Pit bulls & babies

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  November 12, 2010 06:00 AM

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Barbara,
Are there real dangers in having a baby around pit bulls, or are all the concerns a reflection of some dogs not being raised properly? Should my wife be concerned to bring our new baby home to a house where I have a pit bull? The dog has always been well behaved.

Am I being unreasonable keeping the dog? I certainly don't want any danger for the baby.

I look forward to your advice.

From: Justadad, Woburn

Dear Justadad,

I don't know anything about pit bulls (but I bet some of our readers do!) and I'm not going to Google them because I know there's controversy about them and there will be lots of articles on both sides. There also is lots of information on how to introduce a pet to a new baby. (I particularly like the idea of getting the pet used to the smells that will be introduced into the house, like talcum powder, baby oil, etc.) But even though I know this question is going to generate heated response, I'm answering it because I think there's a really important issue involved:

Anything that stresses a new mother will also stress the baby, with potentially long-lasting effects. In fact, research shows that stress during pregnancy can affect the baby. I would also bet that it will affect your marriage. I don't mean to give new mothers permission to become prima donas and to make unnecessary changes and demands on their household or marriage.

What I do mean is that if a new mother is so concerned about something -- anything -- to the point that it's going to make her anxious, worried, jittery or simply, not herself, that's not a good situation. There are plenty of things that can happen post-partum that you can't predict; that she's going to be anxious about the dog is something you know about up-front.

I guess that sounds like I'm saying you have to get rid of the dog, doesn't it? But it's not because it's a pit bull, it's because your wife doesn't sound like she can control her feelings about this.

Just for the record, we have a dog, and we had a (different) dog when our son was born. Byron was already a senior citizen at Eli's birth, but that doesn't mean we didn't watch him like a hawk. Even a dog you love and have known for years is still an animal whose behaviors we can't always predict or understand. And if I had insisted I couldn't handle having a dog around once the baby was born? That would have been awful for my husband, but I think he would have had an easier time making the decision once he fell more in love with the baby than he had ever been with the dog. Sorry, Byron.

I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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34 comments so far...
  1. Don't how children and pets mix depend more on how you handle them than on the type of animal or breed?

    I wouldn't leave a baby on the floor in a carrier, even for a few seconds coming through the door, or let it wiggle or crawl around with any dog in the same room until you have introduced the baby and the dog to the point where it is crystal clear that the dog has no issues. Even then, Barbara's "watch like a hawk" is a good way to put it. Later on you have to make sure the baby doesn't try to take the dog's toys or food or pull its tail or otherwise aggravate it.

    Perhaps you could also talk this over with your veterinarian; they must get questions like this all the time.

    Posted by another view November 12, 10 07:54 AM
  1. I do think there are breeds that pose a higher risk to children, and are less tolerant, or have a high prey drive. Northern breeds and terriers can have a very high prey drive, and the cries and jerky movements of an infant can trigger this. Also, dogs from working bloodlines may have more drive, and be more high strung and reactive than bench bred dogs.

    You should ask yourself several questions about your dog, to make an accurate evaluation.

    How old is your pit bull? Pit bulls don't reach sexual maturity until the age of 2-3; you won't fully know the dogs temperament until then. Often young pit bulls who "love everybody" change and become less tolerant as they age.

    What is the dogs breeding and background? If the dog is a rescue, you have no idea as to his genetics, and the temperament of his parents. Temperament in dogs is greatly influenced by genetics, and many of these dogs are being bred by dog fighters and gang members for aggressive temperaments. If you don't know the dogs background, be cautious.

    Is your pit bull dog and/or animal aggressive? Pit bulls were created to race across a pit and attack another dog without warning or provocation, and not stop until the other dog is dead. I know many cases of pit bulls, raised in loving homes as family pets, that went on to attack, or even kill, other dogs. This is a very dangerous trait to have in a family dog, as the dog's fight drive can be triggered by the behavior of children. Also, there is a risk of redirected aggression of your dog gets into a fight with your child present. I would NOT keep a highly dog aggressive pit in a home with small children.

    It sounds as though your wife does not fully trust the dog.....maybe for reasons you haven't mentioned. Is the dog too big and strong for her to handle? You identify it as "your" dog, not "our" dog. Thats a red flag to me.....maybe your wife did not want the dog to begin with?

    I would urge you to sit down and discuss this with your wife, and be honest with yourself.

    Posted by Dog Lover November 12, 10 09:34 AM
  1. Why not have the dog evaluated by a pet behavior specialist. If the dog has aggressive behaviors that would put the baby in danger, you have your decision before you even bring the baby into the world.

    If the dog gets the ok from the specialist, then you still have to watch it like a hawk and never let up your guard, but you'll have a chance.

    Personally, I would never have a pit bull and a baby in the same house. I would never be willing to take that chance. But I don't know your dog.

    The fact that your wife is concerned speaks volumes. Good luck.

    Posted by just_cos November 12, 10 10:12 AM
  1. To be honest, I wouldn't take a chance with it. I don't care how good you train your dog, it is still a pit bull. I am a mom who would rather err to the side of caution. But that's me. I think your wife has a right to be concerned. I would be. Some say if trained right, they can be great pets, but I feel there could be a risk. But my paranoia says they still have vicious tendencies. I personally would have issues bringing my newborn in the same house as one. A baby does not know any better...baby will unintentially aggravate the dog by trying to play and the dog probably will not like the way baby is playing. Having a baby can be hard enough without having to deal with such a dog and how it will react to baby. Seems like way too much work to me. Just saying.....

    Posted by Jd November 12, 10 10:13 AM
  1. There are absolutely real dangers to having the dog around the baby. And yes, that means even if your dog is truly a well-trained and well-raised dogs.

    Some dogs, as a breed, are better with young babies and children than others. And even within breeds, there are differences in temperament. It's just true -- some dogs don't like the ear-pulling that invariably happens when a baby reaches out for the dog, some dogs won't stand for another creature grabbing at the dog's chew toys, some dogs just get territorial when another living thing enters the house. Some dogs are not gentle, even if they are happy and loving, and so will try to play and will injure a child inadvertently.

    None of this means you can't have a dog of course. Because some dogs turn out to be the opposite of all the above: my dog, for example, is extremely gentle around the baby, never growls or gets the least bit possessive when baby grabs the dog's toys, never nips at her, never tries to play with her (because a dog playing with a baby can be a problem!), doesn't get stressed when baby pulls her ears or grabs at her paws.

    You just have to be really, really watchful. Understand that however lovely your dog is, and however well-behaved, you simply cannot know how the dog will adjust to a baby. So be very, very watchful.

    And for pete's sake, don't analysis it as "should" your wife be worried. She has a right to be worried without being told she "shouldn't" worry. If she is worried, acknowledge it, don't belittle it by saying she shouldn't be worried. Work on a compromise.

