KHQ SPECIAL REPORT: Pit Bulls - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

KHQ SPECIAL REPORT: Pit Bulls

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With recent attacks in the Spokane area, KHQ looked into the issue: Is it the breed or the owner With recent attacks in the Spokane area, KHQ looked into the issue: Is it the breed or the owner
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SPOKANE, Wash. - Early last month, there were three pit bull attacks in about a week where several people were injured, including a little girl. The attacks prompted questions from the community about how safe the breed is.

KHQ's Stephanie Vigil spoke with dog experts who said, much like a baby, puppies have lots of energy and need a lot of guidance and attention. Just like people, dogs have genetic traits, and the pit bull is no different. 

"It can be a real family guardian. A nanny for the kids, they are loyal, they're smart, they are obedient, and they can be very loving," Nancy Hill, Executive Director of SCRAPS to KHQ.

Hill has encountered almost every kind of dog in her 28 years at SCRAPS and said she's very familiar with the pit bull. 

"The pit bull is a newer breed and many say they were bred to fight in the pit when dog fighting was prevalent. Thankfully, today there are laws against that," Hill said.

Hill said most dog fighting happens in the southern states, and Spokane doesn't have much of a dog fighting community. Although in 2008, Hill worked to get two men, Alfredo Renteria and Peter Nelson, behind bars on felony charges for training 8 pit bulls to fight. She was successful and both men were sentenced to 8 months in prison, a first in the history of Washington State.  

Last month Craig Ranleman saved a little girl last month in north Spokane as she was being attacked by a pit bull. 

"I think it would have killed her for sure. I'm thinking it could have killed me too. I don't know how I would have stopped it on my own," Ranleman said as he recalled the attack.

The little girl and Craig survived the attack, but Craig still doesn't know what led up to it. Prior to the attack, Craig didn't have an opinion about the breed, but after the attack, that has changed. 

"I guess personally, I'm not going to be hanging out with pit bulls. In fact , I walked into the store the other day and the owner had one in there and I just turned around and walked out and the owner says he's friendly and I said it doesn't matter. I mean I just don't want to be in the same place as them anymore," Ranleman said. 

Carol, the owner of Diamonds in the Ruff, a local dog training business hate the bad reputation the pit bull is getting. 

"They don't deserve the stigma they've been given. There are good and bad people. There are good and untrustworthy dogs, but it's the humans that raise them. The humans take care of them just like you take care of your child. You are in charge of making sure they learn to be good people and learn to be good dogs."

Judy, a foster mom to many dogs over 30 years, shares Carol's point of view.

"If you put dogs on chains, and you limit there ability to take care of themselves, if you are cruel to them, if they don't have food, water, shelter, a stable environment, love, mental stimulation, physical exercise, training, any dog can be a problem," Judy said. 

Both Judy and Carol believe when pit bulls get wrong hands, bad things can happen. 

"They are the favored dog for people up to no good. They are the favored dog for people who are in it for dog fighting, or want a macho impression. They are the dog that they pick."

The state of Ohio briefly banned the pit bull, but Craig says he wouldn't want to see that happen here.

"I think people should be able to own them without a doubt, but I would like it if pit bull owners took a little more responsibility, given what it is those dogs have been bred for," Ranleman said.

Regardless of the breed, Nancy Hill believes every dog, like humans deserves a good life. Just like a parent is responsible for its child, a dog owner faces the consequences for its pet's action.

"You are responsible for what your dog does. So it's up to you to make sure you keep your dog confined. You train it, you socialize it, so that there is not a problem and that 's a very serious responsibility that I think a certain portion of our population doesn't understand or take seriously," Hill said. 

What are your thoughts on the pit bull? Share your comments on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/KHQLocalNews

We'll pick a couple of your comments and share them tonight on KHQ Local News 11@11. 







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