Seattle vet implies that rescued pit bulls cannot be rehabilitated
Yesterday, on KING5.com's webpage called The Pet Dish, Seattle veterinarian Dr. Cary Waterhouse wrote a post implying that rescued pit bulls cannot be rehabilitated.
If you've read my past posts about pit bulls you know I don't agree, but I do have some common ground with Dr. Waterhouse.
He says that people who choose to have a pit bull often "fail to take into account the "˜needs' of a dog in terms of social structure, and the consequences of not providing this structure."
I completely agree with Dr. Waterhouse, and his statement applies to all breeds. If you don't provide your dog an outlet for the traits that have been bred into them over the course of hundreds of years, it will find an outlet itself which can be excessive barking, aggressive behavior, digging up your yard, or eating your couch.
Dr. Waterhouse also says, and I agree, that "a dog owner can shape the behavior of his pet both willingly, through training – sit, stay, lie down, attack; or unwillingly through neglect (not providing the social structure, basic needs like food, etc.)."
Our opinions diverge paths, however after he poses these questions:
"So through irresponsible and unethical "˜selection' for traits to make a dog an aggressive fighter or drug guardian, has a population been created that now has a tendency for these traits on a more genetic level? How "˜ingrained' into the breed's genetics are these traits (we have been selecting for some traits for a hundred years or more, the dog fighters have not been doing so on an appreciable level for nearly so long)?"
"Can the "˜undesirable' tendencies in an individual (chasing cats, people aggression, fighting) be overcome through training and removal from a bad situation, or are these "˜part of' who the dog is?"
My opinion is that the vast majority rescued pit bulls, even those who have been forced into dog fighting, CAN be rehabilitated and become loving pets when these dogs are taken from the torturous conditions inflicted on them by the inhuman monsters who use them for dog fights.
Many people and pit bulls have proven this. For example:
- Hector, a pit bull rescued from Michael Vick's dog fighting ring is now a certified service dog
- Another pit bull rescued from Vick's operation is a therapy dog for cancer patients
- Pits for Patriots trains rescued pit bulls to be "service dogs for veterans and first responders in need"
- The pit bull rescue group Our Pack, Inc. has successfully trained some of its rescues to be therapy dogs
But Dr. Waterhouse never really answers the questions he poses.Then he goes on to say that most of the pit bulls he sees are "wonderful pets" but he qualifies his statement and finishes the article by saying:
"But then, the people I see on a regular basis tend not to be also participating in dog fighting and drug dealing – so the sample I am seeing is likely not the product of these undesirable situations."
In this statement Dr. Waterhouse doesn't exactly say that pit bulls from people "participating in dog fighting and drug dealing" cannot be rehabilitated but he sure does imply it.
A more accurate statement, in my opinion, would be that some individual pit bulls, like dogs of any breed, will have behavioral problems that are so bad and potentially harmful that they have to be put down; however, the vast majority of them, including the rescues, are gentle, loving dogs that make excellent pets if they are treated humanely and trained properly.
Am I splitting hairs here about semantics?
But given the misunderstanding and prejudice some people already have about pit bulls, I don't think anyone, especially a veterinarian, should leave the question open as to whether or not rescued pit bulls can be rehabilitated.
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