PETA & Pit Bulls

I don’t like PETA. I think they are extremists who devalue human life by treating it the same as other animal species. I don’t believe that, just as I don’t believe that chimpanzees are just as valuable as a sea cucumber; they are more valuable. I’m a conservationist along the lines of Theodore Roosevelt – not John Muir and especially not the flakes who belong to PETA.

But I do agree with them on the issue of Pit Bulls and breeding. I like the Staffordshire Terrier aka Pit Bull, but it’s a breed that has been irrevocably altered by humans to emphasize its aggressive nature. I believe that all Pit Bulls are not killers, but I also believe that you can’t trust them. I would never have a Pit with a kid around. In fact I’m not sure I would ever have a Pit at all.

And that brings me back to PETA. PETA thinks the breed should disappear, and I agree with that. I also agree with their position that breeding should not be allowed when millions of dogs and cats need homes and get euthanized every year for want of a home.

All of my dogs and cats are rescues. Over the course of our marriage the Wife and I have rescued over 20 cats and dogs, finding good homes for each and every one. We consider it a moral duty, just as we believe it is our moral duty to help others in need.

So for once I’m going to speak well of PETA. Good job, PETA.

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  1. mgroves:

    Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then…

  2. Scott Kirwin:

    Love that quote.

  3. lynn:

    I think bad people make pitbulls bad. When I was young they went after rotties and dobies. If it’s not pitbulls, it would be another breed. They should target the people that abuse pitbulls, not the breed itself.
    Check out this site for an example of pitbulls who love and are loved by good people.
    Just my two cents.

  4. Scott Kirwin:

    I like Pits. I do. I know there are some that are sweet and gentle – like those found at your link.

    The problem with the breed is the people who have hijacked it for one purpose: fighting. They have altered the genetics of the breed specifically for traits that make it a powerful killing machine. These are traits that cannot be altered by us now or controlled by the animal.

    The only way to do that would be to breed the animal and select opposite traits. But why do that when so many animals need homes today?

    Personally, I want to see the end of the AKC and professional dog breeding. There are simply too many animals that need homes, and the industry that supports the AKC and dog breeding has always had trouble handling animals humanely. Nearby Lancaster County has trouble with puppy mills for example.

  5. Chad:

    And it was one of those nice gentle “never hurt anyone” pitbulls, family pet for years, etc., that ripped the face off of the little girl down the street from me growing up. Because she was riding her tricycle in her front yard.

    If I wouldn’t get so tired and dirty, I’d shoot every pitbull in existence myself.

  6. Patrick Joubert Conlon:

    I had a pitbull who was as gentle as a lamb but the fact is that they have been bred to be killing machines with powerful jaws and aggressive instincts. Maybe there is still a place for them but it certainly is not as “pets” in civilized society. They are “working” dogs (like Dobies, Rotts, German Shepherds etc) who need to be trained and handled by professionals.

  7. Scott Kirwin:

    I sympathize. They are seriously smart dogs, but unfortunately that intelligence along with their raw power and ferocity makes them too dangerous for pets.

    You’re right. People who have been trained to handle them and have shown they are capable of bearing the responsibility could handle them. But hey, we have a hard enough time licensing guns in this country.

  8. John:

    Hmmmmmmm Dogs who are Bad!! People who Own Bad Dogs or is it Bad Owners of Good Dogs.
    Can we say Hispanic people all steal hub caps and drive Low Riders and Black Americans eat chicken and drive Cadillacs and white people are surfers and Gay. If family are felons then there kids are going to be felons,I Really Do Not Think Any Of This Is True But People V Animals Hmmmm We are suppose to be the smart ones

  9. Evelyn:

    I have a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and have two kids. We all live happily together. My dog is gentle, loving and very submissive. He is also quite grateful, because he was rescued as a pup and again when he fell ill a year later. He looks to us for love and protection, as he is not a very good guard dog (he cowers when he hears unfamiliar sounds). Please don’t spread any hate for the breed. They just need love and proper care (no rough playing – ever).

