Bel Air resident's pit bull becomes service dog and man’s best friend - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Bel Air resident’s pit bull becomes service dog and man’s best friend

Jericho, a Florida-bred rescue dog, is just one of the many pit bulls chosen as a service dog by the Animal Farms Foundation. He was assigned to Bel Air resident Matthew Smith, who had lost the use of his legs in an accident. Jericho and Smith have been inseparable ever since. 

In 1994, Matthew Smith, 42, was injured in a motorcycle accident, after which made him dependent upon crutches to walk.

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Smith and Jerico taking a walk. (Courtesy Photo)

“In the accident I had severe nerve damage to my legs,” Smith said, “which left me able to walk short distances and in a wheelchair for the rest of the time.”

The accident took a negative toll on Smith’s shoulders as he tried to use crutches more often.

“It [was] hurting to walk and wheel around,” he said, “so I decided to look into getting a service dog.”

Soon afterwards, he began to seek assistance.

Through the Animal Farm Foundation’s (AFF) Assistance Dog Training Program, he was assigned Jericho as a service dog. Jericho was a rescue, found in a shelter in Florida and taken to the agency’s New York location by AFF trainer, Apryl Lea.

“He was found as a stray,” the New York-bred Lea said. “He met all the criteria…laid-back, good work ethic, sound structure.”

AFF’s Assistance Dog Program aims to train dogs like Jericho as service dogs in order to show their capability and rehabilitate their image in the public eye.

“Dogs labeled ‘pit bulls’ are discriminated against,” the AFF Mission states, “by municipal legislation that bans or restricts ownership and by animal shelters with discriminatory adoption policies.”

When Jericho and Smith first met, it was love at first sight. “A year into Jericho’s training, we immediately clicked,” Smith admits.

AFF’s service pit bulls are assigned to applicants who need stronger support for wheelchairs and brace transfer. “Brace transfer is when Jericho helps brace Matthew when he transfer from his wheelchair to another chair or object, or if he was to fall out of his chair,” Lea said.

The Animal Farm Foundation, established in 1985 in Dutchess County, NY, is devoted to providing safety, training, and equal opportunities for pit bulls. This nonprofit agency provided Matthew with Jericho free-of-charge, while other adoption agencies Smith approached aske for up to $15K per canine.

When asked how Jericho’s impacted Smith’s life, Lea said: “I find that dogs change people’s lives, and it’s even more evident in a service dog team…they count on each other.”

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Jericho, a Florida-bred rescue dog, is making a difference in Matthew Smith’s life. (Courtesy Photo)

“Pit bulls are the most likely to be killed in shelters,” Smith said. “But once they bond with their people, that’s their people.”

However, while dog-lovers such as Smith and Lea have found places in their hearts for pit bulls, others – dog-bite victims in particular – have seen the potential dark sides of owning these dogs. One East Texas woman, Lorrie George, was attacked by a “pit-bull” named Tank on Nov. 12 2012.

George claimed Tank first bit into her left thigh before being caught by two friends: “They finally got him to release me for a second and then he bit me again on the lower part of my leg.”

She was then taken to Hermann Memorial Hospital and released at about 8:30 p.m. that night.

“I spent the [following] week confined to bed,” George said in her official statement, “only getting up to use the bathroom. Because they could not close these wounds there was a lot of leakage of blood, which ruin my clothes and bedding.”

DogsBite.org, a site devoted promoting awareness of “high-risk dogs,” said of George’s case, “Being ‘understanding’ with owners of high-risk dogs, as Lorrie’s account shows, ended in a severe mauling…” and credits the attack to “reckless ownership of dangerous dog breeds.”

Violent “pit bulls” made up 6.69 percent of the breed’s population between 1982 and 2014, according to DogsBite.org. In this time, 3,397 caused bodily harms, 2,110 maimings, and 295 deaths, 1,355 involving child victims and 1,312 involving adults.

Whether “pit bulls” are inherently vicious is still up a hot debate. In 2012, the Maryland Court of Appeals deemed “pit bulls” as such, but in their 2014 article “The Problem With Pit Bulls, TIME insisted that they were “bred to be dangerous”, shifting the responsibility from the breed to the pet owners.

For Smith, however he doesn’t see the breed as the problem. “‘Pit bulls’ have a very bad reputation, which is not their fault, but the owner’s,” he said.





