A pit bull owner/guardian wrote me with a response to my story about being silent-charged by a young pit bull. She nailed what I could not quite put into words the other day -- that there are special responsibilities associated with "owning" and walking "power breeds" of dog.
I'm not a hipster and I have a pit bull who was rescued from a shelter 3 years ago. Amber goes everywhere with me and is NEVER allowed off-leash except at home or with her trainer who specializes in pits... She has been the victim of dozen near attacks in our Santa Monica neighborhood by owners who walk their dogs off-leash. Even though she is clearly not the aggressor, many times she has been blamed because of her breed. Owning a power-breed is a responsibility I take seriously. The group that recued her insisted that she get evaluated and trained before they allowed her to be adopted. Most of the Pit owners I know are as loyal to their dogs as they are to us.
It sounds as though Amber has a good home. I have friends who have lovely pit bulls. And I have several favorite pits in the neighborhood. The Lonely Surprise Dog, for example, on Echo Park Avenue near Vega's Market. This dog, tragically, never seems to be walked. It has a narrow dog run, dirt more hardpacked than the sidewalk, and when we approach -- my dog, my daughter and I -- it charges silently behind its fence, and once it reaches the fence,it starts barking, raving and wagging its tail. It took me a while to realize the dog was glad to see us.
It can be heartbreaking to see these powerful animals so desperately eager to please, so eager for affection and ready to be submissive to the people around them. I get the feeling their physical energy is too much even for them sometimes; they are bursting out of their skins. Mentally, they seem to be exhausted.
It's still not okay to let them free-charge non-consenting humans or dogs.