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Breedism
Stereotyping is no laughing matter.
Rollie, a sweet-tempered Rottweiler I helped transport for the Louisiana SPCA in 2004.

You know what really gets my hackles up? Stereotyping a breed of dog, or what I'll call breedism. Did you hear Chris Rock's latest joke? On "The Jay Leno Show," he said, "What the hell did Michael Vick do, man? A Pit Bull ain't even a real dog." Fortunately, the late Richard Pryor's widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor -- who together with her late husband created Pryor’s Planet, an animal rescue group and sanctuary -- took a public stand. In a detailed, passionate letter, she makes her case that pit bulls are indeed real dogs deserving of love and respect. And unless Rock apologized, she said he would be dropped as a co-producer on a biopic of Richard Pryor.

 

Sadly, this is not an isolated case of breedism. Of course, breed-specific legislation continues to ignite controversy everywhere it goes. A nearby town is considering a Pit Bull ban. I immediately wrote to the mayor, asking him to reconsider it and look into alternatives, such as low-cost spay/neuter options and discounted obedience training through the local shelter.

 

It's also hit me on a more personal level. While teaching an agility class this past week, one of my students commented that she did not like German Shepherds. Two of her fellow students have German Shepherds! Not to mention, I co-founded a German Shepherd rescue years ago and fostered many wonderful German Shepherds over the years. When I asked why, she just shrugged her shoulders and said she simply didn't like them. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there's a time and a place for it. It was all I could do to get a handle on my anger and return to teaching.

 

That student's thoughtless comment reminded me of a call I received last year. A woman phoned to inquire about my dog training classes. She asked me what kind of dogs I had and I gladly told her -- two Dalmatians, a Catahoula, a Pit Bull-mix and a mixed breed. She hesitated for a split second then told me she had a Standard Poodle. After a few more minutes of talking about Poodles and how they fared in agility, she asked if there would be any German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans or Pit Bulls in the class. I said there could be; I wouldn't know until I  received everyone's class applications. She suggested I place her in an agility class that would not be open to the aforementioned breeds "because, you know ... ." I was shocked. Did she not hear me say I personally have a Pit-Bull mix? Why did she think it was okay to ban certain breeds from attending my classes?

 

Naively, I assumed she would launch into a tragic story about a beloved dog of hers being eaten by a pack comprised of said breeds. But no, she did not. She claimed that all of these breeds were "aggressive" and could "turn on you." By now, I was losing control of my anger and I'm afraid I made it rather clear to her in a less than professional manner what I thought of her breed stereotypes. I had hoped that should I get a call like that again, I would be able to be more diplomatic. But the exchange with my current agility student made me realize that I, too, need to learn when to speak up and when to bite my tongue. It's impossible to educate people if you put them on the defensive or try to bully them into your way of thinking.

 

From now on, I vow to reflect on the story told to me by my local grocery store cashier before I respond rashly to people who stereotype breeds. I usually buy turkey necks as a special treat for my dogs and she always teases me about how I spoil them. One evening, she confided in me that she had been attacked by a Pit Bull and pulled back her bangs to expose a long jagged scar. The dog was often loose in the neighborhood and she had called the police and animal control numerous times in hopes that the owner would be cited and do something about it. Even though the attack was unprovoked, she blamed the neglectful, abusive owner, not the dog. Interestingly, when she was contacted by the media following the attack, she told the reporter what she told me, that she did not blame the dog, but her comments did not make it into print. Sensationalism sells, right?

 

Have you ever experienced breedism? Do you ever catch yourself stereotyping breeds?

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Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

SpotOnK9Sports.com
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Submitted by Kasia | October 30 2009 |

I think the question about breed/size of dogs in a class is very legitimate. I can imagine that a parent of 4lbs yorkie might choose not to attend a basic class where all other dogs are much bigger. This is true especially for beginner classes, since - obviously - most dogs won't have stellar manners.

Submitted by kristao | November 3 2009 |

When my Husband and I first discussed adopting a dog we were inclined to adopt a pit bull mix. I have known quite a few over the years and really loved their temperment. Also, the shelters and rescue organizations in our area seem to be overun with them at the moment. Unfortunately we are planning on moving back to our hometown in a year of so and it happens that they have a ban on pit bulls so we thought it would be irresponsible of us to adopt one, knowing that it would cause problems down the road (possibly having to rehome her prior to our move). We settled on a different breed and are very happy with the dog we adopted. I just wish we could have helped a beautiful bully find a good home :(

Submitted by Anonymous | November 4 2009 |

Actually, I think my coworker said it best. "I am so tired of people making excuses for those dogs." This after the second pit bull attack and subsequent human fatality in our area that year.

I used to spout "deed not breed" myself. Now I'm with Chris Rock.