    Posted by jlen November 12, 10 10:13 AM
  1. WHY don't people consider this BEFORE getting a pet???? Do you realize how many pets end up at shelters because they are having a baby and want to ditch the family pet????? Any pet is a commitment! Think people!!!

    That being said - Any dog needs to be watched around children of ANY age. I have two dogs - while they are both loves and very tame and well behaved I would never leave an infant on the floor with the dogs unattended.

    My children ADORE our dogs. I think alot of people focus on the dog portion of this - but parents need to also TEACH children how to behave around animals. Our children know how to behave around animals and teach them to be respectful of them. There are so many sad tales of the family pet that have nipped a toddler that is pulling his tail.

    Posted by babyblue November 12, 10 10:15 AM
  1. It's all good, until it's not. Get it?

    Don't put yourself in a position that you might spend the rest of your life regretting. Get it?

    Whenever you read a news story about a dog killing a child, it's almost always a pit bull. Get it?

    Got it.

    Good.

    Posted by A Friend November 12, 10 10:38 AM
  1. I have two pitbulls and am 9 months pregnant with our first child. I have to say that I had minimal concerns about the introduction but I've been working with a trainer and have an appointment with a behavioralist in a few weeks to evaluate both dogs. Both of my dogs are rescues, one is 4 years old and the other is about to be 2. They are such cuddle bugs and keep each other occupied much more now that we have two. (We recently acquired the 4 year old from a family member that could no longer care for her). I trust both dogs not to harm my daughter but that doesn't mean I'm going to leave my baby on the floor. I've started to get them familiar with the sounds of a newborn (youtubing baby cries). Pitbulls have had many uses, as one user mentioned they were trained to attack and kill other dogs for people's enjoyment but they were also used as search and rescue dogs in wars and but they were also notorious family dogs that are fully capable of loving children and not attacking them. My two year old pit is fantastic with my friend's 2 year old son. My friends son can pull my dog's tail, lean all over her and my dog understands (or seems to) that he is a child and just sits there and licks his face. I would say to keep a watchful eye on your dog when you bring your baby home but if it really makes your wife unhappy maybe you need to consider finding your furry friend a new home. Good luck!

    Posted by lovemypits November 12, 10 10:53 AM
  1. This might affect your child down the road - I would never allow my child to have a playdate in a home with a pit bull.

    Posted by PatD November 12, 10 11:04 AM
  1. I would absolutely think long and hard before bringing a baby into a house with a pitbull, no matter how well trained or loving the dog is.

    You can't predict how the dog will react, and what could trigger an agressive response like you've never seen before. It's not the dog's fault, it's just instinctive behaviour that's been bred into the breed for years and years. I've seen a well trained "sweet" pitbull, that had never before shown any aggression, viciously attack another dog (which BTW it had been raised with, and which had been sleeping next to a backyard picnic table) because someone brought a sandwich out to the table.

    Even "watching like a hawk" won't help, it's no guarantee, because when a dog goes off, it can happen faster than you'd ever imagine. The only way to be sure the dog won't attack your child is to keep them separated, always. That's a lot to ask of a couple who are trying to tend to a new baby.

    Posted by AnonCommenter November 12, 10 11:33 AM
  1. I have worked with many Pits in shelters for years. I also have one APBT and one APBT mix at home. As far as your wife being concerned there is a definite concern at hand. The concern has to do mainly with a dog and baby living together. Notice I didn't say a pit bull and baby. The dogs genetics/temperament must come into play though. You know your dog and unless there is someone who knows your dog more than you, only you can answer that question. Others have mentioned the steps to introduce a baby so I won't cover that. There's a lot of good information out there that you can find. The biggest issue you have right now is that your wife is concerned. Regardless of if her reasoning is warranted or not, it is an issue. Your dog may very well be great when you are around however you have to take into consideration other variables. If your wife is scared or uneasy the dog will pick up on that. Lets say your wife is usually fine but when the baby is in her arms she acts uneasy. The dog may interpret that as the baby making your wife stressed. The dog may very well become stressed and it may get to a point that if the baby cries or something that the dog goes into protect mode. There are all kinds of variables that may happen such as having friends over, kids around, etc... The biggest and most important aspect in your dog is bite inhibition. Hopefully you work on that with your dog. Teaching bite inhibition starts on day one of bringing your dog home and never stops. Teaching bite inhibition can be the difference between saying ouch and ending up in the hospital or worse, especially when children are involved.

    Posted by Nate78 November 12, 10 11:59 AM
  1. "Should my wife be concerned to bring our new baby home to a house where I have a pit bull?"

    Please remove the word "should" from your vocabulary when discussing this issue. The fact is your wife *is* concerned. It doesn't matter whether or not you view her concern as irrational or unfair. She feels what she feels. Stamping your feet and telling her that she shouldn't feel that way will get you nowhere.

    "Am I being unreasonable keeping the dog?"

    Well, think of it this way: Is it reasonable for a man to ignore the feelings of the woman he loves--the mother of his child, no less--over a dog?

    I consider myself pretty reasonable, and my reason is telling me that if you overrule your wife on this, she'll either refuse to come home (then what are you going to do?) or she'll come home but resent you mightily for many years to come. Just a guess.

    Posted by Robin November 12, 10 12:58 PM
  1. Dogs and little folks; The idea of getting the dog (if it came first) used to the smells and signts of a child is a great idea. We had two children and they were ,from day one, around dogs. Basset Hounds, Rotweillers and Goldens. We never had an issue. The one problem we had with Greta (Rotweiller) was her guarding the child. We have several funny stories of Greta and the children. We have many great memories of the 4 legged guys and the kids.

    Posted by Larry Mason November 12, 10 01:23 PM
  1. I have zero respect for people who ditch a pet because they are having a baby. When you get a pet, you are committing to care for it for life- not your life, but its life.
    I believe that anybody capable of ditching a pet because they are having a baby is likely to be a horrible parent.
    How's that for a stereotype?


    Posted by Montyy November 12, 10 01:32 PM
  1. "SHOULD" my wife be concerned....is definetly the wrong question. IF your wife is bothered at ALL you need to deal with it, telling her that she shouldn't concerned is not dealing with it.

    Frankly this is a question any dog owner should worry about, pit bull or golden retriever!

    1st step: has your dog been around (and played with/handled by) other small children/toddlers/infants with no problems (and I mean literally NO problems) on a regular basis?

    2nd step: IS your wife nervous about bring a baby home with a dog in the house? If so the dog is ONLY going to know that your wife is nervous when the baby is around, the dog (reguardless of breed!) may attempt to protect your wife from the baby to alleviate the nervousness...potential problem right there!

    3rd step: have your vet recommend a good trainer/behaviorist for you, your wife, and the dog. BOTH you and your wife must go with the dog to the trainers! Make sure you explain to both the vet and the trainer that although the dog has never given you problems there is concern about bringing home the baby with a dog in the house.

