A professional's pit bull perspective
Below is a letter I wrote to Sonoma City Councilmember Joanne Sanders on the subject of pit bulls. (I urge all who care about this issue to watch the video referenced at the bottom of this message.):
Hi Joanne; I know you have come under fire recently on the safety issues involving pit bulls. I am not writing to admonish you in any way. In fact, I am grateful that you brought light to the issue. I am a dog trainer and behavior modification specialist here in Sonoma. My job is to know the social and scientific facts encompassing every aspect of my field. Certification for professional trainers involves the study of canine ethology and scientific theory.
Humans are 99.9 percent responsible for the behavior of their dogs. There are variations in temperament in every breed, and in every litter produced in a specific or mixed breed. Still, with domestic dogs, nature only wins over nurture if humans are not responsible. In fact, disciplining and training dogs is much like raising children. Yet, it's simpler, in that dogs do not have complex emotions. They are very black and white in how they think and how they learn.
The time it takes for a dog to process cause and effect is 1.3 seconds. They live in the moment, which means common sense, timing, reinforcement, and consistency are crucial to training a well-mannered dog, just like a well-mannered child.
I was asked to speak out at a meeting to "educate" you and the City Council about the safety issues involving "vicious" dog breeds. I declined. I did not want to force the issue or make you feel like you were being attacked for voicing legitimate public safety concerns. Still, I won't deny that when I heard the initial media coverage about the subject, I was extremely upset and had alot I wanted to say. But it was the wrong time. I didn't want to have a knee-jerk reaction to what is clearly a subject driven by emotion.
Instead, I decided to take a breath and go fact-finding. I reached out to my colleagues around the globe to gather as much information on the subject as possible. I recently received a video from a trainer in Oregon. It is incredibly informative and wonderfully produced. I honestly believe it will open your mind and answer many questions you may have about the safety issues involving breeds labeled "vicious," specifically the pit bull. It is an incredible presentation from a completely unbiased perspective.
If you should ever wish to learn more or consult with me on any future safety concerns, I am more than happy to help.
I would like to add that I am not a person who pretends to know more than I do. If I don't know the answer to something I will seek it out. I will look to my considerable professional resources (some of the top professionals in my field) and get the facts.
I hope you enjoy the video and find it as enlightening as I do. The video can be found at: www.hellobully.com/pb101/pitbull101.html.
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Jenny Germaine is owner of Moon Valley Canine Training.