. Aggressiveness is merely one such trait, and one that cannot simply be dismissed by anecdotal "evidence" offered by pitbull owners who have allegedly "trained" that genetic trait out of their dogs. Until someone successfully trains a bloodhound not to scent-track, spare me the notion that a pitbull can be "cured" of its predilection to attack.
Posted by Wfm78 on August 8, 2012 at 12:02 PM · Report this
8
I personally think the populous is ready to see a viscous Boston terrier.
Posted by carnivorous chicken on August 8, 2012 at 12:06 PM · Report this
9
My impression is that pitbulls are "more" dangerous than other fighting breeds not because they are more likely to bite, but because once they do bite, they can not be persuaded to let go. That's the tactic that made bulldogs of all sorts effective at fighting bulls--never letting go. And that makes the times they *do* attack more dangerous. Not that they're more likely to attack in the first place. But a doberman, or german shepherd, or whatever, that bites another dog, or a human, can be induced to stop fairly easily by an owner (assuming one is around).

Posted by sdoic on August 8, 2012 at 12:16 PM · Report this
10
Finally, after countless random episodes of gun violence in the U.S., someone is finally taking action... against dogs.
Posted by druiddude on August 8, 2012 at 1:42 PM · Report this
11
So,should people be allowed to keep a large carnivore in their back yard...like a lion or panther? This is the only real comparison one can make. What else has instincts like that? Lion etc can be trained but generally people don't try to domesticate them and keep them at home because...if they get away or they get frightened or agitated they can kill people. Pitbulls like doberman, shepherds and rottweilers are MADE to be guard/attack dogs.they aren't always dangerous but one death is too many. C
Posted by Cos on August 8, 2012 at 2:21 PM · Report this
12
If you guys at The Stranger are going to bother covering this issue, why don't you do some real research? Dogsbite.org? Come on. It's obvious you don't care, so why bother with this at all? Oh right, clicks and money. Believe it or not, how we deal with dogs has real consequences for families and animals; this incendiary, crappy, "reporting" does nothing to solve problems, including dog bites and cruelty. But I guess that style is really what you're best at.
Posted by What journalism? on August 8, 2012 at 2:21 PM · Report this
13
Since no pit bull supporters were contacted, here's another point of view:

http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/2012/…
Posted by Seattle DogSpot on August 8, 2012 at 5:35 PM · Report this
14
I guess since your poll a week or two ago didn't support your usual position of bashing pit bulls (votes AGAINST banning them outweighed those FOR by nearly 2:1), you decided to fall back on the good old "they are just crazies" position. As far as the petition saying she should be "executed" - the author of this article conveniently leaves out the fact that the petition's author states that the petition isn't serious - he says "[this petition] exists only to symbolically demonstrate the idiocy and ignorance of banning entire breeds because of the failures of a small fraction of their owners." But if you include that part he sounds less crazy, so the author skipped it. The whole article is so one-sided it would be almost funny, if it weren't for the fact that the constant need for the media to create fear around pit bulls has lead to the death of thousands of dogs who have NEVER bitten, attacked, or otherwise threatened humans or other dogs. In any event, you win, you got the page view, you got me to comment... but I'll be ignoring you from here out, because you clearly aren't interested in objectively reporting on this issue.
Posted by BoredInSeattle on August 8, 2012 at 5:51 PM · Report this
15
This really shouldn't be so hard. Anyone who wants to keep an animal capable of killing human beings and known to occasionally kill human beings should be expected to prove that they're responsible enough to do so through a training/licensing process. "No bad dogs, only bad owners"? Well, keep the bad owners away from the dogs. If that doesn't work, then we know we need a breed ban afterall.

Duh.
Posted by laurelgardner http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5877570 on August 8, 2012 at 6:00 PM · Report this
16
Dominic,
When you asked via facebook is Seattle should ban pitbulls, I stated:

"DEFINITELY NOT! This is not a bully breed, it's a bullied breed. After adopting a pit and spending most of my life afraid of them, I will never own another breed. They reflect the treatment of their owners more than any other breed and are misunderstood and have been maltreated. Responsible pit owners need to stand up to people wanting to ban this breed and show that their dogs are loving and wonderful.

