Do You Think Pit Bulls Get A Bad Rap?

Do you think pit bulls are misunderstood and suffer because of unfair public perception?

Since a pit bull attacked a Riverhead animal control officer in October and was slated to be put down, a debate has emerged between residents on pit bulls as both express their strong opinions on whether or not the breed gets a bad rap.

Riverhead Town animal control officer Jessica Eibs-Stankaitis was mauled by a pit bull and badly injured last month. Last week, the Riverhead town board said she did plan to return to work.

Eibs-Stankaitis was mauled by a pit bull  while on duty at the Riverhead Town animal shelter, Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said.

The ACO, who suffered lacerations to her face, had undetermined damage to her hip, Hegermiller said. "That's where the dog latched on. It wouldn't let go."

Animal shelter staff had no clue the dog would attack. "They thought it was a good dog," Hegermiller said. The dog, he added, was found on Wading River-Manor Road in a crate, on the side of the road. The male pit bull had been at the town animal shelter for a few days. 

"She was walking back to the kennel and the dog just attacked her out of nowhere," Hegermiller said. "She was very fortunate the dog didn't latch onto her neck."

Trying to get the dog off Eibs-Stankaitis wasn't easy, Hegermiller said. "It bad," he said. "It was a battle."

First, he said, after Eibs-Stankaitis screamed for help, a kennel attendant tried to use a snare pole on the animal's hind leg. "It didn't work," Hegermiller said. "Jessica, with the dog still hanging on her hip, was able to get something around its head and break it free."

The dog, the police chief said, was kept in confinement at the town animal shelter and was slated to be put down in ten days.

What do you think about pit bulls? Do you think they are a danger to residents -- or, do you think they suffer from public misconception and an unfair rap that leads to the dogs being put down?

Patch wants to hear from you. Do you have a pit bull? Describe your experience with the dogs in the comments section.

