Pit Stop – Our Pit Bull Problem

I originally wrote this post about 6 months ago, but after a recent trip to a local pet store out in the Pennsylvania area while on vacation, I thought it prudent to post it again, as I witnessed another dog fight right in front of me.  It was two small, mixed dogs, and it ended quickly and without bloodshed, but make no mistake: it was real and very violent.  I ask you to read this article before traveling to any pet store.  

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

― Sherrilyn Kenyon

A pit bull attacked another dog on Wednesday. The incident happened at a PetSmart in Georgia.  Frankly, I’m not surprised that the pit attacked.  Because he’s a pit?  No, don’t be stupid.  Because he’s a dog.

Breaking down the situation, here’s what happened according to Fox 5:

Mitch Philpott, 66, of Newnan, said he had headed down an aisle where the Pit Bull and its owner had been looking at merchandise.  Philpott said he asked the owner if her dog was okay and proceeded to pass her and the dog.  He said the Pitt Bull grabbed his Great Dane by the head and ear and bit him several times.

 

In a police report FOX 5 obtained, the Pitt Bull owner, Suzanne Peterson, told officers that she gave Philpott a verbal warning that she was not sure how her dog would respond to his dog and to stay away please.  The report quotes her as saying that Philpott continued anyway and said, “it’s okay, their tails are wagging.”  Philpott told Fox Five he never said that to the woman.

So who is wrong in this incident?  Both humans.  I’m not saying that the incident was deserved by anyone (let alone the dogs), but it was brought about by selfish owners.

Let’s take a step back here and dissect the scenario.  No, I really don’t care who said what and who did and did not control their dog.  However, it should be pointed out that this was obviously a fear-based “stay away from me” rather than an attack.  If it were an attack, there would have been actual serious damage, if not death, to either dogs or owners.  But I stand by my accusation that both owners were selfish.  Why?

Take a look at the average pet store where you can bring in your dog.  Narrow aisles for dogs to pass closely by each other.  You may say that the aisles are wider than grocery store aisles, but I can also say that Bill Cosby (who allegedly raped unconscious women he drugged) isn’t quite as bad as Jared Fogle (who allegedly raped conscious children).  It doesn’t matter.  Neither is a good choice for a dinner date.

images

I think we can all agree that given a choice between the two, Cosby and Fogle, the answer is a resounding neither.  The same goes for aisles that are too narrow, or an aisle that is a little less too narrow.  The answer is neither.

Compound that with extreme stimulation.  Your dog isn’t happily going shopping with you for doggie supplies, as you’ve fooled yourself into selfishly thinking. Your dog is in a confined area with a lot of food and treats that they may resource guard, or have to be on the defensive against other resourcing guarding dogs.  And by the way, that other dog isn’t just another dog.  It’s another dog who is just as overstimulated as every other dog in the place.  Some are resource guarding. Some are desperately trying to guard themselves and their owners (as I believe was the case with the pit).  Others are too goofy to know this is a horrible situation and act all kinds of crazy, thereby increasing the (negative) energy of all the other dogs.

Remember, that idiot jacking his dog up in the car before he even gets into the store will be sharing close quarter aisle space with your dog.  Add to it the fact that the dog is under no semblance of control once they are in the store (the owner is following the dog around at the end of the leash like a moronic cow).

I will not bring my dogs into pet stores for this very reason.  There are many frightened, hyper, out of control bundles of energy in there.  And that’s just the people.  By being selfish and getting that “I Brought My Beloved Pup Into The Store” high that people so desperately want, we are actively ignoring all the warning signs of a dangerous situation, and blithely moving forward.  YOU are the adult human.  YOU are the one with opposable thumbs.  YOU are the one who should be realizing that this is a dangerous situation.  Even if your dog is very chill and well behaved and you Pilot the hell out of them….where is your guarantee that every other person in there is the same way? You don’t have one.  Suck it up. Find other ways to get that rush of “I Spoiled My Dog Today” high that you are so desperately seeking.

“Oh, but Fifi loves it so much!!!”

And I loved cutting class when I was in high school.  Believe me, that was not the answer my parents gave my principal when I was caught: “But she loves cutting class so much!”.

Yeah, I got grounded 6 months with another 6 month probation.

