Mrs. Wigglebottom, Menace to Society

No, I’m not going to run out and buy a gun. Yes, I will continue to be ill-at-ease about guns. But, god damn if Say Uncle doesn’t remind me of the importance of… well, fuck me, boys, I don’t even know what you call yourselves… guns-rights-advocates (?) and the necessity of throwing props their way every once in a while.

Why, you may ask, am I moved to cheer for guns-rights-advocates? Because when it comes to the silliness and offensiveness of trying to shame people into “proper” behavior, they get it.

The “proper” behavior in question? Apparently, if you’re a pitbull owner in Commerce City, Colorado, you should be harassed and intimidated into giving up your dog.

Yes, dog owners who are complying with a stupid ordinance are still being singled out by the local paper and their addresses published because Kathy McIntyre, an editor that paper, believes she knows best for the community.

Anyway, one doesn’t have to be a great genius to see the offensiveness of this. So, let’s follow the link that SayUncle gives and take a look at the ordinance that deals with pitbulls in the first place.

If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know my immediate “What the Fuck?” to this ordinance. If you haven’t, here’s the specific problem (I have a far greater general problem with breed-specific legislation and don’t even get me started on how racist it is). It doesn’t define what a pit bull is. How in the world are you supposed to know if the dog you have is one of the forbidden dogs?

As I said in February*:

Much of the confusion about what is a pitbull and what isn’t comes down to this: the word “pitbull” is used to describe a specific breed of dog, a type of dog, and a dog that has a certain, inhumane, job.

The specific breed of dog is the American Pit Bull Terrier, which is not recognized by the AKC (though it was at one point), but is recognized by other kennel clubs. The American Pit Bull Terrier is very closely related to the American Staffordshire Terrier, but there are differences. I’m no expert, but to my eye, the American Pit Bull Terrier often has a lankier appearance and the look of the dog varies a lot more than the look of the AmStaff in terms of acceptable weights and sizes.

The type of dog is any bull dog that lacks the affable charm of the English Bulldog, including the ones recognized by the AKC–the AmStaff, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, and sometimes the Bull Mastiff–and ones that aren’t, like the American Bulldog and the American Pit Bull Terrier. All of these dogs come under the umbrella term “pitbull,” though they vary greatly in size and appearance. That’s why both the dog in the Target commercials and the Our Gang shorts are called pitbulls, even though they don’t look a thing alike.

Then there’s the dog that has the terrible job

I’ve seen a few of these dogs and, to me, they look very different than Mrs. Wigglebottom (though this site suggests I’m imagining the differences). In fact, I’ve had a number of people familiar with fighting dogs who insist that Mrs. Wigglebottom must be part boxer because she’s much too big to be a pitbull. In general, my experience is that fighting dogs are smaller than she is. Their faces more resemble the Staffordshire Terrier than her. They often don’t have ears at all. Also, if you look at them face on, their necks seem situated lower on their chests than Mrs. Wigglebottom, and their chests aren’t as deep. This gives them the appearance of having longer legs in proportion to their bodies.

But fighting dogs aren’t a breed of dog the way the AKC thinks of it. If someone wanted a fighting dog that was a little bigger, he’d find an AmStaff and breed it into his dogs for size. If he found a really vicious Lab (if there is such a dog), he’s use that as breeding stock. The dog fighter isn’t as interested in “breed standards” as he is in dogs that can win. He’s actually a lot like those folks on Animal Planet, in that, he knows a fighting dog when he sees it.

So any kind of breed specific legislation that isn’t actually specific about which breed you can own or not own is not only a gross-overstepping of government into the private lives of citizens, but also incredibly stupid.

*Is it pompous-jackass-y to link to one’s self? Probably. Well, what can you do?

19 thoughts on “Mrs. Wigglebottom, Menace to Society

  1. It doesn’t surprize me that some local govts would attempt to ban a certain breed of dog. Sure, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to some tradgedy, and yes, would be impossible to fairly enforce. But, what to do about people who seek the breed because of the macho factor, then don’t properly train or at least restrain it? I agree that breed specific laws miss the point, but I’d bet th parents of mauled children would say it’s a start.

  2. Don’t get me wrong. I understand that the intent behind such laws is well-meaning, but those laws over-simplify a lot of factors.

