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08-30-2003, 12:57 PM
Michigan state wide ban on Pit Bulls proposed


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Attack on boy spurs plan to ban pit bulls in state
Critics say dogs unfairly targeted for owners' errors
By Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Brian Johnson's wounds have healed, but the emotional scars run
deep from an attack by a pair of pit bulls two years ago.

Johnson, a 13-year-old middle school student, was bitten by two pit bulls in
April 2001 after the animals escaped from the back yard of their owners. The
dogs tore into Johnson's flesh, leaving 1-inch scars on his back, arms and

"It was frightening," Brian said. "I was trying to hold them between my legs
and then stop one so I could focus on the other one. I was just trying my
best to survive."

Today, the lawyer for Brian and his family will launch an admittedly uphill
effort to draft legislation that would ban pit bulls from the state.
Southfield attorney Arnold Reed will meet with state Sen. Samuel "Buzz"
Thomas, D-Detroit, about the idea.

"We are talking about a vicious animal that was born and bred for violence
and fighting," Reed said.

Reed's proposal faces strong opposition from pit bull owners, who argue that
a ban would unfairly target one breed.

Pit bull owner Richard Tuttle Jr. of Macomb Township said he opposes a ban
"because it boils down to an owner-responsibility issue," said Tuttle, a
35-year-old father of two and automotive engineer. "It comes down to the
responsibility of the owner such as keeping the dog on a leash and on its
own property."

If, as is likely, the Legislature does not ban the breed, Reed would like to
see a law that places age requirements and mandates criminal background
checks on prospective pit bull owners. There are no statistics or records on
the number of pit bulls in the state, and Detroit animal control officials
do not rank dog bites or attacks by breeds.

In the past decade, several Metro Detroit communities have passed bans to
outlaw pit bulls. But some, such as Pontiac, ended up rescinding the
ordinances after public outcry that the bans unfairly penalized pit bulls
and their owners.

In Waterford Township, the ban was hotly debated when it was first proposed,
Clerk Betty Fortino said. The ban, which went into effect in June 1993,
carries a $500 fine and a 90-day jail sentence for residents caught owning a
pit bull.

"We had everything from complete approval to complete outrage," Fortino
said. "We haven't had any problems since (the ban was enacted)."

Reed said a Wayne Circuit jury's decision last month to award Brian Johnson
and his family $500,000 for damages suffered from the pit bull attack --
believed to be one of the largest jury awards in a dog-attack case in
Michigan history -- "sends a message that people recognize the vicious
nature of these animals."

"Every time you pick up the newspaper, you are hearing about one of these
vicious animals attacking young children," said Reed, a former pit bull
owner himself. He decided he no longer wanted to own one when one of his pit
bulls attacked the other one.

"They are the only breed that has a mechanism where they can lock their
jaws," Reed said. "These dogs are kind of like dangerous weapons."

But Tuttle, who has a 4-year-old pit bull terrier named Libby along with two
other dogs, said he trusts the dog with his two young children. But he adds
that owners of any breed of dog must make sure they handle the animals

"I never leave my kids and dogs in a situation where one can hurt the
other," Tuttle said.

Sean Nowicki, 30, a preveterinary student at Oakland University, said the
inbreeding of pit bulls has increased the animals' aggressiveness.

"It was a trait that was not supposed to be encouraged in the breed,"
Nowicki said. "Most of the attacks that happen are from pit bulls that are
not even pure breds. They are cross breeds. They are bred with (bull)

Nowicki said to put a ban on the ownership would not only be impossible
because of the broad definition of what a pit bull is, but also would be

"There isn't a breed that doesn't have any vicious dogs," Nowicki said.
"There are good and bad in every breed. Just like in humans."

You can reach Oralandar Brand-Williams at (313) 222-2690 or

08-30-2003, 06:54 PM

Many of you know that this is a VERY sensitive issue for me. I think I'm literally turning red over reading this, even though I see it all the time. I'm sorry if what I have to say seems a little rough, but nothing sends my emotions into overdrive more than this issue. I am so sad about the boy, but I'm going to avoid talking about him for the moment if you don't mind.......

"We are talking about a vicious animal that was born and bred for violence
and fighting," Reed said.

Give me a *$%@#*& break!!!! This is a COMPLETELY uneducated response and the idea that someone could actually say something like this without knowing a single goddamn thing about the breed just makes me want to meet them in a dark alley late at night. Unfortunately, the sad fact is that there are more "pit bulls" than Labs out there, but most of them aren't pets. "pit bulls" were NEVER bred for aggression towards humans - just the opposite, in fact. The American Pit Bull Terrier was originally bred for bull baiting. Eventually, some very sick people decided to capitalize on the amazing strength and tenacity of this breed, and then dog fighting became a popular "sport". The "dogmen" as they call themselves, came to realize that it was very important that their fighting dogs were extremely bite-inhibited when it came to people, because they needed to feel confident that they would not get bit when they reached into the ring to grab their dogs.

