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A Letter To PETA


In Memory of Jocee - Rescued from hell 12 years ago to live the wonderful life of a cherished pet until she passed at 14 years of age....

A letter to Ingrid Newkirk, President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in response to "Some Dogs are Weapons - Ban Them"

Dear Ms. Newkirk,

I was under the impression that PETA was dedicated to helping animals. That was until I found out that you support a mass-euthanasia policy for the most abused, persecuted and misunderstood breed of dog - the American Pit Bull Terrier. For generations, the Pit Bull has been beloved for its loyalty, strength, versatility, bravery, and intelligence. Contrary to beliefs held by those unfamiliar with the breed, the American Pit Bull Terrier is one of the most stable, people-friendly dogs in existence.

I have been working with Pit Bulls for years and currently volunteer for a Pit Bull rescue group. Over the past year, our local rescue group has placed over 100 Pit Bulls into loving homes with absolutely no problems whatsoever. We get them straight from the city animal shelter, and most of the time we do not know the dog's history. It is evident that most of them have been abused and neglected. We take these dogs right from the pound to the veterinarian where they get a bath and shots and a full examination. They are obviously scared, but none have ever tried to bite us. Once, three of us lifted a huge 90 pound male Pit Bull into the bath. He was afraid of the water coming out of the hose, but he never once growled or even showed his teeth. He was shaking, but he never showed any signs of aggression. You would think that if a Pit Bull was going to attack, that it would happen when they were frightened. Yet time and time again we save dogs, put them through the same routine at the veterinarian, and none have ever even tried to bite us. Actually, several of our rescued Pit Bulls have been adopted by veterinarians. Did you know that the National Canine Temperament Testing Association tested 122 breeds, and Pit Bulls placed the 4th highest with a 95% passing rate?

I hope you can imagine the shock and disbelief I felt when I read your "Some Dogs are Weapons - Ban Them" article. I do not understand why you believe that banning Pit Bulls would be a good thing. Gang member types, who own these dogs for the wrong reasons, are the ones who need to be dealt with. They need to be charged with animal cruelty and put in jail.

Please do not support the punishment of Pit Bulls for the sins of some of the unscrupulous people who own them.

There are many kind and responsible people who have Pit Bulls as members of their family. These dogs do not pose a threat to anyone. We should not be denied our loving Pit Bull companions because some people chose to make their dogs aggressive. Also, if Pit Bulls are banned they will still be in the hands of the criminal because they have no respect for the law. Criminals will still fight Pit Bulls and breed Pit Bulls. The only people a pit bull ban will hurt, will be the law-abiding good citizens who can provide loving homes for them. Pit Bull rescue groups would not be able to operate if they were banned. We would not be able to rescue Pit Bulls from the shelter and adopt them out. Backyard breeders would be the only ones creating Pit Bulls and rescue would not have the ability to continue its good work.


STUBBY, PitBull Terrier mix, WWI. The most decorated war dog in U.S. history.

When Pit Bulls enjoyed being the nation's most popular dog during the W.W.I era, there were no problems with vicious Pit Bull attacks. Pit Bulls were not banned anywhere.

America's first war dog was a Pit Bull named Stubby who earned several medals and the rank of sergeant for his service in W.W.I. He received a hero's welcome and was even honored at the White House. He inspired the U.S. Military K-9 Corps. He also went on to become Georgetown University's mascot.

Did you know that the Little Rascals' Petey was an American Pit Bull Terrier? Would the parents of the Little Rascals let their children be in such close contact with a Pit Bull day after day if they feared that Petey could suddenly attack them without warning? Of course not. Petey was by far one of the most well trained and intelligent dogs. I urge you to rent some of the Little Rascals' episodes that feature Petey. Lassie, the Collie, bit her trainer several times. Petey never did such a thing. In fact, the only dog that has ever bitten me happened to be my sister-in-law's 9-year-old Collie. Now I thought "Lassie" was supposed to be a great family dog. Even though I was bitten by a Collie, I certainly would not advocate the breed being banned.

What are your thoughts on Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds? These are also big powerful dogs who can do a lot of damage if they attack. Many of these dogs are also abused and trained to be people-aggressive. Should we ban them as well? Or what about wolves? What about sharks and poisonous snakes? Should we ban them too, and kill all the ones we come in contact with because they have the potential to cause harm? Cars, knives and cigarettes are not banned, yet they cause many deaths.

How can you possibly support an animal shelter euthanizing Pit Bull puppies and completely docile and adoptable Pit Bulls? I thought PETA stood for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. It is not fair to exclude Pit Bulls. Fortunately, there are actually a lot of animal shelters who do not believe in such a discriminatory practice and can see past this "witch hunt" mentality. Perhaps you believe that banning Pit Bulls would protect them from being adopted by the wrong type of person? What really prevents this from happening is spaying and neutering. Pit Bull abusers not only want to fight their dogs but breed them as well. They quickly lose interest in adopting an altered dog. The Town Lake Animal Center in Austin, Texas is just one facility that frequently adopts out Pit Bulls. In fact, the State of Texas does not allow breed-specific legislation. We have dangerous dog laws which deal with individual dogs, instead of entire breeds. Did you know that animal control officers often adopt Pit Bulls? Some cities that do not have Pit Bull bans include: San Francisco, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Stamford, CT; St. Paul, MN; Las Cruces, NM; Seattle, WA and Toronto, Canada to name a few. Also, Pit Bull bans in Sweden have been rescinded. Pit Bull rescue groups have very high standards and extremely strict adoption qualifications. The rescue group I volunteer for, The Chako Rescue Association for the American Pit Bull Terrier, has an extensive adoption application, we run background checks, check veterinary references, require the dogs be indoor dogs (to prevent them from being stolen), and we also do surprise home inspections. Our adoption contract also entitles us to confiscate the dog and charge a fine of $2,000 if there is evidence of dog fighting. You see, there are ways to ensure that Pit Bulls find their way to loving homes and are protected and cared for. Banning the breed will accomplish nothing but more suffering for the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Hellen Keller and her dog. Click on image for larger picture

Did you know that Helen Keller even had a Pit Bull as her canine companion?