    4th step: with the trainer's help aclimatate the dog to the sights, smells and sounds of a baby before bringing the little one home.

    5th step: once the baby is home make sure that you take just as much time, energy, and love for the dog a you do now! Animals get jeleous just like human children when a new sibling is born.

    Children have been raised in households with dogs with no problems for more years than you or I have been alive, but it does take work on the part of both you, your wife, and the dog!

    Posted by Ruth November 12, 10 01:50 PM
  1. I just had a baby six months ago and I brought that baby home to a house with a six year old pit bull and a seven year old rottweiler. We have NEVER had a single problem with the pit bull. My boyfriend, who is a trainer, introduced the baby to the dogs and took the baby on a walk with each dog separately to introduce the newest "member" to the pack. Because my boyfriend is the alpha, the dogs respected the new arrival. We both realize that dogs, even couch potatoes like ours, can still be unpredictable and we watch our baby accordingly. However, we do not appear at all nervous with the baby or the dogs so that all beings in the house can feed off our calm behaviours. If we are confident, then the dogs and the baby sense that and everyone is happy. I recently heard of a story where a Golden Retriever strangled a toddler. Those stories are rarely in the news because who wants to hear that a Golden could do that. I say this simply to remind people that ANY dog can be a problem, breed notwithstanding. I say, relax and focus on the beautiful event that is about to happen. That's more important down the road.

    Posted by anon November 12, 10 02:08 PM
  1. a human baby's safety and welfare should ALWAYS be placed higher than a pitbull or any other breed - sorry dog lovers

    Posted by gimmeabreak November 12, 10 02:36 PM
  1. BEWARE THE PIT BULL APOLOGISTS.

    Posted by Common Sense November 12, 10 03:16 PM
  1. substitute pitt bull for alligator or lion or godzilla!

    these dogs are like MR. T the movie ROCKY.

    HE'LL MAKE MINCEMEAT OUTA YA ROCK!

    {I have one at home and the more the public is frightened the more secure my property is]

    Posted by willie thewimp November 12, 10 04:12 PM
  1. This is from a woman who had a beloved pit bull when her children were born: I have to agree with Barbara, if you wife isn't comfortable with the dog then you should begin seekign options to re-home the dog. I say this in the dog's best interests.

    My pit bull did wonderfully with my kids, and she was even better than our labrador retriever. But I knew her well, and I was fully in control of her at all times. If your wife isn't as comfortable with your dog, this is going to potentially be a bad situation for the dog.

    For what it is worth, I never left my children alone unsupervised with the dogs. This was primarily because I was worried about the dog's safety. Little children can be tough on animals, and you can't blame the animal (no matter how good-tempered) for reacting if they've been attacked by toddlers too many times.

    Good luck.

    Posted by HP November 12, 10 04:25 PM
  1. The breed of the dog really doesn't have much to do with how you should act as parents. You should be diligent and on the lookout no matter what.

    As to the original poster's question; there may already be an issue, note that he says "where I have a pit bull." He did NOT say "where we have a pit bull." It already sounds like maybe the wife doesn't like a dog.

    Anecdotally, over the past fifteen years having lots of families with kids and dogs as friends of mine, the lab, cairn terrier, golden retriever and co*kapoo all bit and snapped. The one friend of mine who had a pit bull, a German shepherd, mini pin with two young children (I knew from birth and they are 13 now) and those dogs were never sweeter. The one difference in all these situations was that the owner was clearly the alpha. Most people are total pushover with their dogs and don't act as real pack leader.

    Posted by Sarah November 12, 10 04:26 PM
  1. I would be careful with any breed of dog. Babies can't protect themselves and are at the mercy of the animal. Can you trust and rely on your animal's judgment of situations (i.e., perceived danger) to allow it near your baby?

    We had a beagle at the time our first child was born and I never left the baby alone with the dog in the room. The dog was approx 3 years old and was not accustomed to babies or small children but was a sweetheart, very good natured, and had never exhibited any aggression toward a person. The idea that you can watch carefully enough to prevent an attack is foolish. Just that one minute to check the laundry, stir the pot, or step out and check the mailbox is enough for a baby to become a target. It's been a Globe headline many times over.

    I didn't take a chance with my baby. Our dog did get to know the baby, after being skittish - she (the dog) seemed upset by the baby's crying (which was reasonable by newborn standards) and would put distance between them. The two didn't have much interaction until both were able to act appropriately (dog could relax and baby understood no, as in "no poke dog"), and they were still not left on their own.

    How is your pit bull around crying babies? How does your pit bull react to small, crawling objects (baby) invading his/her space (eventually this will be a concern)? How about when the baby takes the dog's ball? Hits the dog on the nose with a toy? Explores the water and food bowls? Crawls on dog's bed? What about caregivers that might not be as vigilant in keeping dog and baby apart? Yikes, it's a full time security position.

    And sorry, but I have to say this: there have been a number of severe injuries and deaths to babies and toddlers caused by pit bulls. I know "experts" on pit bulls will say it's not the dog's fault, but I do believe there are risks. Some people are just luckier than others. As someone said above, it's all good until something bad happens.

    I would work on finding a loving home for your dog, because your wife will worry about the safety of the baby, even if you do not. If you have a breed that has been implicated in attacks on babies and children you should part ways.

    No matter what anyone says to assure you baby and dog will be fine, there will always be some risk - and you have to decide if it's manageable for your and your family.

    Good luck!

    Posted by portiaperu November 12, 10 04:43 PM
  1. If there is any chance that dog + baby will work, it will be in part because the WIFE is completely capable of dominating the dog. If the wife cannot do this, then there is significant potential for trouble.

    Our little scotties occasionally knock kids over by accident. Our friends raised a chow mix whom they absolutely adored - and who finally was put down for biting the husband, after biting the wife several times. They never learned to dominate the dog. If an animal has attack instincts it is a loaded gun.

    Posted by E November 12, 10 04:43 PM
  1. For those that state beware of a baby and ANY dog, they're right. I had 2 pugs, yes PUGS, small little playful lap dogs with teeth that can't tear through a chew toy if you offered them all the dog treats in the world! The younger was always a dominant "feisty" personality. I knew this and always watched him more closely with other dogs and children. When she was about 3-4 months old and we were all sitting on the couch together she reached over and poked at the younger pug and he turned and snapped at her. I yelled at him and quickly removed him, making sure he knew it was wrong. I knew him well though, he was behaving with her as he would with a puppy - trying to put her in her place and assert his dominance. He never did it again but to think it might not happen with any dog is a huge mistake.

    Also, I haven't had much experience with pit bulls but I believe they're also bred as a protective/security type dog. I had a friend that had a german shepard that was extremely protective of her. I was at her house once, as an adult, and I walked toward her bedroom - not even into it - and the dog nearly attacked me. So for those people saying they'd be worried about their child going for a playdate to a household with a pit bull, I'd be concerned too. I'd hate to see what would happen if that pit bull decides that another child is a threat to "their" family or child.