About the author

Kaila Philo

Kaila Philo is currently a student of the University of Maryland: Baltimore County. She studies English with concentrations in writing and journalism. She hopes to eventually become a novelist, and poet. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where she spends her days reading books and eating pie, wanting nothing more in life than to leave a lasting positive impact in the world. You can find her on Wordpress at http://kailanthropy.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter at @kailanthropy Contact the author.
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23 Comments

  1. KaD says:

    In 2002, when landlord Guy Lowe’s Nutter tenant tried forcing him to accept her “Depression” Stunt Pit as a service dog and he refuses, she gets uppity, forces a court battle, then gets mauled in Federal Court:

    Issuing one of the first court verdicts to weigh a conflict between the right of a legally disabled person to keep a companion animal and the duty of landlords to protect tenants from dangerous dogs, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled on August 8, 2002 that the San Francisco landlord of Guy Lowe, 38, met the requirements of federal law and the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission by allowing legally disabled persons to keep small dogs, and that Lowe, whose claimed disability is severe depression, acted unreasonably in demanding to keep a pit bull terrier. “The potentially catastrophic consequences of a pit bull attack must be considered, even if the risk of that attack is remote,” Judge Alsup wrote.

    Reply
  2. KaD says:

    Marc Langevin’s PTSD Service Dog “Princess” attacks a neighbor walking her dog and severely bites both of them…Langevin expresses bewilderment as to why his fighting breed dog was “triggered” at the sight of another dog.

    Reply
  3. KaD says:

    …Grandma Rose Forney volunteered at the City Public library and would take her Pit Bull with her to expose as many people as she could to Pit Bulls for the “Great Struggle“. All was well until Snoopy bit a resident in the face. Now the City of Maul-lala is being sued for $158,000.

    Reply
  4. KaD says:

    Kelly Nolan stages an Oscar Winning performance for the media, lamenting that her daughter’s autism Service Pit Bull “Toby” was abducted by a pit hating, blonde woman and killed with a baseball bat.
    http://www.live5news.com
    Once again, gullible Pit Nutters rally and begin raising thousands of dollars in donations for their new media hero. Later, the police investigation reveals Toby ran off and was actually hit by a car…. Nolan and her partner are subsequently arrested on drug and Stolen Property charges after inviting police into their home for the Pit Griftering operation.

    Reply
  5. KaD says:

    Animal Control Officer-Nutter Aimee Chapelle establishes one of the first known bite prevention school programs using Pit Bulls to educate…err, indoctrinate children…She is on her way to Pit Bull Superstardom after getting this fabulous PR piece published:
    http://www.postindependent.com/article/20050730/VALLEYNEWS/50729010
    Then in 2006 the program is muzzled after one of her Pit Bulls defeats her fence and attacks a neighborhood child! http://www.postindependent.com/article/20061226/VALLEYNEWS/112260030

    Reply
  6. KaD says:

    When Texas Pit Bull breeder Steven Woods got in trouble for his Pit Bull Mimi attacking a neighbor, he whipped out the disabled veteran, PTSD -Pit Bull Service dog card. Soon pictures of Tu-Tu wearing Mimi were all over the internet and gullible Pit Advocates raised $17, 000 for his legal fight against “The Man”. Woods even had the balls to wear his uniform for his court appearance. Later. the National Guard revealed that Woods had never served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and in fact that he had never deployed anywhere. Even though Woods and the Pit Bull community saved man biting Mimi, she was euthanized after attacking another neighbor 8 months later. This time Woods didn’t show up for court.

    Reply
  7. KaD says:

    In 2009 the noted reporter published this piece about a California* based Pit Bull group suing Evil-Denver to overturn it’s 21 year old Pit Bull ban. Later in 2010, he published another piece describing how he received a humanitarian exemption from Evil-Denver since Chummy served as his PTSD Service Dog…The piece then deteriorates as he rambles on about Chummy attacking him and the Denver taxpayers getting bitten in the ass responding to his 911 call. Robert is Denver’s last known Pit mauling victim.

    Reply
  8. KaD says:

    In a classic backfire, Anna Klafter’s SPCA pencil whipped therapy Pit Bull goes beserk after seeing it’s first police horse in Golden Gate Park. Nettie is shot, the police officer is put on the disability rolls and Anna get’s kicked in the face, sustaining a fractured skull. In a bizarre twist of irony, the Taxpayer’s Police Horse; Triple A Andy, has to be retired and is donated to the same SPCA that “pimped” Nettie out onto the public!

