Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In defense of the pit bull

As regular blog readers know (and at this point, I think there might just be two of you), my family said goodbye to our beloved pit bull mix Sadie, a few months ago.

Since then, three months and almost two weeks later, I still miss her. I can honestly say that I probably have not gone more than a week without tearing up. But, to be fair, I cry over silly things.

When we adopted Sadie, we were not sure we were going to have kids, so the fact that Sadie was partially a pit bull did not concern me. And, honestly, when I first saw her, I did not know that was her dominant breed. But once we knew I was pregnant with J, I started to worry. Back then, there was not social media, but there was still the internet, so I did occasionally read about pit bull maulings.

I very clearly remember my first day home alone with J. She was a week old, and my mom, who had been staying with us, and my husband both headed back to work. I was freaking out to begin with, just being a new mother. But having a dog constantly jump on me while I was holding the baby made it even worse. And all the visions of what a pit bull could do were going through my mind.

Eventually, things calmed down, and I would let Sadie near baby J. But never alone. I repeat: Never alone. In fact, I am guessing that J was not alone with Sadie until she was at least 6, and probably even older. It really only was in the last few years, the two would snuggle on the couch, and J is 11 1/2 now. But the reality is that I rarely left my kid unattended regardless. Proof of this is when she was 5 1/2, and I was in the shower on my day off. J cut head her head, which resulted in a trip to Children's. I remember very clearly the husband asking why I had left her alone. And I remember, almost as clearly, my saying that I was in the shower, and what did he expect. But that was pretty much the only time she was out of my sight at that age. A little sad.

But to my point: Once again, I read about another pit bull attacking and killing a small child. This girl was 2. It is very tragic, and my heart breaks for the family. But, and this won't be popular with some people (luckily few people come here!), the parents have to take some responsibility. You should NEVER leave a child that young alone with a dog. Period. Even if that dog is a cocker spaniel, and even if that dog is your beloved family pet (they were at a friend's house).

Part of me thinks we were lucky that Sadie never did anything to Jordan. Another part of me knows that I have my overprotective parenting to thank for that. There is no possible way that J would have ever been alone with Sadie so young for that to have happened. But there is also this important factor: Not all pit bulls are bad. In fact, most family pit bulls are pretty good dogs: I know our Sadie sure was. I have come across people walking their pit bulls near some of the parks J and I have gone to, and I have not hesitated to ask to pet them. (But I am not going to lie: When I drive through a questionable neighborhood on my way home, one known for a high percentage of homicides, and I see men walking pit bulls, I would not want to ask to pet them, even though that is kind of contradicting what I am saying).

Pit bull ownership is not for everyone. But I would have adopted another pit bull after Sadie, had not so many people have been afraid of the breed. In fact, my older brother and his wife just did not feel comfortable coming to our house because of Sadie. I respected that, even though I knew they had nothing to worry about. But of course you never do know.

I leave you with this quote, which the Western PA Humane Society posted on its Facebook page. They said it better than I could have.
The Western PA Humane Society would like the express our sincerest condolences to the family who lost their 2-year-old daughter last evening after a tragic accident with a dog that belonged to a family member. Our thoughts are with them during this difficult time as they mourn her passing.
While we understand that there are dangerous dogs in the world, we would like to take a moment to remind the community that each dog is an individual – no matter their size, age, or breed. What does that mean? We think our friends at Animal Farm Foundation say it the best. “We owe it to all dogs to see them for who they really are, free of prejudice, stereotypes, and assumptions that are based on a known pedigree, a breed label guess, or physical appearance.” We hope that when hearing media reports of this tragic event, the public will remember that you can’t judge a book by its cover, or a dog by it’s breed. See the dog for who he/she really is; a beloved family member, a snuggle buddy, a fuzzy shoulder to cry on, a therapist with fur or just an overall best pal.
 

No comments: