The pitbull rescue community and bully-breed owners across the country are fuming over Kelly Ripa's statement during yesterday's Live with Kelly and Michael. Ripa was interviewing Christopher Walken on his new movie, Seven Psychopaths, when she stated: "But the gangster’s dog is uh, I mean if it’s a gangster it would have to be a dangerous, uh, pitbull kind of dog, right?” In Ripa's defense, the movie Walken stars in is based on a story line where a gangster's dog is stolen. And in the movie, the dog is about as far from a pitbull as you can imagine, it's a Shih Tzu. The real problem seems to be that Ripa's "go to" "dangerous dog owned by gangsters" is a pitbull, which is based on a stereotype and a clear form of discrimination on bully-breed dogs everywhere.
Pitbull is a term used for a number of dog breeds. Most commonly, the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier and any cross of the two. As BSL (breed-specific legislation) creeps across the country and stricter laws are formed, more and more breeds of dogs are now being classified as pitbulls. Because most animal control officers and law enforcement identify dogs by certain visual traits and not by veterinarian recommendations or DNA, it's far too common for dogs to be given the label "pitbull". Sadly, as evidenced by the world with the recent euthanasia of Lennox, the label of "pitbull" is usually a death sentence.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is openly against any legislation aimed at eradicating or strictly regulating dogs based solely on their breed. Their website states:
"The dog bite numbers don't tell the whole story. It is imperative that the dog population in the community be understood. To simply pull numbers of attacks does not necessarily give an accurate representation of a breed. For example, if you were reviewing a study that states there have been 5 attacks by golden retrievers in a community and 10 attacks by pit bull type dogs in that same community it would appear that pit bull types are more dangerous. However, if you look at the dog populations in that community and learn that there are 50 golden retrievers present and 500 pit bull types, then the pit bull types are actually the safer breed statistically."
Food for thought? You are more likely to die in your bathtub from drowning than you are to be killed by a pitbull. The solution in any case is to educate yourself. Don't let society decide for you. Fight discrimination in ALL forms.
Also notable is a Tweet last night from Big Bang Theory actress and animal lover, Kaley Cuoco, which read "Did Kelly Ripa really say “all pits are dangerous” on her show this am? I didn’t see it, just hearing through twitter.. True or false?”. When a fan responded with a "yes", Cuoco then said, “Completely heart broken and disappointed.” with a final Tweet of, "“I really hope @KellyRipa didn’t say what I think she said this am regarding pit bulls. #Please don’t be true.”. A big "thank you" to Kaley for standing up for some very misunderstood pooches.
*The writer of this story is an intelligent human, with no "thuggish" or "gangster" qualities (unless you count those few instances of Snoop Dog songs on my iPod). I am the proud owner of an 11-year-old "bully breed" kind of dog who rates right up there with my children. In those 11 years, my dog has raised my 3 rambunctious and annoying little boys into the animal loving kids that they are today. The ferocious beast spends his days sleeping on the couch, stealing blankets and eating "kitty surprise" from the litter box. The only danger he poses is to cheese and kitty bi-product.*
Article Resources:CDC/HSUS studies; stats from the book “Fatal Dog Attacks” by Karen Delise. Additional statistics from both the CDC and the National Safety Council.