    Reply
  9. KaD says:

    Pit bull ‘servus dawgs’ have been tried before-and failed miserably.

    Every trait that was BRED INTO these dogs-explosive,
    disproportionate and unprovoked aggression, gameness, and their uniquely
    damaging hold and shake attack style-makes them defective, destructive, and
    deadly as a PET animal (fatalpitbullattacks.com) and stupid, dangerous, and
    defective as any type of police or service dog. http://www.cravendesires.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-problem-with-pit-bull-service-dogs.html

    Reply
  10. Julieveggie says:

    Two words to prove pit bull type dogs are inherently dangerous: ‘break stick’.

    Pit Bull Rescue Central recommends ALL pit owners to have a “break stick”, a wedge-shaped piece of wood used to pry open a pit bull’s jaw during an attack. For me this is another RED FLAG. Does not sound like a safe family pet if you need a break-stick on hand. This tool is meant to be used only on pit bull type dogs. “Since pit bulls have a strong fighting background, we recommend that pet owners also have a breaking stick as a precaution, even if they don’t plan to use it in an illegal context. However, please be discreet. Breaking sticks are not something to brag about and the general public might have the wrong impression if you walk around with a stick in your hand. Breaking sticks are not illegal, but they are considered dog fighting paraphernalia in certain states and/or with certain law enforcement agents.” http://www.pbrc.net/breakstick… This person demonstrates how to use a break stick on a pit-bull: https://www.youtube.com/watch?…

    Pit-bull Rescue Central, the leading authority of pit bull types, admits most pit-bull types are not safe around other dogs because of their genetics. For that reason alone is why I do not consider them safe family pets for our neighborhoods where innocent children and other people’s beloved pets live. These are powerful dogs that accidentally break away from their guardians all the time and maul &kill another beloved pet or person in front of a child or person. This is a typical pit attack on another beloved pet:https://www.youtube.com/watch?… Too many children & adults have watched their beloved pets be mauled to death by pit bulls. Many develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after watching a horrific pit attack: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i

    According to Pit Bull Rescue Central, “It is a FACT that our pit bulls, AmStaffs and pit mixes come with a built-in fighting heritage. It does not matter where we get them from, whether it be the pound, a stray we pick up, or a puppy we buy from a breeder. The majority of pit bulls will, at some point in their lives, exhibit some degree of dog-on-dog aggression. Yet, chances are that a “normal” pit bull will not share his affection with other animals.We cannot predict when or where it will happen and we can’t love, train or socialize it out of the dog. Pit bulls may not start fights, but they will finish them.”http://www.pbrc.net/misc/PBRC_…”

    It all starts with the ethical breeder willing to produce a dog with a stable inherited temperament. Domesticated animals are selectively bred for certain traits humans are not. It is not possible to discriminate against dog breeds that are purposely bred for certain traits and characteristics, people are not. Dog breeding is the practice of mating selected dogs with the intent to maintain or produce specific qualities and characteristics. There are around 400 dog breeds and pit bull breeders are the only ones who are breeding for aggression, tenacity and power to create the ultimate canine gladiator. Aggression is a dominant trait resulting in a 75% chance of inheritance. One needs to actively breed to eliminate it through SELECTIVE breeding and deliberate attrition, things that backyard pit bull breeders never do.They are supplying to dog fighters, drug dealers, gang members, people who want a guard dog or a dog that looks like a tough protection dog. Pit-bull type dogs are the number one dog surrendered to shelters, a million every year, mostly because of aggression issues. Then many are re-homed by irresponsible pit bull advocates back into our communities. Watch this clip of unethical backyard breeders: Mercy’s Kennel: The Trailer So basically people who have pits are playing Russian Roulette against our communities. If you have time, here is even a more in depth look at unethical pit bull breeders. http://www.dailymotion.com/vid… Many breeds go extinct. It’s not a big deal. Do you miss any of these breeds? http://www.ask.com/wiki/List_o

    From the guru of pit bulls who has a national TV show called Pitbull & Parolees, Tia Torres /Villalobos Rescue Center and Rescue Train “It’s a mistake to think the fighting gene can be easily trained or loved out of a pit-bull.” http://www.therescuetrain.org/