    Lastly, wholeheartedly agree with the person that says the kids need to be taught how to treat and be nice and gentle with a pet! The pet deserves to be respected as well.

    Posted by claire November 12, 10 04:59 PM
  1. I love animals, but would never put them before a baby. "When in doubt, the pet goes out" is a good rule to remember. If you don't know for a fact that your dog will never harm your baby, find the dog a new home.

    Then, when your child is a few years old and can be taught how to treat an animal kindly, get another dog.

    Posted by Animal Lover November 12, 10 09:31 PM
  1. I regularly walk a full sized golden.

    Her first exposure on our walks to a baby was in a carriage being pushed by a woman she knew. The Golden reacted very nicely on seeing her friend, but, to my surprise, went to the carriage.

    She put her head over the top and, with her big calm eyes, admired the little beauty. When the little guy did not know how to pat her, she kissed the little guy.

    Posted by boblat November 13, 10 06:01 AM
  1. My brother has had rottweilers. His family is gentle and kind to dogs, and they are trained. I remember one walking underneath the baby saucer while my nephew was in there--adorable.

    More recently, they had one who bit someone. This dog would also listen only to my brother, not to my SIL or nephews. The vet wouldn't put the dog down because they had just moved to a new community; the bite happened elsewhere. Eventually, the dog bit my then 12yo nephew. Fortunately, the 1yo and 3yo nieces were never touched by the dog. They put the dog to sleep. It wasn't for lack of kindness, it was due to a dog being attached to only one person--and refusing to listen to or understand anyone else. We met that dog, and he was intimidating--huge, and would never even wag his tail unless my brother was there.

    So, I think it doesn't matter how well the dog is treated. Things can happen. In my family's case, it may have been that the dog was distressed by my brother working nights. Or him having to be away from home for a time for work. Or the birth of the 4th child. Who knows? But, it was no longer safe to have the dog around children or anyone else who might cross his path.

    Posted by Beth November 13, 10 09:57 AM
  1. You may want to consider attending a Pawsitive Dog seminar about "Barks and Babies" -- they host them at Isis Maternity Centers and talk about effective techniques for bringing home the baby and ensuring a stress free introduction to the newest member of the family.

    All dogs, pitbulls or not, should be watched closely around a new baby. I think it's sensible to educate yourself about how to best way to have your dog, wife and baby live peacefully together.

    Posted by Jay November 13, 10 06:03 PM
  1. i have owned my american pit bull for five years i have had two children with in the same time frame. my pit bull bruce has done nothing but cherrish and protect the children. he is very smart and lets me know when my son would stop breathing in his sleep from sever sleep apnea. bruce woiuld sleep on the floor under the crip for over a year until my son finally was able to have his surgyer to correct his breathing problems. i couldnt ask for a better bread of dog to help whatch and protect my gifts from God.

    Posted by serenity November 14, 10 03:02 PM
  1. YOU CAN'T SAY I DIDN'T TELL YOU SO.

    (November 17, 2010) 07:30 PST Moreno Valley, Calif. (AP) --

    Investigators have determined a Southern California woman found dead in her backyard was mauled by two neighborhood pit bulls.

    Moreno Valley police want the dog owner charged.

    The body of 53-year-old Christina Casey was found by a neighbor on Nov. 2 behind her Moreno Valley home.

    Sgt. Jaime Briones told the Riverside Press-Enterprise on Tuesday that investigators have now confirmed neighborhood pit bulls mauled the woman. The sergeant says a forensic dentist determined the dogs were responsible.

    Police will ask Riverside County prosecutors to file involuntary manslaughter charges against the dog owners, whose names haven't been disclosed.

    The pitt bulls have been quarantined.

    Posted by Common Sense November 17, 10 12:22 PM
  1. I am horrified at some of the responses on this page. The majority of you know NOTHING about pit bulls.

    Pit bulls were not "created" to fight in rings. Humans train them to do that. This training involves starving and abusing these animals. Most pits do not wake up one day and decide to kill. It is usually a learned behavior. Yes, some pits can be aggressive, but that goes for any breed of dog. I have known labs that would bite your head off if given the chance. A Pomeranian is on the books as having mauled a 6 week old child TO DEATH. Yes, a 6 lb Pomeranian.

    Back in the day, pits were called "nurse dogs" because they use to WATCH CHILDREN. They were military dogs and their pictures were often associated with Patriotism. Petey from the Little Rascals was a Pit. Presidents owned Pit Bulls. Pit Bulls are used as therapy dogs and rescue dogs.

    Did you know that Goldens have a lower safety rating than pits? The media sensationalizes pit attacks yet pits are not more likely to bite. If you look at the geographic regions and what the most popular breed is, you will see that it has a direct correlation to breeds most likely to bite in that area. Do the math.... if NY has mostly pits, wouldn't you expect more pit bites than hound dog bites to be reported? Is it cause for alarm? No.... not when you look at the full picture.

    Yes, most terrier breeds are more likely to not care for OTHER DOGS but their behavior around and love for humans, far surpasses that of many other breeds. I would chose a pit over a beagle, chi, Lhasa, shitz shu, and cocker spaniel ANY DAY! The only dog that ever bit me was a shitz shu and I work with pits daily. Go figure!

    That said, I tell everyone that adopts ANY dog from me that children should never be left alone with a dog. PERIOD. Kids can be great abusers of dogs and cats. If pushed enough, any dog will eventually defend itself. It is up to the adults to keep both the animal and the child safe. Most bites and fatalities occur to UNSUPERVISED CHILDREN.

    Too many people here are all too willing to surrender a pet and I have to say, it's people like you that make my job so hard. I am a rescuer. I take YOUR animals off of death row and find them new forever homes. If I can find a home for YOUR dog, why couldn't you? Why do you not think before you adopt or buy that cute puppy?? If having a child is such a "deal breaker" with your best friend, then you do not deserve a pet and should never get one.

    MILLIONS of animals are euthanized in shelters every year. So many of them are great dogs, yet they sit in the shelter, scared out of their minds until the day comes that they are either gassed or given a lethal injection. It is heartbreaking to watch these dogs in their final moments.... the look in their eyes is of defeat, yet they still watch that door, waiting for the owner they loved so much, not understanding that they were tossed aside because of a lifestyle change.

    Shame on all of you that posted such comments here. Punish the deed, punish the abusive owner, but stop punishing the breed.

    Posted by Kay Smith November 18, 10 01:38 AM
  1. Pit bulls are better than most other breeds around children, as the pit bull type dog is a lot more pain tolerant than many other breeds. Leaving any dog around a child is asking for trouble, so make sure you take the highest level of responsibility possible. As far as getting rid of a family pet because you are having a baby is shear irresponsibility, unless you seek out and find a safe and loving home for the animal. Maybe a friend or family member will take it from you, but whatever you do, please do not bring that dog to a shelter.