  10. Scott Kirwin:


    Pit bulls have been bred for violence for decades. Breeders took the most vicious dogs, bred them together, and destroyed the “culls” – or milder dogs. Over generations the viciousness became reinforced by the selective breeding, but the manipulation hasn’t been completely successful – yet.

    You have a mild mannered pit – and you may never have a problem with the dog. However you cannot deny the breed’s history. I currently own numerous animals, and have owned several different breeds and mixes of dogs. Each breed exhibits certain traits that reflect its heritage: border collies like to herd, chihuahuas are pint-sized alarm systems, and labs are… well labs are big and docile.

    As Chad notes, the pitbull seems to have the uncanny ability to do the the unexpected in its owner’s eyes. I can’t tell you how many attacks I have read about in my area where the owner claimed their dogs were as gentle as lambs, but for some unknown reason attacked a child, a person or another pet.

    You have in your home a dog that was bred to kill. You cannot change the dog’s genetics. You can control the environment the dog lives in, but you will never be able to completely trust the animal at all times.

    Note, that I think it’s an owners responsibility to NEVER trust an animal 100%. Animals are not robots or computer programs, and can never be 100% predictable. When one of my dogs, a gentle lab/border collie mix meets a child, I am always in complete control of the dog – just in case she startles, or (more likely) the kid tries to harm the dog.

    The bottom line is that all pit bulls are not like your dog, and even your dog is not as predictable as you think. It is your responsibility as its owner to face the reality of the breed, and even the possibilities that your dog may not be as docile as you think and act accordingly.

    People must be responsible for their pets. If that’s too much to ask of them, then they shouldn’t have them.

  11. Ken Foster:

    Its unfortunate that so many people spout off without doing any research. There is plenty of evidence, easily accessed, which shows that dog attacks have the following in common:
    1. Dogs that are intact rather than spayed or neutered.
    2. Dogs that are kept for purposes other than household pets.
    3. Dogs that are not socialized and/or are kept as guard dogs.

    Yet, frequently, the owners say that their dog never displayed aggression. No doubt, it did, but they weren’t paying attention.

    The main difference between a pit bull that bites and a golden retriever that bites is that the pit bull bite always makes the newspaper.

  12. Scott Kirwin:

    Thanks for the links. The first link is opinion. The second seems more credible. If you find more, let me know.

    If I’m wrong about Pit Bulls, I’ll change my opinion. As I state above, I like the dogs – but I don’t trust them. However I recognize that they have become a political issue, and consequently their violence may have been blown out of proportion. If I can retract my saying something nice about PETA, then all the better.

    I suppose it comes down to genetics: do pits have a genetic disposition to violence or not and if they do, is it more than other breeds? At this point I still believe that pit bulls do – but I will change my opinion in the future should evidence sway me to the contrary.

  13. Amanda:

    The ignorance of people shocks me at times. The pit bull is a fighting dog and has been that for much longer than a few decades. I do not believe that the entire fate of this breed of dog or any other living creature, should be decided by any person. The problem should be addressed and corrected even if that means more generations of them to fix the problem that past generations have caused. I do realize that there are too many other animals out there that need homes but no animal or human deserves the fate of dying out because of people who would rather erase the problem than fix it. We don’t just kill all of the people in the world who have committed unforgivable crimes and I don’t think it should be done to anyone animal or human. I do agree that they are agressive and they can be deadly weapons if they are not handled properly in the first place. Is that their fault though? Did they ask for this line of genetics that humans have managed to create? They did not. PETA has done some amazing things but I don’t belive this is one of them and as an owner of pit bulls I will fight this until the end.

  14. yanni:

    Lots of abused children in America. Why don’t we just euthanize them as well. I hate PETA, but don’t believe in extincting any animal. Pitbulls greatest enemies are PEOPLE!

  15. Scott Kirwin:

    Children>Pit bulls. Since I originally wrote this post I have become even more critical of breeding – any dogs not just pit bulls. As long as there remain unwanted animals in shelters breeding these critters is immoral.

  16. Scott Kirwin:

    You can’t differentiate between aggression towards people and aggression towards other animals when breeding. Let me rephrase that: you can if you have thousands of years to do so but not when you are talking in a time frame of a few hundred years.

