Animal House: Pit Bulls -- The Dog Behind The Headlines

Oct 4, 2016

Pit bulls have their detractors and their defenders.
Credit jvoves / Flickr via Creative Commons

Montreal has enacted a new breed-specific legislation in response to a recent deadly pit bull attack in the city. A 55-year old woman was mauled to death by a dog that was described as a pit bull.  Officers shot and killed the animal, and the tragedy has spurred the city into action.  

  • Beginning this week, a new bylaw makes it illegal for anyone to adopt or otherwise acquire a new pit bull in Montreal.  Pit bulls that are not already grandfathered into the city will be euthanized. Montreal residents who wish to keep their current pit bulls must register the animal, get it vaccinated, sterilized and microchipped.  In public, the dogs must be muzzled and be on a leash no longer than four feet.  This isn't the first time pit bulls have been the focus of such legislation.  Hundreds of U.S. communities have breed-specific bans in effect, including banning pit bulls.  According to Lisa Kitchens from Wish Bone Canine Rescue in Bloomington, the bans come about because many people misunderstand the breed. 
  • Back in the 19th century, the pit bull dog was an all purpose farm dog and the dog that was vilified at the time was the bloodhound.
  • Kitchen described the pit bull as very "game," meaning a stick-to-it kind of dog that was used for many different types of work.
  • In the early part of the 20th century, The pit bull has the nickname 'the nanny dog,'  Kitchens said because the breed was trusted to watch over youngsters.
  • In recent years, pit bulls have been used as fighting dogs.  The key in that is training, Kitchens said.  The dogs aren't born vicious, they are trained to be that way.
  • Kitchens added that it's really important to look at an individual dogs' personality, and that banning an entire breed is overdoing it.