Educating not Discriminating
Dog Legislation Education (DLE) is for anyone on either side of the Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) fence. I wanted to provide a place where you can ask questions that otherwise might spark debate. This is not meant to be a place to argue the issues, but to help people understand why dogs bite, who's really responsible, and what types of legislation have proven successful in protecting the public and punishing human offenders. Anyone commenting on the blog will be removed from the group for being insensitive. My main focus will be for citizens of Springfield, Mo as the Animal Issues Task Force (AITF) has proposed new legislation, policies, programs to City Council. Because these proposals could help improve the safety of citizens anywhere, the blog is open to anyone.
The Root of Fear is Ignorance.
The one thing I have learned over the years, is that most people who have a problem with a specific breed of dog either had one bad experience or heard bad stuff on the news. Humans are allowed to be afraid...I'm afraid of spiders, hopefully no one faults me for that! What I hope to accomplish with this blog is to help Pit Bull and other Power Breed owners to understand that some people don't know any better than to be afraid. As dog owners we have to take our time and show the public that no one breed stands alone with behavioral issues. I hope to not only educate people who don't know the blessings our dogs bring, but also help educate people who may not know what is appropriate behavior for them and their dog. Though I don't believe Breed Specific Legislation is effective in educating the public, I do believe Potentially Dangerous Dog, Dangerous Dog, and Irresponsible Owner Legislation can not only educate, but improve public safety as well.
Please enjoy the blog, sign up for email updates, keep your filters on when commenting, and hopefully learn something new today.
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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Can Fighting Pits Really be Rehabilitated?

Anonymous Question: Can a Pit Bull that has been trained to fight really be rehabilitated to be a good member of a family?

      I'm not sure how I really feel about the word rehabilitate. A very respected colleague, behaviorist, and friend of mine made a comment to me about puppy mill dogs the other day. A friend of ours told us she was taking a dog halfway across the US to have him rehabilitated. "He is scared of everything", our friend said, "This place is going to rehabilitate him". After that conversation, my colleague said to me, "Is it really rehabilitation if the dog was never allowed to or taught to handle life the correct way"? That was an awesome point, and it got my dog obsessed mind thinking. 

The definition of the word rehabilitate is...

1. Restore (someone) to healthy or normal life by training or therapy after imprisonment, addiction, or illness.
2. Restore (someone) to former privileges or reputation after a period of critical or official disfavor.

Restore? If it was never a normal life than is it really rehabilitation? Just a thought...

Back to Pit Bull rehabilitation...
Answer: Yes, most Pit Bulls can be trained and taught to modify the way they handle life. Here are two interesting facts about the breed...

1. They are loyal to such an extreme that they will fight and kill another animal when a human tells them to.
2. Professional fighters will inhumanely euthanize Pit Bulls that show any kind of human aggression.

Because of the first two facts...The following two tend to happen...

1.They are loyal enough to learn how to act appropriately just so they can be loved.
2.They are very rarely human aggressive, genetically.

      Every time I foster a Pit Bull that has obviously been fought it amazes me how eager they are to learn new things. It is heartwarming to watch them slowly find that they don't have to watch their back every time they are taken out of the kennel. You can actually see them relax more each day as they realize they don't have to defend themselves anymore. They find that they love toys, kids, being fed regularly, sleeping on the couch, and even having other animal friends. Some love their new lives so much I have seen them become therapy and service dogs. Of course, there are always the few that are so defensive they can't learn to live with other animals, but they can still do great in single pet homes. The amount of dogs I have successfully trained and taught to modify the way they handle life...(rehabilitated) great in comparison to those that were just too far gone to help. Some dogs are just so emotionally scared on the inside, that the scars on the outside can only begin to tell their story. 
      After spending time teaching a fighting Pit Bull how great life really can be, and watching their personalities emerge, it always hurts my heart to let them go to their forever homes. It's bitter sweet. I am an important stepping stone that teaches them to live, yet I know they will soon realize the person I left them with will love them just the same as me. 

This is Rocky, my most recent foster. He has many scars on the outside that will never go away, but humanity is teaching him that the scars on the inside can heal with time and love.

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