    In 2014, 43 people killed by dogs. 35 people killed by pit bulls out of that 25 people killed by their beloved pit bulls in 2014. Temperament is not the problem with pits; they are generally pleasant to be around when raised well. The danger is the unprovoked aggression, gameness, and physical ability, that has been bred into them from day 1. This cannot be trained or loved away, and you never know when it will appear until its too late. As a safe dog advocate and victim advocate, I follow dangerous dog attacks very closely on people and other people’s beloved pets. If your beloved child was killed by your beloved pit bull you would not be advocating for this breed either. Here is two incidents out of too many: Kara who died on her 4th birthday was killed by her beloved pit bulls. She even picked them when they were puppies. They pulled her out of the grandmother’s arms mauled and killed her. If the parents would have picked a safer pet like a beagle, she would be alive today. So heartbreaking people have to learn the hard way. Too many people have been mislead by the pit lobby, ‘that it’s all how you raise them and they are just like other breeds.’ Other breeds do not need a break stick to have on hand in case of an attack. Please do your research for a safe family pet. Your first clue should be if you read about a certain type of dog killing people, best not to risk and pick a different breed. http://www.daxtonsfriends.com/… andhttp://www.cinewsnow.com/home/…

    Angela Rutledge from Georgia whose 2-year old son Beau was killed by the family pit bull of 8 years named “Kissy Face” She fell for the pit bull propaganda that pit bulls are nanny dogs that I see pit bull advocates say all the time. http://www.daxtonsfriends.com/

    I appreciate that Pit bull Rescue Central is telling pit-bull guardians not to take their dog to off-leash parks but many pit guardians are still very ignorant to this recommendation. What is bewildering to me is that Pit Bull Rescue Central admits that other beloved dogs in the community are not safe around pit-bulls because of their genetic makeup but promotes them as a great family pet. For me this is a red flag that you are compromising public safety and the safety of our beloved pets in our communities. For the Of all the dog breeds, pit types are the all time number one killer of humans and other people’s beloved pets. If all these guardians would have picked a safer pet like a beagle instead of a pit, we would not even be having this conversation. What other type of dog has the ability to kill humans that would be mistaken for a pit bull type? These families know exactly what breed killed their loved one: http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bi… Then these pit-bull advocates are oblivious and offended why people do not want these dogs in the neighborhood. REALLY? Are you really that blind? Do I really have to spell it out for you? Many people in the neighborhood have beloved pets that they consider family members. They are concerned for their pet’s safety and they do not want their dog to get mauled to death. Now people in the neighborhood who have pets have to live in fear if this powerful pit bull will get away from the guardian and hurt or kill their beloved pet. Almost all dog guardians have an accidental mishap where their dog gets away from them by mistake. Pit bull type dogs are 0 mistake dogs and people make too many mistakes. As you can see with my evidence, pit bull types are not just like any other breed of dogs.

    Reply
  11. Thomas McCartney says:

    SAR PITs Kris Crawford left a trail of civil fraud judgments all over the
    Southwestern United States as Pit Bull owners looking for a hero were
    manipulated. Even Pit Bull Superstar Tia Torres was one of her victims:

    Pit Bull Forum Kris Crawford A Fraud Organized Pit-Idiocy still cites
    SARPITS/ForPitssake as an example of why we should allow the deaths and
    maulings continue…but Crawford’s ability to perform SAR work has been
    euthanized due to her criminal conviction. Pit Grifterin ain’t easy!

    Reply
  12. Thomas McCartney says:

    Steven Woods Stolen Valor Pit Bull “Mimi” When Texas Pit Bull breeder Steven
    Woods got in trouble for his Pit Bull Mimi attacking a neighbor, he
    whipped out the disabled veteran, PTSD -Pit Bull Service dog card. Soon
    pictures of Tu-Tu wearing Mimi were all over the internet and gullible
    Pit Advocates raised $17, 000 for his legal fight against “The Man”.
    Woods even had the balls to wear his uniform for his court appearance.

    Laterthe National Guard revealed that Woods had never served in Iraq or
    Afghanistan, and in fact that he had never deployed anywhere. Even
    though Woods and the Pit Bull community saved man biting Mimi, she was
    euthanized after attacking another neighbor 8 months later.

    This time Woods didn’t show up for court. In 1991 The Texas Legislature
    superceded local communities ability to regulate Pit Bulls, thereby by
    keeping breeders like Woods in business. In the years since, 31 Texans
    have been killed by Pit Bulls and hundreds have been “merely” horribly
    mauled. Can I get a good ol’ Texas “BSL Never Works“ Hell Yeah?!?

    By the way, you can still purchase a “Free Mimi” T-shirt on line at zazzle.