Bullseye Pit Rescue is a good resource for responsible pit owners...don't let the few abusive pit owners ruin it for the rest of us who love our dogs! http://www.bullseyerescue.org/

Bullseye Dog Rescue - Seattle Area Pit Bull Rescue
www.bullseyerescue.org
Seattle Dog Rescue"

It would have been nice to hear from the non-freaks out there to this issue vs. trivialization and dramatization to sell the story...

There are responsible pitbull owners and well behaved pooches out there...your reluctance to bring that to your story shows you are biased against the breed as well. Come over and meet my pooch Ruby...she will change your mind...everyone adores her!

I'm just saying!

Christopher
Posted by SeattleChris on August 8, 2012 at 7:24 PM · Report this
17
I have known several pit bulls that were the sweetest dogs imaginable, and I'm sure that the overwhelming majority of troubled dogs are a direct byproduct of their troubled owners.

I agree with the poster that stated that while a pit bull might be no more likely to bite, that when they do the consequences are so severe that they naturally get more attention. If a Lab bites you, it's probably just going to need some peroxide and a bandage, which can be handled at home. If a pit bull bites and really holds on, the damage is so much more severe, up to and including broken bones.

Me, personally, I'm a Lab person. I've owned several, and there was nothing that could have been done to induce them to bite a person.
Posted by Global Traveler on August 8, 2012 at 8:10 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 18
I'm still waiting to hear about the out of control poodle that eats the face off a 6 month old baby or the border collie that mauls over an 89 year old lady who made the horrible mistake of just walking down the sidewalk.

Can someone link to those breeds on murderous attack binges?
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on August 9, 2012 at 2:29 AM · Report this
19
Dogs sometimes bite; they're DOGS.

It all goes back to responsibility of the owner, but since we've mostly failed at legislating common sense, then it's futile.

The shitwads who insist on having a "badass dog" (first, look at collar and leash...does it have heavy chain, spikes, etc? Then, look at the owner...compensating?) will never follow requirements for muzzling, etc. They will likely stock up on pits of a ban is coming, and breed more rather than rescue existing dogs.

PS: I've had labs too (a Dane now), and they bit, if provoked...but yes, they let go....
Posted by Dr Gonzo on August 9, 2012 at 7:36 AM · Report this
20
I never had any breed loyalty towards dogs until we got our pitbull. She is the kindest, sweetest, most intelligent and loyal animal I've ever known who drives our cats crazy licking them, follows my two young sons around like they're royalty, plays nicely with other dogs, and charms every human she meets that isn't already maniacally prejudiced against her.

Though I think our Ellie is very special, she isn't unique in her behavior-- I've met so many pitbulls since getting my own, I now believe very firmly that they are an under-appreciated, misunderstood, and exceptionally special breed. Though I'd never have imagined saying this, now I can't imagine owning any other kind of dog.

I don't pay a lot of attention to the pitbull fervor-- I just love my dog. But I am a consistent Stranger reader and I have noticed an odd tendency towards biased reporting on this issue. Please give voice to the sane and responsible pet owners, who love their pit bulls. The problem is so clearly unkind/irresponsible owners/breeders. Not the poor dogs. Please, please, please try to do a better job representing all sides of this issue.

Thanks from a dedicated and not batshit crazy reader. <3
Posted by audi wasabi on August 9, 2012 at 9:10 AM · Report this
21
I never had any breed loyalty towards dogs until we got our pitbull. She is the kindest, sweetest, most intelligent and loyal animal I've ever known who drives our cats crazy licking them, follows my two young sons around like they're royalty, plays nicely with other dogs, and charms every human she meets that isn't already maniacally prejudiced against her.

Though I think our Ellie is very special, she isn't unique in her behavior-- I've met so many pitbulls since getting my own, I now believe very firmly that they are an under-appreciated, misunderstood, and exceptionally special breed. Though I'd never have imagined saying this, now I can't imagine owning any other kind of dog.

I don't pay a lot of attention to the pitbull fervor-- I just love my dog. But I am a consistent Stranger reader and I have noticed an odd tendency towards biased reporting on this issue. Please give voice to the sane and responsible pet owners, who love their pit bulls. The problem is so clearly unkind/irresponsible owners/breeders. Not the poor dogs. Please, please, please try to do a better job representing all sides of this issue.