    Posted by jman November 18, 10 04:19 PM
  1. Great post Kay Smith ....most intelligent non hysterical comment on this post....dogs need to be trained /socialized and kids need to be monitored 100% of the time with anything in the house and taught how to rspect animals....i really hope you put a little effort in keeping your dog, vs just asking here....you made a committment to him, remember its gonna be tough too with a kid but neither should be disposable....

    Posted by kellybl September 6, 11 12:52 PM
  1. The American Kennel Club does not recognize a breed called "pit bull" or "American Pit bull". The breed is the American Staffordshire Terrier. Read up on them. They were bred for bull baiting, not search and rescue or as family guardians. That is why they have the muscular, stocky body and the massive jaw.

    I happen to own a dog bred to be a livestock guardian dog (Great Pyrenees). She can no more escape her breed instincts than she can her white coat. We certainly don't have a flock of goats or sheep for her to protect, but she engages in the behaviors all the same. Pits are no different.

    Posted by Flynne September 6, 11 01:49 PM
 
34 comments so far...
  1. Don't how children and pets mix depend more on how you handle them than on the type of animal or breed?

    I wouldn't leave a baby on the floor in a carrier, even for a few seconds coming through the door, or let it wiggle or crawl around with any dog in the same room until you have introduced the baby and the dog to the point where it is crystal clear that the dog has no issues. Even then, Barbara's "watch like a hawk" is a good way to put it. Later on you have to make sure the baby doesn't try to take the dog's toys or food or pull its tail or otherwise aggravate it.

    Perhaps you could also talk this over with your veterinarian; they must get questions like this all the time.

    Posted by another view November 12, 10 07:54 AM
  1. I do think there are breeds that pose a higher risk to children, and are less tolerant, or have a high prey drive. Northern breeds and terriers can have a very high prey drive, and the cries and jerky movements of an infant can trigger this. Also, dogs from working bloodlines may have more drive, and be more high strung and reactive than bench bred dogs.

    You should ask yourself several questions about your dog, to make an accurate evaluation.

    How old is your pit bull? Pit bulls don't reach sexual maturity until the age of 2-3; you won't fully know the dogs temperament until then. Often young pit bulls who "love everybody" change and become less tolerant as they age.

    What is the dogs breeding and background? If the dog is a rescue, you have no idea as to his genetics, and the temperament of his parents. Temperament in dogs is greatly influenced by genetics, and many of these dogs are being bred by dog fighters and gang members for aggressive temperaments. If you don't know the dogs background, be cautious.

    Is your pit bull dog and/or animal aggressive? Pit bulls were created to race across a pit and attack another dog without warning or provocation, and not stop until the other dog is dead. I know many cases of pit bulls, raised in loving homes as family pets, that went on to attack, or even kill, other dogs. This is a very dangerous trait to have in a family dog, as the dog's fight drive can be triggered by the behavior of children. Also, there is a risk of redirected aggression of your dog gets into a fight with your child present. I would NOT keep a highly dog aggressive pit in a home with small children.

    It sounds as though your wife does not fully trust the dog.....maybe for reasons you haven't mentioned. Is the dog too big and strong for her to handle? You identify it as "your" dog, not "our" dog. Thats a red flag to me.....maybe your wife did not want the dog to begin with?

    I would urge you to sit down and discuss this with your wife, and be honest with yourself.

    Posted by Dog Lover November 12, 10 09:34 AM
  1. Why not have the dog evaluated by a pet behavior specialist. If the dog has aggressive behaviors that would put the baby in danger, you have your decision before you even bring the baby into the world.

    If the dog gets the ok from the specialist, then you still have to watch it like a hawk and never let up your guard, but you'll have a chance.

    Personally, I would never have a pit bull and a baby in the same house. I would never be willing to take that chance. But I don't know your dog.

    The fact that your wife is concerned speaks volumes. Good luck.

    Posted by just_cos November 12, 10 10:12 AM
  1. To be honest, I wouldn't take a chance with it. I don't care how good you train your dog, it is still a pit bull. I am a mom who would rather err to the side of caution. But that's me. I think your wife has a right to be concerned. I would be. Some say if trained right, they can be great pets, but I feel there could be a risk. But my paranoia says they still have vicious tendencies. I personally would have issues bringing my newborn in the same house as one. A baby does not know any better...baby will unintentially aggravate the dog by trying to play and the dog probably will not like the way baby is playing. Having a baby can be hard enough without having to deal with such a dog and how it will react to baby. Seems like way too much work to me. Just saying.....

    Posted by Jd November 12, 10 10:13 AM
  1. There are absolutely real dangers to having the dog around the baby. And yes, that means even if your dog is truly a well-trained and well-raised dogs.

    Some dogs, as a breed, are better with young babies and children than others. And even within breeds, there are differences in temperament. It's just true -- some dogs don't like the ear-pulling that invariably happens when a baby reaches out for the dog, some dogs won't stand for another creature grabbing at the dog's chew toys, some dogs just get territorial when another living thing enters the house. Some dogs are not gentle, even if they are happy and loving, and so will try to play and will injure a child inadvertently.

    None of this means you can't have a dog of course. Because some dogs turn out to be the opposite of all the above: my dog, for example, is extremely gentle around the baby, never growls or gets the least bit possessive when baby grabs the dog's toys, never nips at her, never tries to play with her (because a dog playing with a baby can be a problem!), doesn't get stressed when baby pulls her ears or grabs at her paws.

    You just have to be really, really watchful. Understand that however lovely your dog is, and however well-behaved, you simply cannot know how the dog will adjust to a baby. So be very, very watchful.

    And for pete's sake, don't analysis it as "should" your wife be worried. She has a right to be worried without being told she "shouldn't" worry. If she is worried, acknowledge it, don't belittle it by saying she shouldn't be worried. Work on a compromise.

    Posted by jlen November 12, 10 10:13 AM
  1. WHY don't people consider this BEFORE getting a pet???? Do you realize how many pets end up at shelters because they are having a baby and want to ditch the family pet????? Any pet is a commitment! Think people!!!

    That being said - Any dog needs to be watched around children of ANY age. I have two dogs - while they are both loves and very tame and well behaved I would never leave an infant on the floor with the dogs unattended.

    My children ADORE our dogs. I think alot of people focus on the dog portion of this - but parents need to also TEACH children how to behave around animals. Our children know how to behave around animals and teach them to be respectful of them. There are so many sad tales of the family pet that have nipped a toddler that is pulling his tail.

    Posted by babyblue November 12, 10 10:15 AM
  1. It's all good, until it's not. Get it?

    Don't put yourself in a position that you might spend the rest of your life regretting. Get it?

    Whenever you read a news story about a dog killing a child, it's almost always a pit bull. Get it?

    Got it.

    Good.