Yeah, I got grounded 6 months with another 6 month probation.

And now I’m grateful for their harsh punishment.  It helped turn me into a functional adult.

Point is, parenting, whether it be a dog or a human, involves tough choices.  Yes, it’s not always fun, and it most definitely involves handing down decisions that you’d rather not, but that’s why you’re the adult. That’s why you have the opposable thumbs.  Because you’re the one who is supposed to use rational thought rather than emotional reactions. So I blame anyone who subjects their dogs to this situation. I don’t care that Rover, a Lab who is 14 years old, loves going and has never bit anyone in his life.  Don’t do it.  The same way I don’t drive my kids around without their seat belts buckled.  ”Well, we’ve never gotten into an accident yet, I’m a careful driver, and my kids are well behaved.”  It’s just as stupid and reckless.  Yes, I can control my kids, my behavior, and perhaps even my car, but I can’t control situations around those things.

Finally, I blame PetSmart, Petco and all those other big box stores that allow pets into their store.  Simply to raise revenue and profit, they cater to the irresponsible people who bring their pets in, thereby putting the animals at risk.  Yes, the owners should know better than to bring them in, but I’ve already established that the owners are not always in the right frame of mind, and (if I’m going to be generous here), misinformed and didn’t know better.  Know who else operates on the same basis as these pet stores?

watermark.php

A dog was put in a tough situation.  He was uncomfortable. He was nervous, and scared.  And he reacted the way a dog (or human) can be expected to react when pushed beyond their limits.  The real story isn’t about a dog who defended himself from attacked another dog.  This story is not about pits being aggressive, nor is about pits in general.  This is about failure.  Dogs being failed by their owners, and being failed by the very stores who are designed to benefit them.  All to boost their profitability.

End it now. Don’t bring you dog into such a situation.  If you want that “I Spoiled My Dog” rush, spend more time with them. Teach them agility. Teach them a trick.  Pilot them. Give them what the need, and stop trying to buy the wag of your dog’s tail. Earn it.

Keep calm and pilot on

 

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

11 thoughts on “Pit Stop – Our Pit Bull Problem

  1. I 100% agree with your evaluation of the situation. Animals are animals and react with primal instincts when certain situations arise. We love our three yippy lhasas and I also love to think of them in human terms much too often. They have reminded me on several occasions that they aren’t the evolved dog-child that I thought they were. I was heartbroken but mostly for them. I failed them. I put so many human traits and reasoning onto them that I failed to protect them from having to react as an animal. They couldn’t tell me. They couldn’t change it because as we like to say “they don’t have thumbs.” So we thrust them into a situation that left them no other choice. I further felt bad because they were physically sore but they also don’t like negative reaction. Furthering the illusion that they reason like we do…I truly believe they don’t like being ” a bad dog”. I made them a bad dog but they felt it.
    I would also like to say that I feel the same way about walks around town. We purposely walk our dogs after kids have gone to bed and we hope that other pet parents have too. With three…pack mentality rages in certain situations…so we try to avoid them. Inevitably someone will walk our way. We kindly tell them that our dogs “aren’t friendly” (which they usually are not but we don’t want to put them into a bad situation)…the other owner responds “that’s okay. Mine are”. Really? I basically told you that I’m crossing the street to avoid you and you cross with us because your dog “is good with other dogs?”. Really? Stop. If a guardian is telling you that they don’t want you near them and have taken every precaution to avoid you (even telling you) them listen to them. They know their dogs. Be respectful. That’s what we’re trying to do.

  2. I 100% agree with your evaluation of the situation. Animals are animals and react with primal instincts when certain situations arise. We love our three yippy lhasas and I also love to think of them in human terms much to often. They have reminded me on several occasions that they aren’t the evolved dog-child that I thought they were. I was heartbroken but mostly for them. I failed them. I put so many human traits and reasoning onto them that I failed to protect them from having to react as an animal. They couldn’t tell me. They could change it because as we like to say “they don’t have thumbs.” So we thrust them into a situation that left them no other choice. I further felt bad because they were physically sore but they also don’t like negative reaction. Furthering the illusion that they reason like we do…I truly believe they don’t like being ” a bad dog”. I made them a bad dog but they felt it.
    I would also like to say that I feel the same way about walks around town. We purposely walk our dogs after kids have gone to bed and we hope that other pet parents have too. With three…pack mentality rages in certain situations…so we try to avoid them. Inevitably someone will walk our way. We kindly tell them that our dogs “aren’t friendly” (when thigh they usually are we don’t want to put them on a bad situation)…the other owner responds “that’s okay. Mine are”. Really? I basically told you that I’m crossing the street to avoid you and you cross with us because your dog “is good with other dogs?”. Really? Stop. If a guardian is telling you that they don’t want you near them and have taken every precaution to avoid you (even telling you) them listen to them. They know their dogs. Be respectful. That’s what we’re trying to do.