Thanks from a dedicated and not batshit crazy reader. <3
Posted by audi wasabi on August 9, 2012 at 9:11 AM · Report this
22
I'm sure there are plenty of nice and good Pit bulls. I've met them. When raised by someone who knows what they are doing they are great dogs.

Unfortunately they are owned mostly by idiots who shouldn't even own a Chihuahua.

Oh yeah, and using a shitty site like Dogbites.org as your "Source" pretty much shows just how good of a reporter you are Mr. Holden. A shitty one.
Posted by forestfromtrees on August 9, 2012 at 9:33 AM · Report this
23
I never had any breed loyalty towards dogs until we got our pitbull. She is the kindest, sweetest, most intelligent and loyal animal I've ever known

Just wait until it chews your kid's face off. Don't believe me. Do a Google search for the sweet pit bulls that turn vicious for no reason. Then see how many you can find about Golden Retrievers.
Posted by Mister G on August 9, 2012 at 11:52 AM · Report this
24
If the problem is the owners, then perhaps this could be solved by requiring a license/class to own a fighting breed/mix.
Posted by Erok on August 9, 2012 at 2:18 PM · Report this
25
We used to have a Rhodesian Ridge Back that weighted in at 130lbs and his shoulder was just under my hip (approx 32 inches). We adopted him when he was a year and found that his previous owner didn't train him so we did. Within 6 months we went from a young, very engergetic dog who would nip at anyone to a very well behaved dog that would allow anyone to pet him as long as he got a signal from us that all was ok.

Even though he was such a good dog, I would have complete strangers tell me that I had to kill him because he is a vicious breed. Their thought would be to ask me if I knew what they were bred for (and we did cause we did lots of research before getting a Ridgeback) and no matter what I said they would run over me with their fanatical ideas and speech about how vicious he was/will be. Even after we had our kids and would be walking any where as a family people would tell us our dog was going to kill our kids.

I understand why good pit owners get their feathers in a ruff about the whole "fighting breed ban" because if it goes through rhodesian ridgebacks would probably be banned also and they are not bad dogs; but don't mess with their family cause they will let you know it isn't ok with a push of the shoulder before things can go to worse.
Posted by garbagelady on August 9, 2012 at 4:38 PM · Report this
26
It's not the owners with pit bulls, it's the breed. Long before gang-bangers used them for fighting, pit bulls were selected for their fighting abilities. They are hard wired to attack.

Don't believe me. Do a Google search. There are plenty of stories about the sweet pit bull who killed grandpa.
Posted by Mister G on August 9, 2012 at 6:08 PM · Report this
27
My bugg (Boston terrier/pug mix) and I were visiting with someone who owns two pits and a small poodle. She said there was nothing to worry about, her pits had been raised properly and were the gentlest souls imaginable. As soon as they saw my dog, one pit attacked, nearly killing my dog. The pit's owner was stunned because her dog had never showed a moment's aggression before then. I don't give a crap how well you think your pit has been raised, they have a prey drive and it can be engaged at any time. Ban them.
Posted by death makes some of us happy on August 9, 2012 at 8:47 PM · Report this
28
I want all sharks banned from entering waters within half a mile of land.

Ridiculous socialist petition, 'look, dog attack, let us ban them'.

Pits are territorial, and have a bit of mayhem in them; they need to be worked and secured. Failure by the owner is the overriding problem, the canine is in no way to blame.
Posted by Tout'd on August 9, 2012 at 9:43 PM · Report this
29
My son and I were attacked Monday (on a mountain trail) by two pit bulls. It was really really scary, the horse-riding owners had zero control over these dogs, and we were lucky not to get bitten. There is something basically wrong with people who insist on owning dangerous dogs - I just don't get it. BTW- Yakima banned pit bulls many years ago after two of them literally at a wheelchair bound old man. FYI
Posted by kbatku on August 9, 2012 at 10:30 PM · Report this
30
My son and I were attacked Monday (on a mountain trail) by two pit bulls. It was really really scary, the horse-riding owners had zero control over these dogs, and we were lucky not to get bitten. There is something basically wrong with people who insist on owning dangerous dogs - I just don't get it. BTW- Yakima banned pit bulls many years ago after two of them literally ate a wheelchair bound old man. FYI Yakima is not the most progressive town around, but at least they had the sense to get this right.
Posted by kbatku on August 9, 2012 at 10:30 PM · Report this
31
I like dogs and don't have any problem with people owning properly trained pit bulls. I've known a few rescue pits and they were some of the nicest dogs ever. At the same time, if one breed of dog is responsible for a majority of fatal attacks and has specifically been bred (in terms of jaw strength and bite style) to be as dangerous as possible, that should be investigated and discussed rationally without a bunch of whiny propaganda clouding either side.

