Rufus at the Westminister Kennel Club.

Pit Bull Ban Punishes Dogs For Bad Owners

FOX NEWS (  FOXNews.com  )
Monday, September 25, 2006
By Radley Balko

Last February, Rufus was named best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club.

With his football-shaped head, muscular haunches, and powerful jaws, Rufus might, under the right circumstances, look pretty intimidating. He's harmless, of course, as are the vast majority of bull terriers with responsible owners.

Unfortunately, there are a growing number of cities in North American that want nothing to do with Rufus. In addition to several smaller towns, Kansas City, Mo., recently followed the lead of Denver, Colo., and Ontario, Canada, in instituting a ban on "pit bulls."

Any animal meeting the "pit bull" description found in the city will either be turned over to shelters outside the city or, more likely, euthanized.

These types of breed-specific prohibitions are a bad idea for a variety of reasons, but the most glaring is that the most common target of these laws — the "pit bull" — isn't really a breed at all but rather a generic name given to dogs with with features we've come to associate with a certain type of dog with certain aggressive characteristics. The "pit bull" very generally refers to the American Staffordshire Terrier breed, but can include a number of breeds with similar features, including bull terriers like Rufus, and just about any mutt with traces of bulldog, mastiff, or bloodhound crossed with any breed of terrier.

When she was a puppy, I was repeatedly warned that one of my own dogs might be mistaken for a pit bull should I move to an area where they're banned. She's the sweetest, most harmless dog I've ever known, unless you happen to be a rug or a pair of shoes. I once came home to finder her curled up in the cable guys' lap.

The New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell has written about research showing that pit bull-ish dogs don't deserve thir reputation. Gladwell found a study from a research group in Georgia that has so far tested more than 25,000, measuring stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness in interaction with people. Gladwell writes, "Eighty-four per cent of the pit bulls that have been given the test have passed, which ranks pit bulls ahead of beagles, Airedales, bearded collies, and all but one variety of dachshund."

The president of the group said pit bulls even test unusually well with children.

Dogs commonly called pit-bulls do have unusually strong jaws, a characteristic commonly cited by advocates of eradicating the dogs. The American Staffordshire Terrier is also unusually smart, driven, and determined — all of which make it a challenging dog to own, particularly for new dog owners. But there are many breeds of dog that can deliver a nasty bite when provoked. And herding dogs are even more difficult to own and train than so-called pit-bulls, particularly for people with children (they sometimes nip at the heels of children in an effort to corral them).

The attention directed at pit bulls seems to be more due to their trendiness and their popularity with disreputable owners, not to any unique aggressiveness in the dogs' genetics. Just a few years ago, the tough-guy dog du jour was the equally powerful Rottweiler. Dobermans and German Shepherds have also done their time in the spotlight as the pariah breed.

The problem then is with the owners, not with the dogs. Ban pit bulls, and the riffraff that breeds and trains them for nefarious purposes will simply move on to another breed.

The law in Kansas City, however, is particularly dumb — though it does aptly show just how misguided the thinking among public officials on this issue can be. Apparently, the city has instituted an "amnesty period," during which well-intentioned owners can turn their pups over for euthanization without facing a fine.

To see the folly in that proposal, consider two hypothetical pit bull owners.

Owner A is a family who had the misfortune of picking a pit bull from the pet store, breeder, or pound. They've raised the dog as a pet, and it lives in a happy, loving home. It's harmless. Owner B is a drug dealer who bought a pit bull to protect his contraband. He has trained the dog to attack. The dog, obviously, is vicious and dangerous.

Which dog owner is more likely to have respect for the law, and take advantage of the amnesty period? Whose dog is more likely to be turned over and euthanized? Kansas City has created a scenario where most of the harmless pit bulls in the city will be destroyed, rather foolishly leaving mostly the dangerous ones. Of course, that result will only reinforce the wrongheaded notion that all dogs that look like pit bulls are inherently violent and aggressive.

Ingrid Newkirk, the president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, actually supports breed-specific bans, including bans on pit bulls. Her reasoning, however, is revealing. In an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle last year, she likened pit bull legislation to gun control, which she also supports. That's rather appropriate. Both policies are misguided, and penalize responsible owners for the sins of criminal owners.

To borrow a phrase from the gun rights movement, when pit bulls are criminalized, only criminals will own pit bulls.

Radley Balko is a policy analyst for the Cato Institute specializing in "nanny state" and consumer choice issues, including alcohol and tobacco control, drug prohibition, obesity and civil liberties. Separately, he maintains the The Agitator weblog. The opinions expressed in his column for FOXNews.com are his own and are not to be associated with Cato unless otherwise indicated.

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After Two Years, A Dog Reunites With Chester Officer

May 16, 2009

It was meant to be.

At least, that's what Rich Foster believed when he found his dog, Vegas, exactly two years after rescuing him from an abandoned house.

It was love at first sight for this Chester Township police officer, who helped remove 14 sick and malnourished dogs from a house on Mulberry Road on April 10, 2007.

"We went to the garage and had to wear masks because of the smell," Foster recalled. "A (humane society agent) handed me a leash and Vegas came out on the other end."

