by Beth Clifton
What do pit bulls have in common with other dogs? Not much actually, besides the obvious four legs, fur, two ears, and a tail––unless the ears have been cropped to make the pit bull look more dangerous.
To deny that pit bull genetics predisposes them to kill other living beings, and that their physical attributes have been methodically bred into the dogs by dogfighters past and present, is nothing less than wishful thinking, ignorance, delusion, and/or deliberate intent to deceive.
In the face of cold, hard facts from daily––yes, daily––police, emergency medical services, and media reports of pit bull attacks and fatalities across the U.S. and the world, humane organizations from the largest to the smallest and other pit bull lobbyists, rescuers, breeders and owners are still touting what purportedly great, angelic and idiosyncratic dogs pit bulls supposedly are.
The pit bull “hip-ocrisy”
Pit bull advocacy is fashionable, politically correct, and there are plenty of pit bulls to be had, for anyone who wants to join the pit bull “hip-ocrisy.” But it is all based on bold-faced lies.
Breeding and genetics have repeatedly eclipsed the behavior of even the most loved and well-cared-for pits, who demonstrate their propensity to kill even their own family members dozens of times per year against humans, tens of thousands of times per year against other dogs, cats, smaller pets, livestock, and wildlife.
Contrary to the conventional beliefs of the public about dogs in general, I contend from my perspective as former pit bull rescuer, veterinary technician, animal control officer, and police officer––having personally handled far more pit bulls than most pit bull advocates ever will––that pit bulls demonstrate authentic individuality only to the extent that they are separate, living, breathing, and frequently suffering animals, typically abused and neglected by the very people who claim to love them most.
Otherwise, pit bulls have been selectively bred for centuries to exhibit uniquely stereotypical behavior in an especially single-minded way, oblivious even to their own injuries when attacking someone or something––even, in one notorious case, a concrete statue of a pig.
This behavior, the most prized pit bull attribute among pit bull fanciers, is called “gameness.” Most prized of all is “dead gameness,” a trait confirmed only when a pit bull dies with jaws still locked on a victim.
One need only spend some time with pit bulls to see just how alike they all are, but for size and coloration––and how different pit bulls are from other dogs in much of their common behavior.
A steadily growing network of “BSL” (Breed Specific Legislation) advocates are now fighting daily to inform the public about the dangers that the unique aspects of pit bull behavior and physiognomy pose.
BSL advocacy positions range from wanting to ban pit bull-type dogs completely to merely wanting to restrict their breeding, to prevent fatal, disabling, and disfiguring attacks on humans and other animals, prevent the glut of cast-off pit bulls now filling almost every animal shelter in the developed world, and yes, protect pit bulls themselves from being used and abused in fighting pits, as guards for criminal activity, and as fashion accessories for wanna-be bad guys and girls who are, most of all, bad to their dogs.
New names & faces
Every day we see new names and faces, some of those faces grievously scarred, who have been harmed by pit bulls. Many have had their pets mauled and killed, suffering severe injuries in attempts at rescue. Some have had their livestock maimed or devoured alive by pit bulls.
Worst of all is almost daily becoming acquainted with more mothers, fathers, siblings, and children who have had their lives changed forever by losses of family members killed by the most vicious dog to ever be called a companion animal.
A pit bull is not a companion animal and never will be.
I am a former pit bull owner, rescuer, & defender
Again, I am a former pit bull owner, rescuer and defender. This is really not something I am proud of. We have all made mistakes and been on the wrong side of issues. I have forgiven myself for my own poor decisions, but in the process have met, mostly via social media, several hundred and perhaps thousands of deeply alienated, hostile people who would not put me out if I were on fire, if I may paraphrase their vocal intentions.
Nor do these people exhibit authentic sympathy for the animal and human victims of their pit bulls, or even, in most cases, for the dogs themselves––apart from “crocodile tears” shed in GoFundMe appeals for pit bulls who have suffered the consequences of being put in jeopardy in various ways, including in attacking police officers who have had to use their sidearms.
The pit bull subjects of such GoFundMe appeals will be killed if others do not pay their veterinary expenses, and will be quickly replaced from the almost inexhaustible supply of other cast-off pit bulls, who magically become “rescued” as soon as they are passed from the custody of someone who bred or bought the pit bull into the hands (or back yard, on a chain) of a self-identified “rescue angel.”
Pit bull treason
In the minds of pit bull advocates, I have committed pit bull treason. My sentence for this alleged offense, as they have expressed, should be a slow, painful and gruesome death by torture, before a howling mob, without a trial.
I am not alone. There is not one outspoken BSL advocate who has not been targeted by the pit bull avengers, of whom there are many, echoing the viciousness of their dogs.
Even pit bull victims and their families are not spared by the bullies who, indeed, seem to especially enjoy lashing pit bull victims with cruel and sadistic attacks, “trolling” victims online and terrorizing them in person through deliberate and repeated close approaches with their dogs.
