Fw: DawnWatch: Pit bulls on Los Angeles Times front page 8/3/06
The Thursday, August 3, Los Angeles Times has a front page story headed, "Pit
Bulls Out of the Doghouse." I will immediately admit partiality to the story as
it features Paula and Buster Dawn, with Paula's picture right on the front page.
And it opens with a description of one of our forays to a local bar where the
dogs relax and are fawned over by patrons.
Reporter Carla Hall asks, "So how is it that two dogs belonging to a breed that
is controversial, feared, banned by some cities and possessed of the worst
public relations in the canine world end up cuddling with beach community
She contin! ues: "Paula and Buster are evidence of a phenomenon that is emerging in some
unexpected parts of the city: the well-socialized pit bull."
The article includes quotes from shelter workers, rescuers and trainers who sing
the breed's praises.
Thankfully, so that it won't simply encourage people to rush out and buy pit
bulls, it reminds people of the downside of having a pit. Hall indicates that
the majority are dog aggressive:
"The dogs are genetically predisposed to be aggressive toward other dogs, having
been bred centuries ago in England and Ireland to bait bulls, among other
animals. When that was outlawed, they were bred to fight dogs in pits."
And she writes:
"There's no doubt these dogs require special handling, and one longtime pit bull
trainer is chagrined by what she calls a 'huge sympathy' for the dogs.
She quotes Tia Torres-Cardello, owner of Villalobos Rescue Center in Agua Dulce, who says:
" You get these 'humane-iacs' who think every pit bull has been abused, every pit
bull is wonderful. I say that's not the case."
And she notes other problems:
"It's hard out there for a pit and its owner. People cross the street when they
see them coming, even when the dogs are leashed. Some dog walkers won't take pit
bulls as clients. Not all insurance companies offer liability coverage to their
It ends with a quote from me:
"Karen Dawn knows how tough it is to navigate the world with a pit bull. 'They
come with problems,' she said. But she couldn't resist Buster and Paula. 'I
wouldn't say don't adopt if you fall in love with one.'"
(I would, however, say that there are millions of mutts out there just as
desperate for and deserving of good homes, who, not being dog aggressive or
stigmatized, might be much easier to care for. My thoughts on that are outlined
under 'pitbulls' at the bottom of the 'com! panion animals' page of my website at
A high-point of the piece is the graph accompanying it, the caption reading "Pit
bull numbers: Los Angeles City animal shelters are taking in fewer pitbulls, and
more are being adopted, but the majority are still euthanized."
The decrease in intake probably reflects legislation enacted in the last few
years which makes the cost of a license ten times more expensive if your animal
is not altered. Unfortunately one result was that many people chose simply not
to get their animals licensed, but many others chose to get them spay/neutered
and it has had an impact. But clearly, with the graph showing 3,000 pitbulls
killed at Los Angeles shelters last year, the city needs stronger spay-neuter
You can read the whole (long) piece on line at
me-headline! s OR ht tp://tinyurl.com/nv4c7 and send an appreciative letter to the
editor at letters@...
The piece reads a little like a love letter to pitbulls; the article's warnings
are sandwiched between an opening and closing that rave about them. So perhaps
letters focusing on spay-neuter and on the importance of adoption might be the
most useful. But I always encourage people to write any animal friendly note
that moves them.
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a
letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the
media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can
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Date: Thu Aug 3 18:07:25 2006