2011-08-05 / Columnists

Paws For A Moment

The Pain Of Being A Pit Bull...
Commentary by Karina B. Salvo, MS, DVM

What is a Pit Bull?

A Pit Bull is a dog that has been used in the illegal dog fighting rings, used as the fighter and as the ‘bait’ dog. These dogs are often starved, beaten, run on tread mills, made angry by pouring acid on their backs and then set free in the ring. If the Pit Bull doesn’t win its fight by killing the other dog, it is killed by the owner. The American Pit Bull Terrier is a mixed breed dog that was first recognized by the United Kennal Club. It is a dog that is banned from many municipalities and illegal to own. It is a dog that, when you walk them down the street, others move to the other side. It is dog that is walked through the streets of the Rockaways as a puppy with a chain link collar and chain that weighs more that it does, being dragged by an owner who feels he has a new charm. The Pit Bull is a dog whose owners have a ‘guy somewhere’ who gives a “devil-cut” to the dog’s ears because it looks “tough” – in a basement, with no anesthesia, pain medication or antibiotics.

This is the disgusting reality that I have seen over the years. I have treated many of these dogs and have rescued one. Pit Bulls are certainly a misunderstood breed, taken by media on a wild whirlwind exploration into the twilight zone. Sure, they are strong, muscular and powerful dogs But so is the Shepherd, Doberman, and the Akita. A dog’s temperament is set by the owner as a puppy. Training, caring, nurturing and proper correction and use of training aids are the owner’s responsibility.

Common myths of Pit Bulls finally put to rest: They do NOT have locking jaws, they DO feel pain, the bite of a Pit Bull is measured in PSI (like your car tires) and their bites are LESS pressure per square inch than a Shepherd or Rottweiler, you are more likely to get bitten by my Yorkie than my Pit Bull, they do NOT turn on their owners, their brains do NOT swell!

This is a highly misunderstood breed. As puppies, the Pit Bull is happy, rambunctious, active and simply put, a goof. They do require a lot of attention and training. Of all the breeds today, this breed can be one of the most afflicted breed for separation anxiety. This means that when the owner leaves, the Pit Bull displays strong feelings of anxiety. Why? Because they are a very loyal, dedicated and committed breed. Not all Pit Bulls will displays this anxiety, and it does not mean that those that don’t display this behavior are not bonded. It’s simply a breed characteristic that they are powerfully bonded to their owners. They are people dogs. They enjoy companionship and yearn to be by the owner’s side. Many therapy dogs that visit the elderly, terminally ill or children are Pit Bulls. One of those rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring is now a therapy dog!

I was recently on a house call and the dog was a Pit Bull. The owner said that a woman approached her and commented on how beautiful the dog was, but then backed up when she heard the answer to her question, “What kind of dog is this?”

It is a clear sign that just the name alone scares people, and they don’t even know what the breed looks like. Keep in mind, she initially saw a ‘beautiful dog’ that she was kneeling down and nose to nose with.

I hope this column has educated some in taking into consideration that the Pit Bulls are not bad dogs, but we have bad owners that train these dogs. The rescued fighting dog is an example that love and care can make all the difference, not in just that dog’s life, but in all the people’s lives that he visits everyday.

I welcome all to a visit with my Pit Bull. Her name is Lucia and she was rescued at the age of 9 years and is now 16. Even if you do not pet her and just want to talk about this breed, discuss your concerns, questions or fears of this breed. I guarantee you that by the end of our conversation you will be friends with her, rolling on her back or sitting on your feet.

Heat Waves are here!

Walk the dog early morning and at dusk to avoid heat exhaustion! Don’t forget the water on your walks!

If you think your pet may need Emergency Care or simply have a question or concern, you are welcome to call me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! 718- 945-2358; email: BelleHarborVet@- gmail.com; or facebook; www.Belle- HarborHouseCalls.com.

Have a Happy and Safe Summer!

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