Dog lovers can be divided over the pit bull breed. This puppy is available for adoption at the St. Joseph Animal Shelter.

Dogs are commonly known as man’s best friend. That could be a reason why people get so upset when they are bitten and attacked by dogs. It’s seen as a betrayal.

But are some dogs just too dangerous to adopt? Some think certain breeds are too violent to have, and others adamantly disagree.

There has been a longstanding wariness by the public regarding pit bull breeds, but the issue arose again recently when a controversial ad was released discouraging the adoption of pit bulls. The ad, which originally was intended to be a Super Bowl commercial, shows 2017 statistics for pit bull attacks and ends with the phrase “Do Not Adopt A Pit Bull.”

This has raised a debate: Is it the breed or the owner? It’s a question that is not easily answered and widely disagreed upon by many. Colleen Lynn created the website Dogbites.org in 2007, and it features dog bite stories and statistics.

Lynn believes that the owners of pit bulls should be very informed as to how the breed acts or they shouldn’t get one at all.

“We would say that the average dog owner is not responsible enough to own one of these dogs,” Lynn said.

The stats on Lynn’s website are comprised by her and her team. They highlight which cities in every state have ordinances restricting or banning pit bulls altogether. Lynn said she spends a good chunk of time compiling these lists.

“The way that we find this information is when municipalities put this information online or they’re in municipal code databases. So, that’s how we build our estimates,” Lynn said.

Jenna Keyes works for the St. Joseph Animal Shelter, and she does not agree that pit bulls are inherently troublesome.

“I think for any breed it does have a lot to do with the socialization and training that that dog receives as they’re growing up,” Keyes said. “All breeds have a tendency to be very lovable or have some behavior or social traits that are undesirable.”

According to Dogbites.org, there are 52 towns in Missouri that ban owning pit bulls. Numerous other municipalities have classified the dogs as “vicious” or put some sort of restrictions on the breed. Lynn said that is a trend around the Midwest.

“Ordinances that we have documented, at least a third, maybe even up to half are in the three-state region of Missouri, Kansas and Iowa,” Lynn said. “It seems that the Midwest has a sort of different outlook on this. They’re more proactive.”

Lynn said her research shows that, generally, pit bulls are the predominant dog in of animal shelters. Keyes said that is not necessarily the case in St. Joseph, but she said there are some of the dogs at the local shelter.

“Here at the shelter we currently have 16 dogs,” she said. “Those would include pit bulls, pit bull mixes that are kind of within that breed category.”

She said in the St. Joseph area people coming to adopt a dog have mixed feelings about adopting the breed.

“We do have people that come in specifically looking to adopt bully breeds and people who are like, no I’m not comfortable with that. So we can guide those adopters in the direction that they’re looking for,” Keyes said.

Ordinances in the City of St. Joseph require pit bulls to be sterilized and microchipped before they are released.

Zach Barrett can be reached at zach.barrett@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowBarrett.

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