BUT I have a close friend who's recently been posting progressively more insane pro-pit bull propaganda on Facebook multiple times a DAY. The other day she posted something saying Brad Pitt should be on death row because he's a blond white man like Jeffrey Dahmer - and comparing this nonsensical analogy to anti-pit bull legislation. The logic they use is just so stupid and anti-intellectual.

I don't have a problem with pit bulls, but I wouldn't be against euthanizing fanatics of all kinds!
Posted by the_spiral on August 10, 2012 at 3:00 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 32
You can kill someone with a knife, and you can kill someone with a gun, but one is always going to be intrinsically more dangerous than the other, and therefore should be regulated differently.

That being said, I would rather be around a sane, nonviolent man with a gun than a crazy, violent man with a knife.

A breed ban does not impede on anyone's rights to own a dog, or own a pet. Just dogs of a certain genetic legacy.

Just like you can buy a handgun, but you can not buy a military-loaded M16 without special clearence. Not being able to buy the M16 does not impede your right to own a gun.

No human life is worth one person's selfish desire to own a dog with a certain DNA legacy. Large fighting breeds should be banned in urban areas if there are regular attacks.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on August 10, 2012 at 10:48 AM · Report this
33
I think there's a strange fixation with pit bulls here. The problem isn't the specific breed of dog, it's any animal that can kill people, right? Banning pit bulls without banning Rotwielers, Huskies, German Shepherds, Great Danes (oddly enough, killed more people between 1970 and 1980 than any other breed), Dobermans, Mastiffs, . . . and so on. All of those breeds are incredibly dangerous if abused — and more than capable of killing a human. A pair of abused German Shepherds are just as dangerous to a toddler or an elderly person as a pair of abused Pit Bulls.

The focus on pit bulls is naive at best and intellectually dishonest at worst, either you are for a ban on all breeds of dog that could be raised to be dangerous or you are not. In the end a ban would just serve to put a law on the books that would be nearly unenforceable, while robbing many families of their animal companions. Scoff if you must, but the emotional bond between people and their dogs is a very real and very common thing.
Posted by weeksie on August 10, 2012 at 3:52 PM · Report this
34
Additionally, analogies are almost always flawed, making them effective rhetorical tools but completely useless when trying to get to the heart of a matter. The analogy between a dog and a weapon is flawed because a dog is primarily a companion. The rare case is that it's used as a weapon, but there are many other roles for it to fill. A gun or a knife can only be a tool, which puts them in a completely different category when talking about how to regulate them. If you have an argument to make, see if you can do it without the use of an analogy.
Posted by weeksie on August 10, 2012 at 9:16 PM · Report this
35
@33 Scoff if you must, but the emotional bond between people and their dogs is a very real and very common thing.

I think the physical bond is more in question here. Like when it's got you on the ground and has locked on to your jugular.

either you are for a ban on all breeds of dog that could be raised to be dangerous or you are not

Hmm, can I still be for banning pit bulls just based on them being "head and shoulders" (no pun intended) above the crowd when it comes to mangling other animals/people? Their must be a loophole here.
Posted by MacGruber on August 11, 2012 at 12:13 AM · Report this
36
#33, there's no "strange obsession" with pit bulls. It's a breed of dog that has been selected over centuries for its fighting ability. They are powerful, unstable, and unpredictable. For some odd reason, you refuse to see it.
Posted by Mister G on August 11, 2012 at 12:57 AM · Report this
37
@35
a) My point is that breed specific legislation will do little to control the problem of dog attacks. Breeds are difficult to determine and a broad ban will lead to large amounts of people losing their companions. Meanwhile, people who want vicious dogs will still have them in the form of a mixed breed or another strong breed of dog.

b) Do you have proof for your second statement? Perhaps a study done that controls for changes in ownership trends over the years? My point is that all large dogs are dangerous if abused. A breed ban on Pit Bulls will just shift the breed of choice.

