Myth 39: The serious to fatal damage the aggressive breeds inflict when they attack isn’t due to their genes, but rather due to having the wrong kind of owners.
seen that the killing bite and unpredictable, uncontrolled aggression
are genetically anchored in these dogs, and that they can’t be taught
not to execute killing behaviour. They inevitably reach a certain age
when they start to do it, looking for opportunities and excuses to do
what we have bred them to do (see Myth 38).
If you’re lucky, the first attack will be on your cat or another dog,
and not on your child. This killing behaviour is not caused by the owner
in individual cases; it’s just part of what the dog is. However, the
killing behaviour is caused by certain people’s consumer behaviour. By
buying these dogs, these people are responsible for making it
economically profitable to breed for the killing bite and the hair
trigger. Are these people all “the wrong kind of owners”?
answer to this question lies in the kind of person who wants a dog with
the killing bite in the first place. So who are they?
fact, they are the wrong kind of owners. Take a look around you. It’s
mostly a group of people who – for some reason related to their personal
psychology – specifically want a dog whose breed standard explicitly
states that the breed has been selected for extreme aggression. Often
these are people with an inferiority complex of some kind. They want
something that will finally enable them to intimidate other people. They
have an ego problem, and need to prove something to the world. Many are
men who are (perhaps unconsciously) worried about their masculinity,
that maybe the world won’t see it. Others are adolescents who watch too
much MTV and learn that an aggressive dog is an essential consumer item,
just like the Nikes, if he wants to keep up his macho hip-hop or
skater’s image. Sometimes they are naïve people, who think all dogs are
cuddly plush toys. None of these people have any idea of behavioural
conformation (see Myth 38), of the unity of mind and body Nature gives to all creatures, and they are all, in their own way, consumed by vanity.
(of which this author has a lot, alas) teaches that the owners of
aggressive breeds can be divided broadly into three categories.
We all know there are people who try to conceal their inner feelings of
inadequacy by acting extra tough outwardly. Many of them nowadays go
buy a “tough” dog. These people, who are struggling with an inferiority
complex or an ego problem, then try to force their pit bull/Am Staff (or
Presa, or Dogo, etc.) on you because they feel the world owes them
recognition. Many of us have experienced this. You try to avoid these
people (and their dog) on the street or in a park, but they follow you,
determined to inflict the dog upon you. (After all, what’s the use of
having this proof of Manliness around if no one will look at it?) They
cross the street to follow you so you can’t avoid a confrontation. Their
dog runs up to yours in a park, and they refuse to call it when you ask
them to. Usually, the dog wouldn’t obey anyway, and they don’t want
this embarrassing fact revealed to you. But above all, they enjoy your
worry about what their aggressive dog will do. They shout at you to stop
acting so weird about their dog. They get angry, and they often get
verbally aggressive. It is of extreme importance to these people to
force their dog on you, because their need is so great to show the world
they know better than everyone else. The dog is the way they can seek
arguments and win for a change, since they never succeed in doing this
on their own strength. When their dog does attack another dog and try to
kill him, they are dumbfounded, because they really are too stupid to
understand what these dogs are all about. Their cowardice surfaces –
they don’t dare interfere with their attacking dog, and once it’s over,
they disappear as quick as they can. Often you never see them in the
park again, which is great, except for the fact that someone’s normal,
peace seeking dog had to pay with his life first. But some of them don’t
disappear for good. Some of them actually enjoy watching their dog’s
aggression, and just make sure they’re gone before the police arrive.
Tomorrow they’re back again, and blaming you for having called the
police. There have been cases in which the owner of the attacked dog was
terrorized as punishment for reporting the attack to the police, to the
extent that the owner of the horribly wounded dog had to move to a
different neighbourhood. Finally, many of the people in this category of
aggressive dog lovers enter their dogs in illegal pit fights, a
phenomenon which has resurfaced in many of our cities since these dogs
became so widespread. Some of these specifically go to places where
other dogs come, in the hope that if their aggressive-breed dog
practices on your cocker spaniel, he’ll do better in the pit.
These are young adolescent male humans, who have reached the brink of
adulthood but aren’t there yet. The adolescent male is searching for his
identity and trying to get himself a satisfying spot in his peer group.
