Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pit Bulls -- A Damaged Breed

Three Days, Two New York Attacks

Last Sunday, a dog-loving Long Island family rescued a two-year-old male pit bull from a shelter in Harlem.  They had followed reports on the dog and rushed to adopt him 22 minutes before his scheduled euthanasia.  

The couple and their three children drove the dog to their home.  The father took it out for a walk and then a run in the backyard.  Then he opened the back door to let the dog into the kitchen. 

"He ran inside, slid across the floor, turned around, saw my daughter and jumped for her throat," the man later told authorities.  

The father leaped to protect his teenage daughter.  He grabbed the pit bull from behind and held it in a tight chokehold. 

Believing the chokehold had rendered the dog unconscious, the man took the dog back outside and released him.  The dog attacked again. A neighbor who had heard the family's screams rushed out and opened the back gate, allowing the man to escape. 

The daughter, with bite marks on her face, throat and elbow, was taken to a hospital; her mauled lip required plastic surgery. 

Between the attack and the time police arrived, the dog rolled in the grass and responded when called -- as if the attack never happened, the father said later.


On Tuesday, a Brooklyn homeless man was attacked by a pit bull that observers identified as the pet of another homeless man who lived in the area.  (Maybe if you're homeless, having a pit bull offers a feeling of security.)

At about 1 p.m., the dog sank its teeth into the vagrant and wouldn’t let go.

“He was bleeding a lot and screaming,” said the off-duty Correction Department officer who rushed in to help.  “I tried to get (the dog) off the guy by pushing the dog and kicking him, but he wouldn’t let go. He had a tight lock on the guy’s chin and he wouldn’t let go.”

After trying futilely to fight off the dog for about a minute, the officer shot the dog in the head with his personal (and legally carried) 9mm pistol.  Even after the shooting killed the dog, it took several minutes to pry apart its jaws and help the bleeding man. 

Pit Bulls in the City

Many people say pit bulls are wonderful, caring dogs, ideal for family life.  My guess is that these are dogs raised lovingly from birth, instilled with trust and affectionate toward their owners.

Then there are the other pit bulls.

The ASPCA says this:  "Pit bulls can attract the worst kind of dog owners—people who are only interested in these dogs for fighting or protection. While pit bulls were once considered especially non-aggressive to people, their reputation has changed, thanks to unscrupulous breeders and irresponsible owners. And because the pit bull population has increased so rapidly, shelters now struggle to deal with an overflow of image-plagued, hard-to-place dogs."

An international organization dedicated to the breed has a chapter whose website ( currently advertises 200 pit bulls available for adoption around the state.

What has been revealed this summer is that a certain number of homeless people in New York City own pit bulls.  My guess is that their dogs were worn out or injured animals that fight-dog breeders no longer wanted.  Can you imagine an animal rescue group giving a pit bull to a vagrant who has no home, no steady access to dog food and no leash?

In the last year, police have shut down feral dog-breeding operations in New Jersey, the Bronx, Long Island, Seattle and Louisiana, among others.  It is likely that many other breeders still are busy.  For a small, twisted sector of the human population, watching dogs try to kill each other constitutes entertainment.

The good thing about these busts is that the dogs are freed.  The bad thing is that many of them are badly raised animals whom people are frightened to take into their homes.

An anti-pit bull website,, quotes a veterinary professor who estimates that less than five percent of American dogs are pit bulls, but that pit bulls account for more than 60 percent of dog attack fatalities. 

I don't have a grand solution for this sad situation, but I would be willing at least to donate to an organization that provided leashes for urban dogs owned by homeless people.

No comments:

Post a Comment