    Posted by A Friend November 12, 10 10:38 AM
  1. I have two pitbulls and am 9 months pregnant with our first child. I have to say that I had minimal concerns about the introduction but I've been working with a trainer and have an appointment with a behavioralist in a few weeks to evaluate both dogs. Both of my dogs are rescues, one is 4 years old and the other is about to be 2. They are such cuddle bugs and keep each other occupied much more now that we have two. (We recently acquired the 4 year old from a family member that could no longer care for her). I trust both dogs not to harm my daughter but that doesn't mean I'm going to leave my baby on the floor. I've started to get them familiar with the sounds of a newborn (youtubing baby cries). Pitbulls have had many uses, as one user mentioned they were trained to attack and kill other dogs for people's enjoyment but they were also used as search and rescue dogs in wars and but they were also notorious family dogs that are fully capable of loving children and not attacking them. My two year old pit is fantastic with my friend's 2 year old son. My friends son can pull my dog's tail, lean all over her and my dog understands (or seems to) that he is a child and just sits there and licks his face. I would say to keep a watchful eye on your dog when you bring your baby home but if it really makes your wife unhappy maybe you need to consider finding your furry friend a new home. Good luck!

    Posted by lovemypits November 12, 10 10:53 AM
  1. This might affect your child down the road - I would never allow my child to have a playdate in a home with a pit bull.

    Posted by PatD November 12, 10 11:04 AM
  1. I would absolutely think long and hard before bringing a baby into a house with a pitbull, no matter how well trained or loving the dog is.

    You can't predict how the dog will react, and what could trigger an agressive response like you've never seen before. It's not the dog's fault, it's just instinctive behaviour that's been bred into the breed for years and years. I've seen a well trained "sweet" pitbull, that had never before shown any aggression, viciously attack another dog (which BTW it had been raised with, and which had been sleeping next to a backyard picnic table) because someone brought a sandwich out to the table.

    Even "watching like a hawk" won't help, it's no guarantee, because when a dog goes off, it can happen faster than you'd ever imagine. The only way to be sure the dog won't attack your child is to keep them separated, always. That's a lot to ask of a couple who are trying to tend to a new baby.

    Posted by AnonCommenter November 12, 10 11:33 AM
  1. I have worked with many Pits in shelters for years. I also have one APBT and one APBT mix at home. As far as your wife being concerned there is a definite concern at hand. The concern has to do mainly with a dog and baby living together. Notice I didn't say a pit bull and baby. The dogs genetics/temperament must come into play though. You know your dog and unless there is someone who knows your dog more than you, only you can answer that question. Others have mentioned the steps to introduce a baby so I won't cover that. There's a lot of good information out there that you can find. The biggest issue you have right now is that your wife is concerned. Regardless of if her reasoning is warranted or not, it is an issue. Your dog may very well be great when you are around however you have to take into consideration other variables. If your wife is scared or uneasy the dog will pick up on that. Lets say your wife is usually fine but when the baby is in her arms she acts uneasy. The dog may interpret that as the baby making your wife stressed. The dog may very well become stressed and it may get to a point that if the baby cries or something that the dog goes into protect mode. There are all kinds of variables that may happen such as having friends over, kids around, etc... The biggest and most important aspect in your dog is bite inhibition. Hopefully you work on that with your dog. Teaching bite inhibition starts on day one of bringing your dog home and never stops. Teaching bite inhibition can be the difference between saying ouch and ending up in the hospital or worse, especially when children are involved.

    Posted by Nate78 November 12, 10 11:59 AM
  1. "Should my wife be concerned to bring our new baby home to a house where I have a pit bull?"

    Please remove the word "should" from your vocabulary when discussing this issue. The fact is your wife *is* concerned. It doesn't matter whether or not you view her concern as irrational or unfair. She feels what she feels. Stamping your feet and telling her that she shouldn't feel that way will get you nowhere.

    "Am I being unreasonable keeping the dog?"

    Well, think of it this way: Is it reasonable for a man to ignore the feelings of the woman he loves--the mother of his child, no less--over a dog?

    I consider myself pretty reasonable, and my reason is telling me that if you overrule your wife on this, she'll either refuse to come home (then what are you going to do?) or she'll come home but resent you mightily for many years to come. Just a guess.

    Posted by Robin November 12, 10 12:58 PM
  1. Dogs and little folks; The idea of getting the dog (if it came first) used to the smells and signts of a child is a great idea. We had two children and they were ,from day one, around dogs. Basset Hounds, Rotweillers and Goldens. We never had an issue. The one problem we had with Greta (Rotweiller) was her guarding the child. We have several funny stories of Greta and the children. We have many great memories of the 4 legged guys and the kids.

    Posted by Larry Mason November 12, 10 01:23 PM
  1. I have zero respect for people who ditch a pet because they are having a baby. When you get a pet, you are committing to care for it for life- not your life, but its life.
    I believe that anybody capable of ditching a pet because they are having a baby is likely to be a horrible parent.
    How's that for a stereotype?


    Posted by Montyy November 12, 10 01:32 PM
  1. "SHOULD" my wife be concerned....is definetly the wrong question. IF your wife is bothered at ALL you need to deal with it, telling her that she shouldn't concerned is not dealing with it.

    Frankly this is a question any dog owner should worry about, pit bull or golden retriever!

    1st step: has your dog been around (and played with/handled by) other small children/toddlers/infants with no problems (and I mean literally NO problems) on a regular basis?

    2nd step: IS your wife nervous about bring a baby home with a dog in the house? If so the dog is ONLY going to know that your wife is nervous when the baby is around, the dog (reguardless of breed!) may attempt to protect your wife from the baby to alleviate the nervousness...potential problem right there!

    3rd step: have your vet recommend a good trainer/behaviorist for you, your wife, and the dog. BOTH you and your wife must go with the dog to the trainers! Make sure you explain to both the vet and the trainer that although the dog has never given you problems there is concern about bringing home the baby with a dog in the house.

    4th step: with the trainer's help aclimatate the dog to the sights, smells and sounds of a baby before bringing the little one home.

    5th step: once the baby is home make sure that you take just as much time, energy, and love for the dog a you do now! Animals get jeleous just like human children when a new sibling is born.

    Children have been raised in households with dogs with no problems for more years than you or I have been alive, but it does take work on the part of both you, your wife, and the dog!

    Posted by Ruth November 12, 10 01:50 PM
  1. I just had a baby six months ago and I brought that baby home to a house with a six year old pit bull and a seven year old rottweiler. We have NEVER had a single problem with the pit bull. My boyfriend, who is a trainer, introduced the baby to the dogs and took the baby on a walk with each dog separately to introduce the newest "member" to the pack. Because my boyfriend is the alpha, the dogs respected the new arrival. We both realize that dogs, even couch potatoes like ours, can still be unpredictable and we watch our baby accordingly. However, we do not appear at all nervous with the baby or the dogs so that all beings in the house can feed off our calm behaviours. If we are confident, then the dogs and the baby sense that and everyone is happy. I recently heard of a story where a Golden Retriever strangled a toddler. Those stories are rarely in the news because who wants to hear that a Golden could do that. I say this simply to remind people that ANY dog can be a problem, breed notwithstanding. I say, relax and focus on the beautiful event that is about to happen. That's more important down the road.

