13 February 2009
Judged First: Bite Last
In the last two decades, no breed of dog has been more talked about or misunderstood than the American Pit Bull Terrier. In most cases, just hearing the words Pit Bull brings out fear in many people. Tales of their reputation have been told in societies around the world. For example, you hear about their "locking jaws", fierce fighting instinct, poor social skills with children, turning on their owners, and their inability to become well-rounded family members are widely spread. Most of these tales are just rumors passed on from one ignorant person to another. Those of us who are familiar with and love the breed know it to be a loyal, protective, and family-oriented companion.
One of the most infamous cases involving the rehabilitation of these so-called blood-thirsty beasts involves ex-NFL star Michael Vick. In the December 29, 2008 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine, reporter Jim Gorant described the events that took place beginning on April 25, 2007. After receiving a number of anonymous tips and several months of investigation local and state authorities removed fifty-one Pit Bulls from Bad Newz Kennels at Vick’s personal residence in Smithville, Virginia. Two well-known animal activist groups, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States, felt that these “monsters” were beyond saving and should be destroyed (np). The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) suggested that animal behaviorists and other staff test each dog individually to evaluate its mannerisms and determine if they should be saved from euthanasia. In the end, only one of the fifty-one dogs that had been seized was deemed too vicious and had to be euthanized. Twenty-two of the “Vick Pits” as they are now called were sent to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for months of rehabilitation. Most have already been...