Submitted by Beth | November 7 2009 |

Chris Rock (and Jay Leno) did not only show disrespect for Pits but for dogs in general. Jennifer Lee Pryor who is Richard Pryors widow was just in removing Chris Rock from the production of a film about Richard in regards to his comments disrespecting dogs. Not only Pitbulls (which was bad enough) but all dogs. I am 100% sided with Mrs. Pryor who raises Pits. If you don't respect dogs why are you here?

Submitted by Dobelover | October 31 2009 |

I have owned, trained, shown, and bred Dobermans for more than 40 years. It has never been as bad as it is now with the legislation constantly keeping us responsible owners from owning the breeds we love. In the last couple of decades we have had to breed-down the true temperements of my breed to satisfy and always paranoid public and equally paranoid legislation.

How many ways can you state it-banish the deed not the breed!!

Submitted by Anonymous | March 3 2010 |

@Dobelover: You should not have to dumb down your breed for the general public. Breeding should only take place to better the breed. By breeding away the Doberman's protective temperament, you may think you are helping the public, but you are destroying the breed you love.

As an American Pit Bull Terrier owner, I have witnessed breed discrimination on a regular basis. I tell breedists that I am more afraid of their ignorance than they are of the breed of my dog.

Submitted by Carolyn | October 31 2009 |

"Have you ever experienced breedism? Do you ever catch yourself stereotyping breeds?"

Yes, I have a small fluffy white dog. Many people comment that they don't like small dogs, they are too yappy and nervous. My dog is quiet, polite, and laid back. She's earned her CGC certificate and goes everywhere with us and is a model citizen. And no, I don't carry her, I let her walk on her own 4 legs ;-)

That said, yes I do catch myself stereotyping breeds, much as I dislike it. Big dogs that appear out of control and are straining at the leash to get to my dog ... I'm afraid she'll be snapped up, injured or killed. It can be hard to rapidly evaluate the intentions of big dog rushing up at a dead run. Sorry to say, if it is one of the above-mentioned breeds I am even more cautious, and yes, fearful. A big dog of any breed that can politely greet my dog is another story.

Submitted by Lacy | November 1 2009 |

What amuses me is people are most afraid of pit bulls, yet I've never had a bad experience with one. The two breeds I have had bad experiences with are German Shepherds and Bull Terriers... yet however, I still want to get a German Shepherd of my own one day. People think I'm crazy since one bit my arm once and I still have the scars, but he was just being protective and it was his owners fault for no properly socializing him as a puppy. Later on that same dog came up to me and whined, nudging my hand as if to say he was sorry and did so on his own terms. That is why I'd love one of my own, even the dog knew he'd done something bad but wanted to make sure I was okay.

As for the Bull Terrier, I know not all of them behave the one I had a bad experience with does... but I think my wariness of that breed stems from my personal attachment to my dalmatian who it attacked unprovoked while walking down the street one day. That attack triggered severe epileptic seizures in her and we had to have her euthanized at 4 years old because they were so bad. The BT even tried to turn on me, and as traumatized as Bandit (my dalmatian) was... she snapped out of it long enough to lunge and bare her teeth at the dog as if to say, "You don't touch my girl." I don't dislike the BT breed, but I do use caution when I'm around them just in case.

Submitted by Abby | November 2 2009 |

We're the proud parents of a pit bull mix named Ebenezer. We're lucky to live in an area where pit bulls aren't discriminated against, but I'm disgusted that we couldn't take our precious boy everywhere. He's strong as an ox and, I'll admit, doesn't have any patience for cats but he's such a sweetie. His sister Suki (a miniature schnauzer) bosses him around like crazy and he responds to this by coming to me to pout and have his tummy rubbed. He has a blanket he drags around like Linus in Charlie Brown and loves to be bounced on his dad's knee. Of course we'd never leave him alone with children or strange animals he doesn't know, but not because of his breed, because he's a dog. Dogs shouldn't be left unattended with individuals to which they could cause harm, regardless of breed. Ebenezer literally wouldn't hurt a fly (because he's afraid of them) and I get so annoyed when people cross the street to avoid him on a walks. And I believe his feelings get hurt, I know mine do, when people pet Suki and recoil at the sight of him.

Submitted by Jeanette | November 2 2009 |

I often times find myself and my Akita, on the inappropriate end of breedism. Not sure why, but people assume that ALL Akitas are aggressive and although mine will defend himself if/when challenged, he is a big baby. I laugh at people who pass me while I'm out walking my Akita and my Border Collie, who'll move to the side of the sidewalk closer to the BC to get away from the "big, scary Akita". Little do they know, the BC is more likely to bite them than the Akita. Everything needs to be herded and if they don't move as quickly as the BC thinks they should, he gives them a little nip to get them moving. Since I know how he is, I manage the situation by making sure there is no way for him to make contact, but his instinct is always on.

