pit bulls (private response, also through C_L)
From: Sarah Lesher (sarah.leshergmail.com)
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2021 08:14:12 -0700 (PDT)
Nancy --

As I said to Dean Smith, who made the first post, and whom I know:

The problem with pit bulls isn't their aggression; it's that they were bred
to have extremely powerful jaws, and when they bite down they won't let
go.  Which is why it is safe for a human to grab them by the hind legs and
pull them away.  (As I have.) Unlike other dogs they won't release their
prey to snap at you.  But that doesn't keep whatever creature, canine,
feline or human that their teeth are embedded in, from being badly injured.


It happened with a pit bull I walked my dogs with regularly and a boxer I
also knew well, who was the pit bull's best buddy -- until he wasn't.
Massive damage to the boxer; likely he never really recovered.

Other breeds -- the Dobermans my sister used to have -- Rottweilers, German
Shepherds, Akidas -- and I've had housemates with all these breeds
except Akidas --  also have a reputation as guard dogs.  But their jaws
were never bred to be as strong as pit bulls were.

I was in an AKC agility class where the real aggressor to my dog and others
was a black lab mix.  Even though this dog didn't go directly after a pit
bull who was also in the class, the pit bull jumped in to defend a third
dog from the black lab mix. Chaos ensued as a large group of experienced
dog people tried to make sure the nasty aggressive black lab mix wasn't
macerated by a pit bull that though normally sweet, had lost its patience.
The black lab mix was clearly much more aggressive than the pit bull, but a
bite from the powerful jaws of the pit bull could cause much more damage.

Of course pitties were once baby minders: you could be sure no one would
dare try to kidnap or hurt the child!  But I was nervous for the four-year
old great-grandaughter of my neighbor, the pit bull owner.  He (age 74) was
raising because her parents and grandparents weren't.

The pit bull used to amuse himself by hanging for hours by his teeth from a
tire-rope swing.  What if a bee had stung him, or a neighboring dog upset
him?  Could he have been trusted to not accidentally bite the child?  My
own beloved Tervuren bit me by accident trying to protect me from an Akida.
Other dog-savvy people were also unsettled about the four-year old's
situation.

I always felt nervous walking with that pit bull, because I had a young dog
who occasionally nipped hocks (she must have had some herder in her), but
then used the puppy defence of rolling on her back, which normally signals
to other dogs, "hey, I cry uncle, don't hurt me."

But even before the attack of this (otherwise apparently sweet) pit bull on
his boxer friend, I worried that he might not get that "I cry uncle"
signal, or respond properly.  I'd heard of pit bulls disemboweling dogs who
were on their backs crying uncle.

I refuse to live with pit bulls.  Even though the daughter of a good friend
rescues them.

But then a black lab was infamous for tearing off his mistress's face while
she was passed out. And I knew a modest-sized mixed breed who -- months
after I warned the owners he was food-aggressive -- sailed across a coffee
table and ripped the face of a woman sitting there eating potato chips.

Interesting discussion in RadioLab on human and dog brains:
https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/episodes/91701-animal-minds

--Sarah Lesher, speaking for myself only
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