Growing up, I had no interested in Pit Bulls. My brother on the other hand, did. They were cool, energetic, and had an aura of rebellion. Me, I wanted a chocolate lab. And as my mother always reminded us, Pit Bulls are too dangerous. So a chocolate lab we got.
Later in life, ADinLOS hesitantly rescued a Red Pit Bull. Skin and bones and strapped to a fence wearing nothing but a spiked collar three sizes too large, she hesitantly followed us home. Her ears were cropped, and upon closer examination we realized that although her tail was not, it was severely damaged.
We wrapped up her tail and took her to the vet. To our dismay, the vet told us her tail most likely was eaten by rats and would have to be amputated. We will never know her true back story, but she was approximately 2 years old when we found her and had at least 1 litter.
After leaving the vet, we knew some difficult decisions were upon us. Foremost, can we care for her? Between the amputation, shots, and spaying, this unfamiliar Pitt Bull with the most beautiful, kindest, saddest eyes in the world is going to cost a fortune. Despite her convoluted past, within two days of knowing her, we had a fairly good idea of what her personality was like. After careful family discussions, we made the decision to rehabilitate Seyval. Thankfully, the vet also fell in love with her, and was able to work with us.
4 years later, Seyval’s eyes are no longer sad; she wears a true pitty smile, and is the best friend anyone could ask for. She’ll remind you of that too. Don’t get anywhere near her face, or she’ll lick it to death. So vicious.
Recently, a blog has caused me to stop and pay closer attention to Seyval and her story. As you may know, ADinLOS’s posts relate to animals or Montclair. Even better is when we find an article about Montclair and animals. Montclair is a fantastic community with plenty of diversity, and we embrace our ability to write and express our feelings and opinions.
However, we came across a blog about Pit Bulls on one of our local websites. Everyone is entitled to their own view, and there are many proponents of pet rescue who are not proponents of pit bulls. After all, Pit Bulls are capable of inflicting much damage, and rescue a Pit Bull that has been trained to be aggressive is difficult to rehabilitate. Here is where the story becomes complicated.
The key words here are ‘capable’ and ‘trained’. Responsible people sometimes need help making responsible decisions. The difference between irresponsible and responsible people is the ability to make appropriate decisions. A Pit Bull’s demeanor begins like any other dog and if you choose to disregard, or worse, train a breed to be aggressive, they will be aggressive. According the American Kennel Club, “The Am Staff is a people-oriented dog that thrives when he is made part of the family and given a job to do. Although friendly, this breed is loyal to his own family. “ Not all responsible people are capable of training a dog, let alone a Pit Bull. Time constraints, money, and location are some of the biggest reasons people get in trouble.
Pit Bulls gain so much attention because incapable people do not recognize the overwhelming demands of a Pitt Bull. Every breed has certain characteristics, and is trained to utilize these characteristics to the best of their ability. No one would train a Labrador Retriever to catch rats, just like you wouldn’t train a Yorkshire Terrier to retrieve ducks.
In the 1700’s, someone recognized the Pit Bulls unique combination of strength, athleticism, and loyalty and began using them for baiting. By the early 1800’s, baiting became illegal, and owners turned to dog fighting. Socially this was acceptable, and public perception did not change until the late 1900’s when it eventually became illegal.
In virtually every case of a Pit Bull attack, there is an owner’s story behind it. As pet parents, the key is to recognizing and preparing for our individual dog’s characteristics. According to the ASPCA, “Frequent social interaction may also help pit bull puppies modify their natural play style, which is often more rough-and-tumble than that of other breeds.” Pit Bulls, even as puppies, are stronger than other breeds and their play easily gets confused for aggression. This does not mean that if you are an owner of a socialized Pitt Bull you can leave them unmonitored. Pitt Bulls often do not recognize their own strength; due to their extreme loyalty they will protect their owners and friends if they feel threatened. Incidents that occur may be accidents, but they almost always begin with an irresponsible action. Responsibility comes in many shapes and forms.
Maybe my mother was right. Maybe she wasn’t. The truth probably lies in some shade of gray. If you are interested in adopting a Pit Bull, especially a rescue, make sure you can give them the attention they deserve.
 “Get to Know the American Staffordshire Terrier”, ‘The American Kennel Club’, Retrieved 29 May 2014 from mpc.xyz/1o0wrGT
 ”The Truth About Pit Bulls”, ‘ASPCA’, Retrieved 25 July 2014 from mpc.xyz/1rEBuCL