The Akita, otoh, just ignores people who walk past as he's out for the fun of a walk. He's more interested in reading and sending pee-mail than in someone walking past us.

It irks me a little, that the official breed standard on the AKC web site says that Akitas are known for being dog aggressive, but again, that is a stereotype. My Akita was socialized like crazy when he was young (I adopted him from rescue when he was 6 months old) so he tolerates other dogs very well. I also know several other Akitas who also do extremely well at dog parks, so even the AKC is stereotyping the breed.

Since I also know several dogs of "dangerous" breeds, I find myself defending the breeds more than putting a stereotype on them. I have known several pit bulls, rotties and shepherds that were the sweetest dogs in the world.

Submitted by Victoria | November 2 2009 |

I actually had a vet tell me that he didn't like corgis because they're "nasty" dogs. I also had a dog trainer (who told me she disliked "small" dogs and scoffed when I pointed out that corgis are considered medium sized dogs with short legs) fuss at me for not keeping my hand poised over my corgi puppy's rear end to push him into a sit position if I needed to. If you have large dogs, like she did, this might not be uncomfortable. But at 5'7", keeping my hand poised at about 12 inches off the ground and walking in a circle was just ridiculous. I think a lot of people who have breed specific prejudices forget that, like people, dogs have distinct personalities. They meet a corgi or a shepherd with a bad temperment or bad training just once and associate it with the entire breed.

Submitted by Cheryl | November 2 2009 |

I wouldn't say that I'm a breedist, but I do respect the differences that different dogs were bred for. I personally would never own a GSD because of their protection instincts. I'd have a hard enough time controlling my 45 lb herding dog. I also do not think I'd own a terrier. It's a personality thing. They can be too intense for me.

Most of the stereotypes have to do with ownership and breeding. I'd bet a lot of those pits and rotties that have injured people were intact or bred for aggressiveness.

Submitted by Leanne | November 2 2009 |

Oh yes I've experienced breedism, I have lived with Afghan hounds for many years. If people know what breed they are they also ask how dumb they really are or tell me some lame story of an experience that confirms to them that all afghans are dumb. They are very intelligent dogs but independent thinkers.

Submitted by Kathy Konetzka-Close | November 3 2009 |

Breedism exists for the same reason that other "isms" do--primarily, it's a lack of education. Each and every breed has a distinct look, distinct mannerisms, and for the most part, a distinct job that they were bred to do. If people would just refrain from purchasing a dog without first doing some homework and determining what, in general, they can expect from a particular breed,these kinds of problems would greatly decrease. Every dog owner, whether they have a purebreed or a mixed breed, needs to educate themselves. Of course, every breed can have individuals who are aggressive, it's just that more powerful breeds have more damaging bites. And that's where the fear and mis-education promote the idea of certain breeds being unpredictable. I realize I'm preaching to the choir here, but within the confines of a breed standard, there's a tremendous amount of wiggle room for individual personalities and experiences, so no two dogs of the same breed will respond to a situation in the same way. We all have plenty of anecdotes to support our prejudices and opinions, but anectodal evidence isn't good enough. The best we can do is to try and educate the willing, make sure our own dogs behave to the best of their (and our) abilities, and take a deep breath before addressing the truly ignorant. Change is always slow in coming, and we'll have to wade through a deep river of stupid before we really get anywhere.

Submitted by Cathy | November 3 2009 |

I am relieved that small dogs, fluffy dogs, Corgis, Afgans and the like have been stereotyped (and please keep reading). For a pitbull owner & lover, I appreciate your ability to now relate to my (and owners of other 'vicious and strong dog breeds') experience of discrimination and 'breedism' and sometimes hostility. You see that stereotypes and discrimination exist in both the likeliest and unlikeliness of sources.

All dogs should all be judged on their character and actions, and it's up to each of us (not just the pitbull or Akita or Rottie owners) to educate both kids and adults about discrimination (breed, race, culture, etc.)!

Submitted by Jessica | November 3 2009 |

I think breeds can have tendencies or characteristics, there is the age old nature vs nurture argument. But I think their owner can shape and mold those characteristics both good and bad. What about the stereotyping of people based on the breed of dog they have? What do you think about a person when you see them walking their Standard Poodle, or Victorian Bulldog, or Rottweiler, or mix down the street? Does the opinion change if they are walking 3 at once?

