Do you remember Jarts? If you’re as old as me you might. They were weighted metal lawn darts and a popular game back in the ’80s when my brother and I would play with them in the backyard. We loved them, but they’re not for sale anymore. They were taken off the market decades ago when a bereaved father went on a crusade to make them illegal after his daughter died from a Jart accidentally penetrating her skull.
Although the company that manufactured it had already been court ordered to remove them from toy stores, and they’d repackaged them as an adult game with a warning label, the father was still successful in having them banned entirely in the U.S. in 1988 and in Canada the following year. It turned out this game had caused the death of three children in total.
Kids have been killed by pit bulls 54 times that amount since the late ’80s, yet so far, defying all logic, there are few cities that have any bans or other restrictions on pit bulls whatsoever. 163 children have died and for most of these youngsters, the deaths have been torturous and gruesome, often with body parts being torn off during savage maulings that are sometimes described by first responders and medical staff as “feeding frenzies.”
Far more common than the tragic fatalities are the countless vicious attacks that result in disfigurements and life-altering injuries that can leave victims and their families with ever-lasting emotional trauma and financial ruin.
Despite all this death and destruction on children, these dogs aren’t just still on the market as one pet to consider, they are actively being pushed onto the public and deceitfully promoted as safe family pets by many shelters, rescues, dog experts and pit bull fanatics. I can’t tell you how many online images I’ve seen of babies and kids hugging, riding and kissing pit bulls with the utterly false message that “it’s all how you raise them.”
In addition to the 163 fatal attacks on children since 1988, there have been at least 154 fatal attacks on adults, many of them elderly. There are also tens of thousands of animals killed by them every year. Pit bulls only make up six per cent of the dog population, yet they’re responsible for more of this ghastly devastation than all other dogs combined. No other breed comes close.
Does this mean pit bulls are bad? Of course not. Aside from the fact that most of them don’t attack, blaming the pit bulls that do is like blaming a lion for killing a person or animal. They’re just doing what they were born to do – attack swiftly, ruthlessly and often unexpectedly.
Blame should be placed entirely on human beings and genetics. Dogmen have been breeding pit bulls for hundreds of years for blood sport. Killing is their heritage, it’s their purpose, and that’s why the modern-day illegal dogfighters prefer them over any other breed. It’s also why a well-raised, much-loved pit bull with responsible owners can suddenly attack and kill, completely unprovoked.
When dogfighting was outlawed, the breeding of pit bulls should have been too. Unfortunately common sense did not prevail, and in 2007 after NFL player Michael Vick was convicted on dogfighting charges and the story made national headlines, animal shelters, rescues and humane societies intensified their pit bull advocacy. Since that year there has been a 773 per cent rise in fatal and disfiguring pit bull attacks.
The first National Pit Bull Victim Awareness Day is on Saturday, Oct. 24 — a day to honour all those who have suffered and died because the breeding of pit bulls continued when it should have stopped.
The designated day is hosted by a coalition of over 50 non-profit organizations, websites and social media groups in the United States and Canada advocating for the victims and public safety. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has partnered with them in their promotion of animal welfare and BSL (breed specific legislation) for pit bull type dogs. Pit bulls have become a dire concern because they are disproportionately responsible for the majority of fatal and serious attacks, they are the number one breed admitted to most animal shelters.
BSL incorporates mandatory spay and neutering as well as stronger regulations for pit bull owners to protect the public. These can include muzzles, short leashes, warning signs, fencing requirements, special training, extra liability insurance, no access to dog parks and sometimes an outright ban on owning them, with existing pets being grandfathered.
Like all the victim and public safety advocates, PETA is getting clobbered online for this alliance and accused of being pit bull haters. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Pitbulls are victims too. They are the most abused, neglected and abandoned dogs, subjected to horrendous living conditions and often forced into dogfighting and breeding with the use of barbaric rape stands. They are filling up shelters across the U.S. and Canada with over a million of them getting euthanized every year. BSL would protect them from such an appalling fate. It would also rescue so many of the safer, more adoptable breeds that get euthanized because the shelters are over capacity.
PETA couldn’t possibly be considered animal lovers if they knowingly turned a blind eye to this pit bull crisis.
No birth equals no kill, and BSL works everywhere it’s enforced. It’s time to turn things around, put an end to the madness and start promoting the adoption of pets that won’t kill us.
To see some of the victims and read some of their stories please see: National Pit Bull Awareness Day on Facebook.