PeTEY ~ Defending Pitbulls Against PeTA

Resisting Ingrid Newkirk’s Ahab-Like Crusade Against an Entire Dog Breed

There are now a number of pages defending the noble pit bull (also called Staffordshire Terrier) against the shrill hysterics of people like Newkirk, who has called for the extermination of Pit Bulls. This pages aspires to an animal-rights focus on that issue. Besides, lots of vegetarians around here seem to own pitbulls and we hill folk don’t cotton to no bigot messin’ with our dogs.

To Hell and Back This month’s featured pit bull rescue group pledges to go to hell and back to rescue pit bulls who currently reside there, before groups like Newkirk’s PeTA work their will and see that these poor animals’ miserable lives of pain are unrelieved by so much as a moment’s respite before they are put to death. To Hell and Back encourages a vegan lifestyle and, in fact, feeds their rescued pit bulls a vegan diet. Even though dogs (unlike humans) actually are natural carnivores, they are getting all the amino acids they need and are said to be thriving.

PeTA’s Wicked Witch Calls for Death of Vicktory Dogs Ingrid Newkirk, the Wicked WitchWitch of the East, has sent her flying monkeys aloft to try to bring about the death of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s dog-fighting compound. While groups like the Best Friends Animal Society worked quietly to save them, the strident voice of PeTA was demanding their destruction. According to the Best Friends website, “Best Friends worked behind the scenes to ensure the dogs’ future, even as other groups pushed for them to be euthanized. A spokeswoman from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called them ‘ticking time bombs,‘ and said that ‘rehabilitating fighting dogs is not in the cards.’” Ms. Newkirk might also have said, "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!”

WillieWillie Nelson Speaks Out Against Dog Fighting Willie Nelson urges us to  work to strengthen dog fighting laws in Georgia, where light penalties have created a pit fighting sanctuary.

The Pit Bull Temperament  “The American Temperament Test Society tests dogs for such traits as stability, shyness, aggressiveness, friendliness and protectiveness. Last year, the more than 1,000 pit bulls it tested passed at a higher-than-average rate. They tested better than beagles, cocker spaniels, collies and Pomeranians.“ Kelley Benham” in The St. Petersburg Times

ChainsEven people and groups who support and defend ”Bully” breeds accept the conventional wisdom that Pit Bulls, though usually friendly toward people, are naturally aggressive toward dogs and warn those considering adopting pit bulls accordingly. In my experience with dogs, which is fairly extensive, Prospective owners should, in my view, instead be warned of the Pit Bull’s strength, which can be an issue if the dog has not yet been trained. Here is a letter I wrote to the Pit Bull Rescue Center on that point:

I am impressed by the intelligence and design of your site and the information there. However, as one who has been around dogs all my life, I question the assertion often repeated even by pro-pit bull organizations such as yours: that, due to their breeding, pit bulls are intrinsically more aggressive toward other dogs than other breeds. I have not found that to be the case. I worked with two of my own pit bulls in a group formed to train service dogs. During the two years of that group’s existence, there were two dog fights at our training sessions. The aggressor in one case was a German Shepherd seizure dog, the other was a seasoned Golden Retriever wheelchair dog. In both cases my Pit Bull dogs looked on indifferently.

As you must know, there is an enormous difference in personalities within all dog breeds, Pit Bulls included. I do not believe that breeding can produce such precise results; if it could we would no longer have to train service dogs; we could simply breed service work into them.

All dogs will, by nature, fight. In the days when dogs were commonly allowed to run loose dog fights were common. Pit Bulls, because of their strength, simply tend to do more damage when they DO fight. If you know of data from controlled, double-blind, peer-reviewed experiments that clearly demonstrate that Pit Bulls are genetically more aggressive than other dogs, I’d be very interested in reading it. If not, damning Pit Bulls with the faint praise of “Pit Bulls are only vicious toward other dogs” is doing them a disservice.

Nonetheless, I repeat that I think your website is excellent. Forgive me for this single quibble.     Yours truly, John Mayer

The Bully Buzz  A well-designed and entertaining newsletter, The Bully Buzz, is offered free via email by The Pit Bull Rescue Center. My favorite section is “Pit Bull Heroes” which features Pit Bulls which have contributed in some tangible way to the betterment of humanity. In some shelters these Pit Bull Heroes would have been euthanized “on presentation,” with no chance to be adopted.

The Vicktory Dogs  Defenders of Pit Bulls want people to know that Pit Bulls are, by nature, loving, even-tempered dogs, and that the ones who go bad are aberrations, their natural loyalty twisted and perverted by sadistic, heartless and greedy men. But what about the dogs that are so abused, those that have actually fought in the blood pit? Can their better natures overcome this cruelty? Looks like it.  Vicktory Dogs

Though Forced to Fight, Vick’s Pit Bulls OK for Placement Not only are Pit Bull dogs not the mindless killers the uninformed, the prejudiced, a sensationalistic press and Ingrid Newkirk make them out to be, even those forced to fight can remain, at heart, loving animals. Almost all of notorious dog fighter and former quarterback Michael Vicks’ abused and brutalized dogs have been found to be eligible for placement; only one was found to be so tormented and deranged that it must be destroyed. As the owner of a rescued fighting dog this comes as no surprise to me. Further details from the ASPCA, which participated in the evaluation.