    All dogs can be vicious. Outlawing one type of dog doesn’t actually mean that people are, from that day forward, safer from dog attacks. All it means is that they’re safer until jackasses find some other breed to make mean.

    Some dog breeds are worse around children than others. Dalmations, for instance, in general, make terrible pets in households with kids. And cocker spaniels are notorious kid-biters And yet you never hear of communities taking measures to keep these dogs out of town.

    Are pitbulls more vicious than other dogs? I think it’s impossible to say, since “pitbull” is used as some loose catch-all phrase for a lot of different dogs.

    Here, as a for instance. Which one of these two dogs (I’m referring to the one at the bottom) would be such legislation apply to? Can you tell by looking which one people should be more afraid of?

    Plus, there’s the problem of places that report every dog attack as if it’s a pitbull attack. Last fall a woman’s dogs attacked her granddaughter and the news reported that they were 120 pound pitbulls. Well, what the fuck? How is a dog twice the size of my dog the same kind of dog as mine?

    I’m just saying that without a working definition of just what dog they mean, they can mean any dog they want, and that’s troubling to me.

  3. Once again, this is a case of not holding the “owner” responsible for the actions of a their pet. Why can’t people accept responsiblity for their own actions? I will repeat the old chestnut-there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. Wouldn’t it be the same situation if you held the parents accountible for their children being school bullies?

  4. I’ve covered pit bulls for and bsl for a while. Pit bulls are not inherently more people aggressive. They are, however, inherently more dog aggressive.

    The evil dog changes all the time. In the 70s, it was german shepherds. The 80s, it was dobermans. The 90s, it was rottweillers. Now, it’s pit bulls. They, like the other breeds, are victims of their own popularity.


  5. Do you know winner of the hey-I-had-to-go-to-the-emergency-room-due-to-a-dog-bite award goes to most years? Golden Retrievers. Go figure.

  6. When at college, I spent most of my senior year working at a gas station with a family of white trash living right behind the station. Unfortunately getting to know these people well, I can say that they were truly Springer-worthy.

    They had a pitbull, and being the white trash they were, they thought that the meaner the dog was, the cooler.

    They also had a toddler.

    The dog mauled the kid, giving him something like 20 stitches across the arm and face, and after all that, they STILL KEPT THE DOG.

    The problem isn’t the pit bull breed, but the pit bull’s reputation… for it attracts some total idiots.

  7. Yes, I agree for the most part, except that biting isn’t the same as a eyes-rolled back, jaw locked frenzy that some breeds are apt to initiate. The most painful injury I ever had was from my 20 pound terrier, who bit me after she was hit by a car. (shock, I think, or her way to tell me she hurt) but I can’t imagine the pain and suffering of someone who has experienced a viscious attack. I still don’t think outlawing a breed will fix the problem, I’d rather see irresponsible pet-owners jailed for failing to keep a potentially dangerous animal properly fenced in.

  8. My general feeling is that a dog’s teeth are the owner’s weapon, and his/her’s responsibilty. The dog mauls any of my clan and it’s the owner I’m visiting with the handgun and bat, just like if you shot one of them.

    In response to the various posts:

    I had a dalmation that was one of the best dogs I’ve ever owned, and he loved kids. He was well bred and well trained.

    The majority of deaths from dog attacks goes to pitbulls.

    You generally don’t have to stab a dalmation or cockerspaniel through the eye to get it to let go of a toddler.

    Of course it’s the moron owners. I’ve known dogs of all breeds that were vicious, including a lab that had been abused. I also knew a pitbull that looked like the scariest dog in the world, and she was a big baby.

    A lot of the personality problems come from overbreeding; that was the problem with cockers and dalmatians.

  9. Actually, SayUncle and Mack bring me to another important point. All terriers tend to be dog-aggressive. It’s just the difference between having a Westie growling and lunging at your dog and having an AmStaff–more size than intent.

    When I brought home Mrs. Wigglebottom, my vet gave me this advice: 1. Don’t hit her. You’ll just establish that it takes violence to move up in the pack. 2. She’s a dog-aggressive breed, which means that she’s likely not going to have a pack made up of other dogs. You are her pack and you have an obligation to integrate her into the pack. If the pack lives in the house, sticking her out back is cruel. And it means that she’ll be constantly looking for ways to move up in rank so that she can get in the house.

