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pit bull AP
Pet behaviorist Steve Duno says a pit bull is not a starter pet. (AP Photo/file)

Pit bulls not a problem? It's not a Pekingese attacking

After two pit bull attacks this week in Seattle, one on a 63-year-old man in south Seattle and one on a 66-year-old man in White Center, questions are popping up once again about what needs to be done to keep people safe.

While some defend pit bulls when violent incidents occur, author and pet behaviorist Steve Duno tells KIRO Radio's Dori Monson that it's obvious the breed is a common factor.

"The dogs that participated in these attacks weren't Pekingese. You don't have herds of Pekingese roaming the city attacking people," says Duno. "When someone says all breeds are created equal, well then they're denying the definition of what a breed is. Breed serves a particular purpose."

Pit bulls, he explains are a mix between a bull dog and a terrier, which makes them strong and tenacious.

"I'd rather go up against a Rottweiler than a pit bull," says Duno.

But he adds, the breeding also plays a role in their loving nature.

"The sweet part of the pit bull, that's also breed specific because when they were fought, the owners had to be able to go in and separate the dogs," explains Duno. "The dog had to recognize that the owner was coming in and handling it, so they had to breed in that owner-love as well."

Duno, who owns a pit bull mix himself, calls the trials and tribulations of the breed a tragedy.

"I like them. They're eager. They're athletic. They're aesthetically pleasing," says Duno. "But even if they're bred perfectly, they can be problematic, particularly with other dogs."

Bottom line, Duno says the pit bull is not a dog for beginners. He says half of his business, as a pet behaviorist, is dealing with owners who don't know how to handle a pit bull with aggression problems.

"When you combine the breed specific behaviors ... with owners who either don't give a rip, or with owners who (have) too much dog, you have a problem."

While Duno doesn't support a breed ban, he does want to see the dogs bred properly.

"If people are backyard breeding pit bulls, I want them fined heavily," says Duno, who adds he also wishes for potential owners to make a bigger investment. "I want people, if they're going to have pit bulls, to pay money for them and to get them from a decent breeder."

Jamie Skorheim, MyNorthwest.com Editor
Whether it's floating on Green Lake, eating shrimp tacos at Agua Verde, or taking weekend drives out to the Cascades, she loves to enjoy the Pacific Northwest lifestyle as much as humanly possible.
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