One More Good Dog Lost to Newkirk-style Stupidity  A shelter worker who knows what great family dogs pit bulls can be reports: ?There was a family at the shelter yesterday looking for a dog to add to their family. Mama Cass, our big pit mix - she actually looks like a pit perhaps only around the eyes and with respect to her body build -  spied the three kids coming, grabbed up a tennis ball, and stood at the side of her pen waiting. The parents Mama Casslooked at her and asked what kind of dog she is. Amber told them a pit mix and they immediately said they didn't want her because she was a pit. These idiots ended up taking...a very mouthy male Doberman mix. I can't even figure that.“ Had Amber told them Mama Cass was a part Staffordshire, or simply a mixed breed, both equally valid responses, this loving and intelligenet dog would be part of this family. Amber might also have mentioned that this breed is known as the “Nanny Dog” in England because it so good with children. If you’d like to consider adopting Mama Cass - she really doesn't look at all like a pit to me, and, in fact, may have little or no pit blood - trasportation can be arranged to the Knoxville area. Read more about Cass and see more photos at

Don’t Make Me FightTwo Moving Pit Bull Videos The Humane Society has sponsored a contest for the most effective video against dog-fighting. The quite effective winners are posted here, with links to other entries on YouTube.

Does Vick Deserve Compassion? Michael Vick, a star quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons, has pleaded guilty to charges associated with running a dog-fighting operation. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference initially, and the NAACP more recently have pleaded for mercy for Michael VIck. A bit ironic, since Vick had earned - I use the word advisedly - public contempt for his complete lack of mercy, not only forcing dogs into inflicting grievous wounds on one another and dying miserable deaths, but also summarily executing dogs, some with his own hand, that he felt didn’t measure up to his standards of viciousness.

This is not simply an athlete who has erred by doing a little betting, or has sought to gain an edge in his competitive world by the use of steroids; this is a man, for lack of a better term, who has found pleasure in the vile cruelty. Do we really want to give him another chance to enter the public arena and serve as a role model once again?

Vick’s dogs gave their lives because they were placed in situations wherein they probably believed their master was in danger. Pit bull and other dogs are often willing to give their lives for the humans they love. Their reward, if their best isn’t good enough, or even if they triumph but are so wounded and injured that vet costs would be high? A bullet in the brain from the one they were trying to protect. Or maybe, in their weakened state, being strangled by their owner while their simple minds try vainly to fathom how they have failed him.

Their is enough pain and cruelty in the world. We don’t need to reward those who introduce more, simply to satisfy their twisted thirst for “entertainment.” Isn’t public disgrace and the loss of a paycheck for a couple of years punishment enough? No. Let his fortunes dwindle, let him sink into the gutter where he belongs. Maybe some day some young and heartless filmmaker will give him and some other homeless person a few bucks to film them bum-fighting, another of our nation’s disgraces, but one, happily, less common. Maybe then, at last, Vick will understand. But let’s hope that by then the public will no longer associate torture with entertainment.

With Friends Like PeTA, Who Needs Enemies?  Many concerned with animal welfare have long debated whether PeTA does more good than harm. On the one hand lngrid Newkirk's group has helped make the phrase "Animal Rights" a household word. On the other hand, some of their ill-conceived campaigns have attracted derision and helped to characterize those who care about animals as crackpots. But one particularly unpleasant campaign of Ms. Newkirk demands comment: her crusade to wipe out a breed of dog she doesn't care for. Now, I'm all in favor of phasing out the very notion of dog breeds. Though I have long been fascinated by the many shapes the extremely plastic germ plasm of dogs can produce, I think the determination of some people to own only a certain type of dog, one they regard, as some do their cars, an extension of their personality, is one reason we have such an excess population of dogs today. Adopters will pass by wonderful animals that would have given them years of companionship, simply because they're not the breed that meets their preconceptions.

But Newkirk isn't talking about gradually phasing out dog breeds: she's talking about surrendering your beloved pet for execution. She is one of the nation's hysterics who advocates breed-specific bans, a position specifically opposed by The Humane Society and the ASPCA. In spite of all the evidence, she refuses to acknowledge that the Pit Bull, or Staffordshire Terrier, is far more sinned against than sinner, and that any dog, subjected to the vicious abuse certain types of owners commonly subject the Pit Bull to would also be driven to viciousness, be that a German Shepherd or, as she suggests, a Chihuahua. Of course, only the larger breeds would pose much of a threat. In her latest diatribe of June 8 Newkirk says: "The pit bull's ancestor. the Staffordshire terrier, is a human concoction, bred in my native England, I'm ashamed to say, as a weapon. These dogs were designed specifically to fight other animals and kill them, for sport." She doesn't mention that other dogs, for example the bull mastiff, were bred specifically to attack humans, or that the Boxer was also bred largely for fighting as was the "Spuds McKenzie' dog the Bull Terrier. Happily, the intent of their original breeders is not as integral to these animals as their physical appearance. Newkirk also fails to mention that in her native England the Pit Bulldog is commonly referred to as the Nanny dog because it is so good with children.

