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Animal experts working to dispel 'dangerous pit bull' stereotype

By Casey Lund, Good Morning Northwest Reporter, caseyl@kxly.com
Published On: Apr 11 2014 06:43:26 PM CDT
pit bull terrier dog closeup

iStock/suemack

SPOKANE, Wash. -

Animal experts are working to change the stereotype that all pit bulls are dangerous, but a rash of dog attacks involving pit bulls this last week isn't helping change that image.

Pit bulls and pit bull mixes are the number one biting dog in Spokane County, but that doesn't explain what's actually happening. SCRAPS reports despite their bad reputation these dogs get adopted all the time.

"This last week has been unusual and I am not sure why," Nancy Hill of SCRAPS said of the recent attacks involving pit bulls. "We were all wondering if it was a full moon."

Every animal SCRAPS re-homes goes through a behavior assessment; Hill said the recent pit bull attacks involved dogs that weren't adopted through SCRAPS.

Before re-homing an animal, SCRAPS uses a method approved by the ASPCA for determining its level of aggression, fear, and other traits that could mean bad news. Dogs are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the perfect dog with no issues while a dog that scores 5 isn't safe to re-home

"We have a lot of pit bulls that test out at 1 and that is like the perfect dog, it's fine to go into a family fine to go into a home with other pets and we recommend those for families," Hill said.

In the 30 years she's been here, Hill said there has been a shift in popularity with big dog breeds.

"Back in the day it was the Doberman, followed by the Rottweiler and German Shepherd and now its the pit bull, and we're moving, I think, towards the mastiff," she said.

Jamie and Levi Donomoski were out at SCRAPS Friday. Their family isn't quite ready for a dog right now but they're getting to know as many as possible. They have three kids at home and say they have no reservations about adopting a pit bull.

"I think it has a lot to do with the handlers and the owners," Jamie said.

That's the message echoed by Hill. In 2013 there were 35 pit bull bites. The second dog on the list was the Labrador Retriever with 30 bites.

"Every dog has the potential to be a good or a bad dog, depending on responsible ownership and whether that owner has trained the dog and socialized it," Hill said.

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