The 36-pound brindle mix identified as a pit bull was extremely emaciated, Foster said, as he gave the now 91-pound Vegas a few pats on the stomach.

"He was a head on a stick," he said. "I don't know what it was, but he seemed like a great dog. I wanted to take him right then and there."

However, Geauga Humane Society's Rescue Village had to take all the dogs in to be evaluated and treated.

"While he was at Rescue Village, I'd go visit him once a week," Foster said. "I was going to adopt him but circumstances (at home) ended up preventing it from happening."

The dream of Vegas was tucked away then and Foster did whatever he could to put the dog out of his mind.

Two years passed by and Foster's living situation changed. However, he figured at this point, Vegas was either adopted or at a faraway shelter.

Little did he know, all the rescued dogs went to a Cleveland-based organization called For the Love of Pits, and Vegas was taken into foster care by Shana Klein, president of the organization.

Because of Vegas' calm, gentle nature, Klein used him as her education dog at a few schools while he was in her care.

"He went to a couple schools with me ... to teach kids how to interact safely with dogs," said Klein, who came over to Rich's house to see Vegas for the first time since his adoption.

"He's definitely an ambassador of dogs. He really proves that you need to get to know a dog before judging it by the way it looks," she said while sitting on Rich's floor, giving Vegas a big belly rub.

"I used to call him my gentle giant."

Obtaining this gentle giant wasn't an easy task, however. Foster tried to track him down through Rescue Village, but had no luck and finally accepted defeat.

His mother, who works at a local veterinary clinic, found another pit bull for Foster to adopt and on the eve of the adoption, Foster decided to search "pit bull pictures" on the Internet to get a better idea of what she'd look like.

"Shana's Web site popped up ... and guess who's picture came up?" he said, grinning at Vegas, who maintained his lackadaisical look as he awaited more belly rubs.

An excited Foster called Klein that night, but remaining true to policy, she wanted him to still fill out an application.

Exasperated, Foster filled it out and sent a couple e-mails in the few days that followed, finally getting a call back to set up a meeting with Klein and the dog.

"He leaned right into him and was very affectionate with him," Klein said. "There was definitely an immediate connection. He's a true love."

So, April 10, 2009, exactly two years later, Vegas was Foster's.

"He's my buddy. He's a big bed hog, too. I have to wake up in the middle of the night and push him over," Foster said with a chuckle, patting Vegas' box-shaped head while he closed his eyes in contentment. "But I love this dog. He's great."

Pit Bull Hailed A Hero In Home Invasion - 1-year old pit bull attacks intruder 

Pitbull stories don't usually end with the dog as a hero but don't tell James Kimon of Bradenton that.

Kimon is calling his pit bull, Hennessey, a hero. Kimon said someone broke into his Bradenton home Friday night when he and his children were sleeping.

He said he woke up when he heard his dog attacking the intruder. The suspect fired shots at, but did not hit, the dog. "It was just too hectic, all I could do is hear the dog she was just attacking," Kimon said. "That's how I knew someone was in here is because I could hear the guy say 'hey get off me,' so she did her job."

The suspect broke through the bedroom of the house, where the family had hidden in a closet. They say they heard the dog attacking him again. The intruder took off running, and neither the dog nor the family members were injured.

Kimon said that nothing was taken from his home. The suspect remains at large.

Hero Pooch Saves 7-year-old Queens Girl

Sunday, July 8th 2007, 4:00 AM

A barking dog and an alert woman scared off a pervert in Queens after he lured a girl into a backyard by promising to show her worms, police and witnesses said yesterday.

"Mommy! Daddy!" the 7-year-old girl screamed as she fought off her attacker between two garages about 7:45 p.m. Friday. "Help me!"

Her cries for help startled a dog on the other side of a fence. Bleu, a mixed pit bull, began barking incessantly, which brought his owner, Heather Fretes, to the window.

"He was going wild barking," Fretes said. "I looked out and I saw two people. The girl was screaming."

Fretes ran outside and yelled at the man, who witnesses said had been watching the girl and her friend before the attack. The suspect tore down part of a fence to escape the backyard on 171st St. in Flushing. The girl wept as she told Fretes about the attack.

"He took my hand and led me back where he tried to pull down my pants," the girl said, according to Fretes.

"Everything is fine," the victim's uncle said late yesterday. "She's okay. As long as she's okay, we're fine. She wasn't hurt."

Paramedics took the girl to a nearby hospital, where she was examined and released. She was shaken up, but not injured. No weapon was used, police said.

A police source said detectives interviewed the girl again yesterday in hopes of putting together a sketch of the suspect.

Cops described him as a white man, in his late teens or early 20s, with sandy brown, spiked hair. He was wearing blue jeans and a blue shirt.

"There's no indication at this point that it's part of a pattern," the police source said. "Obviously, we're checking that out, but it's early in the investigation."

Neighbors said the suspect was sitting on the steps of a nearby home, watching the victim and her 10-year-old friend as they rode their scooters. He then got up and approached the girls, telling them he had a bird and liked animals.

"My sister didn't like what the guy was saying to her, so she went in the house," the 10-year-old's sister said yesterday.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2007/07/08/2007-07-08_hero_pooch_saves_7yearold_queens_girl.html#ixzz0d2O44amg