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Columnist reflects the public ignorance and fear surrounding pit bulls

I was disheartened to read Dan Rodricks' inflammatory piece on pit bull owners, particularly one that rails against animals that cannot defend themselves against the ignorance of people ("Pit bulls: Own them at your risk," May 1).

While I am disgusted overall by Mr. Rodricks' stance on pit bulls, a breed that I have always found to be loyal, loving and playful, I have a few specific concerns I feel I must point out.

The language in Mr. Rodricks' opinion is not only biased, but it is ignorant. He claims that the pit bulls are "tethered or chained to their owners." Why use those words, when these fine dog owners are simply being responsible and keeping their dogs on a leash?

Would Mr. Rodricks consider a golden retriever that is leashed in a park to be "tethered or chained," as if they were being held in some kind of medieval captivity? In any case, these responsible owners are just following Baltimore City's leash law.

Also, Mr. Rodricks ignores the fact that pit bull attacks are, by and large, wholly the fault of the owners. Pit bulls are not born with a preternatural desire to bite; that's something they are taught by cruel owners who raise them to fight and who are more monster than human.

Any animal that is cared for, treated well and trained not to attack, bite or jump on people will not do so. These are things that any animal can do — a golden doodle can bite and a Chihuahua can maim a baby. If an animal doesn't get along with other dogs or strange people, it is the owner's responsibility to restrain it.

Yet because some breeds don't have the same kind of baggage that pit bulls do, they don't suffer the same abuse that pit bulls do before they end up in an overwhelmed animal shelter.

It seems there is a lot of ignorance and fear regarding pit bulls in the minds of judges, and Mr. Rodricks seems to fall victim to it as well. Instead of condemning pit bulls, we should be supporting the owners who are taking these wonderful dogs in and caring for them in a way that, prior to their adoption, they may never have experienced.

Carl Armstrong, Baltimore

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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