debbie bell November 21, 2012 at 01:24 AM
I agree that pits suffer and die disproportionately from horrendous abuse, hideous neglect, heartbreaking abandonment. Pits suffer and die before during and after dog fighting. Dog fighting is increasing from large scale organized fights that span the country and involve huge purses, small scale localized rings, and spontaneously arranged fights between friends, neighbors, enemies. Because pit mongers refuse to accept breed specific solutions for this breed specific crisis, they are also responsible for the crisis. Pit mongers are on the same side as those who fight dogs. I have a favorite breed: not a bully breed. If my favorite breed was suffering and dying in the ways and numbers that pits currently are, I would work daily to cause my breed to become extinct by enacting and enforcing mandatory spay/neuter microchipping of all of my breed.
debbie bell November 21, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Get educated about pit bulls. Forget the recent pit monger propaganda, started in the 1980's. Liveleak.com "2 pitbulls attack smaller dog" shows happy "good" game bred pits ripping the leg off another dog. I can imagine the pits standing quietly, wagging their tails, waiting for the innocent normal dog to come close enough to their fence so they could attack, because the goal of a "good" pit bull IS the attack. youtube.com "father saves son, 5, from dog attack" shows how sweet a pit bull can be immediately after nearly killing the child (bloody but sweet). Pits do not need to be mean or angry to feel great mauling something to death. It is not about morals, it IS about heritage. "weird pit bull attack random" shows a pit bull happily tugging. The naive owner was never told to keep a break stick handy, to use in the event that his dog decides to begin tugging on a human. Had this dog grabbed flesh, this could have been a fatality. A Chicago man did bleed to death from a pit bull attack to his leg. "man stops to help woman during dog attack" shows a news report of a boarding kennel owner who evidently thought the stray pit bull was safe. She had cared for him for over a week with no problem, when WHAM, she was tragically wrong. All these videos show "good" pit bulls, pits who did precisely what they were bred to do: attack.
Anne Marie November 21, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Do you have a job? A social life? Or do you just do this all.day.long.. unceasingly. Y'know? The way you describe pits and your constant verbal attack on them makes you both more alike than you think... You don't let go either. I happen to love and respect mine more though... at least she's a product of her breeding, which btw, her line has over 20 generations altercation free. And yes, I have the family tree paperwork to prove it.
helen evans November 21, 2012 at 07:28 AM
I feel that pit lover's sugar coat pitbulls, making that they are THE perfect dog. Always loving, loyal, family guardians. However they forget to mention that the dog can and does kill. Any dog can kill, however of all the types of dogs out there, pit type dogs are more likely. Why? Because people buy into the "perfect pet" hype and get one, not understanding what is required to control this type. Then when the perfect pet attacks, wether it is an animal or a human, the dog owner stands with their jaw on the ground and frozen in place in disbelief that their perfect dog has done something horrible. If pits where my kind of dog (honestly I would NEVER own one the risk to others is too great), I would guard the breed with all the selfishness I could muster and not let the secret out to how fantastic the type is. Once that happens, the dog is doomed as a breed/type. Every Tom, Dick and Harry will be breeding them, not caring about any issues, be they temperment or health, just caring about how much they will make off each litter. It happens to every breed as it becomes THE dog to have. If you want a dog that can maime and kill, wonderful, just quit telling unsuspecting people that this type of dog is the perfect dog without any faults.
Anne Marie November 21, 2012 at 07:40 AM
Copy and paste from the earlier story surrounding this tragic event... Jeez. Any new information you care to spew? At least my info is fresh, not recyled. You and Debbie along with RoastPuppy and Jane Clarke need to form a club already... Verbally attacking pitbulls left and right like the pitbulls you guys describe doing to humans. the similarities b/t the lot of you and the "pitbull not letting go" are remarkably similar.
helen evans November 21, 2012 at 08:16 AM
And just how did I attack pitbulls? Just like you, I stated my opinion.
helen evans November 21, 2012 at 08:33 AM
Want new information? The gentleman who stood there slack jawed because his perfect pit attacked my daughter and her horse. Yes, you read it correctly... He stood there in disbelief while the dog attack a 95 pound girl and a 1000 pound horse. Did nothing. Even when the dog was trapped beneath the horse, he did nothing. Too shell shocked to even comprehend what was happening. He still does not understand what is happening. So I AM entitled to my opinion of these animals, and to their owners. Any other type of dog would do that? I think not. Especially when the dog stayed attached to the horse's side when it got up and run down the road. How, you ask, did the dog let go? He didn't, the horse smacked him into a fence post made from a railroad tie. The dog has game, continued to chase the horse a mile, before turning on two gentlemen who were standing in a yard. The vets said that the only bad dog injuries they see are caused by pit bull type dogs. That is what they are bred to do. Grab and hold no matter what. They don't have a bad rap, just bad genetics. And those genes where selected by people who desired those traits above all others. The truth hurts.
Jean Richardson November 21, 2012 at 12:57 PM
You have had a bad experience with a pit bull so I can understand your prejudice. I have never really liked cocker spaniels since one tried to rip my face off. But I have never lobbied to kill them all either. I, as one long time pit bull owner, readily admit that they are not a dog for just anyone. If I were a breeder (I'm not) I would screen potential puppy owners carefully and require obedience training for the puppies. But as the victim of a serious mauling, I have a question for you. Which would you rather endure--an attack by a dog that grabs and holds on or an attack by a dog that slashes and rips? There are several breeds that can be quite aggressive and use the slash and tear method. I will not implicate a breed but I have seen the horrific results. And another question. Was the dog that attacked the horse off lead? Would a generic dog law have covered this dog as well as the cocker spaniel that mauled me or the collie that bit my husband?
helen evans November 21, 2012 at 02:50 PM