  3. While I agree both the owners were in the wrong, I do not agree with your statement that pet stores should not allow entry to pets.

    Personally, I don’t take my dogs down an aisle where there is another dog, and if another dog approaches us in a store then we vacate that aisle and return when it is unoccupied.

    I would hate to have further restrictions placed on where I can take my dogs. I love having them share my life with me, and part of my life requires that I leave the house. By taking them places with me, I can show them how I wish for them to behave. This, I believe, allows them to grow and become more stable members of society. If I fail them and take them into a situation which I have not equipped them to handle, then that is entirely MY fault and I should be expected to take responsibility for that failure. I don’t want another party deciding what I and my dogs are capable of.

    If I had my way, I would take my dogs everywhere with me. We may not be capable of that currently (in regards to behavior), but it would be an amazing goal to work toward.

    • I ask you this, though….you don’t take your dogs down an aisle where there is another dog. Do you think everyone has the same thought as you? While I respect your opinion, I also want you to think of this: I love my children more than anything, and I don’t take them everywhere. Simply stated, some places are not appropriate for them. It’s still my job to Pilot my children, and show them how to act responsibly. You will never be able to equip your dog for every situation they may encounter; that’s where Piloting comes in. You can help them to understand that while you were unable to prepare them for a clown riding a unicycle while engulfed in flames, you prepared them to look to you for answers. So when they “ask” if that’s a threat, you can give them the answer they need, and they are able to accept that answer and feel safe.

  4. I spoil the check out of my pups every day, loving smootches playtime toys treats. There is no stinking way I’d take either one in a store. Too dangerous for my babies. One is a tiny Chihuahua and the other is a huge pit. Neither would start anything but the chi is overprotective and the pittie is super lovabull. That being said everyone loves to touch tiny dogs and she bites, everyone that sees an 80# pit running towards then is afraid. He loves to give hugs, jumping up to do so, and that scares people. So no a big store is not the place for a dog.

    • I firmly believe that if you Pilot a dog (which it appears you are doing already, just from your statements), that it is impossible to “spoil” a dog. Nicely done, and thank you for taking your dogs into consideration before giving you self a “feels good” at the pet store.

  5. So spot on. Always! My partner and I laughed hysterically at they “neither one is a good dinner date” ha! But seriously, as soon as I was a few sentences in I was saying, why would you even bring your dog in? And yes both owners were at fault, and the store, but if you have to warn people to stay away, then you aren’t uninformed, you already know he shouldn’t be there! How selfish can you be?! That is your dog that you love so much that you can’t even bare to be seperated from him, even to go grab him some food, and you just put him in a terrible traumatic and frightening situation, and who knows what ramifications he will face going forward. Not to mention, you own a pit bull, please stop making poor choices for them, you are perpetuating the stereotype and ruining it for responsible pit bull owners everywhere. So frustrating!

    I do agree though, they are all at fault. I am particularly frustrated by someone who isnt just uninformed, who knew her dogs limits and put him there.

    Always enjoy reading your posts!

    • I know. I’m horrified by the actions of all. I read this article this morning, and even though I already had a blog post for the day, I couldn’t resist ranting about what I had just read.

    • I totally agree what’s the point in bringing your dog in if your going to have to restrict which aisle u go down or oh I can’t go that way there’s a big dog…and the aisles are to small and there are so many people that are not properly informed about dogs and their emotions and what certain gestures they make mean and are trying to tell you. Please just keep your dogs out of certain situations and be responsible owners and maybe we wouldn’t have so much breed discrimination!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>