Submitted by Beth | November 4 2009 |

I have a german shepherd and had another before her. I grew up with german shepherds and think they are the most beautiful, loyal, intelligent breed. How could anyone not love a breed that is widely used for rescue and by the military? It breaks my heart to hear people who rant about large breed dogs and how they are potentially dangerous. Only dog I have ever been bitten by was a dog about 20 lbs. My fault. Never try to retrieve a steak you dropped after it has been claimed by a dog who hasn't been so trained.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 4 2009 |

I'm not sure why grown people find this so difficult to understand, but here's how I look at this subject. There are bad parents that create a child that is horrible to spend time with due to a variety of reasons. Maybe they lack manners, respect of others, don't share, bite or hit other kids, etc. I choose to avoid those families. I don't declare they should be sent to an island for bad children in the middle of the ocean. Along the same line, I have come across dog owners that raise their dogs without manners and socialization. The dog, regardless of breed, is not pleasant to be near. I am not going to put my beloved pet in harm's way, so I avoid that dog. People and animals are not born with bad manners or dangerous behaviors. Place the blame accurately. If you don't like Dobies, Chihuahuas or Shepards, then just avoid them, don't declare the entire breed as unacceptable because of your insecurities due to bad experiences. There forever will be situations with obnoxious people or animals, you can't change them all. We cannot control the stupid on this earth, and unfortunately, there's a never-ending supply.

Submitted by Audiogirl, Pinu... | November 5 2009 |

Thank you for this article!

Our non-profit, pinupsforpitbulls.com, deals directly with fighting breedism against pit bulls, and I am well-versed in educating people on the fly about the breed's traits and history...Additionally, people are afraid of my boyfriend's dog, a rescued shepherd mix, when I walk her. It is to be expected, with the larger dogs most affected by breed bans.

However, my small dog (chihuahua/terrier mix) experiences breedism as well, because many Large Dog advocates often say "it's the little dogs that bite". I find this to be unfair; saying that it's the little dogs that bite isn't a strong argument against breedism. But I hear it a lot in rescue circles.

I think it comes down to remembering and reminding people that, given the situation, all dogs can bite. It comes down to understanding the language of dogs in general, and branching off from there into what strengths different breeds have, and educating people of these traits.

Thanks again for a great topic!

-Audiogirl, Creative Director
Miss September 09/Miss June 2010
Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc.
www.pinupsforpitbulls.com

Submitted by Kristen | November 7 2009 |

When I moved into my apartment complex in January, there was no breed restrictions to my knowledge. I have seen many Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Chow mixes, etc. around here. It made me extremely happy because most apartments in this area only except dogs under 25 pounds. I've had two off-leash Pit Bulls come up to me and my Jack Russell mix while I was walking her. They saw us, took off running towards us and immediately went into the play bow when they reached us. An English Bulldog across the way always barks at us but turns into a big, playful goof if we approach him. I went to renew our lease last week and there is now a whole page on dogs that are not allowed in the apartments. Chows, Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, Malamutes, all the typical stereotyped breeds are now banned. I was absolutely outraged to read this. I have never seen a problem with any of the dogs at our complex. The ban is senseless and I hope they lose business because of it. Our lease is up in June and hopefully by then we will have a place of our own. There, no dog will ever be banned or unwelcome.

Submitted by Beth | November 7 2009 |

That is a great place! It really makes me angry when large breed dogs are discriminated against.
Home insurance companies are really bad about telling home owners what breeds are excepted. This is one area where people need to voice their concern.

Submitted by Michelle | November 11 2009 |

It's possible the apartment complex did not make this decision. It may have been their insurance company's decision. Even as a homeowner, you may still have a problem owning some breeds due to insurance. Our previous homeowners insurance policy stated that we could not own several breeds or mixes with those breeds or the policy would be null and void. I can only guess that the company feared lawsuits regarding dog bites/attacks.

Thankfully, our new policy allows us to own whatever dog we wish to own. Good luck with your home search, and make sure you double-check your insurance policy before purchasing. =)

Submitted by Lisa P. | November 10 2009 |

I have a wonderful German Shepherd female who is the light of my life. She is amazing with my 3 kids and lives to please. I experienced a horrific case of breedism when I was walking her back from a walk (on a leash) When we approached the corner of my Street, there were five mothers congregating there awaiting the school bus. As we walked by silently, one of them started shouting at me to get my vicious dog away from the school bus stop. When I said "no she'd fine here" The woman got more hostile and threatening. She started shouting how awful my dog was and then proceeded to do it in front of all the school kids when the bus came. No one there stood up for me. They took pleasure in humiliating me and my dog. It was the worst moment in my 11 years of living here. These women obviously have too much time on their hands.

