Anti-pit bull hysteria must end [Letter]

November 21, 2013

About two months ago, I was driving home from Frederick at about 2 a.m., and I passed a specter on the side of the road. At least I thought so, because it was hard for me to believe that I had seen what I thought I saw. I pulled over to the side of the road and backed up slowly and found a dog — an emaciated, scared, hurt, bleeding dog on the side of the road picking through a white trash bag. I approached her carefully, but she just collapsed when I got close enough hold out my hand for her to sniff. I picked her up and carried her to my pick-up truck and placed her carefully in the front seat. When I got into the driver's side and saw the blood on my clothing, I knew I was in for a long night.

I called a good friend who is experienced with animal rescue. Together, we took her to Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital. It was after 3 in the morning when we got there, and the vet on duty confirmed what was obvious to us — she was a dog who had been used in a dog fight (most likely as a bait dog due to her submissive nature and the fact that she was so malnourished and abused) and was then dumped like trash. This had not been her first fight, but the vet cradled her head and whispered to her, "But it will be your last fight!"

The journey to bring her back to good health has been long, expensive, and heart-breaking, but she is a sweet and loving dog even though she has never known human kindness and has survived a hell on earth that few people could possibly imagine. She is a pit bull. She was abused, starved, and then was left to die on the side of I-270, but in just two months she has slowly started to trust that there are some people who won't hurt her. She has a sweet and nonaggressive nature which is why she was starved and dumped rather than used as a "star" by the dog fighting ring that treated her so horrifically.

Tony Solesky has endured a tragedy ("Making rescued pit bulls pets is an unnatural selection," Nov. 14). There is no doubt about this. The dog that attacked his son was kept in alley, in a small enclosure that was too small for the dog to even stand up or turn around. The dog was not socialized or treated humanely by his owner. The Solesky child admitted to teasing and throwing rocks at the dog. Although this does not mitigate the tragedy of the dog attack, in a better world this dog would have not been treated so horrifically and neighbors would have reported the abusive treatment to proper authorities who would act on the complaints, rather than throw rocks and tease an abused animal. I believe in this better world.

According to the ASPCA, there are approximately 80 million dogs in the U.S. Because pit bulls are not an AKC-recognized breed, and because DNA tests have shown that pit bull is more of a type of dog than a breed (encompassing up to 20 different breeds of dogs), tracking the number of dogs that could potentially be labeled a pit bull is impossible. It is not unreasonable to assume that the number of pit bull type dogs in the U.S. would number in the millions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are less than 35 dog bite-related human fatalities each year involving over 20 breeds of dogs, and this statistic has remained consistent since the 1970s. The breed of dog on the top of the CDC report has changed through the years based on the popularity of different breeds, but the overall number has remained relatively consistent for almost 40 years. Focusing on breed has no positive outcome. Focusing on the factors that are consistent across all breeds (such as spay/neuter, proper socialization, and targeting chronically bad owners) has been proven time and time again to lower incidents of dog aggression. This is why not one reputable animal advocacy or veterinary organization advocates for breed specific legislation.

Mr. Solesky cited a CDC report on dog bite-related fatalities by breed, but failed to note that the same report clearly states that dog aggression is a human issue, not a dog issue and the CDC stands firmly against breed specific legislation and advocates for more humane laws for animals, enforcement of existing laws, public education (especially concerning children and animals) and targeting of chronically bad owners.

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