A Wisconsin 14-month-old boy died yesterday under horrible circumstances. The toddler was killed by two pit bulls at his babysitter's house. The sitter called 911 to say she and the boy were being attacked by the dogs. There's no word yet on what provoked the attack -- only the heartbreaking news that the child died soon after being rushed to the hospital.
If any other breed of dog had been involved, you'd never see it in the headline. But pit bulls have a bad reputation for violence. And yet, I hear people defend those dogs all the time. What's the deal with this breed? Are pit bulls really that dangerous -- and should they even be allowed around children?
Last year, a Maryland court declared pit bull dogs "inherently dangerous." It doesn't help that pit bulls have been bred specifically for fighting -- and those traits can be passed on for a couple generations, even to dogs not intended for fighting. The dogs are also very strong, much stronger than the top three biters, dachshunds, chihuahuas, and Jack Russell terriers. But still, pit bull owners say the dogs can be raised and socialized to be just as peaceful as other dogs.
Maybe it's not so much the dogs that are dangerous -- maybe it's their owners. And maybe it's the kind of conditions pit bulls are raised in. Plenty of responsible animal lovers raise pit bulls. But they've been associated with criminal culture -- and those owners are most likely to be irresponsible dog owners. They're giving pit bulls a bad name.
So what's a responsible pit bull owner supposed to do when stories like this surface? Probably not attack the press -- that's just going to reinforce that aggression stereotype. But I think people who care about a pit bull's image should work to show the public that their dogs can be gentle -- and how good training can help any breed of dog.
Do you think pit bull dogs are more dangerous than other breeds?
Image via jennie_Marie/Flickr