Submitted by THomas H Wartell | November 10 2009 |

my lines are blurred anyways they all started at work. my poor dog sammy have petty and grand maul seizure. don't inbreed to the point of that. river is a mutt and he is beautiful...and getting much sweeter thanks to my mom and me

Submitted by repoleon | November 13 2009 |

I have both a pit bull and a collie. It is amazing how differently people respond depending on which dog I"m walking. The pit bull is actually the more friendly of the two dogs - the collie is old and deaf and can be a little touchy. People never speak to me or ask to pet the pit bull. But when I walk the collie, people often come over and get down at face level and pet him without hesitation or even asking if he's friendly. It is very interesting to have dogs at opposite ends of the public opinion scale. The collie is "Lassie" and the pit bull, more like "Cujo". It given me some insight into prejudice in general and how it manifests itself. Let us judge others, "not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character." I don't feel offended as I know that both of my dogs are wonderful and very loved and have stellar character, but it does make me terribly sad when these prejudices lead to legislation that focuses not on character and responsible ownership, but on breed stereotypes..

Submitted by selena | November 13 2009 |

OK, so this is gonna sound so wrong. I don't stereotype breeds, but I totally stereotype the owners. I own a Jack Russell and a Chihuahua/terrier mix, but often dog sit every other breed on the planet. When I'm walking a perfectly gracious and submissive Pit, and someone with a Bichon is walking towards us, I can't help but laugh out loud when the person either picks up the dog or makes a b-line for the other side of the street. These people are paranoid and it's sad because that energy flows to their dog. I've met hundreds of Pits, Rotties, Dobermans and other oppressed breeds. I've NEVER had a negative experience with one. I have however been bit by a Toy Poodle, Chihuahua, Maltese and more. I still love all of those breeds though; I don't exercise any additional caution around them. It's not those breeds that bit me; it was THOSE particular dogs. And that's not to say that it was their fault. It was probably my fault most of the time for not approaching them correctly or something like that. And when it wasn't my fault, I fully blame the owner. When you're in an otherwise quiet waiting room, and there's a little hellion of a child running around, what's your 1st thought? "Bad parenting". I agree. Once, a 23 year old Hispanic male broke into my house. Once, a 60 something Caucasian woman threatened to slap my brother across the face while I was with him. Once, a thirty something African American man verbally abused me in my place of work. Now, am I going to lobby for legislation to ban 23 year olds, sixty somethings, thirty somethings, whites, blacks, hispanics, men and women? Huh..... there wouldn't be anyone left, would there?
Sorry for the rant.

Submitted by Raven | April 4 2012 |

YESS. I completely agree. Thank you for stating your thoughts and beliefs.

Submitted by Pit Bull Pappa | November 13 2009 |

I find it ironic that pit bulls are the main breed of attack, yet when it comes to a breed such as the labrador everyone says how nice of dogs they are. ALL BREEDS CAN BE DANGEROUS DOGS!!

Don't agree? Well... read the following...

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iyUGkc86YYS0UYzuOO_mDY...

Joe Namath's yellow Labrador declared dangerous

By BRIAN SKOLOFF (AP) – 1 day ago

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Back in the day, Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath was known for his dangerous arm. Now settled into a comfortable retirement in Florida, it's his dog that's dangerous.

Namath, 66, appeared before a hearing officer on Thursday in West Palm Beach to answer to charges that two of his dogs attacked people who came to his home in Tequesta, a quiet community about 90 miles north of Miami.

His 6-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, Leo, was declared "dangerous" during Thursday's hearing. The case against another of Namath's dog, a 6-year-old Weimeraner named Stella, was dropped because a witness didn't show, said Capt. Dave Walesky of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.

As a dangerous dog, Leo must now be muzzled and leashed even on Namath's property. It must have a microchip implanted and carry a special "dangerous" dog designation tag. Namath must also now post signs on his property warning of the dog's presence.

An animal control officer will visit Namath's home yearly to be sure he is complying.

If the dog bites someone else, it could be declared "vicious," and euthanized, and Namath could face criminal charges, Walesky said.

"If he moves and doesn't notify us, if he gives the dog away and doesn't notify us, it's a violation of the ordinance and he could be fined," Walesky said.

Namath declined to comment. His New York attorney, James C. Walsh, said Namath might appeal.

Walesky said animal control had received four reports of Namath's dogs attacking people on his property since 2007, "and rumors of many more."

A UPS driver was "accosted by a pack of dogs" on Namath's property in May 2007, Walesky said.

"He's not sure which dog bit him, but he did identify Leo as one of the dogs," he said.

Then in February 2009, a contractor working at the home was reportedly "pinned up against his vehicle and bitten on the wrist," Walesky said. He identified Stella as the culprit, but the man did not appear for the hearing Thursday, so the case against that dog was dropped.

Officials say in May 2008 a home nurse mistakenly went to Namath's home and was bitten by one of his dogs. It was believed to be Leo. Lastly, in August a landscaper was bitten on Namath's property, Walesky said.