@36 Mastiffs (among several other breeds) were bred specifically for war and would do far more damage to you with a bite. They're just not kept nearly as commonly among people who raise aggressive dogs.

And 'over the centuries' is wrong, the breed has been in existence since the mid 1800s. It comes from the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (they look like miniature pits) and they were introduced to America in the late 1800s. At least that's what Wikipedia tells me.
Posted by weeksie on August 12, 2012 at 6:21 AM · Report this
38
For the record, I'd be perfectly happy with a regulatory scheme that had a chance of actually preventing or decreasing the incidence of dog bites. Breed specific bans are clumsy and unenforceable, however a requirement to carry insurance on any dog over an arbitrary weight limit (say, 50lbs) would be easy to enforce and wouldn't unfairly yank dogs from their owners.

Similarly, licensing schemes where those who own a dog over the weight limit are linked to the dog's sub-dermal ID microchip and held liable in case of an attack would do wonders as far as decreasing the population of dogs that can cause damage to people if abused.

However, demonizing a single breed of dog, backing up specious arguments with references to crackpot "research" is the behaviour I usually associate with the American right wing, not with otherwise sane urban progressives. Linking to dogsbite.org as backup is exactly like linking to the Heritage Foundation or Cato when you're trying to back up libertarian views on tax policy.
Posted by weeksie on August 12, 2012 at 9:19 AM · Report this
39
Blame the Republicans, Rich & Greedy War Profiteers, Right Wing Fanatics, and Tea Bag Goons---they're the ones hellbent on destroying the world.
Is it wonder we're all going to the dogs?
Posted by auntie grizelda on August 12, 2012 at 1:50 PM · Report this
heavyhebrew 40
Just enact an ordinance stating hat if you own a "fighting breed" dog and you are a douchebag dog owner who thinks having an aggressive dog is an extension of your penis and that dog attacks another human being, you get a rusty nail driven through your nutsack as punishment. Second offense you get gimp suited and rolled into a bear daddy bar.

Always with the ban this, ban that reactionary bullshit. Some people...
Posted by heavyhebrew on August 13, 2012 at 10:27 AM · Report this
41
I live in Colorado, where we have several cities with pit bull bans, most notoriously Denver. I work in an animal shelter in Boulder, where we have no such ban. Boulder is something of a safe haven for pit bull owners for this reason - they're all over the place here. So one would think that we would have proportionally more attacks than Denver, right?
We haven't had a fatal dog attack in thirty years. The most recent statistics I could find were 2008, where in Boulder they had 207 dog bites reported, only 9 of which were from pitbulls - that's less than five percent. In Denver, since the pit bull breed ban went into effect in 1989, they have had 30 serious injuries and 5 deaths from dog attacks. The dog most commonly a part of these attacks? Rottweilers, because the kinds of people who used to own dangerous pitbulls now just breed and mistreat Rottweilers.

There are three big differences between Boulder and Denver. Most obvious is size - Denver County had about 600,000 people in 2010, more than twice that of Boulder County. Next is demographics - Boulder county tends to be more wealthy and more educated. Boulder also takes dog ownership seriously; most Boulderites feed premium dog foods, attend training classes, exercise their dogs regularly, etc. Boulder was where the term "guardian" was first coined to replace "owner". That demographic difference is important; most dangerous dogs are owned by people who mistreat them and/or do not train or exercise them adequately. The third difference is in its animal control ordinances. There are no breed bans in Boulder; however, there is a very robust vicious dog policy. In Boulder, "if an animal bites, claws, scratches, attempts to bite or approaches somebody in a manner of attack, or bites or injures another animal, it is deemed aggressive". Animal Control officers in Boulder can ticket owners of dogs that behave in a threatening manner, unlike Denver, where a dog has to cause injury to someone before they can be ticketed. However, in Boulder, "in many circumstances, an animal-control officer will agree to drop the citation if the owner agrees to have the dog evaluated by Humane Society training personnel. The trainer and the owner then discuss the dog's history and past behavior." According to HSBV's training director, "History is a good predictor of the future. So there's a lot of conversation and observing the dog behaviorally. What's the recurring problem with this dog? Is it aggressive toward people or other dogs? Is it a dog that bites when they're in possession of something? Is it fear-related? We're watching the dog and how it would interact with me or the guardian or another dog we bring in."
Sometimes, the offense is serious enough that the court needs to get involved. But in the two year time period around when the article I'm citing from was written, only one pitbull was found to be too aggressive by a judge, after three bites of increasing severity, and demonstrable lack of responsibility on the part of the owner. The dog was euthanized. During those same two years, Denver euthanized 558 pit bulls — whether the dogs bit anyone or not.

