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Are pit bulls dangerous or just demonized?


We hear about pit bull attacks all the time.

Over 600 U.S. cities have adopted breed specific laws regulating them. But is the dog a dangerous  breed?

Channel 3's Amber Southard posed that question to pit bull owners and a veterinarian and has their thoughts on nurture versus nature.
 
"Over the years pit bulls have gotten a bad stigma attached to them, but is it nurture verses nature that shows their true tendencies?"

When you hear of a dog attack the first breed associated is typically the pit bull. According to dog bite.org, between 2005 to 2012 pit bulls killed 151 Americans and accounted for 60 percent of the total recorded deaths by canines.

Kimber Dillon's daughter found out first hand what a pit bulls jaws are capable of. When she was 2 years old a family member's rescued pit bull,  who had bitten a person before, attacked Hanna. 

"All I heard was a scream and it was my aunt screaming and how I was told is that my daughter walked by the dog and looked at the dog he got up and just took a chunk out of her face," Dillon said.

Her wound required nearly 100 stitches.

"Her face was laying down on her neck and I could see her teeth," Dillon said.

After the attack Kimber and Hanna were terrified of the breed.

"Once that happened to her I didn't want anything to do with them. I didn't want them near my child every time I saw one I grabbed my child up."   

Hanna now has a tiny scar to remind her of that day. But the scar is only skin deep. Now neither mother or daughter are afraid of the breed anymore. In fact Hanna's best friend is a pit bull named Daisy.

"She has never growled at me or nipped at me and has never attacked anybody. She's just been so calm and collected," Dillon said.

So is it nurture or nature that makes Daisy a good family dog? Veterinarian Angela Bentley says she's seen many mean dogs and they're not all one breed.

"I honestly feel it's nurture," Bentley said. "It's all how they're raised. A lot of pit bulls for different reasons have the stigma they are aggressive dogs and people buy them sometimes for that reason."

She says they are an active breed and need a job to stay focused.

"Tanks job is to love me," says Heather Cutts.

Cutts has had Tank since he was 3 weeks old. He's a member of the family. And you can  always find him in his spot on the couch watching out the window.

"Tank is just a dog. He's not a pit bull, hes not aggressive he's just a family pet," Cutts said.

Heather feels it's how the dog is raised, which will determine their  demeanor.

"I believe completely that a pit bull is just a dog and if they are given the proper nurture then they are just an every day pet. They just want at the end of the day to be loved just like any other pet," Cutts said.

But once they are aggressive, experts says it is hard to rehabilitate them, so you should always know their background.

"If you are thinking about becoming a pit bull owner, training is something you want to look into."