He said Namath hasn't acknowledged that his dogs bit anyone.

The legendary quarterback is best known for leading the underdog New York Jets to one of the most storied Super Bowl victories 40 years ago over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The most dangerous breed we need to worry about is the human breed... too bad we can't ban ignorant/stupid people...

Submitted by Pit Bull owners... | November 14 2009 |

I ALWAYS experience breedism when I'm out with my Pit Bull, or even if I talk about her. It's a shame.

I can understand some fears of breeds, but it's beyond a simple fear. People nowadays only fear them for their "look", without even knowing WHY they're afraid of that dog. They've become used to the media hype, and what they hear, they go off of someone else's word, not their own. So if some people are afraid of muscular dogs, or dogs with large heads, or brindle or black dogs, people are automatically afraid without even thinking.

This is what irresponsible, abusive, and exploitive owners have done to our breeds.

I was infuriated by Chris Rock's comments about Pit Bulls and Michael Vick. I lost all respect for him.

I really appreciate that you as a trainer have taken a stand against ignorance, and that you allow ANY breed regardless of reputation into your classes.

I totally agree about offering low cost Spay/Neuter clinics, and FREE or low-cost Pit Bull training classes.

I Volunteer at my local Shelter, Santa Cruz Animal Services, and we have low cost Spay/Neuter, and FREE options too. We also offer low cost Microchipping. (scanimalservices.us)

We work closely with Our Pack, a Pit Bull Rescue and they have FREE training they offer to our Adopters of Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes, and other Bully breeds. We need MORE options like this! (ourpack.org)

Submitted by Jill | November 18 2009 |

I admit, I believed all of the stories of how horrible the bully breeds were, how mean Rottweilers and Dobermans can be, and how unstable these breeds are supposed to be. Specific breeds are not banned in my hometown, but if they are in the shelter they will not be up for adoption. Then there are the home insurance companies with there restrictions. Then I discovered "Carl" the Rottweiler in the children's books, and I met dogs of many breeds through friends. I have learned that any dog can be made to be mean. One of the most aggressive dogs I have ever met was a Golden Retriever. That shocked me, and allowed me to see that, while genetics play a part in a dog's development, as with people, they behave as they are taught to behave.

Submitted by Gray | November 23 2009 |

I'm a college student working at a cage-free doggie daycare/boarding facility in Atlanta -- one of the ONLY facilities that doesn't have breed-specific policies. We take pits, rotties and dobies just as easily as we take beagles. It's completely on a case-by-case basis, as it should be, with temperament tests that evaluate the dog as an individual.

And I'll just say one thing: we've got plenty of pits, pit mixes, and other so-called "bully breeds," but the ONLY bite I've ever received was from a Westie.

Just sayin'.

Submitted by Diesel Cakes | November 24 2009 |

People cross the street when they see me. I am not a monster I am an animal. When family and friends come to my house, I'm locked in the basement, while my step sister, Mia, a Japanese Chin, gets all kinds of oohs and ahhs. Oooh how cute...you get the picture. This is why I write. I can't take it anymore. Mia calls me a paranoid Pit. But what does she know? EVERYONE likes her...

Submitted by Cujo'sLady | November 25 2009 |

I currently own 5 American Pit Bull Terriers and am fostering 2 additional APBT's. I am 55 and got my first Pit Bull for my 5th birthday; I have owned at least one ever since then. I have never had one of my Pits even offer to bite someone - the only dog I ever had that was a biter was a purebred Chihuahua I fostered for 4 months while I searched for a home with owners who could handle and retrain him. I have been denied rental homes, access to public parks, been insulted by total strangers in public, and had phone and electric company repairmen refuse to come onto my property to perform repairs because of my dogs. My children have had several friends over the years who were not allowed to come to our house because of the dogs. Even when I was sure it wouldn't matter in every instance I took the time to explain that it is the OWNER and not the dog (of any breed) who 'makes' a 'bad dog'. If you encounter an antisocial aggressive bulldog (or other breed) you can just about bet the farm that there is an equally dangerous, disagreeable, owner around. The media in their lust for audience has painted a picture for many years of the vicious killer Pit Bull and a portion of the public (that portion too lazy to research facts and make informed decisions for themselves) bought the picture without question. I am glad to say that at least in my area the tide seems to be turning - Pits are no longer automatically put down at the shelters - the local shelters recently put on an Adopt a Pit Bull Day with drastically reduced adoption fees and these days when the pups and I go out in the truck I never fail to hear at least one "beautiful dogs! - they're Pit Bulls aren't they?" comment. Perhaps there is hope for the human race after all... Time will tell.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 6 2010 |

Not sure why Chris Rock got way more heat for his ignorant and prejudice comments than Jay Leno did. They both should have been chastised for what they said, not just Rock. Each of their comments are as follows:

Jay Leno: I know. It's amazing to me, you mistreat a dog and you lose your career and you go to jail for two years.

