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COMMENTARY | Pit bulls can make good pets

Talking about myths, these are important to us because they hit home at Animal Services. A lot of misconceptions surround pit bulls that need clarification. Everyone needs to keep an open mind, visit our shelter and look for yourself before discounting a type of dog, just because of what you may have heard.

To believe that pit bull dogs are aggressive toward people is wrong. Pit bulls are actually less aggressive toward people than many other breeds. Like any dog, pit bulls are shaped by their environment and without proper socialization and training, they can be encouraged to show aggressiveness toward people.

Beyond a dog’s breed, several factors affect a dog’s tendency toward aggression including their reproductive status, sex and early experience with socialization and training. It has been found that the majority of dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs. An unneutered male dog is more than twice as likely to bite than a neutered male.

A chained or tethered dog is also more than twice as likely to bite than a dog that is not chained or tethered.

Pit bulls will attack without warning is another myth. No dog, including a pit bull, is going to transform from a docile, gentle companion to a ferocious beast without warning.

There are always warning signs that a dog is aroused, upset or afraid. The issue is not that pit bulls attack without warning. It’s that people often don’t recognize or pay attention to the warning signs.

It has been said that it is not safe to adopt a pit bull from a shelter because its past is not known. Even though it is always helpful for us to have some idea of past medical and behavioral history, this is not the case much too often. A shelter dog’s past is usually a mystery. We encourage you to bring your entire family, including your current pet, to meet the new dog. We do our best to help you find a “best fit” for your family.

Pit bulls are dogs that deserve respect and appreciation. They deserve to be understood. It is not uncommon that comments are made by the visitors to our shelter that all we seem to have is pit bulls. These same people comment they would never own one because they are vicious. The wheels kick in and staff go beyond to dispel these myths.

Most people have come to the conclusion that all pit bulls are bad, no matter, except those who actually have a pit bull dog for a pet. Regardless of any facts, it seems people have formed their own opinions about pit bulls, which is a sad statistic of stereotyping and profiling. People often do not base their comments on facts, just biased opinions.

Pit bulls come in all different colors, shapes and sizes. I challenge all of you looking for a dog, to visit Animal Services and give a pit bull dog a chance. They at least deserve that.

Adopt your new family member from Manatee County Animal Services today. Don’t forget about our November adoption special. We have falling prices. Adopt any dog or cat for 30 percent off the regular adoption fee. Dogs are $56 and cats are $42 this month which includes the required license certificate and tag. A microchip is also included!

Check out Manatee County Animal Services on Facebook. Like us and share us with all your friends. Our web site has a wealth of information.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.