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home : what's happening : letters to editor June 24, 2016

1/22/2013 1:18:00 PM
Director of Shelter Defends Pit Bulls
Do you have something to share? Email your Letter to the Editor to News@gwdtoday.com Be sure to include your name and city of residence.

I'm only sharing this so that you all can know some facts, from an animal sheltering standpoint, about Pit Bulls and the challenges they face.

The Humane Society of Greenwood operates the local County Animal Shelter and it is the only animal intake facility in the County. As such, we can provide much valuable, insightful first-hand information concerning Pit Bulls.

In 2012, 505 dogs identified by staff to be American Pit Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs, American Staffordshire Terriers or some variation of mix of those breeds entered the Greenwood County facility.  The number of bite or scratch incidents suffered by employees from any of those dogs was zero.  (The majority of injuries was caused by cats and Chihuahuas.)

Our organization has been working tirelessly for ten years to portray the Pit Bull breed for what it naturally is – extremely loving and loyal - and to debunk misperceptions to the contrary created by misuse of the dogs through fighting and other illegal activities. It's only been in the past four years that we actually began placing Pit Bulls and mixes in our Adoption Area.  We hadn’t done it in the past because of fear created through media hype or they drew interest from those who wanted to breed them and perpetuate their exploitation. As a result, the majority of these dogs were being euthanized - not because they were dangerous, but because nobody wanted them.

After the Michael Vick scandal in 2007, and awareness about the breed's true loving personality surfaced, people started to embrace Pit Bulls. Our organization, along with thousands of other animal welfare agencies throughout the U.S., began to see an upsurging of interest from people wanting to adopt them as family pets. Campaigns and new organizations have formed throughout the world devoted to education about the breed and to protect them from being persecuted. 

Unfortunately for now, there are still many humans who breed the dog for wrong reasons or train them to be vicious. But by nature, they are not. In fact, at the turn of the 20th century, Pit Bulls were the American icon dog.  (Remember Petey from The Little Rascals?)

There are more effective paths toward a solution than perpetuating fear of the breed.  All dog owners need to be keenly aware of their pet’s behavior and take note of any indication if and when their dog behaves aggressively.  Don’t wait until a tragic event occurs to take action!  Visit your vet for a possible medical cause.  Enlist the help of a professional dog obedience trainer.  Spaying or neutering your pets can also reduce the likelihood of aggression. 

Here are some thought-provoking bite statistics published by the American Humane Society:

  • An estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year
  • Nearly 800,000 dog bites require medical care
  • Approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered
  • Approximately 25% of fatal dog attacks involved chained dogs
  • Approximately 71% of bites occur to the extremities (arms, legs, hands, feet)
  • Approximately two-thirds of bites occurred on or near the victim’s property, and most victims knew the dog
  • At least 25 different breeds of dogs have been involved in the 238 dog-bite-related fatalities in the U.S.

And just as important, people need to realize they are many times culpable for sustaining an injury by an animal.  There are many common sense ways to avoid getting bitten or scratched.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:  “4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and one in five dog bites results in injuries that require medical attention. There are ways to make dog bites less likely and to help prevent children from being bitten by dogs.” 

They state that those more likely to get bit are children, adult males, and people who have dogs in their home.  There are many tips to keep people safe, but the most important one is NEVER APPROACH AN UNFAMILIAR DOG.

Our board of directors, staff, volunteers, and supporters all hope that the sudden interest in publicizing "news" about isolated incidences of this one breed won't take us backwards in our efforts. (You should check out how many kittens and small dogs are quarantined each year for biting people.) We're trying diligently to find homes for dogs like Marion, Sadie, and Sincere. We will continue to help them and pray they won't have to be euthanized because of the resurrected fear many people will be sure to embrace.

Let’s educate, not discriminate.

Karen Pettay

Executive Director

Humane Society of Greenwood

Greenwood, SC

UPDATE:  Sadie and Marion were both adopted the day after the recent articles were published.

This Letter to the Editor presents the opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Moore Media Inc. or GwdToday.

Related Stories:
• Pit bulls in recent attacks both had history of violence
• GCSO makes second arrest in ill treatment of animals case

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Article comment by: D Argo

I have a 70lb. Pit Bull house dog that is a lap dog. She loves everyone that is welcomed in my home. I sleep VERY well at night knowing that she is own guard. If ANYBODY was to invade my home, she WILL take care of business & give me time so I can FINISH the business!! Then I will call 911 & tell them to take their time because all they will have left to do is haul the trash off!

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Article comment by: w brown

I have a LOYAL Pit & had her since a pup.... NO PROBLEMS at all!! She is VERY loyal & protective. She is best friends w/ a Miniture Daschund, actually the mini is the bully! She is VERY smart, good w/ kids, & is a lap dog! Ive been bitten by a German Shepherd b4 & was scared of dogs until I got her. But I 'll tell you that NO one will enter my yard without her knowing much less entering my home. Its not the breed that give these dogs bad names... Its the BAD people that own these dogs that do. We have been to GHS to look at other pits for a family member 4 a house pet. EVERYONE we went to take her dog to meet up there have been VERY nice & NOT ONE has showed any kind of aggrestion! These are GREAT dogs.... IF you raise them like they should be raised & give them the attention they need! Our dog has her ears unclipped & long tail. We kept it like that for all the sterotypes that THINK if the ears & tail are dock "its a fighting dog". Please give these dogs the love & respect they need and deserve..... & you will have the most loveable, loyal, yet protective pet imaginable! Be a responsible pet owner & spayed or nuetered!

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: stacy sellars

i personaly think pits are great animals and very loyal... i have pits my self and they are great dogs... i would not take anything n the world for mine.. they spoiled rotten babies.. its all n how they are raised ppl have negative thoughts about pits because of the recent accidents.... but ppl get a grip and stop blaming the dogs its not them its there owner... all in all its how u raise them ... loving my pitbulls..

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Steven Henderson

While Pit Bulls can be as safe as any dog breed, their power, once unleashed, must be a considering factor in having them in your home. I'm quite sure lions and bears can also be good pets but once something triggers a violent reaction from them, the reaction usually results in a fatality or severe injuries.

People usually don't die from a cat scratch or Chihuahua attack. Can you people SEE the difference? The size and power of the animal is what makes the pit bull a dangerous breed.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Tommy Tucker

I agree that you are more likely to be bitten or scratched by a cat or Chihuahua as stated in the article, but almost everyone who is survives! The power of a Pit gives them the ability to inflict fatal harm particularly to the young and or elderly. I have personally known several owners of Pits who had dogs with great, gentle dispositions, yet one day each of the dogs "snapped" and became aggressive without warning or provocation! The dogs can't help the way they are they have been breed to fight for centuries and even the most gentle of these dogs have that ability to "snap" without warning! Owning any animal requires the owner be responsible to protect the dog and the public, as for me I would rather take my chances with a Chihuahua than a Pit any day!

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