First off leash laws are rarely if ever enforced. That said the dog was never under control of the owner. As I said he stood there and did nothing even when the dog was trapped under the horse. I guess he could not believe that his sweet wiggle butt was attacking a horse and rider. Or maybe he was way too scared of his dog to do anything. By inaction he committed a crime. If it had been a cocker or a shepard or any other type, yes there probably would have been some injury, however the horse would not have been jerked off it's feet and would not have had it's hide ripped from the muscle in a 15-20 inch radius as well as a chunk of skin ripped out that was the size of a large hand. The horse also suffered multiple bite wounds to his legs. In 50 years I've never had a dog of any breed/type attack a horse. I had a heeler bred dog that heeled the horses. I cannot imagine that any other breed/type would have continued the attack after having a 1000 pound horse land on it. This dog is supposedly an 8 month puppy! Here's the clincher. This dog approached the horse like a puppy, wiggly butt, licky. Then just started biting at the horse's legs before trying to grab my daughter's leg, missing and latching onto the horse's flank, once latched it did what they do, twist, jerk, swing, until the horse lost it's balance and fell onto the dog. No other type would have done that. I am not a "hater", I am a realist.
Megan Masters November 21, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Pit Bulls score at the top of the National Temperament test with an 86.8%. Chihuahua's rank at the bottom of that list. Dachshunds actually have the most registered bite cases in the US. 88% of ALL dog bites involving children happen when the child is not being supervised by an adult. People are what make dogs aggressive. I've never met a puppy who was aggressive from birth of any breed. What the media doesn't report is that a lot of dogs who bite people are chained dogs. Dogs only have two ways to protect themselves. Fight or Flight. If they are chained they can't get out of a scary situation. Pit Bulls also do not have a locking jaw. Also, they do not have the most bite force per square inch...German Shepherds do...that's why they are used as police dogs. Yes, some people train Pit Bulls to fight and abuse them, but there again that's the humans fault, not the dogs. I work in animal rescue, and every single Pit I have ever come into contact with has been a love bug and lap dog. If I'm out in public I'll pet any Pit Bull I see, but I always ask first if someone has a Chihuahua or Yorkie, because they tend to be the one's who snap, but because of their size they aren't getting labeled as "dangerous". Just recently in LA a Pomeranian killed it's families 6 week old daughter. Any dog can snap, just like people can. Each dog, and each person should be judged solely by their individual actions, not by race or breed.
helen evans November 21, 2012 at 02:58 PM
If all the pit type lovers want their breed left alone, it is time to clean up your breed of choice. Quit sugar coating the whole type as "perfect for everyone". The "ultimate family dog". In the right hands they can be good dogs, however they are NOT the dog for everyone. Shelters, rescues, pounds and breeders need to highly screen possible owners. These perspective owners need to be made aware of the WHOLE dog not just the sweet. It is truly unfortunate for the dogs, however the blame for the bad rap lies with those that tout nothing but good and encourage ownership of these animals. I've said it before, I'll say it again. I am not a hater. I am a realist.
helen evans November 21, 2012 at 03:05 PM
I have read the requirements on the "temperment test". My cow could pass it with a 100%. Because he is non reactive. Pitbulls pass this test because they show no emotional reactions to things. That is what makes them so dangerous. The dog that attacked my daughter and her horse came out to them in typical wiggle butt, licky tongue manner. Then just started attacking without any warning. Little dogs are very emotionally reactive. Other breeds of dogs are reactive because of their bred for purpose in life. Pits were bred to be non-reactive, non warning, just attack. I am not a hater, just a realist.
Kristie M November 21, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Megan, there are not too many people here who like facts, even less willing to concede there are no reliable dog bite statistics by breed, which is what Anne Marie tried explaining. No one should claim to 'know dogs' if they have only owned a handful they have owned over a lifetime. This is why the racism argument does apply - any opinion based on four pits or six mutts, for example, plus what anyone has read online is still not nearly representative of any breed. On Long Island, most are family dogs; in the midwest, they could be farm dogs; in gang-infested neighborhoods they are probably aggressive, etc. Good trainers and rescue groups meet thousands of dogs under thousands of circumstances. They are in the best place to provide much more valid opinions based on so much exposure.
majortom1981 November 21, 2012 at 05:54 PM
A pit bull cab be one of 4 breeds of dog the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Terrier, and the American bull dog. A lot of the time its of mixed breed.
majortom1981 November 21, 2012 at 05:59 PM
These are not facts without a link to back them up. I can say its a fact that pitbulls are infact unicorns. Does not make it a fact.
Anne Marie November 21, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Pete and Repeat got into a boat... Pete fell out. Who was left?
Jean Richardson November 21, 2012 at 07:16 PM
You are so a hater. You do not listen to a word responsible pit bull owners say. You are only interested in killing our dogs. You are the worse sort of hater.
Jean Richardson November 21, 2012 at 07:18 PM
And I will say it again--you are the worst sort of hater! I, for one, have said until I am blue in the face that pit bulls are not for everyone. Every time a clueless, irresponsible owner lets his pit bull get into trouble, it makes it a little bit easier for haters like you to try to kill my dogs.
Jean Richardson November 21, 2012 at 07:19 PM
You are not only a hater, you are not very logical. You say leash laws are not enforced but you seem to think that breed bans will be?
helen evans November 21, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I am sorry you think I want to kill you dog. I do not. And NEVER in any post have I said that. Go back and READ. You are so wrapped up in pitbulls that anyone that doesn't agree with your view is a hater. Or racist. I just wish that pit people would realize what they have. I do not parade my dogs around in public. They stay home where they belong. I do not tell everyone how perfect my dogs are, I do not want to see their breeds ruined by unscrupulous (sp?) breeding practices. And I am really sorry that you are so angered by others opinions. And by the way, the owner of the pit that attacked my daughter and her horse is facing a year in jail and a $2500 fine to boot because he stood and did nothing. I am going to start a campaign to make owners of dogs who attack criminally responsible for their dogs actions. Animal cruelty/abuse charges for dog on animal attacks and assualt with a deadly weapon/manslaughter for attacks on adults and child endangerment/abuse/murder for dog on child attacks. Punish the deed not the breed. And it will not matter what breed it is that attacks.