The adolescent doesn’t always have bad intentions, but his brain isn’t
ripe yet, and he isn’t yet capable of understanding the consequences of
his actions (which is also the reason he has to pay so much more for car
insurance than the rest of us). He sees the macho rapper on television,
accompanied by the aggressive dog, and he wants one, too. After he’s
finished saving up for Nikes, he saves up for a dog. He has no idea what
he’s bought once he has the dog, thinking it’s just another consumer
item. To him the dog isn’t any different than his other fashion
accessories, to him the dog is a thing that will – just like his
Portable Play Station – turn on and off if you press the button. The
adolescent is, by virtue of his age, a bit rebellious. He is exploring
various boundaries, sometimes pushing the envelope in his search for an
identity. He just loves to show adults that he won’t do what they ask
him to do, but that he makes his own decisions. Of course he won’t leash
his dog just because some grown-up makes the request, are you kidding,
what a loss of face! He isn’t prepared for it when his dog attacks a
person or another dog, and he doesn’t know what to do. His toy is
suddenly acting up. So he does nothing, offers no help, doesn’t dare
interfere with his dog, and most probably just gets the hell out of
Dodge as quick as his little adolescent legs will carry him. Adolescence
is an age of natural egotism, and a time when even sympathetic boys
often lose their ability to empathize with others for a while. So this
kid isn’t capable of imagining the suffering the attacked dog goes
through, nor the grief of the dog’s owner. He’s just glad his parents
didn’t find out about what happened, otherwise they might take his dog
away. “Tomorrow’s another day, hey, don’t be so serious about life, and
besides, what could I do about it? The dog did it, not me.”
These are the Egotistical Innocents. They are members of animal
protection clubs and humane societies. They read lots of sentimental
stories about animals, and they watch lots of programs on Discovery
Channel. They believe that all animals are sweet-natured cuddly toys.
These people’s egocentricity is different from the adolescent’s. These
people think they are the measure of all things, and they therefore
believe that if a dog is nice to them, well, it means he’s nice, period.
How the dog behaves towards others isn’t so important. The Egotistical
Innocent lives in a fairy tale, failing to see that a dog is a living
being with a will and personality of his own, and that the dog hasn’t
been informed of the fairy tale. The Innocent is reinforced in the fairy
tale by breeders who agree that the stories about these dogs are all
lies, after all, look how sweet he is to the prospective buyer. The
Innocent doesn’t understand what “fierce protector of home and hearth,
averse to strangers” means, doesn’t know a secret language has been
developed since these breeds started causing so much tragedy. She likes
the idea of proving to all the world that even these dogs fit her fairy
tale, and that they are the poor victims of vicious anti-animal
propaganda. The Egotistical Innocent is delighted with her puppy and
sees him as a sort of four-legged human baby. She doesn’t see that the
pup is playing in an abnormally aggressive way at the age of eight weeks
already. She is dumbfounded on the day when her “puppy,” who meantime
is actually a young dog, suddenly, out of the blue (because the warning
phase has been bred out of these dogs), launches an unbridled attack on
another dog and seriously wounds or kills the other dog. She is stricken
and disillusioned – not only about the suffering of the attacked dog,
but also because her fairy tale has caved in. But not to worry. It only
takes her a few days to restore her view of the world. She decides her
dog is as sweet as she’d thought after all. After thinking awhile, she
realizes the whole thing was the other dog’s fault. After all, the other
dog growled at her sweetie, so what else could her sweetie do but
defend himself? Sometimes the Egotistical Innocent will cry out that
German shepherds bite too, or that even a dachshund can be dangerous
under the right circumstances. Unfortunately, there is always a way for
people who don’t want to face realities. The great tragedy is that the
Egotistical Innocent’s dog will harm or kill many other dogs, because
she continues to take him to dog parks, in the belief that it’s up to
the other dogs to make sure they don’t get killed.
This Myth is true in the sense that these dogs always have the wrong
owners, people who shouldn’t have a dog in the first place. However,
this Myth is false because it’s the genetics of the dog that make him a
killer, regardless of what kind of owner he has. In other words, these
dogs aren’t killers because they have the wrong owners, rather they
attract the wrong owners because they are killers.
S-E, The human-animal bond and self-psychology: Toward a new
understanding, Society & Animals, electronic version, Vol. 12,
No. 1, 2003.