The answer to problems with pitbulls is not to ban the breed. The kinds of people who are attracted to pitbulls and then cause problems will just find some other breed that looks big and mean and isn't covered by the ban. The answer is a comprehensive and vigorously enforced dangerous dog ordinance that applies equally to all breeds, and places responsibility for the dog's behavior squarely on the shoulders of its owners. An additional measure could be to enact stricter dog licensing requirements - for ALL dogs - requiring at the very least proof of spay/neuter, with a special license issued (with much stricter requirements) for anyone who wants to have an unaltered animal within city limits. MANY issues with dogs (from attacks to simple nuisance behavior) can be solved by simply spaying or neutering, and unless you have an ACK registered purebred show dog or are a legitimate, licensed breeder, there is NO reason to have an unaltered dog, especially in an urban area.

http://www.westword.com/2009-09-24/news/…
http://www.3dink.com/cyannews.htm
More...
Posted by sadiquechienne on August 14, 2012 at 11:58 AM · Report this
42
Yes, but in Boulder all the dogs are vegans and take compulsory yoga classes.
Posted by Mister G on August 14, 2012 at 7:56 PM · Report this
funnylittlemunki 43
I'm gonna get a pet tiger and walk it down the street without a muzzle on. So what if tigers sometimes bite people or attack other people's pets to death. It's my right to have a dangerous animal as a pet.
Posted by funnylittlemunki on August 14, 2012 at 11:07 PM · Report this
44
@17, did you know that the recipient of the world's first face transplant had her face ripped of by her lab? Google it. Labs can ABSOLUTELY cause damage, and they do. It just doesn't make the news in general because it doesn't feed in to the hysteria.
Posted by BoredInSeattle on August 17, 2012 at 8:37 AM · Report this
45
Maybe, instead of pointing at the dogs and calling them dangerous killers, we should ban incompetent dog owners. This is just as much of a ridiculous concept. We need to get to the root of the problem, which is not the dogs, but the owners. Until we can ban bad dog owners, we should look for a better option and maybe look into this issue a little better. In truth, 128 fatal attacks over a 6 year period (this is less than 2 per month in the ENTIRE United States!). We really need to put these things in perspective.
Posted by sweetmelissa818 on August 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM · Report this
46
Maybe, instead of pointing at the dogs and calling them dangerous killers, we should ban incompetent dog owners. This is just as much of a ridiculous concept. We need to get to the root of the problem, which is not the dogs, but the owners. Until we can ban bad dog owners, we should look for a better option and maybe look into this issue a little better. In truth, 128 fatal attacks over a 6 year period (this is less than 2 per month in the ENTIRE United States. We really need to put these things in perspective.
Posted by sweetmelissa818 on August 17, 2012 at 12:45 PM · Report this
47
Come on, the Stranger. Don't go all Fox News on me.

The pit bull owners who called Ellen Taft "rabid" ARE being f-ing crazy (although I also suspect they were trying to be satirical, while Ellen Taft, if you take the time to read her suggestions and interviews, is actually f-ing crazy). But you are talking about a small portion of a larger group. Really, a small portion of ANY group of pet owners is f-ing crazy. So let's not stereotype a whole group of people here, OK?