Pit Bulls are widely used as therapy dogs, even today. Because of their high pain threshold and stable temperament, they do not bite or snap when accidentally bumped by a wheelchair or walker.

RCA, Alaska first certified hearing dog
Alaska's first hearing dog was a Pit Bull named RCA. The Chako Rescue Association for the American Pit Bull Terrier has a therapy dog program that exclusively uses Pit Bulls. Pit Bulls also excel at search-and-rescue. This breed is one of the most loving and loyal breeds that exist today.

In your article you state, "The pit bull's ancestor, the Staffordshire terrier, is a human concoction, bred in my native England, I'm ashamed to say, as a weapon. These dogs were designed specifically to fight other animals and kill them, for human sport". This is not entirely correct information. The American Pit Bull Terrier is a descendent of the original English bull-baiting Bulldog and has historically been bred with working/performance goals in mind, including, unfortunately, fighting. Original Bulldogs were used to fight bulls and bears, and these blood sports were extremely popular and a part of daily life in England around 1800. These people-friendly bulldogs were so loved, that in the town of Wednesbury, in Staffordshire County, the church bells rang in celebration of the birth of a famous fighting dog's pups. In fact, if a female Bulldog died during the whelping of the pups, lactating women of Staffordshire would raise the puppies by suckling them at their own breasts! And you say these dogs are weapons that are dangerous to human beings? England made blood sports illegal in 1835, and that is when dogfighting became popular. Dogfighting pits required hardly any space, and it was easy to hold the contests in secret. American Pit Bull Terriers were bred to be submissive to man, and human aggression was actually bred out of the breed. This is because the people who fought them, and their family members, would break up the dogfights and tend wounds. They could not tolerate a dog that was aggressive toward people, or their families would be in danger. Any dog that showed aggression toward a human being was immediately taken out and killed. Currently, the United Kennel Club and the American Dog Breeder's Association recognize and register the American Pit Bull Terrier as a breed. In fact, the UKC was founded in 1898, and the Pit Bull was its first recognized breed. The AKC recognizes the American Staffordshire Terrier. The American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier are two closely related breeds, with the American Staffordshire Terrier being, in theory, a non-game-bred off-shoot of the APBT. Conformationally, the two breeds are very similar, and many dogs are dual registered. Pit Bulls tend to be more dog-aggressive, but they are extremely people friendly. Then again it depends on the individual dog. I have seen Pit Bulls get along perfectly with all kinds of dogs and even cats. A good friend of mine has a Pit Bull who loves other dogs snuggles with the cat everyday.

You also mention that your office has a file drawer full of "Pit Bull" attacks. Did you know that a lot of times a reporter will say that a dog attack was committed by a Pit Bull just to get a story? Also, animal control officers frequently respond to reports of "Pit Bull" attacks, yet when they arrive on the scene, they discover that the dog is nothing close to a Pit Bull. When a true American Pit Bull Terrier, does a good deed, they rarely get recognition. The Ken-L-Ration Dog Hero of 1993 was a Pit Bull named Weela. She saved 30 people, 29 dogs, 13 horses and a cat during a flood in Southern California. When Reader's Digest published the story, they absolutely REFUSED to print that Weela was a Pit Bull. This same heroic dog saved her owner's son from a rattlesnake.

Popsicle, drug sniffing dog

There are other Pit Bull heroes. Recently, a pregnant Pit Bull named Blueberry saved her family from armed robbers who invaded their home. Blueberry got shot, but she scared off the attackers and luckily she and her pups survived. Another Pit Bull in Austin, Texas jumped up and took a bullet in the chest to protect his guardian. This dog also survived. Another Pit Bull named Bogart saved a four-year-old boy from drowning in a swimming pool. In Chicago recently, another Pit Bull saved a small child from being attacked by another dog of a different breed. Other Pit Bulls are currently being used to detect narcotics for the federal government. One of them was found as a puppy in a freezer during a drug raid. One of the officers happened to find him, and he was still alive. He is now one of his best canine officers. This story was covered by People Magazine. If any of these wonderful dogs were unfortunate enough to find themselves at an animal shelter with an anti-Pit Bull policy, they would be euthanized, purely based on their breed.

I still do not understand how you could support a euthanization policy for all Pit Bulls. It is completely incomprehensible to me especially because you are the president of an animal rights organization. I am very sad and disappointed to see you advocating the extinction of a breed of dog. Pit Bulls are the most misunderstood and persecuted of all breeds. Not only are they hurt by abusive owners and breed bans, but the media often portrays Pit Bulls as monsters. Even MTV plays a rap video that glamorizes Pit Bull fighting. You said "Pit bulls are perhaps the most abused dogs on the planet". I urge you to please do something positive to help them and stop adding salt to the wounds.

Pit Bulls also deserve love and ethical treatment.


Sonnet Dashevskaya


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