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PETA’s Position on Pit Bulls

Written by PETA | July 21, 2009

To clarify PETA’s position on pit bulls: We’re for ’em.

By “for ’em,” I mean that we are for pit bull protection, for their happiness, and for treating them like dogs instead of like cheap burglar alarms, punching bags, or gladiators in perverted death matches.

Some pit bull fanciers out there seem to think that PETA is “against” pit bulls because we don’t oppose breed-specific measures to address what is obviously a breed-specific crisis. Au contraire. If someone proposed a ban on breeding Labrador retrievers or Chihuahuas or poodles (you get the picture – any dog), we’d be for those too. That’s because we don’t think any dogs should be brought into the world as long as millions are dying for lack of homes in animal shelters and on the streets every year.

Millions, people. Millions of dogs just like the ones you share your homes with have to be euthanized because too many people fail to spay and neuter their animals and choose to buy from breeders and pet stores instead of saving lives by adopting from animal shelters. Wouldn’t we be derelict in our duty if we didn’t support laws that would alleviate suffering and reduce those numbers? If those laws saved just one animal from suffering a miserable life or a painful death, wouldn’t they be worth it?

Pit bulls are often singled out by legislators because they are involved in so many attacks on humans and other dogs—as well as horrific cruelty cases. Our fieldworkers know firsthand just how frequently and mercilessly pit bulls are abused. These dogs are hands-down the most common victims of heartbreaking abuse and severe neglect that our caseworkers encounter.

I’m going to warn you—the following pictures, which were taken by our caseworkers of pit bulls they have helped, are graphic and disturbing. But I hope you’ll steel yourself to look at them and decide for yourself whether or not these suffering dogs would have been better off if they had never been born:




This is Rikus.

PETA fieldworkers found him cowering in his doghouse with a gaping wound on one of his legs, exposing muscle and bone. His face was swollen to the size of a melon because of infected wounds that he had suffered during a dogfight.




Music was nothing more than skin and bones when we found him, without food or water, and with nothing but a rusty pile of junk for shelter. He was shivering in freezing weather, trapped at the end of a heavy chain.




Music’s ears were shredded and his body was covered with scabs and scars—an indication that he had been forced to fight with other dogs.




In December of last year, PETA staffers found Zoo—also skin and bones—chained and starving in Suffolk, Virginia.

Our vet determined that Zoo was 20 to 30 pounds underweight. Zoo tested negative for intestinal parasites—meaning that his emaciated body condition was because of starvation. He was also filthy, flea-ridden, and heartworm positive. We charged his callous owners with cruelty to animals. They pleaded not guilty in court, but the judge saw through their lies and convicted them. They were sentenced to 30 days in jail (suspended) and forced to pay fines of $250 each as well as restitution for Zoo’s veterinary bill.




On New Year’s Day, heartbroken PETA staffers discovered this angel, Hugo, dead inside his PETA-supplied doghouse. A necropsy report confirmed that Hugo had been starved to death—the only contents of his stomach were grass and orange peels. He had scars consistent with dogfighting and had a fractured rib that was the result of trauma. We worked with law enforcement officials to bring charges against the person who was responsible for Hugo’s prolonged suffering and death. A judge sentenced the defendant to 120 days in jail and five years of probation during which time he is not allowed to inhabit a residence that has any animals in it.




Blackie was chained to an old carrier with no food or water. He was painfully thin, and his right rear leg had a compound fracture that had been left to rot for weeks.




Written by Alisa Mullins

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  • Like it or not, pitbulls have a genetic predisposition towards some dangerous traits. I’ve heard.. but it’s the owners! it’s the owners!. First, you can’t be sure that every bad pitbull had a terrible owner. Second, every breed of dog has terrible owners, but not all of them have a predisposition to attack or maim people over it. There is no pitbull owner that thinks *their* dog is going to attack someone. You realize this, don’t you? You can present a thousand personal anecdotes and it won’t change the statistics which clearly represent what we already know about the genetic predisposition of this breed. There are MANY breeds of dogs, and there is no reason for people to continue to get this breed. The only traits they have that other breeds have less of are traits that can be harmful to people and.. wait for it.. other ANIMALS. Do you know how many cats pitbulls kill each year? Or rabbits? Some of you claim to care so much about animals but are blind to the biological realities of this breed.

  • Carmen G. Maldonado says:

    I am so glad to know that Peta is in favor of protecting the pit bulls.

  • Chloe says:

    I dread thinking about the abuse of dogs, it just saddens me and feel as if I’m guilty because I know I can’t do anything about it but protest and write brief passages online about how this needs to stop.