Chris Rock: Yeah, look at Michael Vick.

Jay Leno: Right.

Chris Rock: What the hell. What the hell did Michael Vick do, man? A dog? A pit bull! Ain't even a real dog. A pit bull. A pit bull; but, you know, that's the white stuff, man. Dogs are white man's best friend

Jay Leno: Is that right?

Chris Rock: Dogs have never been good to black people.

Jay Leno: Really?

Chris Rock: Ever. Ever.

Jay Leno: Oh, I never heard this. . . .

Submitted by Molly | May 19 2010 |

On the night of the 4th of July my sister and I were driving home, stopped at a Stop sign, and felt something hit the side of our car. We got out to see this skin and bones pit-bull running away. We were automatically scared that it was hurt so we followed it to see if it was ok. Then we had a standoff in an ally, my sister and I calling to this poor dog, and the dog looking at us with pure fear. He finally gave in and came over, and that's when we could really see how bad he was. He was wearing a choke collar that was so tight he had no fur left around it, you could count ever rib and vertebra, patches of skin and fur were missing. He was a mess. Never the less my Sister and I took home this obviously abused dog and he's stayed with us ever since. The real shocker of this story was from our parents reactions. They too felt that pits could turn on you at any moment, that he would hurt or kill our old, blind cocker spaniel. In two months time he was our cockers protector and our parents baby boy. They even fought over him in their divorce and he remains a sore subject for my Dad, who didn't get him.

It amazes me that my sister and I can adopt a dog who had obvious signs of abuse, from a breed is supposedly "dangerous" and get this amazing, loving animal. It also amazes me how many people hear our story and still think that he's going to turn on us one day. I agree with a comment made before that I'm more afraid of peoples ignorance than my pit.

Submitted by Pants | March 22 2011 |

This is hilarious! Just as Chris Rock is a racist (He hates white people), all you Pitty owners are breedists. You prophetize the poor pitties and ignore any other dog that doesn't fit into your definition of an oppressed breed. Get off your hypocritical high horses (Or in this case high-pitties) and help all animals.

Submitted by Rene Shelly | May 4 2011 |

I have had three dobermans now, none of them have been mean, but all have been protective. As a single woman living out on a farm, this is what I want. But they have always been under my control, and once they meet people I have approved of, they have been wonderful dogs that want nothing more than ear scratches.

I didn't even know what a pit bull looked like until my daughter rescued an American bulldog-pitbull mix. When I researched the breed, I discovered that the breed is NOT people agressive by nature, but can be animal agressive, so she went through two rounds of puppy classes and an obedience class. She is the most wonderful dog I have ever had. Unfortunately, my daughter and her husband are still renting, and they can't keep her yet because of the predjudice against her breeds (both of them).

I have had small dogs as well (miniature poodles and daschunds) that I loved as well -- the only dogs I ever had that bit people were the daschunds . . . .

Submitted by Anonymous | May 4 2011 |

I read through all the comments and agree that you can't stereotype dogs any more than you can stereotype people. However, I don't think anyone is addressing the very REAL problem with breeding dogs and inbreeding dogs. The reason pit bulls and "bully breeds" have become so, is because if irresponsible breeding. We can't ignore that there are breeders out there that are still breeding some dog breeds for aggression.

The best way to stop this practice is to NOT buy dogs from breeders. If you want a specific breed, go adopt from a breed-specific rescue. Or better yet, get a mutt.they need homes too.

I am currently fostering a double-dilute dog who was obviously bred to be all-white. The result is that he is both deaf and blind. When he came to me he was full of fear and had to take tranquilizers. After 3 months, he is trustful and well-adjusted. He is lucky! many double-dilutes don't fare this well.

Submitted by Anonymous | October 31 2011 |

I agree with everything you say! But I would like to add how I view breedism. I agree with your statement but would like to add I view breedism as a way to keep a breed "pure". So basically the only dogs that should breed are the perfect ones, would be an example as breedism.

