Now that the testicles have been ripped off a 6-month-old-baby in Murietta, I suppose it will be even harder to convince people that my two pit bulls aren't dangerous.

I adopted Gus (formerly known as Lavidicus) two weeks ago. He and my other three dogs have brought me great joy at a time of great sorrow--my dad is wasting away due to cancer. He starts chemo next week.

I didn't decide that I wanted to be a pit bull owner to be cool--I liked what I saw in both Gus and Nancy while temperament testing them at the county animal shelter in Carlsbad.

Gus had a hard time finding a home--his bloodshot eyes and flakey skin due to stress told me he had "had it" with shelter life. And as a person who is dog savvy, I knew he'd make someone a great, great pet. Luckily, that someone is me.

He was perfectly willing to follow me everywhere which suggests he had no prblem looking at me as his leader. When I didn't like what he was doing, I could easily call him off. And he didn't give a rat's ass when an old, crotchety dog got in his face and barked which was a good sign because I have an old, crotchety dog myself.

Gus is "alpha" and scientists have found that alpha dogs are unflappable due to a high level of Serotonin--an ingredient found in psychiatric drugs. You could drop Gus fron an airplane and it wouldn't faze him. I trust him around kids (although no child should be left alone with a pet) and because I know enough about dogs to avoid the pit falls (excuse the pun) I don't run the risk of endangering other people's lives and animals with my pets.

Studies have shown that the quick, spontaneous movements and high-pitched voices of small children can trigger attacks in ordinary household dogs. Pit bulls tend to be high in prey drive so they are especially vulnerable to mistaking a human baby as a squirrel, rabbit, cat or other types of prey.

Monday's attack in Murrieta doesn't suggest in itself that the two pit bulls (who have been euthanized) were aggrssive to people or dogs--their behavior simply suggests that the testastrone they smelled in the little boy triggered something in them--possibly they were unneutered males. Unneutered dogs tend to have issues with other males.

The first rule of dog training is, "it's always the owners fault." The two woman who were naive enough to leave a baby on the floor with two "nice" pit bulls, were ignorant of dog behavior and should be charged with child neglect.

People are the cause of these tragedies and not the dogs. Seventy percent of all dogs in America's shelters are pit bulls and pit bull mixes (which suggests there are at least as many out in public) and yet we hear about relatively few pit bull attacks.

As a rule, pit bulls are a strong, dominant breed that are better left in the hands of experienced dog owners. For some reason, everyone who has ever owned a dog considers himself a dog expert. If this were the case, owners would know everything their dogs are thinking and would have complete control over them. This is rarely the case.

Studying behavior, applying the principles effectively and observing the dogs in your pack for years makes an experienced dog owner. The number of pit bull attacks, when compared to the number of dogs being sent to the euthanasia table out of owner ignorance, leads me to believe they are much more the victims of us than we are of them.

Comments

nan shartel April 7, 2010 @ 1:44 p.m.

almost all dogs need love and obedience training...i love Pit Bulls...they r sweet but can be aggressive with other dogs and humans who annoy them

sorry about ur dad...and hug the Pitties for me will ya

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nan shartel April 7, 2010 @ 1:46 p.m.

it is however rare for even the most aggressive breeds of dogs to attack a baby like that...they should have been euthanasied

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antigeekess April 7, 2010 @ 4:58 p.m.

Thanks for this, Mindy. I'm printing it to give to a coworker tomorrow who's pregnant with her second baby, and therefore, has just acquired her second pit bull.

She doesn't seem to get it that pit bulls and babies don't just automatically go together like bread & butter. MAYBE this latest story and your advice will help drive home the message.

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MsGrant April 8, 2010 @ 10:02 a.m.

Thanks, Mindy. Most of the pit bulls in shelters make great pets, because they have been evaluated. People that buy from breeders and private individuals have no idea what they are getting into. Spay and neuter laws should be passed, and breeding should be highly regulated, but that is really dangerous territory to get into. Please keep educating the public.

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MsGrant April 8, 2010 @ 11:23 a.m.

Oh, and not to make light of a serious subject, Mindy, but one of my oldest friends is staying with us for a few days, along with her 4 and 8 year old daughters. If I was a dog, those kids would be toast.

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thestoryteller April 9, 2010 @ 8:59 p.m.

Thanks Nan. I just came home from his house and the doctor wants to perform a fifth surgery. He said no, he's had it, so it's only matter of time.

Anti--I hope this piece helps. I would throw a fit if my kids got pit bulls around my grandkids (if I had any). It is such a bad idea. No kid deserves to have his mother risk his life.

The problem is that the public doesn't seem to understand that there is different types of aggression. If a dog is aggressive to other dogs, that doesn't mean his aggressive with people. When these dogs attack kids, I thinks it's for the reasons cited above. I don't think its out of viciousness per se, it's more prey driven.

Two pit bulls are too strong and overpowering for kids. When my son gets back from his honeymoon, I'll let him borrow Gus to walk, but I don't want him around my stepgrandson. He's the type of kid with asthma and peanut allergies and I just don't think he could take it.

I worked with over 500 pit bulls and studied dog behavior for years before I felt confident enough to bring one home. I think that the county should issue orange dog tags (at the owner's expense)to show the public which dogs have been temperament tested by professionals and have found to be of good temperament.

That way, the color wouldn't drain out of the public's faces when we go to the dog park with two pit bulls. They'd have a bit of assurance that the dogs are okay.

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emstersmom1 April 11, 2010 @ 8:49 p.m.

I totally agree that the parents should have been charged with child abuse and neglect. It was irresponsible of them to leave a baby within easy reach of any animal. I know of a baby that was pecked in the face by a homeowners bird that was trying to get the cracker the child was eating. People just need to heighten their awareness.

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brookey67 June 1, 2010 @ 4:12 p.m.

i completely agree that they are much more the victims...im sorry but one of the main reasons i have a dog is so that my home and i are protected. if you trespass that is your own darn fault. and even though my pitbull is an angel and loves everyone and every animal and is great around children i would never NEVER leave him alone with a child or a baby for that matter, be smart!! not to mention who the heck leaves a kid/baby unattended anyways? wtf?!!! there are more attacks by other breeds then there are by pitbulls, but still people target the pitbull and it makes me furious....its like racism for dogs....rediculous! My dog is the sweetest thing on earth, yet we can't find a place to live because of his breed. maybe you should not except chows or dalmations as well since they have more attacks reported the pitbulls and rotts combined....ignorance.

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