    I really want to help all the animals I can. I do. But I’m not rich, I don’t have a house with fifteen hundred rooms to place these animals.

    I can’t imagine such a person that can so easily bring harm to an animal. I can barely even discipline my animals for God’s sake. I’m soft-hearted to my core. I wish that people would respect the fact that we are animals to, and acknowledge that other animals, –such as dogs– deserve the same treatment as us.

    I’m tired of asking. I only dream of being able to enforce and demand others to quit this horrifying and sickening treatment of animals.

    So I can only ask-

    Please stop.

  • Tina says:

    As I type this comment, I am simultaneously sobbing and clutching one of my dog to me for dear life. She was rescued and the thought that she might have been abused before we found her breaks my heart. Many of our pets were not “officially” up for adoption at the shelter because they were so shy or aggressive around people. We took them anyway, brought them home and loved them all with all our hearts. Most of them are okay now, because they know we would NEVER harm or neglect them in any way, but a few cats and dogs still hide under the bed when someone’s voice is too loud or when new people come over. This is devastating to me because NO animal should EVER have to endure abuse or neglect. They only want to love their humans as hard as they can and only deserve respect and affection. All of out pets are spayed or neutered and we only adopt shelter pets (who would pay for a best friend?) What did any of these dogs (or breeds of dogs, for that matter) ever do that we hate them so much? If I ever understand why or how anyone could bring themselves so low to abuse an animal, lock me up and through away the key because I’ve clearly gone nuts!

  • Kim Brown says:

    I have 3 pitbulls that are house dogs and my babies I started by giving 1 a good loving home and now have 3. I show them so much love and compassion. It sickens me to the point of nausea and tears to see and hear of the senseless horrible cruelty they go through. I am asked by people if they can use them for breeding. I try to politely let them know that my dogs are fixedthe reason why and if they are really interested in having a pitbull how they can adopt a rescue one. No one wants to hear that they immediately dismiss what I am saying and cahange the subject. How can we solve the problem? I know there are some people like me that won’t continue the breeding or abuse them in any way but for the rest what can I do?


    To maky maks… I agree with most of if not all your points. It just takes more people like us to speak up when we have ideas that could possibly solve the problems. Even though we’re just sharing our thoughts it’s still a start! Everything begins with a thought and I believe that one day our thoughts and words will be heard by the right people and when that day comes something good will come of it. We just need to have faith and keep pressing on and share the ideas with more people. Thanks PETA!


    I don’t wish hell upon my worst enemies… But I hope those heartless bastards rot in hell for abusing and neglecting our fellow fury friends! I think all owners or potential owners should attend training and be mentally and emotionally tested before being allowed to own ANY animal in a similar way in which we as humans are tested before being allowed to obtain a drivers licence. Once passing the animal owners test only then should we be allowed or be declared fit and stable enough “BY LAW” to own pets. Here in South Africa people think its cool to fight their pitbulls and many people in their sick demented mentalities think its all these dogs are made for and it makes dog lovers like myself sick to our stomachs! I really think all animals should be taken from owners who don’t deserve to experience the joy and love experienced when owning a fury member of the family. The law should feel the need to ask anyone for their animal licence anywhere anytime same way they ask to see our drivers licence and registration. Anyone caught without their licence to own a pet should be fined nice and big! A second fine should result in the confiscation of the animal where the animal is kept and looked after untill the licence is obtained. Third fines should forbid them from owning animals for a long period of time. If you get caught after that you obviously haven’t learnt your lesson and should just be thrown in jail for atleast 6 months. There are many other ways in which animal cruelty can be dealt with. I just think we as animal lovers should unite and come together and share our views our opinions and our ideas. The more we stand together after we come together the better our chances at getting the law on our side to help solving the problems in our human society.

  • Jill says:

    If a race of people suffered the most hate crimes and abused would we call for genocide? BSL is never the answer it’s proven to not truely reduce bites or cruelty those ppl who abuse just keep those animals even more in secret. The key is education and responsible pet ownership Period.