    Thanks for the temperament test info (
    The site gives the following test results on the American Pit Bull and the Staffordshire Terriers:
    AMERICAN PIT BULL TERRIER 665 567 98 85.3%

    For comparison’s sake here are the statistics on some other dog types:
    LABRADOR RETRIEVER 721 663 58 92.0%
    BORDER COLLIE 248 200 48 80.6%
    CHIHUAHUA 38 27 11 71.1%
    MINIATURE POODLE 66 51 15 77.3%

    How are dogs selected for the test? Are they selected at random? According to the site there is a $30 fee for testing, and the testing is voluntary. Therefore there is going to be a large selection bias towards non-aggressive dogs because people will only volunteer for the test if they believe they own a non-aggressive dog. For the figures to be statistically relevant the test would have to be done on a random selection of dogs: those found at shelters, strays, and pets owned by people selected at random (even using vet records would present bias since not all people take their dogs to the vet). You would have to test thousands of dogs, and even then you would have to throw out your results on rare breeds because you don’t have enough sampled to be statistically significant (e.g. only the labrador has large enough sample to have a meaningful statistical significance). Such a study would have to be engineered to avoid testing bias by examiners. I’m not sure exactly how that could be done due to the subjective nature of the test.

    Thanks for the comment.

  17. Josh:

    I see your point. But how can the lab be the only breed with a large enough sample to be significant? The APBT had 665 participants and the Lab had 721. That only a difference of 65? Anyway, check out this site for a little more info. Scroll down to “A Must Read…Pit Bulls” and go from there. It has some good info on the subject. Of course, while your there you can look over the rest of the site as well.

  18. Scott Kirwin:

    Thanks for the site link. I didn’t mean to ignore the number of pit bulls tested. It’s been 20 years since my Advanced Statistics class so I’m kind of winging it. I just remember that things become interesting when your ‘n’ rises above 500 – but that’s only when your methodology isn’t flawed. Unfortunately the biggest problem remains the “self-selection” for the test.

    Here’s the bottom line: I’m not as anti-Pit Bull as I am anti-breeding. I happen to be involved in animal rescue and know that the Pit Bull happens to be one of the more common dogs needing homes – and that much of the anti-Pit Bull propaganda keeps them from finding a “forever home” when they could become a welcome addition to most families.

    That said I also believe that you cannot ignore the results of hundreds of years of selective breeding.

    I’m keeping an open mind on this issue and want what’s best for the animal – so I appreciate your perspective on this issue.

  19. Josh:

    Cool. I’m not trying to be disrespectful or rude, and I do respect your opinion, just trying to give a little food for thought, thats all. I’m with you about the breeding, not just with pit bulls but all breeds. While I do believe there is a place for reputable breeders that are trying to better their breed of choice, there are far too many “back yard breeders” other self proclaimed “ethical” breeders that are far from ethical that are only adding to the dog and cat overpopulation.

  20. Bearmon:

    PETA is the WORST kind of hypocrite I hate PETA. Why ? The organization has practiced euthanasia for years. Since 1998 PETA has killed more than 17,000 animals, nearly 85 percent of all those it has rescued. Shelters around the country kill 4 million animals every year; by some estimates, more than 80 percent of them are healthy. In recent years those grim statistics have split the animal rights community. Ironically, PETA has emerged as a strong proponent of euthanasia.

    A no-kill shelter is an animal shelter where animals are only euthanized if they are too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be suitable for adoption,. No-kill shelters reject euthanasia as a means of population control. No-kill shelters are trying to end this killing by increasing the demand for shelter dogs and cats and reducing the supply by reducing the number of animals born and thus the number of animals which end up in shelters, and through increased spay/neuter, including low-cost/free help for low-income people.

    Please support a no-kill shelter and remove PETA!

  21. Michael:

    “That said I also believe that you cannot ignore the results of hundreds of years of selective breeding.”
    The problem (obvious, to those who bother researching) with that stance is that, while pit bulls were bred to fight other dogs, they were also specifically bred to not be dangerous to their human handlers—this was vital, seeing as how fighting dogs need to be separated by hand frequently. That’s why experienced dog owners tend to describe them as unbelievably gentle with people.

