Most American Pit Bull terriers are wonderful companions and delightful family members, and most pit bull owners are law-abiding citizens who love their animals.
But recent dogfighting busts in Louisiana have created apprehension among pit bull owners nationwide. One person writes, "I had a call last night that Louisiana put a ban on pits coming into (the state) and that the ADBA Nationals were looking for a place to host their Nationals now."
The writer is referring to the American Dog Breeders Association and its Weight-pull and Conformation Show, a legitimate sport and strength competition for dogs and their people that is held in Sorrento each year.
Understandably, pit bull owners are worried as cities throughout the country are crafting breed-specific legislation, which will outlaw all pit bulls as pets. Thankfully, New Orleans is not one of those cities.
Outlawing specific breeds poses a host of problems, one of which will force dogfighters to condition other breeds to fight. The only municipality in our state that has enacted such ill-conceived legislation is Shreveport.
Still, rumors are rampant within the pit bull sporting world that Louisiana animal welfare agencies are out to get them and euthanize their pets.
In an effort to alleviate the anxiety and cheer on a great breed, a few of my friends and I recently attended a weight-pulling contest in Kenner. Within minutes of arrival, I was putting faces to names that I've come to know through the Internet message boards. Owners proudly introduced their fit and gorgeous canines.
There were hundreds, each prettier and more handsome than the next. Their coats glistened, and their muscles rippled. Some sported heads bigger than watermelons. These wonderful dogs were tended to like prize racehorses; their owners beaming and bragging about their exceptional companions.
The dogs mingled peacefully, and their kennels were placed next to one another with dozens of fans blowing to keep the animals cool and comfortable. When it came time to pull, the dogs were led to the runway where owner and animal were given the opportunity to strut their stuff. The dogs, one by one, enthusiastically heaved the weight forward. Most dogs could pull up to 3,000 pounds.
Canines and humans are clearly in this together. Though the dog may perform the actual pull, its owner is right there, encouraging and supporting his or her four-legged partner at the end of the ramp. These remarkable displays of strength and determination are the results of many hours of training and conditioning.
Whereas many weight-pulling dogs live out their lives as well-loved family members, fighting dogs usually survive tragically, at the end of a heavy chain, freed only for training or for a blood match. Fighting dogs are also typically leaner and smaller then pulling dogs.
Public strength and conformation competitions are the antithesis of the secret, sordid world of dog fights. The pulls are like picnics: open, airy, positive and completely legal. Please applaud and support all those who are harnessing the pit bull's marvelous smarts and enthusiasm for a fun, wholesome activity the entire family, two-legged and four-legged, can enjoy.