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Pit Bulls in MA Get a Bad Rap

October 24, 2011

BOSTON - It could be the most misunderstood breed of dog out there, but fans of the canine are hoping to change perceptions. October is Pit Bull Awareness Month, and groups like the Humane Society of the United States and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) say the breed is unfairly painted as vicious and unstable. The groups are hoping ambassador dogs and other programs to be presented through the month can demonstrate the dogs are great prospects for family pets.

Kara Holmquist, director of advocacy with the MSPCA, says the dogs get a bum rap in the media.

"We hear about when a dog does something wrong. We don't hear about all the wonderful families living with pit bulls in their homes."

She says in the rare circumstance when a pit bull attacks, it is almost always because the animal has been the subject of substandard socialization, training and care, which are factors that would lead any breed to bite. In Massachusetts, the MSPCA is conducting free spay/neuter surgeries for pit bulls during the month and is presenting screenings of the highly acclaimed pit bull documentary, "Beyond the Myth."

Homquist says the pit bull has been unfairly singled out by many communities across the Commonwealth and the nation.

"There has been no demonstrated success in reducing dog bites when an ordinance focuses just on one breed of dog."

Adam Goldfarb is the director of pet care issues for the Humane Society of the United States. He says shelters are always inundated with pit bulls, for a number of reasons.

"There are just more of them. There's more indiscriminate breeding going on today with pit bulls than with other breeds."

Many insurance companies will not insure households with pit bulls, and local laws that discriminate against the breed also swell their numbers in shelters, he explains.

More information about MSPCA pit bull programs is available at

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - MA