Let's examine why some pit bull owners might go to extremes advocating for their breed. Pit bulls are the most maligned, vicious, dreaded dogs that exist on earth today if you were to believe media reports. They suffer from a public perception problem, much like Rottweilers did in the 70s, Dobermans did in the 60s, and German Shepherd dogs did before that. Pit bulls are the new "bad dog" until some other breed that looks scarier becomes popularized (Dogo Argentino, anyone?) They have been stereotyped as mean and nasty dogs, and as we all know, with stereotypes, while that may be true for some individuals, it is really unfair to say that about a whole breed. Racism isn't socially acceptable among humans anymore, so it's interesting to me that some people still find breed bans to be OK for dogs.

Anyways, as someone who fosters a variety of dogs, I can tell you that when I have a little dog at the end of the leash (a pomeranian, a dachshund, whatever) it could be the NASTIEST dog you will ever meet and everyone wants to pet it! When I am walking a pit bull, it could be the most friendly, tolerant dog ever and parents still steer their children away from it like it is some rabid, baby-eating land shark. So, responsible pit bull owners deal with this by advocating for their breed and trying to educate the public that most pit bulls are, in fact, excellent family dogs.

Some advocates get a little extreme. But if you call every pit bull owner f-ing crazy, well, that is pretty extreme and stereotypical in itself. Usually I love reading the Stranger because you DON'T stereotype, but unfortunately you did for this article, which is disappointing. Both pit bull paranoia enthusiasts (like Ellen Taft) and crazy pit bull owners have been created as a result of media fear-mongering.

I wrote a similar blurb earlier but I think my phone ate it, so forgive me if this appears twice.
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Posted by JGoo on August 17, 2012 at 1:30 PM · Report this
48
JGoo, good posting... although I take exception of Fox News reference I could say the same for MSNBC but that is for another time.. With more than 10-15 million Pit types/Mixes with owners wandering around the USA there is no way you have a monolithic ownership profile. Further to call pit owners all F#$%@%g crazy is rather childish. My wife and I rescue and foster a variety of breeds for a 501 3c organization. Living in Texas we see a large number of Pit types. I knew little of the breed growing up in the Northwest but have learned through working with the rescue community, dog trainers and handlers that the Pit breed although strong physically and in spirit can be a wonderful and extremely loyal companion. In the wrong hands it can be dangerous like any large/strong breed. You are dead on when you say there are crazies in the advocate ranks but most in the rescue community are hard working and self sacrificing individuals. Name calling does not help the situation. Likewise Ellen seems to be an individual at the other end of the advocate spectrum who has serious issues she needs to address with a professional. I have read about her for years and she appears to be a little off. She has no credentials in the animal science, behavior,training, handling arena. Yet she feels compelled to comment to the press on the characteristics of breeds as if she were an expert. Individuals like this are dangerous because they speak out of ignorance while being given a public platform. As a result people assume she knows what she is talking about. In addition I am always a little leery of someone who insist that they are receiving death threats but offer no proof. She has been a public figure in Seattle for over 20 years and in a recent newscast she insisted they blank her face out in order to hide her identity for security reasons. It makes her look rather silly.
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Posted by CrazyOtto on September 9, 2012 at 6:54 AM · Report this
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No matter how crazy some pit bull owners may be, Ellen Taft is still wrong. The differences between dogs within a breed is greater than the difference between breeds. Pit bulls that are aggressive got that way because a human trained them to be. (And they can be rehabilitated - see The Dog Whisperer or read Cesar Millan's books).

Every time a particular breed becomes more popular there are more bites from that particular breed. It goes in cycles. I don't have any pit bulls but one of my dogs is half Rottweiler. That breed used to have a bad reputation, too but Charlie is a very playful sweetheart with no signs of aggression.

People need to become educated about how to handle their dogs. You can't beat them, fight them or spoil them rotten and expect them to behave. There are no bad dogs, just bad owners.
Posted by Diagoras on September 12, 2012 at 12:13 PM · Report this
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@15 ALL dog owners should be required to take a dog training or, better yet, a dog psychology class. No breed should be exempt because some of those cute tiny dogs can have the nastiest temperaments because their owners spoil them and don't set limits. It is the owner, not the dog.

@41 - everyone should read your post! Go, everyone - read #41.
Posted by Diagoras on September 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM · Report this
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And when we make blanket statements about "pit bulls" we are talking about what breed of dog, exactly?

Posted by Card Zero on September 17, 2012 at 9:44 PM · Report this

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