Animal experts weigh in bully breeds - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Animal experts weigh in bully breeds

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Here on Focus@4 we like to know what you're thinking. On a recent Facebook post, Mandy Rotneberry said she wanted to see "a factual report on bully breeds".

Local animal experts say the term "bully breed" has nothing to do with the temperament of a dog. It has everything to do with the breed type. Hence the term "bully". The root word is bull.

Bully breeds range from small breeds to very large breeds. So when people say "bully breed" they're not talking about something like a "schoolyard bully" or an aggressive dog that bullies other dogs.

The experts today say they want people to know that aggressive behavior is typically learned. It's not innate.

This one-year old pit bull is waiting for a family to take her home. But in the meantime, she nuzzles up to the people at the Birmingham Jefferson county animal control.

"Before any of dogs go into our adoption program. They are temperament evaluated. To make sure that they are a safe dog," said Alex Gray, a nationally certified animal control officer.

A self-proclaimed lover of all dogs, Gray says bully breeds, particularly the American pit bull terriers, get a bad wrap.

"They were formed in the mid 1800s. They never been a human aggressive dog until about the last twenty or thirty years. The reason for that being is the people who own them," he said.

When it comes to the aggressiveness of a dog, Gray says that should be judged on  a case by case basis. Not according to the breed.

He says bully breeds are inherently loyal, and often times owners take advantage of that.

"If their owner tells them to do this they will. Which goes back to irresponsible owners. No breed is inherently dangerous," said Gray.

Gray says dogs learn to be aggressive when they are not socialized, isolated, constantly chained, or teased. Deanna McCollum with Bama Bully Rescue. The organization rescues all bully breeds and trains them to become family dogs.

She says pit bulls are not any more difficult to train than other dogs. She says it's all about positive reinforcement

"They're very eager to please and willing to please and willing to do what you want. And they love treats. I haven't met a pit bull yet that does not like treats," said McCollum

Gray says the best way to erase stereotypes associated with breeds it to start education early.

"Ant that's the problem, education. If we were to educate the public, dog bites as a whole would go down," said Gray.

ABC 33/40 also spoke with veterinarian Lisa Frederick from the Alford Avenue Veterinary Hospital in Hoover. She says more of aggressive behavior has to do with the way a dog was raised, unless the dog has a personality or genetic problem. 

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