Vail Valley Voices: Pit bull aggression is our fault |

Vail Valley Voices: Pit bull aggression is our fault

Melanie Pfeiffer
Vail, CO, Colorado

Working in a veterinary hospital, you are exposed to all kinds of animal trauma. One of the more common ones is dog fights.

I can honestly say that in three out of four cases, an American pit bull terrier is involved. Many times, we are able to save the life of the afflicted, but yesterday, we were not.

As an animal lover, I was feeling all kinds of emotions, sadness, at first, but then anger.

We as human beings are 100 percent responsible for the domestication of dogs. Why would we need to breed such an aggressive breed with an enormous prey drive?

Originally, American pit bull terriers were bred specifically to bait bulls. Once bull baiting was ruled illegal, they were then used on farms to control invasive critters to prevent crop degradation. They were trained to kill.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Now, in present times, pit bull breeding has been divided into two very different groups. You have responsible breeders who care about the calm temperament and quality of their litters, and then you have your typical backyard breeder who breeds for aggression and that menacing look and could really care less about whether two years down the road your pit bull destroys the family cat. It was just another nameless pup they sold, and you were another check in the bank.

This is an extremely powerful breed that requires proper socialization and a stern hand from an early age. Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t look into the history of the breeder selling or put in the immense hours it takes to control these dogs.

A lot of owners are too preoccupied about using a tire chain as a leash, spiked collar and having the dog pull cinder blocks around the yard. They’ve become more of a status symbol than anything.

Mean dog equals powerful owner, right? The opposite is exactly true. Aggressive dogs always have the upper hand over their owners. Brought to our attention in recent times because of NFL quarterback Michael Vick, dog fighting is an all too real tragedy that happens in our own backyard every day. As long as there is a demand for these overly aggressive dogs, a supply will be made from ignorant breeders who do not check into the history of potential buyers or they flatly do not care.

Pit bulls have a bad reputation because we afforded it to them. When are we going to take responsibility for what we’ve done to this breed?

Essentially, we have taken man’s best friend and turned it into a hair-trigger, prey-driven, pain-tolerant machine. Defects can be bred out of species, but why do we flush this breed down the genetic toilet?

Three million pit bulls are euthanized in shelters every year. They are either deemed too aggressive to be adopted out, or their time has expired because people are scared to own a “monster dog.”

They are not monsters. There are loving, doting, loyal pit bulls out there. Go into a shelter and look into their sad, brown eyes. The last thing that they might see is the inside of those bars because we as irresponsible owners and breeders refuse to phase out the aggression in numerous pit bull lineages.

I propose that all owned American pit bull terriers be registered and all breeding be halted indefinitely. How many mutilated faces, mangled limbs, butchered pets and even human deaths does it take to convince us that this breed needs to be phased out?

Proponents for the American pit bull terriers will tell you it’s unfair to ban a breed. Tell that to the rat terrier yesterday who had his trachea ripped from his throat. That’s unfair.

Support Local Journalism