    Any dog can be taught to kill. Any dog can be made dangerous by a bad owner. Remember that face transplant that happened a few years ago? That woman had her face destroyed—by a Labrador! Since you are more convinced by anecdotes than data, do you also support banning labs?

    Helen Keller had a pit assistance dog. A pit (“Stubby”) was the most decorated dog ever to serve in the military (saving lives and reaching the rank of Sergeant). Countless stories of pit rescue dogs are a google search away. Here’s a start:

    Do the research, educate yourself, and THEN spout off. This will help keep you from embarrassing yourself further.

  22. Scott Kirwin:

    First, no need to be pissy. As for embarrassing myself, meh, don’t care. It’s tough to be cool while learning.

    This blog is 10 years old. This post is almost 4 years old. As the comments have shown I’ve actually gone back and forth regarding the issue of pit bulls. I’m becoming less convinced that the problem is with the breed and more convinced that the problem is with the handlers. I’ve learned that dogs are different from other animals; they are very attuned to the owner/handler in a way that no other animal is.

    I have 8 dogs and run a de facto animal shelter – all mixed breeds. They each have traits of their breeds; the Blue Heeler likes to herd and nip at the heels of other dogs. The chow wants to lead the other dogs by the collar. The lab wants to play even though she’s middle aged, etc. These traits are in a rough state; they need to be refined through training by the owner/handler. The problem is that most owners don’t know or have the time to devote to working with their pets, and that can be dangerous for both the owner as well as the animal.

    As for the original article, I’m rethinking my agreement with PETA. The bottom line is that I think most of the problems with the pit bull are due to the problems of the owners – not the breed itself. Destroying the breed will not stop dog attacks. As you and other commenters have pointed out labradors cause more injury – and labs are the gentlest of dog breeds.

    PETA’s solution is simple, and like most simple solutions to complex problems it is wrong. Training pit bulls to fight is animal abuse, and the owners should be punished.

    Finally, people have to recognize that dogs are not stuffed animals; they are living, breathing things with needs that can only be fulfilled by humans. People need to use their brains when it comes to dogs such as not leaving babies or toddlers unsupervised around animals period. And when people are harmed by dogs, the owners should be held responsible.

  23. Guti:

    “This blog is 10 years old. This post is almost 4 years old. As the comments have shown I’ve actually gone back and forth regarding the issue of pit bulls.”

    Well Scott that’s the major problem you wrote this when you did not had all the facts, its really easy to just write something down, and generate more ignorance in the public opinion. Next time, read a little bit more, let it meditate in your head a while longer, and then if you still believe that you made your choice with all the knowledge available, post it ! Otherwise you’re just contributing to the problem instead of helping the cause and making a real change.

    Next time remember, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” – Stephen Hawking.

  24. Scott Kirwin:

    And I might point you to a quote by John Maynard Keynes: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

    The topic is a controversial one with statistical evidence supporting both sides. For example, the studies quoted here state that dogs like the pit bull, rottweiler and presa canario are the most likely to kill, but this site raises good arguments questioning the quality of the statistics.

    I am a big fan of Hawking’s quote which, as a data analyst I have quoted as “Bad data is worse than no data.” But there are limits to the quote’s usefulness. Most of the time we do not know the quality of our data – or back to Hawking’s quote, we often can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is illusion. To deal with that one must question one’s assumptions and keep an open mind.

  25. The Razor » Blog Archive » Trespassers:

    [...] without collars with scars and wounds around their necks that come from to-the-death fights. I have written before about my feelings about pit bulls. I am not comfortable with the breed and trust them less than I [...]

  26. Mel:

    humans should be devalued we are liars, greedy and destroyers of the planet. Most or all animals ARE better then us so Id not get on too high of horse there because you think ‘humans’ have more value.

  27. Mel:

    A sea cucumber IS even better then us. That is how low we are. Weigh the good and and you’ve done in the world. The pollution, the greed, the selfishness and the bad things me, you and everyone else has caused and done puts us on a lower level than the animals who do next to nothing in some peoples eyes

  28. Scott Kirwin:

    I’m sure a sea cucumber tastes better than us, especially when pickled with Serrano peppers. 🙂

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