helen evans November 21, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Also Jean, I do not believe I ever said ban the breed. Just that rescues, shelters, breeders, owners need to educate those who may be interested in a pit type dog of BOTH good and the possibility of bad so that they may be prepared "just in case".
Tony Chliek November 21, 2012 at 08:22 PM
After following this thread and reading some web sites of responsible pit bull breeders, this web site says it very well. [http://www.pitbulldogpuppiesforsale.com/pitbull-breeders.html] I've come to the the same conclusion as this article on the web site, Ignorant breeders don't know the first thing about breeding. There is a hell of a lot more to breeding dogs, especially pit bulls, than mating two dogs. http://www.squidoo.com/pitbull-breeders
Anne Marie November 21, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I totally agree with you with punish the deed and not the breed. I do read quite well, so the next time you see fit to lecture me on my comprehension skills, I suggest you take a good, long look at your general attitude with this particular type of dog. You claim that you think that "I think that you want to kill my dog", You are wrong. You imply that I and others who own this breed preach to people how perfect my/our dogs are. Again, you are wrong. Never, EVER have I said, implied, NOR typed that. I suggest that YOU go back and read and not infer. Yes, I am angered by others opinions concerning my particular breed.. why? Most opinions are unfounded by lack of awareness and evidence. Have I said yours weren't? NOPE. I do realize what type of dog I have, I respect her type and do my UTMOST to ensure other people's safety when they are around her. I've said THAT many times in varying terms. Just a question... If your breed/type of dog were maligned by the mostly uneducated public who parrot the many messages out there brought about by media, individual experience and biased views, wouldn't you feel a bit aggravated as well?
helen evans November 21, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Good sites. Sounds like a responsible breeder. I did notice a few pictures that were interesting. I do agree with the once a breed becomes popular it becomes ruined statement. Look what happened with border collies. People that lived in apartments were buying them and the dogs were going stir crazy for lack of a job.
Kristie M November 21, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Yikes, no! Unless a breeder insists on meeting you and doing reference checks, please don't EVER buy a dog! Google "puppy mills" and see how terrible mills are. Anyone who would pack and ship puppies to strangers is not a good person, much less a responsible breeder. Don't buy the lies they tell to the contrary. Retail pet stores, online sites and newspapers ads are almost 100% puppy mill dogs.
helen evans November 21, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Anne Marie, my statement to reading and killing dogs was directed at Jean who said I wanted to kill her dogs and ban them. As for my breed of choice if it was attacked it would not bother me. I've been through it with several breeds. What others think about my dog doesn't bother me in the least, and I sure would not go parading it out in public if it bothered others. I read the site that the gentleman linked. Very interesting reading. However one thing did bother me. When they stated that their dogs "knew" when to protect their owners. It is an animal without the same type of reasoning powers of a human. Animals pick up on subtlties not only in strangers but their owners that their humans cannot or do not pick up on. Example. My mom had a Spitz dog that was very protective of her. A neighbor came over one night, drunk. Her dog picked up on my mom's uneasyness and chased the drunk out of the house. He didn't bite, just put on a heck of a show. The dog thought on his own. Was he right or wrong? What if he was a big dog that attacked. Was he right or wrong? What if it was a kid that had come over aelling candy and my mom felt uncomfortable and the dog picked up on it and attacked? I've known a few pitbulls that belong(ed) to friends and aquantances. They seem like nice dogs, and if that's what you want to have I really don't care.
Tony Chliek November 21, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Sometimes people have no sense when choosing pet. I know a couple that own a rather small home and have four large dogs, three pits and a lab. Their yard is so small and they have an above ground pool in it. They do walk the dogs on leaches, but I totally disagree with their owning four such large dogs that can't run around and get the exercise they need.
Jean Richardson November 21, 2012 at 11:15 PM
If you said that you were right--at least if you stopped at that. But you also made comments like this "They don't have a bad rap, just bad genetics. And those genes where selected by people who desired those traits above all others. The truth hurts." I guess I am just to sensitive but I get really angry when I am accused of being a irresponsible person and my dogs accused of being genetically dangerous. And I get really really angry when my dogs are maligned. Helen, I am a long time dog trainer, a board certified behaviorist and I have a masters degree in genetics. Stop trying to blow smoke up my behind.
Anne Marie November 26, 2012 at 10:22 PM
If we were to clean you up the way you would suggest we clean our "type" of dog up, wouldn't you be less of what you are? Or merely a genetically cleansed, sterile, totally souless shell of your former self? Oh wait... soulless... eh, you're already there.
Anne Marie November 26, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Then have some decency and stop. It's really that simple. If you wouldn't go parading your dog about in the public eye, good for friggin' you... I take care of my dog the way a responsible owner should. It's up to the owner to do right by their animal. Some do and some don't. Have some dignity and stop trying to force your views down people's throats. It's rude, it's indicative of an unresolved issue that you have a personal stake in, and to be frank gets really damn tedious. You say that what people think about your breed doesn't affect you.. good for you. It affects other people differently, WHY, b/c people are different. They think differently, and what people choose to think and choose to do and how they choose to live is their choice and their business. Please don't paint all pitbull owners with the same damn brush and don't judge them... What gives you the right?


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