Insight On Pit-Bull Attacks

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

Pit-bulls have the reputation of being aggressive dogs, but some say it isn't the fault of the animal.

"It's more of an irresponsible owner issue than breed issue," said SPCA Executive Director Susanne Kogut.

"The old fashion ways of training where we jerked the dog around-we used averse and forced them to comply with what we wanted them to do-actually created more problems for our dogs," said dog trainer Tara McLaughlin. "That can actually create an aggression problem."

Pit-bulls are traditionally friendly dogs, despite the stereotype.

"His name says it all, his name's 'Goofy'-so he's a big goofball," said SPCA employee and Pit-Bull owner Greg Pumphney. He's very loving. He'll go up to cat and lick it in the face. He'll go up to a dog lick it in the face. He doesn't have any aggression."

Owners love their personality, but it's their eagerness that can make them aggressive if some owners encourage it.

"They are very will to do whatever you want them to do. That's why some people will train them to fight, because they're so eager, so willing to train and wanting to please their owners," said Pumphney.

Albemarle County Animal Control offered the following tips if you run into one of these aggressive dogs:

Avoid trying to stare down the dog. Also, stay away from pepper spray; use household ammonia in a spray bottle instead. You can also use an ordinary dish towel to distract the dog or hit it across the bridge of the nose to calm it down.

The Commonwealth has a registry for aggressive dogs.

"These are dogs that have had a bite incident, have been through the court process, and the court has found them to be dangerous dogs. Dangerous dogs [now] are required to be micro-chipped," said Kogut.

If you are raising dogs on your own, trainers suggest reward-based training to develop a healthy relationship with your dog.

To report an aggressive dog, you can contact Animal Control at 434-977-9041.

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