Often the pit bulls are barely held in check at the ends of leashes, frequently retractable leashes, which allow a pit bull to charge for a distance unknown to the victim, at full speed, and then sometimes break with catastrophic consequences.
In the view of pit bull bullies, “If it ain’t pit, it ain’t shit!”
Counting the dead & disfigured
My husband Merritt Clifton, founder and editor of www.animals24-7.org, has been logging fatal and disfiguring dog attacks since 1982. Merritt, a journalist for more than 48 years, has for most of that time reported on humane issues worldwide, for the betterment of all animals, humans, and the earth in general. He is a man of integrity and good character, with extensive background, expertise and experience in addressing animal issues of all sorts across the U.S. and around the world. Merritt has also been intensely targeted by the pit bull avengers for many years now, attracting more than 300 death threats and recommendations for the mode of execution in response to a single online posting, in one example where I actually counted the comments.
None of this has deterred us from our work.
Harassing & defaming
I cannot reconcile that people who so vehemently claim to love and care about their own animals, pit bulls specifically, do not give a damn about anyone else. We see Internet and social media rants, including threats of harm, harassment and death threats issued against anyone who disagrees that pit bulls are wonderful dogs, at the rate of many dozens in response to each of the many media reports per day of attacks by pit bulls.
Web sites and social media pages have even been established for the sole purpose of harassing and defaming individual pit bull attack victims and vocal victim advocates.
Set aside the threats and other nastiness, and the typical arguments of pit bull defenders distill down to clichés such as “My pit bull will lick you to death,” “the problem is at the other end of the leash,” and in my opinion the silliest, most deceptive, and the weakest of all pit bull advocacy arguments, the claim that “No one can identify a pit bull!”
Indeed, pit bull advocates, rescues and shelters have frequently misidentified, mislabeled, and distributed pit bulls under false pretenses, calling them just about every other breed, mix, or general type of dog. The frequent outcome is that gullible adopters, family members, friends, and neighbors have been killed or maimed. Sometimes this results in those who have done the misidentification getting sued for millions of dollars in damages.
No amount of misidentification magically transforms a pit bull into anything else. This is a lesson the humane community should have learned from the catastrophic failure of the San Francisco SPCA’s attempt to rebrand pit bulls as “St. Francis terriers” in 1996, which got several household pet cats killed before the program was suspended.
Unfortunately this experience apparently taught nothing to the chief architects of the “St. Francis terrier” debacle. Then-San Francisco SPCA president Richard Avanzino went on to commit much of the $300-plus million resources of Maddie’s Fund to pit bull advocacy as chief executive there from 1998 to 2015. Nathan Winograd, then the San Francisco SPCA director of law and advocacy, founded the ardently pro-pit bull No Kill Advocacy Center in 2007.
The consequences of failing to recognize and identify pit bulls for what they are, pit bulls, are getting people and animals killed.
Bulldogs, bullies and bravado, social dysfunction, financial gain and criminal behavior are at the heart of pit bull advocacy, including the lies and more lies told by animal shelter personnel hellbent on deceiving the public into adopting the dogs at any cost, in order to meet the 90% “live release rate” targets prescribed by Maddie’s Fund and the No Kill Advocacy Center.
In truth, achieving a 90% “live release rate” is no more realistic a goal for an animal shelter, when a third or more of the dogs received are pit bulls, than a 90% suspended sentence rate would be for a courtroom trying chiefly alleged violent offenders.
Nightrider tactics will fail
As the public becomes aware that it has been lied to about pit bulls, most egregiously by formerly trusted institutions including the American SPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, the Humane Society of the U.S., and hometown humane societies and animal control agencies, change will follow.
The truth about pit bulls will at that point no longer allow a well-funded, well-organized army of selfish, dysfunctional individuals and organizations to dictate pit bull policy.
Pit bull advocacy, based on lies, bullying, and nightrider tactics reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan, which for decades made pit bulls their dogs of choice for fighting and racial intimidation, will fall, and fall hard––just as the Klan itself did, once the public finally saw behind covert Klan alliances with political representatives and public safety institutions, and the pretense that the Klan was just another community service fraternity.
Just a matter of time
Public safety and the right to a peaceful, safe existence in our homes and communities, without the risk of unfamiliar pit bulls running through doggie doors to kill and injure anyone inside, is a right that we, as citizens and representatives of the humane community, must uphold and fight for.
Those who have sacrificed humane objectives, including the well-being of all animals and humans, on the altar of pit bull worship, must be held accountable, and will be, both by the courts of justice and the court of public opinion.
The rate of collateral damage from pit bull advocacy long since became unsustainable. As the numbers of pit bull attacks on human and animal family members per year mount into the upper tens of thousands, when the reckoning will come is just a matter of time.