The Staffordshire not only is the "ancestor" of the pit bull, it IS the pit bull, though pits are now being routinely bred larger than Staffies. The divergence happened because the AKC scrutinized the dogs they register too closely for the comfort of those pathetic pieces of filth who like to let their dogs substitute for their own lack of manhood, so they started their OWN dog clubs primarily to register Pit Bulls. The first pit bull dog to be registered in this country, by the way, was the lovable Petey of Little Rascals fame. Further in the article Newkirk reveals the real reason for her implacable opposition to the survival of pit bulls: "I have scars on my leg and arm from my own encounter with a pit." I suppose the animal rights movement is fortunate that Ms. Newkirk was not bitten by a seal, or she'd be campaigning for the support of Canadian baby seal clubbing, urging that the little white buggers be wiped out before they're large enough to attack her.

Gypsy HugCuriously, I know four vegetarians who own pit bulls. Perhaps this is because we're in the South where pit bulls are more common than in some areas, or perhaps it's because vegetarians are more prone to rescue mistreated dogs. All of us find them loving and trustworthy pets. I, myself, having been a paper boy and a mailman, have been bitten many times. I've been attacked by Collies, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds and Golden Retrievers. As it happens, though I've rescued and owned several, I've never been bitten by a pit bull. Pit bulls, in fact, are not even on the list of the ten breeds most likely to bite.This subject could easily occupy a webpage to itself, and maybe that is a worthwhile future project. In the meantime, if you are considering donating money to an animal welfare group. I suggest you consider my own favorite Sea Shepherd or the Humane Society or the ASPCA or SNIPS or your own struggling animal shelter. They actually do some good for animals. Without any Captain Ahab-like vendettas against certain ones.

Learn about a more enlightened animal protection group, how they saved, rather than executed, a severely mutilated and discarded pit bull, and how that animal, Gypsy, is becoming the very symbol of international opposition to the cruelty of animal fighting.This group also needs your money worse than PeTA. Maybe we need a new group just to defend the scapegoated pit bull. How's about we call it PeTEY?

The Pit Bull Problem  Here's an excellent Flash movie called The Pit Bull Problem. Highly recommended, though please note warnings in the opening. For some reason this video keeps disappearing from the web. This is a degraded, third or fourth generation copy - the stationary cursor is annoying - but the only working copy I can find currently. Still worth watching; the best use of rap music I’ve encountered.

Pit Bulls - Dog Problem or Human Problem  Another good pit bull video, not quite as powerful as the one above, but better video quality.

Newkirk Toning Down her Rhetoric?  At a sheltering and rescue conference HSUS held a pit bull forum. Newkirk appeared on tape and, judging trom the report of the program on the HSUS’s Sheltering site, was much more muted in her pit bull attacks than in the past (see link to her statement, above, calling for the euthanizing and extermination of the breed). Has she seen the light? We’ll reserve judgment.

  Pit Bull Links

Beyond the Myth  Cover Y’all productions is bringing out a documentary to address the unfair stigma that is now attached to Pit Bulls. “[The film] explores the contributing factors behind the public's generalized fear of pit bulls and examines the conflict existing between advocates and opponents of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). It also investigates the myths associated with the breed and asks the question, ‘What exactly is a pit bull.’ ” You can help complete this project.

Bless the Bullies  Encouraging repsonsible ownership of all breeds, while emphasizing the particular duty of pit bull owners to act as ambassadors for this maligned breed. Also working to attempt to rescue as many of those bully breed dogs who are abused or abandoned and to oppose Breed-Specific Legislation. Located in Gainesboro, Tennessee.

Bully Breed Alliance and Rescue of Knoxville (BBARK)  No website yet. Email is KnoxBBARK @

East TN Pit Bull Rescue  Working to defend pit bulls both literally and in the media.

The Pit Bull Rescue Center  A virtual shelter and resource for owners and caretakers of American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and pit bull mixes.

BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls) A San Francisco area group that runs a number of programs to assist pit bulls and their owners, not the least of which is educating the public about the very unfair reputation this breed has been given.

Find the Pit Bull  Reports of pit bull attacks depend on an informed public and animal control officers to correctly identify the breed of the dog involved. Of course, everyone nowadays knows what a pit bull looks like. Don’t they?

Pit Bulls on the Web, mainained by Veronique Chesser, has its own version of the Find the Pit Bull challenge; this one may be even more confusing to those who think they know what a pit bull is.

Pet Pitbull “Balancing the media hype one dog at a time, meet everyday pit bull heroes!“ Another site maintained by Veronique Chesser. An extensive site chock full of information about the pit bull, maintained by Jason Mann. Lots of links to other sites and organizations.