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Efforts to Soften the Image of Pit Bulls

March 01, 1986

With reference to Edward J. Boyer's article (Feb. 18) on the efforts of the American Pit Bull Terrier Club of Southern California to clear the name of the American and Staffordshire bull terrier.

In the light of Santa Monica's city ordinance to muzzle this breed, and Dade County Florida's attempts to outlaw the dogs, as a child brought up among numerous generations of these animals in England I cannot but feel concerned by the general ignorance about these dogs, and particularly the unenlightened attitude of our lawmakers in victimizing an entire breed, rather than seeking out those who are knowingly training and using these animals as fighting dogs. In human terms, this punitive action would be tantamount to racism and child abuse!

Staffordshire bull terriers bred from crossing the English bulldog with very probably the English bull terrier were fought in pits in the 19th Century, especially around the industrial Midlands of England. Because this breed possesses outstanding qualities of redoubtable courage and loyalty, unsurpassed pound per pound strength and muscularity, with proportionately the strongest jaws of any mammal, it sadly lends itself to abuse and misdirection by unscrupulous owners, who continue to train them for unlawful and savage dog fighting. The series of female Staffordshires that I grew up with were loving family dogs, who adored being handled.

It might surprise those in Santa Monica and Dade County to learn that, at one time, if you dropped into Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire, strangers, tourists, visitors and children like myself, would all be greeted by several Staffordshires, roaming freely about the interior of the Abbey. They were the dean's own strain, of which he was justly proud.

LYNN P. CRYSTAL

Los Angeles

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