  • Brenda says:

    1st off…”to June” You are SADLY mistaken!! Breed Ban IS NOT THE ANSWER to this issue I wish people could see that!! It does more harm than good. The DOG it’s self is NOT the issue hand. It’s the PEOPLE The OWNERS THE FIGHTERS it’s NOT THE DOG. I never thought of all groups or people that PETA would be FOR a BREED BAN!!Although I respect your thoughts. Do you know that in some states some cityssome other nations They have passed a “breed ban” they went and RIPPED these dogs out of homes? Dogs that had loving homes they were family pets family MEMBERS…..These pets had responsible owners loving families…. for why? They went right to the local SHELTER ….How did that help? In some nations they have actually LIFTED the breed ban because they saw how it DID NOT help. Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts….. I just think it DOES not help. WE DON’T BAN a certain RACE OF PEOPLE do? Aren’t we taught to NOT judge a book by it’s cover? If ANYONE needs to be banned…It’s the bad owners the cowards that fight them!!!! This animal USED to be our nation’s MASCOT for goodness sake……

  • V Watson says:

    It is dreadful that the current law is unsuccessful in protecting animals against someone who deliberately causes pain to them. With the increase last year the penalty for animal cruelty crimes is still not enough to protect the animals. Animal abusers need stiffer penalties without loopholes that allow many animal abusers to walk away unpunished or with just a slap on the wrist.

  • Susan says:

    I agree with PETA that dogs including pits should be spayed or neutered. I am sure there are good pits but last spring a family dog pit bull killed a six year old girl for what appeared to be no reason. In fact he broke her neck and a neighbor had to shoot the dog in the foot to get him off the child. I agree there are no easy answers and it is too easy to say it is the way the pit was raised but it may be that they are just a unpredictable.

  • Goldie says:

    It breaks my heart to see these innocent animals suffered so much. It’s the human that were responsibled for these dogs that should be eliminated. They should be banned from owning any kind of animals in their lifetime. Shame of them.

  • Charlese says:

    Speaking of pitt bulls that are really beautiful wonderful family dogs unless they are trained to be different…. I saw on YouTube today Michael Vick videos scrolled down to see all the HUNDREDS of people who were saying things like “Who cares about the dam dogs?” or “It’s ONLY a dog!”!!! It made me sick! Hundreds hundres of comments from Vick supporters leaving so many comments some even saying that Vick “Inspired them to start a dog fighting business” or that “Vick is my hero for doing it” or “I would stomp on the dogs myself it’s no loss” Most say that he should have never gone to jail now that he’s out he should be a famous football player again. I am troubled with all of this don’t know what to say or do about it. Do we really want kids to look up to him as a hero??? I own 3 dogs myself can’t fathom ever abusing a dog. People who do it for pleasure monetary gain are sadists…. they do belong in hell.

  • Doug says:

    Pit bulls may not be bad dogs but they are manuiplated by historically bad people… People buy pit bulls for a tough guy image fighting or protection….of course there are people who buy them to love….but these are the dog owners who you never hear about. We hear about the 22 year old excon who owns 5 male dogs and they got out of the yard and went on a killing spree. We should ban people convicted of a crime from owning dogs especially Pit Bulls.

  • Elphaba says:

    So Tommy you actually want idiot breeders to keep putting more beagles into the world when 34 million homeless animals are euthanized annually? Selfish jerk.

  • Franl says:

    PLEASE we need help…we live in China SHANGHAI site of the 2010 EXPO . Shanghai is planning on killing dogs on August 27th and it will last for 15 days. They will do this to clean up for the expos so they say or because of rabies…both are BS…these people are incredibbly stupid about dogs because Mao told them dogs were for rich Americans. They make it hard to get a license SO they can kill the dogs BUT we have been told these kill teams don’t care about licenses they will catch the dogs even enter your home. If you fight they will brutalize your dog if not you can buy your dog back. I am terrified of losing my girl and at the same time of giving my real name. I am an American and I can’t just pack up and leave. BUT PLEASE why support the EXPO raise awareness say FU to China they don’t want negative publicity AND whatever they say ITS a lie…enough with the feel good China BS…they steal dogs to sell to markets for food…I do have horrible pictures BUT only you guys there can raise awareness. I beg you to tell people… even Chinese in Shanghai are worried while others think its great. China is doing it now because they can get away with it.

  • Vegan says:

    BSL is nothing to fear it is simply the first step toward obliterating breeders which we should all support wholeheartedly. Breedism is simply racism applied to animals. We must learn to love ALL individuals regardless of their color size gender appearance or lineage.

  • Daniela says:

    HI I’m from Ecuador I have to say that I support 100 Chaliese Kimbler jail is not enough for these people they are sick cause just a sick person if we can say person would do that to any living thing especially a dog. I just got an e mail about chinese food how do they kill dogs in a horrible way and they eat them I’m horrify to see how these people kill them what can we do ? I dont know if PETA can do something if you read this let me know. Thanks for all your work

  • Chaliese Kimbler says:

    In my opinion these people should not just be thrown in jail that is an easy way out. They should be starved for weeks and have their legs and other body parts fractured like they left their animals and then be forced to fight against people who are three times their own size. And even then it doens’t quit justify what they put these animals through!!