    Posted by anon November 12, 10 02:08 PM
  1. a human baby's safety and welfare should ALWAYS be placed higher than a pitbull or any other breed - sorry dog lovers

    Posted by gimmeabreak November 12, 10 02:36 PM
  1. BEWARE THE PIT BULL APOLOGISTS.

    Posted by Common Sense November 12, 10 03:16 PM
  1. substitute pitt bull for alligator or lion or godzilla!

    these dogs are like MR. T the movie ROCKY.

    HE'LL MAKE MINCEMEAT OUTA YA ROCK!

    {I have one at home and the more the public is frightened the more secure my property is]

    Posted by willie thewimp November 12, 10 04:12 PM
  1. This is from a woman who had a beloved pit bull when her children were born: I have to agree with Barbara, if you wife isn't comfortable with the dog then you should begin seekign options to re-home the dog. I say this in the dog's best interests.

    My pit bull did wonderfully with my kids, and she was even better than our labrador retriever. But I knew her well, and I was fully in control of her at all times. If your wife isn't as comfortable with your dog, this is going to potentially be a bad situation for the dog.

    For what it is worth, I never left my children alone unsupervised with the dogs. This was primarily because I was worried about the dog's safety. Little children can be tough on animals, and you can't blame the animal (no matter how good-tempered) for reacting if they've been attacked by toddlers too many times.

    Good luck.

    Posted by HP November 12, 10 04:25 PM
  1. The breed of the dog really doesn't have much to do with how you should act as parents. You should be diligent and on the lookout no matter what.

    As to the original poster's question; there may already be an issue, note that he says "where I have a pit bull." He did NOT say "where we have a pit bull." It already sounds like maybe the wife doesn't like a dog.

    Anecdotally, over the past fifteen years having lots of families with kids and dogs as friends of mine, the lab, cairn terrier, golden retriever and co*kapoo all bit and snapped. The one friend of mine who had a pit bull, a German shepherd, mini pin with two young children (I knew from birth and they are 13 now) and those dogs were never sweeter. The one difference in all these situations was that the owner was clearly the alpha. Most people are total pushover with their dogs and don't act as real pack leader.

    Posted by Sarah November 12, 10 04:26 PM
  1. I would be careful with any breed of dog. Babies can't protect themselves and are at the mercy of the animal. Can you trust and rely on your animal's judgment of situations (i.e., perceived danger) to allow it near your baby?

    We had a beagle at the time our first child was born and I never left the baby alone with the dog in the room. The dog was approx 3 years old and was not accustomed to babies or small children but was a sweetheart, very good natured, and had never exhibited any aggression toward a person. The idea that you can watch carefully enough to prevent an attack is foolish. Just that one minute to check the laundry, stir the pot, or step out and check the mailbox is enough for a baby to become a target. It's been a Globe headline many times over.

    I didn't take a chance with my baby. Our dog did get to know the baby, after being skittish - she (the dog) seemed upset by the baby's crying (which was reasonable by newborn standards) and would put distance between them. The two didn't have much interaction until both were able to act appropriately (dog could relax and baby understood no, as in "no poke dog"), and they were still not left on their own.

    How is your pit bull around crying babies? How does your pit bull react to small, crawling objects (baby) invading his/her space (eventually this will be a concern)? How about when the baby takes the dog's ball? Hits the dog on the nose with a toy? Explores the water and food bowls? Crawls on dog's bed? What about caregivers that might not be as vigilant in keeping dog and baby apart? Yikes, it's a full time security position.

    And sorry, but I have to say this: there have been a number of severe injuries and deaths to babies and toddlers caused by pit bulls. I know "experts" on pit bulls will say it's not the dog's fault, but I do believe there are risks. Some people are just luckier than others. As someone said above, it's all good until something bad happens.

    I would work on finding a loving home for your dog, because your wife will worry about the safety of the baby, even if you do not. If you have a breed that has been implicated in attacks on babies and children you should part ways.

    No matter what anyone says to assure you baby and dog will be fine, there will always be some risk - and you have to decide if it's manageable for your and your family.

    Good luck!

    Posted by portiaperu November 12, 10 04:43 PM
  1. If there is any chance that dog + baby will work, it will be in part because the WIFE is completely capable of dominating the dog. If the wife cannot do this, then there is significant potential for trouble.

    Our little scotties occasionally knock kids over by accident. Our friends raised a chow mix whom they absolutely adored - and who finally was put down for biting the husband, after biting the wife several times. They never learned to dominate the dog. If an animal has attack instincts it is a loaded gun.

    Posted by E November 12, 10 04:43 PM
  1. For those that state beware of a baby and ANY dog, they're right. I had 2 pugs, yes PUGS, small little playful lap dogs with teeth that can't tear through a chew toy if you offered them all the dog treats in the world! The younger was always a dominant "feisty" personality. I knew this and always watched him more closely with other dogs and children. When she was about 3-4 months old and we were all sitting on the couch together she reached over and poked at the younger pug and he turned and snapped at her. I yelled at him and quickly removed him, making sure he knew it was wrong. I knew him well though, he was behaving with her as he would with a puppy - trying to put her in her place and assert his dominance. He never did it again but to think it might not happen with any dog is a huge mistake.

    Also, I haven't had much experience with pit bulls but I believe they're also bred as a protective/security type dog. I had a friend that had a german shepard that was extremely protective of her. I was at her house once, as an adult, and I walked toward her bedroom - not even into it - and the dog nearly attacked me. So for those people saying they'd be worried about their child going for a playdate to a household with a pit bull, I'd be concerned too. I'd hate to see what would happen if that pit bull decides that another child is a threat to "their" family or child.

    Lastly, wholeheartedly agree with the person that says the kids need to be taught how to treat and be nice and gentle with a pet! The pet deserves to be respected as well.

    Posted by claire November 12, 10 04:59 PM
  1. I love animals, but would never put them before a baby. "When in doubt, the pet goes out" is a good rule to remember. If you don't know for a fact that your dog will never harm your baby, find the dog a new home.

    Then, when your child is a few years old and can be taught how to treat an animal kindly, get another dog.

    Posted by Animal Lover November 12, 10 09:31 PM
  1. I regularly walk a full sized golden.

    Her first exposure on our walks to a baby was in a carriage being pushed by a woman she knew. The Golden reacted very nicely on seeing her friend, but, to my surprise, went to the carriage.

    She put her head over the top and, with her big calm eyes, admired the little beauty. When the little guy did not know how to pat her, she kissed the little guy.