Submitted by Charlotte | December 9 2011 |

This is a great article. I appreciate people like you, who accept all breeds of dogs regardless of stereotypes. Although I do disagree with your student who openly stated in front of two GSD owners that she "doesn't like" German Shepherds, and that disliking or avoiding a breed because the public perceives it to be dangerous is ignorant and inappropriate, I also recognize that everyone is entitled to their personal opinion. For example, some breeds have distinct traits that might be undesirable to some people. If your student explained that she didn't like GSDs because they have a tendency to emit a high-pitched whine when anxious, and she is just annoyed by that sound and avoids Huskies too, sure, I would consider that a valid reason. I absolutely love Australian Shepherds, but I can recognize that their high exercise and socializing requirements can be overwhelming to someone who would rather have a French Bulldog chilling out with them on their couch. Someone mentioned that some of their children's friends were not allowed to come over because their parents were afraid of the pitbulls, but I bet those parents wouldn't even hesitate to let their children go to a birthday party for a friend who has a Corgi or Border Collie, when either of those dogs might respond to herding instincts and nip all the kids running in opposite directions! Pitbulls are wonderful, friendly, and docile dogs who just happened to be bred for fighting and therefore have extremely strong jaws and broad bodies that make them, yes, more dangerous than a Maltese on the off chance they attack. With proper socialization and training, however, the concern associated with this can be severely diminished. A Chihuahua puppy who is picked up every time a dog or stranger approaches will likely develop a fear of strangers and other dogs as a result of lack of socialization, and may become an extremely dangerous individual despite its small size if the fear leads to aggression that prevents the owner from having any visitors enter his/her home without receiving a series of ferocious bites. I definitely think that genetics play a big role in the personality and actions of an animal, but it is how they are raised that makes the biggest impact on their traits.

For example, I am a 5'4" female of Irish and French descent and was raised by two hard-working, middle-class parents in a very diverse, urban area with a high poverty rate. I shared a bedroom with my sister for the first half of my childhood, and the 5 people in my house shared one bathroom and were equally responsible for keeping dishes clean. As a child, I received $1 a week allowance for doing my own laundry and feeding and cleaning up after my cat and dog, 50 cents of which was to be put into my savings account. When I turned 16, my mother brought home a stack of job applications for me and told me to start filling them out so I could pay for my own activities and gas for my car. My roommate is a 5'6" male, also of Irish descent, but was raised in a mostly white, high-income community. His parents are divorced, but both are extremely wealthy and his mother is remarried. He has always had a large bedroom to himself and his own bathroom as well, his parents have given him anything he asks for, and his mother finds joy in cooking for everyone and keeping her house clean. Finally, my best friend is a 5'11" female who is half Lebanese and half Caucasian mutt. She is an only child, but was raised in the same area as me with a Lebanese immigrant father and overprotective mother and lived in a modest ranch-style house. Her parents made her responsible for cleaning up after herself, and although they could afford to buy her new clothes whenever she wanted and sent her to one of the most expensive universities in the country, she worked her own job throughout high school and bought much of her things with her own cash.

My roommate and I are similar in some ways: we both get warm pretty easily, burn easily in the sun, and enjoy almost all of the same foods, but our personalities are on complete different ends of the spectrum. When I have something big I want to save up for, I pick up extra hours at work and he calls his dad for money. When we have people sleep over, I share a bed with a friend or give up my bed entirely, and he refuses to let anyone even enter his room. When something isn't working, he asks me to contact our landlord, but if I find it, I try to fix it myself first before giving the landlord a call myself. I am constantly worrying about how much I can afford to spend on things I want, but he has no financial concerns. I take it upon myself to clean the kitchen and living room, but he needs someone to ask him for help. My best friend is physically extremely different from me physically: she towers over me, has never had a sunburn in the 15 years I've known her due to her olive-toned skin, and needs a thick sweater to stay warm if it's after October 1st. However, our personalities and behaviors are extremely similar. By looking at the demographics of 3 people and seeing 2 short Caucasians and 1 tall Middle Eastern girl, one might think that I would have more similarities with my roommate, but since my childhood was much more similar to my best friend's, it is her that I am most like. Breeds of dogs are the same way! I am sorry if this is such a long rant, but I think the example highlights how much of an impact different environments can have on the personality of an individual, regardless of genetics.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 7 2012 |

Never blame the dog but the owner is not always accurate: a dog is a dog and sometimes you cannot know what he's thinking about somrthing and accidents can happen ... but I agrre that most of the time it's the owner's fault cause he didn't knew how to educate his dog
and yeah sadly blaming the owner isn't sensationnal enough compared to a nonsense like "OMG the mad dog attacked me without a reason [wich is absolutely NOT true: the dog has ALWAYS a reason and it's given by the one who gets attacked and/or the owner who is a a**hole] ... like all [dog type] it's dangerous and we shouldn't allow them"

Submitted by Anonymous | March 23 2012 |

My reason for disliking GSD are mainly because what happened to them. It's disgusting that people are breeding for those low hips. It's just sickening when you see a dogs hocks smacking the floor when they move. I am fine with temperament. I own 4 aussies now but grew up with rotties and a pit mix. There are many sickening things people do to these dogs whether intentional or not. The only gorgeous GSD is the one who can walk properly.

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