You didn't read it here first, but the word is that pit bulls are man-eating monsters hungry for human flesh. Like little machines of muscle, the infamous breed, so it's been said, has the jaw of a shark and the appetite of the giant at the top of the beanstalk.
Nancy Sonduck, for one, has had enough of the little jerks. She made headlines last week by suggesting to the Spokane City Council a slate of ordinances banning the breed within city limits. Officials have promised to explore the issue.
"(Pit bull attacks) are compared to shark attacks. They go after muscle tissue, they have lock jaws, they shake and they rip," Sonduck says. "No other dog does that."
Well, before we send them the way of the dodo bird and saber-toothed tiger, here's some reasons why owning a pit bull is awesome:
Your neighbors are scared of you. Don't like your neighbors? Tie up a pit bull in the yard, preferably a yard made exclusively of dirt and no lawn. Then put a spiked collar on your lovable companion animal. The doorbell will never ring.
No one in Spokane illustrates this fact more so than Sonduck, who was attacked by her neighbor's three dogs last April.
"I'm absolutely afraid," she says about the dogs, which still reside near her. "I'm going to be found in a pool of blood in my driveway. I'm not just afraid for myself. I'm afraid for you and for everybody."
One person she's not afraid for? Her neighbor. Whoever it is is pretty well guarded.
Pretty dog, no grooming fees. With rippling muscles below golden haunches, pit bulls are attractive animals. And as a short-haired breed, they never have to go to the stylist.
"We don't do very many of them because they don't need much grooming," says Sue Turner, who works at Dee's Dog Grooming on North Walnut. Turner admits she's serviced maybe 10 pit bulls over the last year, but it wasn't for their hair.
"We do their nails," she says.
Citify yourself... and get hip. As not the center of the universe, Spokane relies on larger urban areas for its cues to hip-ness. Pit bulls are only one facet of the larger status-conscious world.
"We're stuck in the pit bull trend," says Nancy Hill, director of the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service. "Some of the bigger cities got it first, but it's the trickle factor. What happens in New York City will eventually come to Spokane."
You got that right, Ms. Hill. Pit bulls are cool. So cool, in fact, that about a third of the dog population in the city of Spokane is made up of pit bulls, according to Gail Mackie, director of SpokAnimal. But don't hold it against them. Their popularity is being influenced by powerful sources.
"They're the flavor of the month," says Mackie. "When I started 25 years ago, the dog to fear was the Doberman. For a while it was the Rottweiler."
"This is a cyclical thing, the bad boy breed," says Diane Jessup, who places pit bulls as detection dogs within law enforcement agencies through her nonprofit group Law Dogs USA. "The pit bulls got popular in the '80s with the idiots, and then the Internet kicked in for a whole 'nother generation. People don't realize this is cyclic."
Hill agrees. "It's a popular breed," she says. "The segment of the population that is attracted to the breed isn't taking care of them properly. ... They have the big spiked collar on them and they're just parading them around."
Lost something? Pit bulls will find it. Training pit bulls to be detection dogs is a time-consuming endeavor, says Jessup, but the breed is uniquely suited for it.
"First of all, they're not a German Shepherd so they don't shed or drool," she says about their special characteristics. "They have a desire to see the job done. ... Drug detection is like finding a toy. If you tell them their toy is in one of these 30 cars, they won't stop until they find it."
SCRAP's animal behaviorist Trisha Simonet says pit bulls, as part of the terrier family, are genetically built for such work. "They are very tenacious. They have a single mindedness about them. Those guys were bred for going after varmints and whatnot. They're like, 'Throw the ball, throw the ball.' If they don't have the varmint to go after, they'll make up other tasks for themselves, like, 'Throw the ball, you are my slave.'"
Yes. You are my slave, everyone's favorite game to play with a dog. But, still, Sonduck isn't swayed. "Positive attributes of pit bulls? I can think of not one," she says. "I cannot think of one endearing quality."
Sonduck, who says she's been called by dozens of concerned citizens backing her effort, says she will not stop until this issue is finished. "Our City Council needs to step up to the plate ... because if they don't, I will lead the way to putting this on the ballot," she says. "I'm on a rampage."