  • cindy carter says:

    Working for an animal shelter for many many years i have seen too many animals die needlessly for lack of cage space. My most recent adoption is a Beautiful white pitbull which i pulled off the euthanasia list. My heart went out to her because her owner died and she needed another they all do But she is the Best and i love her as well as my chihuahua and 5 cats. we are one big happy family!!! Keep up the good work PETA getting the word out that Pitties are wonderful…..

  • Carol E McCormick says:

    Ingrid you know darn well that being against breeding as you and I have always been is not part of the argument of breed specific legislation. Breed specific legislation is unfair. Pit bulls have not been shown to even be the most agressive breed let alone if you look as one needs to at individual dogs within the breed. More cities and even whole states are looking or have passed legislation making it illegal to have pit bulls as companions. I have worked for years for these dogs and their families. The ones I know who have suffered from these laws are rescuers with one or more pit bulls who have devoted their lives to them as have their whole families. These families have to then agree to have their companions euthanized or else sell their home quit their jobs and move to another city. And that’s what they’ve done because they would never ever let anything happen to their precious members of the family.

  • Tommy says:

    “By “for ’em” I mean that we are for pit bull protection for their happiness and for treating them like dogs instead of like cheap burglar alarms punching bags or gladiators in perverted death matches.” Please PETA what ever you do don’t be for Beagle protection I love my Beagle and really hope the Government doesn’t execute the final solution on them. I guess it does make sense no Pitt Bulls will be abused when they are extinct.

  • Lissa says:

    I hope that PETA is just being vague on their stance about breed specific legislation and is not supportive of all BSL because it results in many euthanized and abandonded animals. If controled breeding was the only thing these laws did than I would be for them as well but unfortunatly that isn’t the case. Many times they result in nice dogs being killed!

  • Jackie Vitron says:

    I believe that breed bans do not help the breed. I have seen more pit bulls come into the shelters because owners live in an area that has put a ban on the breed and they are unable to move.The owners do not want to get rid of their dog but no longer have a choice because the dogs are banned.That is not the answer. Professional and back yard breeders of ALL BREEDS should be held to higher standards.They should have to have a liscense and it should cost them big time for it. Every puppy they sell should have to be fixed before it can leave the property. Lets attack the over breeding of ALL animals not just the individual breeds. Some of the sweetest dogs I have seen come into the shelters are pit bulls.

  • Amelia says:

    I have had the chance to meet some of the greatest of pitbulls but when I went to adopt one from the local shelter our landlord told us most insurance agencies would not accept pit bulls. Later I found that my best friends grandparents were threatened to loose their insurance if they did not get rid of their 13 year old pit bull they had raised from a near 6 months old. The problem with this poor breed is they have become an excuse. Through bad training and abuse the whole breed has been labeled and now society is using it as an excuse. I think all dog breeding should stop until people take care of who is already here.

  • Lacey Matthews says:

    In response to Marija PETA doesn’t initiate breedspecific bans legislators do. And they do that in response to pressure from their constituents. Why not ask your local legislators to initiate a ban on Labrador retrievers or better yet a mandatory spayneuter law for all dogs and cats?

  • Lindsey says:

    That made me cry.

  • Marija says:

    Why then PETA does not initiate lab ban? Or other popular breed ban? It is only logical they most likely come from either breeders or pet stores for sure. Most popular dog mix? That is a lab plus something. Sorry PETA I respect your work but here your position and explanations are illogical and lack compassion.

  • moky moks says:

    some ideas on controlling the dog population. 1. a higher price on the city license on any breeding dog. 2. a much lower price on nonbreeding dog license. 3. stiff fines on any nonlicensed dog. 4. a time limit set to correct the license issue. 5. another fine if problem is not fixed. 6. after a final warningfine is not met then animal is removed by the city. 7. if all dogs were microchiped then price of microchip would go down. 8. microchips would help to track what breeder a puppy comes from. 9. all commercial breeders should by law be open to inspection. 10. all commercial breeders should by law be held responsible for the well being of all their dogs…physical and mental. 11. veterinarians should be expected to report any abuseneglect to proper authorities. oki’m not a knowitall but there has to one or two good ideas in my list. or at least i hope to inspire more thought by people who love canines.

  • Shari says:

    God Bless you PETA! That is why I am a peta member now because of all your good work!

