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Bad dog, or bad owner?

Pit bulls are misunderstood.
Pit bulls are misunderstood.

Imagine it: You are leaving your local pet store, and as you are walking to your car, you see a woman and her child speaking in harsh tones to their uncooperative pit bull. They are shouting at her and berating her, and roughly jerking at her leash to try to get her to move. What would you do?

What would you do if you were an animal, not able to communicate why you were scared, or nervous, and therefore not being cooperative?

In rescue, you’ll quickly begin to see that pit bulls make up a large percentage of the discarded dogs in shelters. This is sad and unfair. They are a misunderstood and misjudged breed.

Did you know that in the 1800s and early 1900s, pit bulls were actually termed the “nanny dog”? And yet today, there are anti-pit bull rallies and attempted bills to ban the breed.

On February 18, an Atlanta woman planned a rally at the Georgia State Capitol, hoping to push laws to ban pit bulls in Georgia. Her reasoning was that her two year old son had been mauled to death by the family’s pet pit bull almost two years prior.

This woman is not the only one to feel this way. There are many who feel, without even having known a pit bull or anyone with a pit bull, that this breed is an inherently aggressive breed.

You have probably heard advocates say that no dog is inherently aggressive. This is true, and a vitally important message to be spread. Any dog – even an adorably cute, tiny, fluffy breed – can snap at any given moment. In owning a pet, you must understand that at the end of the day, they are animals first. They respond the only way they know how in certain pressing situations. No matter how much you trust your beloved pet, you must always be aware of your actions toward that pet, as well as the actions of others toward your pet. If a child is roughhousing with a dog, and you are not monitoring the situation, there is going to be an incident. And the dog will always get blamed. But this is wholly unfair.

It is your responsibility as the owner to raise and train a good dog. Sometimes, no matter how much training you put into your pet, they are still going to react with animal instincts. This is what you take on when owning a pet; the knowledge that this could happen at any time. If you are not ready for that responsibility, and you are going to turn your dog into a villain because he responded with animal instincts, then maybe you need to reconsider having a dog.

The unfortunate trend of pushing all of the blame onto the pet needs to end. It is time for pet owners to truly take responsibility. No dog is a bad dog by itself.

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