In Defense of Pit Bulls

As Bristol, Connecticut considers a breed ban against "pit bulls," I wanted to share a letter to the editor that I wrote in response to Greenwich, CT considering similar legislation in 2010, originally published in Greenwich Times. Learn more about Bristol's proposed legislation and write a letter against it here.

I've spent my 63 years having dogs in my household. I had a Saint Bernard in Greenwich. That breed was perceived as being lovable until the release of "Cujo." That image (before or after) had nothing to do with that particular dog's temperament. I had three more Saints after that and each had their own individual personality.

As a kid, my miniature Chihuahuas were viewed as adorable little sweethearts, but, in reality, they were prone to snap at children's fingers (that was before I learned how to be a responsible pet owner). If Trinket and Peppy had attacked anybody, the focus would have been on me as the owner (where it belonged) and would never have escalated into a discussion about banning the breed.

I have a wonderful photograph of my grandmother and her twin sister with their pit bull at their side, which was a typical pose from the Victorian era when pit bulls were popularly known as "the children's dog." That pit bull image was endearingly evident in the Little Rascals and Our Gang comedies with the circle-eyed Petey.

Unfortunately, that image has become distorted by people who profit by training dogs to fight and by those who train animals to be dangerous for protection. Those practices have generated a distorted image for pit bulls. That distorted reputation carries powerful connotations. It's what attracts some owners to choose a pit bull -- for that macho status. That image has nothing to do with the dog's personality. Of all the dogs I've ever owned, my current staffordshire bull terrier is the friendliest of all.

Pet owners who neglect to responsibly train and monitor their pet's behavior are the only real danger here.

Dennis Dunaway