Jeff Smith 8 p.m., Aug. 30
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A Pit Bull's Point of View
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.