Blame The People, Not The Breed

The American Pit Bull Terrier has been in the news of late, and, as is typically the case with this breed of dog, it’s been largely negative and riddled with misconceptions and generalizations.

We all know the story by now. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and others have been charged with organizing fights between pit bulls with up to thousands of dollars in wagering. Additionally, on Vick’s property in Virginia, the dogs, the losers reportedly in the fights, were reportedly killed in a number of inhumane ways including hanging and electrocution.

The future looks dark and stormy for Vick, who was once the poster child for the NFL and hyped as the future prototype of an All-Pro quarterback. One of Vick’s codefendants in the case flipped on him this week, saying the dog fighting operation was funded primarily by Vick, who has said from the outset he had no idea what has happening on his property. What seems to be becoming more and more evident as each day goes by in this investigation is Vick is a thug who runs with a tough crowd and has a questionable moral compass. Recent reports indicate he will see some time in prison and may never play football again.

In predictable fashion, some commentators have once again been harsh on the breed. Comments have ranged from vicious machines to aggressive by nature and prone to kill. Although it’s true there have been unfortunate incidents in the past involving pit bulls, there are other instances when tragedies have come about with other breeds. In many cases, to generalize is to err, and that’s certainly the case with those who say the breed wants to fight and kill and that Vick and his gang were merely making a hobby out of the dogs’ natural instincts.

As any pet owner realizes, a dog’s demeanor is largely a result of his upbringing, training and surroundings. Sure, the breed is responsible for part of the dog’s habits and its likes and dislikes, but it’s mainly the people who own it that instill proper behavior and a healthy routine in the animal, whether it’s a Labrador retriever, a German Sheppard, a beagle or a pit bull.

It’s difficult to imagine what kind of life these pit bulls lived prior to their fighting days. The detailed reports on the training they underwent are enough to sicken even the coldest of hearts. How awful it must have been to be repeatedly beaten and electrocuted by your owner to learn how to cope and deal with pain. All that horrible treatment was orchestrated in the name of earning some thugs some money. If blame is going to be dealt somewhere, it should be on the people who orchestrated this operation, not the dogs or, more specifically, the breed.

What is most unsettling about the whole situation is this dog operation would have likely still been in operation today if it were not for one fateful drug bust. Vick’s cousin, who had been caught with drugs, gave Vick’s Virginia home as his address. Consequently, when authorities searched the home for additional drugs, they discovered what was happening on this property.

As sickening as it is to think about what these animals went through, it’s even more appalling to think it could still be going on today if it were not for a simple drug arrest.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.