    In my vet’s experience, almost all pitbull attacks on family children happen when the pitbull is kept outside. The dog watches the kids come and go, figures it can take one of them out and take its place a little higher up in the pack and, thus, in the house.

    That’s why the attacks are so vicious. Other dogs tend (and of course we’re talking in huge generalities) to bite because they’re protecting territory or their pack. Pitbulls are looking to take out what they perceive as a threat to their place in the pack.

    Mrs. Wigglebottom is never left outside. And when we have young visitors, they’re allowed to give her all the “treats” (dog food taken from the bag) they want, so that she associates the arrival of children with fun times and being rewarded.

    But we do a lot of work to make her a happy member of our community. And it takes a lot of work. That’s not nearly as much fun as slapping a three inch chain around her neck and taking her to the park to show her off to other folks and prove how big my dick is.

  10. If what you say is true, and I have no reason to doubt it, that would be enough of a reason for me to not want a pitbull.

    All dogs are pack animals. It’s incredibly cruel to take a social animal and stick it in the yard alone. Why do these assholes get a dog?

  11. When I lived in the UK, I had a friend from Stoke-on-Trent, which is in Staffordshire. His family were long-time Staffordshire residents and, as a matter of local pride, always had Staffies (analogous to native Tennesseans only drinking Jack Daniel’s or Maxwell House, driving Saturns and eating Goo-Goos).

    Staffies have a bad rep in Britain but in my experience, they are lovable, loyal and, actually, wonderful with children. And maybe that’s because Doc and his family raised them that way.

    At the end of the day, isn’t this just another chapter in the age old “nature-versus-nurture” argument? I mean, my cockers are lovely (if a little excitable, naturally), but if I raised them to fight, wouldn’t they do it and not be so lovely?

  12. “I don’t even know what you call yourselves… guns-rights-advocates (?) “

    I prefer gun nut.

    BTW, Here’s some good stats on fatal dog attacks:

    The most common factors seem to be the reproductive status of the dog (fixed or not) and proximity to children (near 80% of such attacks are on kids). That says to me that 80% are parental negligence. I love my dog and trust him completely (american bulldog) but he is never, ever left unsupervised with my child or other children. And the real reason I do that is because kids are mean to dogs.

  13. Exador, how can you claim to be immune to the charms of the famous pit bull immitation of a retarded frog? Because, I refuse to believe that, if you’ve ever seen one scrunched down low to the ground, half-hopping, half-scurringing sideways while making cute little grunting noises, you’d be able to say that you would never own one.

    Shoot, you have mad dog skills. I bet you’d even be able to train Mrs. Wigglebottom not to jump on people when they’re trying to come in our door. Well, except for the hobos. We’re fine with her jumping on the hobos.

    SayUncle, I love a good-looking American Bulldog.

    But I see now that this is some plot by the libertarians and the gun nuts to woo me over to their side with our shared love for misunderstood dogs.

  14. Exador, the reason AmStaffs won’t let go is because of the scissor-bite, not by choice. They have muscles that only contract once the teeth are clamped down hard on something. The muscles contract, expanding the jaws against each other, locking the teeth together. The dog, being the excitable chap he’s bound to be, can only release the muscles once he calms down. This takes awhile with these animals. I can assure you its quite painful for the dog, but his genes call the shots. I used to train mine to jump up and hold themselves on tires (which they would do for hours) until I did some research and found out it hurts them so badly. But that’s the thing about Staffordshires, they’ll do anything to please you, no matter how much it hurts.

  15. Burrito,

    Very interesting info.

    But further reason for me to not want one.

    You’d leave your dog hanging from a tire for hours?

  16. I just went back and read the original article. The last thing the dumb bubbleheaded newsbitch said was:

    “They lost their privacy when they registered their pit bulls,”

    That should send a shiver. Tell me again why all us “gun nuts” shouldn’t be against registration?

  17. Especially since, I think, they were legally required to register. So, what? We can either follow the law and give up our rights or break the law in order to keep them? What a dumb-ass terrible choice.

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