    Posted by boblat November 13, 10 06:01 AM
  1. My brother has had rottweilers. His family is gentle and kind to dogs, and they are trained. I remember one walking underneath the baby saucer while my nephew was in there--adorable.

    More recently, they had one who bit someone. This dog would also listen only to my brother, not to my SIL or nephews. The vet wouldn't put the dog down because they had just moved to a new community; the bite happened elsewhere. Eventually, the dog bit my then 12yo nephew. Fortunately, the 1yo and 3yo nieces were never touched by the dog. They put the dog to sleep. It wasn't for lack of kindness, it was due to a dog being attached to only one person--and refusing to listen to or understand anyone else. We met that dog, and he was intimidating--huge, and would never even wag his tail unless my brother was there.

    So, I think it doesn't matter how well the dog is treated. Things can happen. In my family's case, it may have been that the dog was distressed by my brother working nights. Or him having to be away from home for a time for work. Or the birth of the 4th child. Who knows? But, it was no longer safe to have the dog around children or anyone else who might cross his path.

    Posted by Beth November 13, 10 09:57 AM
  1. You may want to consider attending a Pawsitive Dog seminar about "Barks and Babies" -- they host them at Isis Maternity Centers and talk about effective techniques for bringing home the baby and ensuring a stress free introduction to the newest member of the family.

    All dogs, pitbulls or not, should be watched closely around a new baby. I think it's sensible to educate yourself about how to best way to have your dog, wife and baby live peacefully together.

    Posted by Jay November 13, 10 06:03 PM
  1. i have owned my american pit bull for five years i have had two children with in the same time frame. my pit bull bruce has done nothing but cherrish and protect the children. he is very smart and lets me know when my son would stop breathing in his sleep from sever sleep apnea. bruce woiuld sleep on the floor under the crip for over a year until my son finally was able to have his surgyer to correct his breathing problems. i couldnt ask for a better bread of dog to help whatch and protect my gifts from God.

    Posted by serenity November 14, 10 03:02 PM
  1. YOU CAN'T SAY I DIDN'T TELL YOU SO.

    (November 17, 2010) 07:30 PST Moreno Valley, Calif. (AP) --

    Investigators have determined a Southern California woman found dead in her backyard was mauled by two neighborhood pit bulls.

    Moreno Valley police want the dog owner charged.

    The body of 53-year-old Christina Casey was found by a neighbor on Nov. 2 behind her Moreno Valley home.

    Sgt. Jaime Briones told the Riverside Press-Enterprise on Tuesday that investigators have now confirmed neighborhood pit bulls mauled the woman. The sergeant says a forensic dentist determined the dogs were responsible.

    Police will ask Riverside County prosecutors to file involuntary manslaughter charges against the dog owners, whose names haven't been disclosed.

    The pitt bulls have been quarantined.

    Posted by Common Sense November 17, 10 12:22 PM
  1. I am horrified at some of the responses on this page. The majority of you know NOTHING about pit bulls.

    Pit bulls were not "created" to fight in rings. Humans train them to do that. This training involves starving and abusing these animals. Most pits do not wake up one day and decide to kill. It is usually a learned behavior. Yes, some pits can be aggressive, but that goes for any breed of dog. I have known labs that would bite your head off if given the chance. A Pomeranian is on the books as having mauled a 6 week old child TO DEATH. Yes, a 6 lb Pomeranian.

    Back in the day, pits were called "nurse dogs" because they use to WATCH CHILDREN. They were military dogs and their pictures were often associated with Patriotism. Petey from the Little Rascals was a Pit. Presidents owned Pit Bulls. Pit Bulls are used as therapy dogs and rescue dogs.

    Did you know that Goldens have a lower safety rating than pits? The media sensationalizes pit attacks yet pits are not more likely to bite. If you look at the geographic regions and what the most popular breed is, you will see that it has a direct correlation to breeds most likely to bite in that area. Do the math.... if NY has mostly pits, wouldn't you expect more pit bites than hound dog bites to be reported? Is it cause for alarm? No.... not when you look at the full picture.

    Yes, most terrier breeds are more likely to not care for OTHER DOGS but their behavior around and love for humans, far surpasses that of many other breeds. I would chose a pit over a beagle, chi, Lhasa, shitz shu, and cocker spaniel ANY DAY! The only dog that ever bit me was a shitz shu and I work with pits daily. Go figure!

    That said, I tell everyone that adopts ANY dog from me that children should never be left alone with a dog. PERIOD. Kids can be great abusers of dogs and cats. If pushed enough, any dog will eventually defend itself. It is up to the adults to keep both the animal and the child safe. Most bites and fatalities occur to UNSUPERVISED CHILDREN.

    Too many people here are all too willing to surrender a pet and I have to say, it's people like you that make my job so hard. I am a rescuer. I take YOUR animals off of death row and find them new forever homes. If I can find a home for YOUR dog, why couldn't you? Why do you not think before you adopt or buy that cute puppy?? If having a child is such a "deal breaker" with your best friend, then you do not deserve a pet and should never get one.

    MILLIONS of animals are euthanized in shelters every year. So many of them are great dogs, yet they sit in the shelter, scared out of their minds until the day comes that they are either gassed or given a lethal injection. It is heartbreaking to watch these dogs in their final moments.... the look in their eyes is of defeat, yet they still watch that door, waiting for the owner they loved so much, not understanding that they were tossed aside because of a lifestyle change.

    Shame on all of you that posted such comments here. Punish the deed, punish the abusive owner, but stop punishing the breed.

    Posted by Kay Smith November 18, 10 01:38 AM
  1. Pit bulls are better than most other breeds around children, as the pit bull type dog is a lot more pain tolerant than many other breeds. Leaving any dog around a child is asking for trouble, so make sure you take the highest level of responsibility possible. As far as getting rid of a family pet because you are having a baby is shear irresponsibility, unless you seek out and find a safe and loving home for the animal. Maybe a friend or family member will take it from you, but whatever you do, please do not bring that dog to a shelter.

    Posted by jman November 18, 10 04:19 PM
  1. Great post Kay Smith ....most intelligent non hysterical comment on this post....dogs need to be trained /socialized and kids need to be monitored 100% of the time with anything in the house and taught how to rspect animals....i really hope you put a little effort in keeping your dog, vs just asking here....you made a committment to him, remember its gonna be tough too with a kid but neither should be disposable....

    Posted by kellybl September 6, 11 12:52 PM
  1. The American Kennel Club does not recognize a breed called "pit bull" or "American Pit bull". The breed is the American Staffordshire Terrier. Read up on them. They were bred for bull baiting, not search and rescue or as family guardians. That is why they have the muscular, stocky body and the massive jaw.

    I happen to own a dog bred to be a livestock guardian dog (Great Pyrenees). She can no more escape her breed instincts than she can her white coat. We certainly don't have a flock of goats or sheep for her to protect, but she engages in the behaviors all the same. Pits are no different.

    Posted by Flynne September 6, 11 01:49 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

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High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

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