Burrows, TJ, Fielding, WJ, Views of college students
on pit bull “ownership”: New Providend, The Bahamas, Society &
Animals, Vol. 13, No. 2, 139-152, 2005.
Frommer, SS, Arluke, A,
Loving them to death: blame-displacing strategies of animal shelter
workers and surrenderers, Society & Animals, Volume 7, Number 1,
Peremans, K, Functional brain imaging of the dog; single
photon emission tomography as a research and clinical tool for the
investigation of canine brain physiology and pathophysiology,
Universiteit Gent, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Gent, 2002.
Oral history collected from dog owners in The Hague, 1994-2009.
From: Semyonova, A, The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs, The Hastings Press, England, 2009, pages 125 – 127. (Check side bar for purchasing options)
Recommended reading to enhance your understanding of this serious problem:
On pit bulls and their owner. Kenneth Phillips, 17 Barks, September 5, 2013
Personality and Behavioral Characteristics of Owners of Vicious Breeds of Dog. Kenneth Phillips, dogbitelaw.com
Vicious dogs: the antisocial behaviors and psychological characteristics of owners. Ragatz L1, Fremouw W, Thomas T, McCoy K., Journal of Forensic Sciences. 2009 May; 54(3):699-703.
Vicious Dogs Part 2: Criminal Thinking, Callousness, and Personality Styles of Their Owners. Allison M. Schenk B.A., Laurie L. Ragatz M.S., William J. Fremouw Ph.D, A.B.P.P, Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume 57, Issue 1, pages 152–159, January 2012
Ownership of high-risk ("vicious") dogs as a marker for deviant behaviors: implications for risk assessment. Barnes JE1, Boat BW, Putnam FW, Dates HF, Mahlman AR. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2006 Dec; 21(12):1616-34.
Psychological Characteristics Owners of High Risk for Aggression Dog Breeds. Stanley Coren. Psychology Today, March 16, 2009
Do Owners and Their Dogs Have Similar Personalities? Stanley Coren. Psychology Today, August 20, 2013
What an Aggressive Dog Says About its Owner. Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience, May 24, 2012
Owners of Aggressive Dog Breeds Are More Hostile. Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience, August 09, 2012
Monday, March 3, 2014
The Truth About Pit Bull Owners
Posted by scurrilous amateur blogger at 3/03/2014
Labels: alexandra semyonova, barbara boat, jocelyn barnes, kenneth phillips, laurie ragatz, stanley coren
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Excellent post. Dr Semyonova's observations have stood the test of time, and are especially appropriate today.
Thank you for this.
What better way to inflict your giant pit bull on others than to slap a service vest on it and take it to the supermarket.
That video is giving me a headache. God I hate people sometimes.
Thank you so much for your dedication to this plague, which worsens by the day!
Bravo for all your work.
Thank you for such dedication to this plague, Which worsens with each day.
Grateful for all your work.
Excellent research, and links!
Thank You for your dedication and many hours of hard work. You are appreciated.
Finally, a dog website is willing to admit the truth...
However, look at the convoluted disclaimer they go through first...
"We’re not posting this article to discourage you from buying these dog breeds. We just want to make you aware of the statistics out there in certain studies. "
Anon @2:42 ->
If the nutters keep making them bigger, I say BRINGZ IT BITCHEZ!
I'll take one of THESE to WalMart!
Service dog my ass!
1. Why is the pit bull walking on the right side of the "professional?"
2. Why is the "professional" holding the leash so tight?
3. Why is the pit bull not heeling?
4. WHY IS THE PROFESSIONAL LETTING RANDOM PEOPLE PET THE PIT BULL? I've never seen a service dog allowed to be pet by the public.
5. What exactly is the service being provided by said pit bull and "professional?" Scaring the shit out of people at a grocery store is a disservice. It's not like the "professional" is shopping, and the pit bull is assisting.
6. Why is the "professional" squatting and holding the pit bull when people are interacting with it?
I haven't even finished watching the video yet. One moment please...
I was only at 2:25 when I typed all of that. I'd like to add...
That wasn't a leash, that was a chain. That is not normal attire for a service dog.
I understand why the "professional" squats while holding the pit bull. It's so he's an anchor for when the pit bull lunges at someone.