  • Riah says:

    I have a pit bull I love him to death. Pitts are really sweet dogs I dont see how anyone could treat them like that or any other animal for that matter.

  • Johnny says:

    To Suzanne This is actually a situation to critisize about. Just because you see a baby in a garbage can does not mean you should euthanize it. There may not be enough houses for that baby but there is no reason to kill it the same is for animals as well. Just because you see a hungry dog does not mean you should throw it out like yesterday’s trash.

  • Aurie Ingraham-Adie says:

    Those are some of the saddest pictures and stories I have read in a long time!

  • Ava says:

    God bless those dogs and all pit bulls. I had a pit cross growing up as a kid he was funnyplayfulloyalloving. I can’t understand how anyone could abuse an animal and pit bulls get a bad press because they are enslaved and abused. Breeders and pet shops make me sick. How can we let more animals be born when we cant care for the ones that we got?. I hope all those monsters who did that to those dogs go that they deserve and quite frankly that when they die they rot in hell. Sickening.

  • Brien Comerford says:

    I would not have a problem with Law Enforcement using pit bulls to arrest animal abusers.

  • Beth Nicholson says:

    I don’t understand how people can treat animals like that. I am against cruelty to animals. Which is why I joined Peta. Thank you for the photos and allowing me to see first hand what kind of abuse these dogs and many other animals suffer. I am now convinced that I am going to do alot more to help the animals than what I have been doing. I am going to start handing out some information packets and have my own table at our local fairs and so forth. People may laugh when they see me but I want people to help me to stop the cruelty to animals!

  • Shawna Flavell says:

    Tom It’s great that you have been getting your dogs from animal shelters and you should continuing doing that especially now that you have children. The reason that mutts tend to be healthier than purebreds is because they are less likely to be inbred. Dogs from breeders are constantly inbred in order to maintain certain breed traits. This results in health complications for the dogs not to mention that for every dog you buy from a breeder you are sentencing a dog in an animal shelter to death. As for your concern about bringing an aggressive animal into your home most animal shelters will let you visit with an animal before you decide to take him or her home heck a lot of them make it mandatory. This meetandgreet time is the perfect opportunity for you to see how an animal interacts with you and your family so that you can ensure that everyone is comfortable with each other.

  • June says:

    There are humane groups in the western part of the country that have gotten suckered by pit bull breeders and dog fighters into helping pit bull breeders and dog fighters breed and torture more pit bulls. They are working with breeder groups to protect breeders from things like licensing etc Not humane at all.

  • Shawna Flavell says:

    Margarita We had been out to the property before and whenever we deliver a doghouse we always make sure to do followup visits and take action if an animal seems to be neglected or abused. Hugo passed away sometime between our followup visits.

  • Tom says:

    I rescued two mutts I prefer mixed breeds. My experience is that they tend to be healthier But that was before I had children. If I had to get a pet now I would prefer to get one from a breeder or someone I knew so that I could be certain they weren’t inbred and as a result aggressive. To me once children are in the home one must be more cautious about where they get their pets.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    You say you found one dog dead inside his PETA supplied dog house Had you been out to his “guardian’s” place before or had the dog been rescued by PETA only to pass away before care could be given?

  • Carla* says:

    To think these dogs were born into such horrors I will and must agree they were better off not being born at all if this was to be their fate. I can not fathom what goes on in ones mind to do this to a living breathing feeling soul. Rest in Peace Hugo. And let history NOT repeat itself!! Thankyou once again Peta for all you!! God Bless!!

  • farah says:

    I too support an end to breeding dogs. There are too many strays but not enough good homes. Those who criticize peta on this issue are clearly misinformed.

  • Suzanne says:

    I have 2 pit bulls and I wouldn’t trade them in for the world. One I rescued from an abusive owner. And he is the sweetest loving animal I have ever owned. He doesn’t bite or attack people. He is good with other animals and good with childern. He has no sign of aggresion at all. My other was found on the side of the road and she is just as sweet and loving. I love my dogs. With all my heart. Their more like family then pets. I think it goes by how you raise an animal if it will be mean or a killer. Any dog you mistreat can attack or kill. Treat your animals with care and respect. And love them. That’s all they need. Love care and respect. And good homes.

  • Tom says:

    Kudos PETA These photos show just a glimpse of the bigger picture and if people could only see that more often they’d understand. PETA isn’t condemning animals themselves just the reality that we cannot take care of them properly. If any breed of dog could be said to endure the MOST torture and mistreatment it must be Pit Bulls… right?

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