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,
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
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?
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
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
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Bulls also deserve love and ethical treatment.