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Animal advocates want to set the record straight about pitbulls

Angel, an American Staffordshire Terrier, and Roxie, Labrador Retriever,Pit Bull Terrier, get ready for an afternoon walk at the NCSPCA in Westport.

Angel, an American Staffordshire Terrier, and Roxie, Labrador Retriever,Pit Bull Terrier, get ready for an afternoon walk at the NCSPCA in Westport. Photo by Katherine Clark.

Rock said Angel needs to be an “only child,” with all the attention and she’ll give you so much love back.

At the Westport shelter, like any other no-kill shelter, Rock said there are some dogs who stay for a long period of time due to temperament or health related issues. But pit bulls, she said, face an even greater challenge of finding a home to take them in.

“People should know a dog is a dog and it’s going to always need boundaries and discipline, just like any other dog,” Rock said.

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Angel, an American Staffordshire Terrier, who is up for adoption at the North Country SPCA in Westport.

THE “PIT”

Pit bull is a term often referring to the American Pit bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terries, and Staffordshire Bull terriers. The dogs are marred by the recent “Michael Vick” stigma attached to dog fighting.

“Michael Vick and all that ridiculousness, the only good that came from that was the awareness that affluent people were doing this,” Burdo said.

In cases of dog fighting, owners use the pit bull’s loyalty and strength to train them into an aggressive dog, Burdo said. But Hartley said unfortunately media reports have fueled the stereotype by giving more coverage to incidents of an aggressive pits.

“Out of millions of pitbulls the breed has the least probability of attacking someone,” Hartley said. “Unless people are an advocate for the breed or have taken the time to understand the breed the only stereotype people know is they are aggressive. Because of this pits stay in shelters longer or are euthanized first before more aggressive dogs of favorable breeds.”

NATURE VS. NURTURE

Aggression in a dog is subject to its nurturing and how the dog is raised to be. David Goldwasser, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and owner of the Adirondack Veterinary Hospital in Westport said he does not like to make generalizations or develop any preconceived notions about breeds. Each dog is an individual, and should be treated as an individual.

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