As someone who spends a lot of time working with rescued American Pit Bull Terriers, I have seen just how strong this inhibition is in many dogs of the breed. For example, we once had a dog at the shelter named Atticus, who was extremely dog aggressive due to poor socialization (He was never fought). One day, as I was letting him out of his cage to take him for a walk, one of the other dogs got loose and came running over to make friends. Atticus flipped out. He lunged at the dog and almost took a chunk out of him until I managed to get in between. I jumped in front of Atticus just as he was about to bite the other dog. He got a mouthful of my knee instead. Was I hurt? Not at all. The second Atticus realized that his teeth were on a human, he calmed down. My own dog, Mack, is this same way. He absolutely despises having his nails trimmed, but he'd never bite me. He tries to bite the clippers and kicks like a wild horse, but I really think this dog would rather chew his own leg off than bite a person.

These examples are not exceptions to the rule. Bite inhibition, as well as trust, friendliness, and loyalty, are what these amazing dogs were bred for. Yeah, they were also bred for inter-species aggression, but thankfully, this trait is becoming extinct as the breed evolves (Even though I'm against breeding, I'm thankful for the fact that APBTs are more often being bred for companionship now than for fighting.)

A great source for info on breed temperament is The American Temperament Test Society (www.atts.org). According to the results of their tests, APBTs consistantly score better than Golden Retrievers.

Another thing that blows my mind - What Richard Tuttle, the "pit bull" owner mentioned in the article, said is right on. Responsible owners do not have dogs that attack people, because they are able to control their dogs.

Aside from anyone's personal feelings on the breed, breed bans do not work. "pit bulls" are illegal in Evanston, IL; yet Evanston is one of the 3 worst areas in the Chicagoland area for dog fighting. When "pit bulls" are outlawed, only outlaws will own "pit bulls".

Another thing - There is no such breed as a "pit bull", hence the quotes. For legislative purposes, a "pit bull" is defined as ANY medium sized dog with a large muscular head. Most dog guardians can't pick out an American Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or American Staffordshire Terrier, from several other breeds, let alone people that don't know anything about animals. How the *&$# is anyone going to assign characteristics to a breed that doesn't even exist?

OMG.....I could literally type for the next 3 hours, but I'm going to stop here because my date is picking me up soon and I don't want him to deal with my crabbiness.

Some people just make me sick.

08-30-2003, 07:24 PM
I'm a firm believer in that there are no "bad" dogs, just bad and irresponsible owners. I've never had a bad experience with a pit bull and used to frequent a very busy dog park. In fact, my dog's girlfriend is a (vegetarian) pit bull.

People are also forgetting that many war dogs were pit bulls who died for their country and that these dogs were also GREAT family dogs in the first part of the century.

I had so much more to say but Kelly pretty much sums it up for me.


08-31-2003, 03:45 PM
geez, I leave Michigan for two weeks and it starts to fall apart.

I agree that this is quite crazy. But...on the topic of potentially violent dogs, I used to want to create a sanctuary for dogs that were violent towards humans and would otherwise be euthanized. It's a bit unfair for humans to think that the worth of a dog's life is dependent upon whether or not he or she is nice towards them. Unfortunately, I think that a lot of people would insist on euthanasia anyway....

One thing I want to know as well is what would they do with all of these pit bulls? Rather...I don't think I want to know that...

08-31-2003, 04:50 PM
Originally posted by spacehippy
It's a bit unfair for humans to think that the worth of a dog's life is dependent upon whether or not he or she is nice towards them. Unfortunately, I think that a lot of people would insist on euthanasia anyway.... Just to be fair, if weíre talking about public outcry and social values this kind of thing isnít unique to our doggy friends. We also ďput downĒ human animals that are considered dangerous offenders. Iím not saying thatís right mind you, but thatís the way itís done in some places.

Originally posted by spacehippy
One thing I want to know as well is what would they do with all of these pit bulls? Rather...I don't think I want to know that...There are a bunch of cities/townships around here that have enacted similar bans, and from what I gather most people are for it. Iím not sure how it defines a pit bull, but the ban doesnít affect existing dogs. New dogs arenít allowed to be brought into the city. Iím not sure how it handles people with old dogs that want to move here. :confused:

Personally, I donít think a ban on an entire breed is the best way to address this problem. I do however think that offending dogs need to be removed from society, just as is done with offending humans; spacehippy's sanctuary idea is a good one. Several cases that Iíve read about have involved dogs who have attacked people on several occasions. The most recent one in my memory attacked three children before it was put down. :(

I was personally attacked by a violent dog when I was 6 or 7ish. It was my neighbours dog; I donít remember the breed. He lunged forward grabbing my face and pushed me to the ground. I was screaming and kicking but he was way stronger than me. The attack didnít last that long because somebody saved me, but I was covered in scratches and the left side of my upper lip had been mostly torn/chewed off. I had to hold my lip to my face as we drove to the doctorís office where it was stitched back on. I still have a scar and Iím still very much afraid of many big dogs. The dog that bit me was killed.

