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Are Pit Bulls Bullied?

Some love them, some fear them, and some may not know what to think when they see one coming down the sidewalk— perhaps more than any other breed, pit bulls have gotten a reputation that can be frustrating for their owners.

Stamford native Nicki Puza fell in love with pit bulls while volunteering in veterinary clinics during college. She got her first pit bull at the start of 2009 and her second in April 2010. While in veterinary school, she is also fostering a pure-bred adult male pit bull.

“I found that pit bulls had the most personality, were extremely intelligent, and had the most love to give,” Puza said. “I meet people with my dogs in tow who remark on how wonderful a breed pit bulls are, and how they are so unfortunately misunderstood.”

When Puza went to in Stamford earlier this summer, she was surprised to learn that they do not allow pit bulls. Until recently, the breed policy at Camp Bow Wow was laid out by the corporate headquarters, today, corporate gives each franchise the option of whether or not they will accept pit bulls.

“Owners of pit bulls were disappointed, so we tried to change the policy, we interviewed them and took a six-month-old female pit bull, a sweet, sweet dog with people. She did fine in the interview process, fine with just two or three other dogs,” John Caro, owner of Stamford’s Camp Bow Wow, told Patch. “The second day, her temperament changed, to the point that she bit another dog. When the counselor who was in there tried to control the situation, she bit the person on the arm. I don’t know what might have happened, maybe she thought she was playing rough.”

Since then, Camp Bow Wow has not accepted any pure bred pit bulls, but they do have three or four mixed breed pit bulls.

“I have unfortunately very commonly heard of apartment complexes not allowing pit bulls or German Shepherds, Boxers, Dobermans, or a handful of other breeds....It is easier for me to ignore these restrictions and pass them off as ridiculous because the people making the rules don't know anything about dogs and aren't expected to, unlike the people at a dog boarding facility,” Puza said.

The use of pit bulls in dog fighting is one of the driving forces behind the reputation. It’s easy for people to listen to the news and see dog fighting rings being broken up and draw their own conclusions about the nature of pit bulls. This leaves some boarders up against the wall in deciding whether or not to allow them in their facility.

“I’m sure in many clients' minds, they hear stories of Michael Vick and have it in their mind that they’re bred to fight...they’re afraid. I think if I accepted pit bulls at camp, we would lose clients,” Caro said.

The reputation pit bulls have gained from dog fighting has led to a disastrous chain reaction, dogs being abused, neglected, and developing traits that serve to propel the reputation into the future.

“It makes them a target breed to be adopted as a "status symbol pet." These dogs are trained to be aggressive, protective, and to bite usually by being beaten, abused, and neglected," Puza said. “If they get loose, as they often do thanks to irresponsible owners, the results can be disastrous. What most people don't realize though, is that any breed treated this way may develop the same aggressions.”

“I don’t know what it is, whether it’s in their nature or the way that they were raised,” Caro said. “It’s a reputation that’s been coming for a long time.”

For people who love pit bulls, it’s also a reputation they’re fighting hard to change. October 22, 2011 will mark the fifth annual National Pit Bull Awareness Day, a day that advocates across the US plan to join together to bring some positive attention to their misunderstood best friends.

DoggyEngineer September 07, 2011 at 10:42 PM
A pit bull terrier that doesn't need a lot of exercise is like a Lab that doesn't want to play catch. Sure, there might be a small number out there, but they are the exception. It violates the entire foundation behind the concept of a "breed" that is distinguishable from a random mutt. Then again, it's hard to put much stock in anything said by someone who posts "how they were the "Nanny dog" that watched the farmer's children so the entire family could go work the farm without worrying about their kids" with a straight face. Noone in their right mind uses an animal to care for young children. APBT's have high pain thresholds and strong family bonds which makes them much less likely to react to a toddler's poking and prodding (hence their stellar performance at the vet), but that comment is just patently absurd. Denying the characteristics of a breed does nothing to help them. Every dog is an individual to be sure, but trying to mislead people into thinking the average pit bull terrier is going to be a short-haired, stocky Golden Retriever is dangerous and ultimately damaging to the breed's reputation as a whole. I understand how the unwarranted hype and animosity surrounding the breed can lead to clinging to and repeating every positive anecdote you can find, but let's keep our heads out of the sand. Not every breed is right for every person/family. There's some good, level-headed info on this site: http://www.pitbulllovers.com/about-the-american-pit-bull-terrier.html
Noelle September 08, 2011 at 01:04 PM
LOL.. . like I said I have owned 4 ABPT at once in my home and let's just say I will go by my personal experience rather than buy into websites that say you can't have same gender in your household, don't ever leave with other dogs no matter how well they get along! laughable! No one said every breed is right for every family just like not every APBT possesses the vast majority of the traits your dog does. Also, your taking the term nanny dog to a literal extreme, they provided companionship for kids in the family. They are dogs for pete's sake. They are not people agressive by nature unless made people agressive just like any other dog. People hear the word Pit Bull terrier and think "no way". They are just dogs, not monsters who have to be kept at arm's length if you have one. The way your dog acts around other dogs in not the norm, like you said it was most likely due to the lack of socialization. My point is they are dogs like any other dog, obviously not for everyone.. I could think of alot of breeds that aren't for me. I don't think by expressing personal stories about dogs they actually own translates to people trying to mislead others into thinking they are short haired goldens. You seem to be taking a lot of stock in your dog being the breed "standard". That's like saying your next APBT is going to act the same exact way.
missy cole September 09, 2011 at 12:40 AM
Okay, I took a chance and adopted a pit mix from someone who fostered him in their home with two small dogs. I had this dog for 6 months and one morning while playing as usual he snapped and viciously attacked my yellow lab. He would not break his grip for 10 minutes and was totally in the red zone. $3000.00 worth of vet bills later to save my lab and a trip to the hospital for myself with 6 bites some needing stiches was the end result. I had no choice but to give him back to the agency that adopted him out. He was put back up for adoption stating that he should not be in a home with other dogs. He was adopted again by a couple with no dogs. I was happy for him as I have owned dogs for 30 years and do not want to see any dog put to sleep. However, last week I noticed he was back on the market for adoption as the 3rd family had to give him back. Clearly, something else happened. Some of these dogs need too be at a facility for rehabilitation and perhaps live there so no other animal becomes another victim of his.
Steve Carol September 21, 2011 at 03:42 AM
Hmm....seeing as so many pit bulls are given up. I wonder why others with similar stories don't come forward? This reason is that the pit bull community will call you a lousy dog owner and throw you under the bus, to add to any negative feelings you already have. Heck, a bruised ego over giving up a dog is enough to keep many people quiet.
Steve Carol September 21, 2011 at 03:43 AM
People like doggyengineer are a real oddity. They actually realize the breed is not a very good companion animal, yet they still own one. And the rest of you, with cult like obedience, will tend to disagree with what he or she says if it is negative toward your pibble wiggle butts.

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