Things skeptics disagree on- PIT BULLS


September 25, 2013 by kittynh


My mother in laws nanny dog, basically if you touch the child you will lose your arm

Skeptics disagree about a lot of things.  All I have to do is look at my facebook feed to see all the disagreements.  I’m not talking the infighting about feminism, or personal disputes.  I’m talking disagreeing about things that should be able to be agreed upon using critical thinking and logic.

Pit bulls are one topic skeptics don’t agree on.  They are wonderful loving dogs, or they are dogs with the potential to do more harm, because their bite is more deadly.

I have a good skeptic friend that will quietly avoid any pit bull dogs, and with those he trusts he has good logical reasons for his fear and distrust of the breed.  I have always found him to be incredibly logical, and does not tend to follow trendy opinions.  You know, the “oh it’s the owners, not the dogs”, opinion that it is currently correct to have.  He gets that, but he also doesn’t like any dog with a strong bite, and he has good data to back up his distrust of the dogs.

Brian Dunning has a Skeptoid episode on the subject.

I have a photograph of my mother in law with her pitt bull type breed.  This dog was part of the popular “nanny dog” movement.  Sadly the “nanny dogs” came about because of well published cases of child kidnappings.  Starting with Charlie Ross in 1874, and probably the most famous child kidnapping of all, that of Charles Lindbergh junior, son of aviator Charles Lindbergh,  parents in the United States became afraid.  It didn’t matter that their child was not rich or the child of someone famous, parents and children remember being terrified.  Charles Lindbergh protected his second son by buying a German Shepherd that was trained to protect his child.  Other parents followed his lead.

My own husband remembers being followed constantly by a big German shepherd.  All the photographs of him as a child have his loyal nanny dog close by.  His parents never worried about him playing outside.  At night the dog slept in his room.  These dogs were in many family photographs of the time not because they were lovable and sweet, they would rip the arm off anyone that tried to hurt a child.

Still, of course, a dog is reflective of the owner.  Also, dogs have been used for security and protection for years.  A dog that can inspire fear is the oldest security system known to history.


Ajay understands you must make friends with Dingo before petting!

Pit Bulls though seem to inspire hate or love, there is no in between allowed.  I like to think a pit bull is a dog that can be trained safely, but that also is going to need that extra bit of training.

My own dog has bitten several people (mainly as a young dog when people did not listen to me saying “DO NOT PET THE DOG, THE DOG WILL BITE!”)  My dog is little and cute, and will quickly make friends, but if you reach down to pet him too quickly he will nip.  No amount of my telling people NOT to pet him seems to work (it simply takes a few moments for him to be socialized into being your best friend).  He has a small weak bite and has never even broken skin, but I am very upset and apologize and try my best to warn people to “keep back!” until he has calmed down.

Why some people insist, “Oh all dogs love me!” and “I’ll just let him sniff my hand!” (right just put your hand right by his teeth, he likes that), is beyond me.  I know if Dingo were a pit bull, he could have done some major damage.  His being small has allowed me to be less careful than I would have to be if he were a pit bull.

My skeptic friends will never agree about pit bulls, as they also never agree about GMOs.  I tend to try to be in the middle about many issues.  GMO’s sound great, Monsanto sounds not so great.  Pit bulls, good for security, not for my family pet as I’m too lazy to train the dog as well as it needs to be trained.  Middle ground is not always appreciated by skeptics, but seeing both sides to any argument is never a bad thing.

3 thoughts on “Things skeptics disagree on- PIT BULLS

  1. Miss Kitt says:

    Pit bulls have the potential to inflict dangerous wounds. BUT — if you have a good breeder and you raise it with appropriate training and care, they are great dogs. No, I’ve never owned one, but I’ve known quite a few. And I grew up with German Shepherds, another “omygawditsakiller” breed for many people. I *know* from my experience that backyard breeders, neglect and bad or no training can make a Shepherd a public hazard that needs to be put down; I also know that a good bloodline dog, trained well and managed correctly, is a delight to the owner and anyone who likes dogs.

    There definitely are pit bulls that are bred (or are descended from parents/grandparents bred) to be dog fight dogs, and they are nasty, aggressive, dangerous animals. The bite of a dog with that bone structure and strength can break bones, due massive damage, and even kill frail, elderly, or young victims. Pit bulls are energetic dogs and fairly bright: They need exercise, socialization, and a job to do. German Shepherds do, too. I shudder when I see people buying these dogs and leaving them home alone all day, or worse, tied up. They don’t bother to train the dog (and/or themselves) and they don’t work it as it needs to be happy and docile.

    So I guess I’m in that middle ground. It *can* be the dog–some animals are naturally more aggressive, more jumpy, more neurotic–and it *can* be the people. Worst case, it’s both. But I’ve known some wonderful family dogs that were pit bulls or pit mixes. But they were bred for family use, were trained and kept in training, got lots of exercise, and by regular work were reminded–gently but constantly–that people are the Alphas. That is what you have to do if you want to responsibly own a potentially dangerous breed of dog.

    If you’re not willing to put in the research, the money, the time, and the work, do everyone a favor and get a docile dog, maybe an older dog whose owner had to give it up to move to a retirement home.

    • kittynh says:

      THANK YOU! Yes, any dog requires good dog ownership, cats also! I’ve had a cat scratch a neighbor’s child badly. the cat became an indoor cat from that day forward, I had no clue she was so much more aggressive outside than inside! But, the “they are ALL wonderful, look what fun family pets” forgets the history. Dogs are pets, but also protect us. I want my dog to be barking when someone comes into the yard. I live far from my neighbors, and my dog, plus my neighbors dogs, all combine to let anyone know, “stay away!”

  2. Firstly the we have to take the middle ground is a Logical Fallacy What should be done is look at the data and see what studies have been done ect and from the studies that have been done extrapolate an answer. There are numerious studies on Dog bite fatalities and from them its not looking good for the pitbull After looking around I have found that most of theses articles are basing there information on similar research. I do not view these as the complete data though as it only covers dog bite fatalities not dog bite non fatalities this article is the closest I could find that covers that aspect . It would be interesting to see which dogs are most likely to bite a person that does not result in fatalities. A dog that bites a person can result in serious injuries . Just google dog bite injuries and see the horror.

    There are a few things that are not covered in these articles that I would like to see to make a true assessment on the pitbull type dog and that is Dog bite fatalities in relation to dog ownership, by this I mean are there more pitbull fatalities due to the dogs breeding or could it be due to more people own pitbulls so the numbers appear higher. Also I would like to see data on where the fatalities happened, what the circumstances were in the run up to the attack, was the dog trained, what were the owners like and was the dog well treated. So no I will not take the middle ground. I will though view pitbull type dogs with caution as I do all dogs from little Yorksire Terriers to Great Danes (though maybe an unknown pitbull with a little more due the how the data stands at present) . With any dog training is important as is caution around leaving young children with dogs. Any dog no matter its size can cause damage or kill

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