08-31-2003, 10:10 PM
Originally posted by Adams
Just to be fair, if weíre talking about public outcry and social values this kind of thing isnít unique to our doggy friends. We also ďput downĒ human animals that are considered dangerous offenders. Iím not saying thatís right mind you, but thatís the way itís done in some places. Irony is, Michigan is one of the minority of states where this is not the case.

09-01-2003, 08:37 PM
*$##$%$## freaking MI morons. It astonishes me at how idiotic my state can be.

In Canton, MI, a town about 15 mins from me, there even is a ban on feeding wild birds b/c its an inconvience for non-bird feeders. Its also illegal to own many birds (not sure if its any birds/ X number of birds) b/c the noise could disturb your neighbors.

How about instead of banning "pit bulls" we ban idiots? Id be *MUCH* more interested in euth'ing sob ppl than poor defenseless dogs that are only trying to make their owners happy.

09-01-2003, 09:54 PM
Helen Keller had two pit bulls. Imagine that.

09-15-2003, 12:41 PM
Argh. Not surprisingly, I'm with Kelly K here-- most people wouldn't know a pitbull if it (pardon the expression) bit them on the ass! I also agree that in my experience they tend to be ludicrously submissive towards humans, and the much-vaunted aggression comes out in response to other dogs. Very sad. But what this reminds me of is a paper sent to the shelter the other day by a woman who had previously adopted a dog from us and was at her wit's end trying not to have to return her. A representative from her insurance agency had come to her house (for what reason???), seen that she had a dog (a smallish spayed female shepherd-cross), asked what kind of dog that was, was told "a shepherd mutt", and promptly informed the woman that her policy would be cancelled if she did not get rid of the dog!!! They sent her an official list of banned dogs, which is what she forwarded to us in a plea for help. The list includes the expected Presa Canarios and Dogo Argentinos, but also (of course) Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Chow-Chows, German Shepherds, a few others I forget, and ANY CROSSBREEDS THEREOF!!!!! Argh! It seems like virtually all the major insurance providers have similar lists, as well. Thankfully, she has the resources to get legal help, and we all hope she will be able to keep both her insurance and her sweet dog. But for the record, if anyone asks you what kind of mutt you have, always go with "Lab cross".....

09-15-2003, 02:33 PM
Originally posted by herbi
But for the record, if anyone asks you what kind of mutt you have, always go with "Lab cross".....

Works every time! ;)

09-16-2003, 10:55 AM
Incidently, the dogs that bite people most are collies according to at least two sources I have read. You can't imagine anyone trying to ban border collies though can you?

I agree with the sentiment that there are no bad dogs, just bad people. What is that poem about if you treat a child with kindness it will grow to be kind but if you treat it with anger it will grow to be fearful? Well it's the same with dogs. They are a product of their 'owners'.

With pit bulls, their strengh and size frightens people, as with dobies, rotties, and german shephards. The thing is, I know many more vicious Terriers than I do big dogs, but because they are small, they get away with it. *yappy smiley*

*growls at the injustice*

09-16-2003, 11:42 PM
Quite a few condos here will not let you purchase or rent a unit if you have an "aggressive" breed (pit bull, rottweiler, doberman). My friend was going to purchase a condo and couldn't because she has a pit bull (who is btw vegetarian!). ARGH...

12-20-2008, 10:52 PM
Ok, so my family have owned and used to breed pitbulls. I have been around them since I was a small child and am currently 40 years old. I currently own 2 pitbulls, which I got from the P.B. rescue league. I also own 3 cats. Never, and I repeat, Never have I had a problem with any of my pitbulls. They love other animals, children and people. I have a female rednose that is 11 years old. Had her from a pup and everyone that meets her falls in love. They are such good dogs and love everyone. The ban is absolutely retarded. If anything they should start doing background checks and home checks. Not all pits are bad it is the owners that are bad. I would be devastated if they banned them. My dogs are part of my family and I would not even consider owning another breed. (no offense, I love all dogs) But am partial to pits because that is what I grew up with. They make excellent family dogs under the right conditions. I have plenty of friends that had low opinions of the breed until they met my dogs. The whole breed should not be persecuted because of people's ignorance. It is not only unjust, but unethical as well. Who are we to decide the extinction of anyone or any living thing? We are not God, nor should we play God.

12-20-2008, 10:58 PM
Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thomas Edison, Woodrow Wilson, John Steinbeck, Helen Keller, and Fred Astaire have all been proud to own dogs of this breed. The actor Ken Howard (the father on the TV show Crossing Jordan) even credits his pit bull with saving his life.