Apr 262004
 
Authors: Jesse McLain

Denver City Council member Rosemary Rodriguez shivers at the

sight of American pit bull terriers.

“Yesterday I was at the park and I saw a guy walking two of them

and I just got a little scared,” Rodriguez said. “I think that

they’re different, their bodies and jaws are different so if you

train them to be mean they’re dangerous and there are people

training them to be mean.”

Fifteen years ago a child was mauled to death in Rodriguez’s

district, and ever since, Rodriguez has been in favor of Denver’s

Pit Bull Ban. The ban was overturned last week when Gov. Bill Owens

signed legislation that held owners of specific dogs accountable

for their dogs’ actions, not owners of specific breeds.

Cary Rentola, marketing and community events manager for the

Larimer Humane Society, said Fort Collins is lucky never to have

dealt with any specific breed bans.

“We definitely favor the overturning of the ban in Denver. Many

times it’s the owner and the way the owner raised the dog,” Rentola

said. “There are bad dogs in every breed but in general the pits

that we see have very good dispositions. Each dog in each breed is

different.”

Rentola said when the Denver ban was in effect, the Larimer

Humane Society would often receive dogs transferred from Denver to

avoid euthanasia, or putting the dog to sleep.

Rentola said Larimer Humane Society euthanized a total of 816

dogs in 2003, usually because of behavioral problems, food

aggression, aggression toward a gender, medical condition or due to

court order, but never because of the dogs’ breeds.

Chris Schmidt thinks his dog disproves all the stereotypes.

Schmidt has owned 2-year-old Kalua, an American Pit Bull

Terrier, ever since he found the more than a year ago east of Fort

Collins.

“She was really scared and timid,” Schmidt said. “I called the

pound and the guy who owned her had a bad history with the humane

society so I got to keep her.”

Schmidt learned that Kalua’s original owner intended to breed

pit bulls and take them to Mexico to fight, but Schmidt hasn’t seen

a fighting side of Kalua since he has owned the dog.

“I think the news is singling out pit bulls as the terror of all

breeds and that is kind of ridiculous,” Schmidt said. “I’ve got a

pit bull and it’s never bit anybody. My neighbor has a blue heeler

and it’s bit someone twice.”

However, according to dogbitelaw.com, pit bull mixes and

Rottweilers are the most likely to kill and seriously maim, but

Schmidt said the only time Kalua has ever shown aggression is when

someone tried to hit Schmidt.

“Somebody took a swing at me and she nipped up just to let him

know she was there,” Schmidt said. “We take her to the dog park all

the time and see no aggression whatsoever. My mom dog-sits and she

breeds miniature dachshunds and she has no problems with her.”

Kalua had one litter of two puppies, and Kalua’s daughter Kaya

still lives next door with Schmidt’s neighbor Eligh Formanek.

Formanek said he has never encountered a discipline problem with

Kaya either. Schmidt believes that no matter what the dog’s breed

is, the owner is responsible for its behavior.

“If you don’t train a dog it will turn out bad, I don’t care

what kind of dog it is,” Schmidt said. “(Kalua) is very smart and

very protective.”

Although Kalua is not aggressive, the dog’s strength and the

strength of the American pit bull terrier breed in general, is

undeniable.

“If they bite something they don’t let go, it’s not that they

can’t let go it’s that they want to hold on,” Schmidt said. “Pit

bulls have a lot of upper-body strength, too.”

Just the mere presence of 45-pound Kalua has sent at least one

person running in fear before, but for the most part Kalua has

befriended everyone with whom she has come into contact, Schmidt

said.

“I did have a UPS guy take off running on me before,” said

Schmidt, who had told the mailman that Kalua was cool and harmless.

“He said, ‘I’ve been bitten three times before by dogs who were

supposedly cool.'”

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