The pit bull is fine as a service dog, but when he's in his backyard, he's a guard dog? That's balance? More like the "professional" is mentally unbalanced.
OMG! The monster pit bull was off leash in public! I'm going to have nightmares. And the spike collar. Is that so when it's mauling you, you can't grab the collar and yank the pit bull off? No matter what, you get impaled, or mauled.
And lastly, WTF is up with the picture that flashes up at around 7:51 and has the title "DA ROCK the legend killer" I mean, to me it's saying he's a legendary killer.
All I had to read was the initial text on that vid that stated that the pit was Trayvon Martin (and it was wearing a hoodie).
I am reminded of this famous quote.
Do not be surprised when 1 out of 10 have no moral compass. Arm yourself accordingly. If you live somewhere where you cannot, then try to move. There are plenty of states where you can carry weapons at nearly all times.
Somehow I missed that while watching the video last night. It's a good thing too, because the video itself enraged me enough as it was---seeing the idiotic Trayvon reference might have pushed me right over the edge.
Great article & spot on. While there are some that fit #2, the vast majority of owners in my neighborhood are 1 & 3.
This is an example of propaganda and ignorance at its worst.
There is so much more to the story of the "Bully Breeds".
If you have half a brain and respect a balanced, informed understanding of this issue take the time to see "BEYOND THE MYTH".
i've seen the propaganda training film you mentioned. in fact, i recognized one of the starring nutters. i mentioned it in the blog post i did about her.
Speaking of myths, the pit bull Wikipedia entry has gone full fantasy nutterburg. Some of this stuff is getting humans and pit bulls killed! People who have no business owning such a dog (because they don't have the time, the knowledge, the dwelling such a dog needs) believe the lies and get one. And the dog soon proves to be not a lounge chair for kids nor a baby sitter.. it proves to be very energetic and then it uses its teeth (with sometimes heartbreaking results)... So, it gets dumped at a rescue (some of which are horrendous) or it gets killed.
Why would people who love the breed ever want this? It is terrible for everyone except the few who create the propaganda and the ones who profit from misery.
I don't have a pit bull or any kind of dog. So, I'm not trying to sound lion tamer. I just think they are promoting the dog in such a way that some people might expect the exact opposite of what they get. And in the long run, that is bad for the dogs. They're hurting the dogs more than people who support BSL ever could.
If you are one who values legitimate research and facts, I am sure you won't mind me asking your educational background. What kind of training have you done in terms of animal behavior, did you complete specialized training in specific breeds, etc? I see you loosely list references, however nothing in your post is properly cited in any known format. Just curious to know the background, where exactly the sources fit in, and why when reading your posts we should consider you as a trustworthy source of information?
Opinions are like @$$holes..... I have a certified service dog (not from one of those bs companies online) that is a Staffordshire terrier and he couldn't be a better companion, family member or friend. I have epilepsy and the strength and size of these dogs helps lessen injuries to myself from falling or hitting objects while I'm seizing. Another great thing about mine (not saying all are like this) is he can alert me as to when I am going to potentially have a seizure. I have two kids, a cat, two goats (who are more vicious than anything lol) and a horse and have never had a problem with my dog and it interacting with the previously mentioned animals (kids included). My landlords, family, friends, neighbors and coworkers would all go to bat for my dog and how amazing he is. I do agree not everyone should have one and they are not for a novice dog owner but these dogs are wonderful and the hatred toward them is saddening. Any large dog has potential to cause serious damage and should be owned with caution, not just terriers. They truly are amazing dogs, if you have the time and energy to train them properly. Stats and studies for or against terriers can be drudged up anywhere so you need to be careful where you get your info because numbers can be skewed both advocating and damning these animals depending on what YOU want the outcome to be. It also seems to me that depending on where you live has something to do with the stigma of the dogs as well. Up here in lil ol' Idaho you rarely hear of any kind of PitBull attacks and there are quite a few staffies and APBT's out here. To those of you that have to deal with dogs running amuck in your towns unsupervised I am sorry, but it is not like that here, damn cats are everywhere but not dogs. Like I said at the beginning of my post opinions are like @$$holes, everybody has one, most stink. This just my opinion and experience.
"Opinions are like @$$holes.....Like I said at the beginning of my post opinions are like @$$holes, everybody has one, most stink. This just my opinion and experience."
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