An Open Letter to Charlotte Alter
I used to really respect TIME and enjoy reading the articles posted, until I read one of your most recent, “The Problem With Pit Bulls.” Your article is completely skewed to get readers to believe your ignorant way of thinking. I am truly sorry for people like you, people who hold prejudice and make judgments based on a breed or race and not for the individual character.
I am a 30 year old woman, only 115 lbs and I have owned pit bulls my entire life. Why do I share my age and size with you? To give you an idea of how a small woman like me shows no fear to this breed of dog. I have NEVER had an aggressive interaction with this breed of dog in my 30 years - and I don’t just own this breed and share my home with them, I have volunteered in many shelters with abused, neglected pit bulls as well. Let me also provide you with some facts here, since all the facts and quotes you provided with your readers were one-sided. Pit bulls are NOT in fact born inherently bad or bred to be violent. Instead, this breed was bred to be abused and tortured by humans as a source of entertainment. Dating back to the 1800’s, in the UK, the pitbull was used as a ‘bait’ dog in matches held for the pleasure of the low income and struggling classes (doesn’t sound much different than today, does it?!) These dogs were not born or bred to fight, instead, they were TRAINED to do so. Again, dating back to the 1800’s, pit bulls gained a reputation for their well-mannered and gentle nature with humans.
As history progressed, many pit bulls found their way over to America with their families. Here, they took on a new career - helping families with their livestock, protecting the home from intrusion, and going on hunts with its owner. Americans found this breed to be friendly, loyal, brave, and hardworking.
When creating a new breed, you essentially are taking 2 existing breeds and combining the qualities you want from each dog and making it into 1. The pit bull was created to form a dog that was fast, had great stamina, and a loyal attitude. I would love to know what this special, human-attacking- violent gene is that you are speaking of that would cause a pit bull to be born violent. What I am gathering is that you believe if two humans with a violent past had a child- they’re child is going to be born violent and bad? If that’s the case, we need to start taking action against humans as well.
Let’s talk about the pit bulls temperament for a moment because we both know that due to breed-specific dog legislation, temperament testing is extremely important. The 2013 American Temperament Test Society, or the ATTS, gave the American Pit Bull Terrior an 86.8% out of 100. This test includes how the dog behaves towards strangers (neutral and friendly), gunshots, hidden noises, visual similes, tactile stimuli, and self protective/aggressive behavior. If you’re arguing that a pit bull is bred to be violent, than why such a high percentage in their temperament? What you are saying does not coincide with this test and it also does not coincide with the millions of Americans who own gentle, wonderful, kind-spirited pit bulls.
Now, it’s easy to take an extreme here in this argument, and I’m not going to do that. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that all pit bulls are gentle souls that will never bite. In fact, I am not going to say that about ANY DOG! All dogs, all breeds, have the opportunity to snap, just like people. There may be 1 person who may rub you the wrong way and make you act out in a behavior that is not like your normal character, well, same goes for dogs. There are also many outside factors that can cause a person or animal to act out of its natural character. Let me name a few… Abuse. It is a fact that humans who are abused are more likely to act out and commit illegal acts than a human who has never been abused. A dog, may also act out had it been abused, starved, etc. Poor training. Children rely on their parents to teach them right and wrong, poor parenting can equate to poor judgement and in turn the child may grow up with many problems. Much like the human race, if a dog’s owner is not giving it the time and attention it needs, including training and teaching it temperament, it too may act out and grow to be a less than friendly dog who doesn’t know any better.
Let’s get to the bottom of this. What makes you fear a pit bull? Is it because it is strong and appears to be intimidating? I would assume this fear that some humans have developed against this breed start simply by its physical appearance. What’s next, what you heard in the media? I know many people who believe everything they hear or see without doing their own research, people who read articles, like your own, and make judgements without ever having their own interactions with the breed. I can also imagine that you equate your belief that pit bulls are a problem and “bad dog” based on your hanky statistics you provided in your article. Let’s say screw your statistics for a second and let’s just think with logic for a moment. Pit bulls are strong dogs. Dogs like a chihuahua, not so much. So in the case that a pit bull bites or attacks, yes, there will most likely be injuries. Had it been that small little tea cup dog, you’d probably laugh it off as it isn’t going to do much damage. Why am I telling you this? Because, I’m trying to find it in me to understand why you think that just because a dog is strong and can do more damage- why that means it is a violent dog? Small dog bites or attacks, are simply not going to be reported. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t happening. In fact, from my own experience, I can tell you that I personally have been attacked by only small dogs, and guess what!? My pit bull has also been attacked by small dogs on many occasions.
