Nfld. & Labrador

'Don't believe the hype': Dog lovers defend pit bulls in wake of deadly attack

A pit bull owner and the 'Newfoundland Dog Whisperer' weigh in on the controversial breed, after one fatally maimed a beagle in St. John's last week.
Evan Parsons says his pit bull is great with his two sons, and says they're a great breed. (Submitted by Evan Parsons)

Some dog lovers are trying to fight the perception that the pit bulls are dangerous, following an attack in St. John's last week where a pit bull fatally maimed a beagle.

"I've been saying all week: when it comes to pit bulls, pit bulls are just dogs. There is nothing special about them. Physiologically, biologically, they are no different than any other dog out there," said dog trainer Ken Reid, also known as the Newfoundland Dog Whisperer, who has extensive experience working with the breed.

"Every actual fact that can be said about a pit bull that makes them dangerous can be said about many other dog breeds out there," he added, pointing to pit bull features like stocky, muscular bodies and strong jaws.

"Don't believe the hype, don't believe the misinformation that's out there about them."

Pit bull owner Evan Parsons says his dog is gentle. (Submitted by Evan Parsons)

Nature vs. nurture?

A Conception Bay South pit bull owner said his pet is a loving member of his family, which includes a two-year-old and a five-year-old.

"This dog is the best friend my children have. Everywhere they go, she goes," said Evan Parsons, who welcomes anyone to come by and meet his pet.

"It's the owner. It's not the animal. It's very simple," he said.

Reid said that's a common response in the wake of such attacks, but the nature vs. nurture debate is not so cut and dry.

My advice for people who fear pit bulls: get out there, meet them.- Ken Reid

"Nature has a role to play. There are genes that are involved with it," he told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

Reid pointed out that many dogs have the capability for violence, but pit bulls tend to get singled out.

Dog trainer Ken Reid says pit bulls are inherently no more dangerous than many other breeds, despite their reputation. (Natalie Nanowski/CBC)

"Horrific dog attacks happen every day. Horrific dog attacks have happened in Newfoundland just this week alone — with other breeds. It has not generated near the amount of discussion that this attack has."

Reid isn't sure why pit bull attacks make news headlines, but hopes people try to move beyond any fear of the breed by making contact with one.

"My advice for people who fear pit bulls: get out there, meet them... try to replace your fear with actual experience with them, and I think you'd be glad you did."

With files from the St. John's Morning Show