Love hound: innocent or guilty?

I am an avid reader of the Mountain Xpress and sometimes enjoy the humor in the “Asheville Disclaimer.” That feature’s recent sally in the Aug. 29 issue, “Killer Here’s Just a Silly Ol’ Love Hound,” shows both poor taste and extremely poor timing.

The argument about the safety of keeping pit bulls—and by “pit bull” I am including the several breeds of dogs frequently lumped into that category—continues to rear its head every time we hear of an attack by a pit bull on a human. The pit bull controversy also arises when dogfighting rings are discovered and dismantled, as in the recent high-publicity case involving NFL star Michael Vick.

In truth, articles like yours, even in jest, do immense harm to the breed as a whole, helping add fuel to the fires of breed-specific legislation and blanket euthanasia for such dogs when brought into animals shelters in many parts of the country.

Experts on the many breeds that comprise the catch-all category of “pit bull” (including the American Staffordshire and Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terriers and Mini-Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs) and others attest that the breeds themselves are not vicious. Dogs that come from breeders who breed specifically for aggressive tendencies and who are often associated with the dogfighting underground do cause problems. So do dogs raised by people who want a “mean watchdog.”

Historically, pit bulls were once known as “nanny” dogs, since they were often used in British families as caretakers for children. They are—even the fighting ones—notoriously loyal to and submissive to people. Given the right owners, the right upbringing and the right circumstances, pit bulls and other “bully breeds” make excellent, loyal pets known for their energy, determination and goofy playfulness. Famous pit bulls include the mascot for Spanky and Our Gang and the dog used in the old RCA Victor “His Master’s Voice” ads. Two years ago, a Colored Bull Terrier named Rocky won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show Trials, and a white bull terrier is the mascot and logo animal for Target Stores.

When you arrest a criminal for assault, you generally do not arrest or put to death the victim of the assault. But this is what happens all too often in instances involving dogfighting, and right now, the fate of the pit bulls “rescued” from the Vick dogfighting ring hangs on too delicate a balance for the type of cruel “humor” represented in your article.

I urge you to consider some sort of retraction or sincere apology since I know you can’t undo what you’ve done. Again, I do believe in freedom of speech and expression, but I also believe in compassionate responsibility and encourage you to adopt the same with regard to the pit bull question.

— Jackie Cassada


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