So are these small dogs a problem also? Or does it have nothing to do with the dogs and has to do with responsible owners? I noticed you challenged this thought in your article, but let me talk to you about that for a minute. How many times have you walked through your neighborhood and seen a dog owner walking their dog while on the phone or texting? How many times have you seen a dog unattended in it’s barely fenced in yard? Also, think about how many times you have seen owners walking and playing with their dogs in public places like the sidewalk or park WITHOUT a leash?! Is this responsible behavior? Or is this an example of why dog attacks happen in the first place? I will tell you this, my dog (no matter what breed I owned) would never even have the opportunity to hurt someone or something. Do you know why? Because I am a responsible owner. My dog is leashed, my dog is trained, my dog has my full attention when I am with him or her. I spend time with my dogs, I know their personality, their looks, their demeanor. This is why dog owners like me, do not experience problems with our dogs.
Now, let me dive into your article for a second as well. As I stated above, you seemed to shoot down the idea that bad ownership is the problem, but in your own article, you state that the little girl’s grandfather and his girlfriend are facing child-endangerment charges. This says something to me. This says that these two adults that were responsible for not only that beautiful child, but also for 3 large dogs, were incapable of giving the proper responsibility and care needed to create a safe environment. I want to take this even further by going onto your next sentence here where you talk about the fact that people are focusing on a rude KFC employee rather than pit bulls. Can I chime in here and tell you why people may be focusing on the human rather than the dogs - because many people believe that humans are superior to any animal. Many people believe that humans are much more intelligent and have a more developed brain to decide what’s right and what’s wrong. This KFC worker, exhibited extreme poor behavior and lacked the ability to sympathize. A human that portrays these sort of characteristics is much more dangerous to the human race than an animal (in many people’s opinions). Maybe that gives you a little insight on why people are paying such attention to that detail.
Finally, I don’t want to touch on this too much, as if I go on too long, I will be here all night, but in your article you swayed your readers to believe that the Michael Vick trial was a frustrating part of our history that lead Americans to be more sympathetic to pit bulls, and that simply isn’t true. Dog fighting and animal abuse is a serious crime. Many Americans, much like myself, believe that humans who can commit such violent and horrid acts are unfit for society as they are exhibiitng behaviors that show instability, imbalance, and disfunction. This case got a lot of attention not only because these poor dogs who never wanted to fight in the first place were used as pawns in his game to make money and be entertained, but also because people like that are most likely to go on to commit much worse crimes, perhaps on humans.
I would really like to live in a world where there are no prejudices, restrictions, mass euthanasia, etc… and quite frankly, I’m disgusted that you would write an article that would present information to people to create fear and cause more of that in our world.
I want to wrap this up with these simple statistics. In 2013, there were 32 deaths caused by dog attacks, 597,689 deaths due to heart disease, 574,743 deaths due to cancer, and 38,364 deaths due to suicide. Rather than focusing your time on writing an article that is intended skew readers to your way of thinking and try and convince readers to develop a prejudice - how about you get out, go for a run, watch what you eat, and stay mentally healthy - because as statistics show, you’re 1000% more likely to kill yourself than die from a dog attack.
God bless that little girl and I hope that she finds a life of less judgement and happiness.
Was feeling comfort food tonight. So, I put a twist on the traditional shepherd’s pie and made it #vegan #dairyfree and #glutenfree
Always making tacos. Tonight: Chicken, bell pepper, and jalapeño tacos with homemade pico de gallo and corn with a little heat. #glutenfree #dairyfree