    Reply
  13. Thomas McCartney says:

    Robert Weller’s PTSD Service Pit Bull “Chummy” In 2009 the noted reporter
    published this piece about a California* based Pit Bull group suing
    Evil-Denver to overturn it’s 21 year old Pit Bull ban. Later in 2010, he
    published another piece describing how he received a humanitarian
    exemption from Evil-Denver since Chummy served as his PTSD Service Dog…

    The piece then deteriorates as he rambles on about Chummy attacking him and
    the Denver taxpayers getting bitten in the ass responding to his 911
    call. Robert is Denver’s last known Pit mauling victim…However,
    Colorado’s Pit Bull mauling victims are routinely life lighted to Denver
    trauma centers.Note…*California has sustained 42 Pit Bull fatalities
    as of this writing. A baby was killed by a Pomeranian there in 2000, so
    Pit Bull groups feel the need to spread the love around…

    Reply
  14. Thomas McCartney says:

    Ruth Teeter’s Prized AKC Staffordshire Terriers Ruth Teeter gets high
    ranking due to her significant contributions in pioneering Stunt Pitting
    and modern Pit Advocacy. In July 1987, she paraded her animals around
    in costumes raising donations for the American Dog Owners
    Association(ADOA) and had articles published about them.

    Her meteoric rise to Pit Bull superstardom was neutered after her Staffies
    were shot while attacking livestock a mere 5 months later… The ADOA
    subsequently disavowed any relationship with her which started the
    “Blame the Owner” cop out craze. Ruth is still active in the
    Staffordshire Club of America and still breeds and sells
    “WiggleButts”…Only in America!

    Reply
  15. Thomas McCartney says:

    The pit bull mix that attacked a police horse in Golden Gate Park belonged
    to an SPCA volunteer who took the dog to senior centers to comfort the
    elderly and liked to let it run free in the park.

    On Monday, the SPCA volunteer, Anna Klafter, was recovering from a possible
    fractured skull and other injuries she suffered the day before when she
    tried to pull her 4-year-old dog, Nettie, away from the horse. The
    horse, which injured Klafter when it kicked her in the face, was trying
    to get its bearings back to the police stables in Golden Gate Park. The
    police officer who was riding the horse was getting over a back injury.

    Just the day before, Klafter had taken Nettie to the Fillmore Institute on
    Aging to be with elderly clients as part of a program run by the Society
    for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Nettie is great with people,
    she said.

    “She’s never shown any aggression to people,
    kids or other dogs,” said Klafter, 27, who has owned Nettie since June
    2002. “I think she was freaked out by seeing a horse for the first
    time.”

    Reply
  16. Thomas McCartney says:

    Service and therapy pit bulls that went pit bull:

    KIRKSVILLE, Mo. (AP) – A northeast Missouri man is charged with animal abuse for allegedly stabbing a pit bull to death.

    The
    Kirksville Daily Express reports that 29-year-old Jeffrey Lynn Vance of
    Kirksville is jailed on the felony charge. Bond is $10,000. He does not
    yet have an attorney.

    Police were called to a home
    Thursday night and found the dog lying in a pool of blood with what
    appeared to be a stab wound to the neck. Police say Vance was
    intoxicated and covered in blood.

    Police say Vance told
    them the dog bit him and he stabbed it in response. The dog was a
    service dog, assisting Vance with an undisclosed medical condition.

    The dog was taken to a veterinary care center, where it died.

    Reply
  17. Thomas McCartney says:

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

    The Problem with Pit Bull Service Dogs

    Sue Manning, long-time pit bull promotor and journalist for AP, has
    written an article about rescue pit bulls being trained as service dogs.
    (YIKES) She mentions two organizations doing this – Animal Farm
    Foundation, the best funded pit bull ownership advocacy organization in
    the world, and Pits for Patriots in Chicago.

    When
    we first blogged about Pits for Patriots in 2012, this outfit was less
    than a year old, and they had not yet placed any pit bulls as service
    dogs for veterans with PTSD. They noted that they started with four
    candidates, but that two had washed out.

    There’s a photo
    below of the two successful training candidates fitted with prong
    collars. Today, three years later, they still haven’t placed any
    service dogs with a veteran and the two candidates below both developed a
    case of the dog aggression for which there is no cure.

    They
    are up for adoption. The white one, Odie, had to have his CGC and
    Therapy Dog certificates revoked. He must go to an experienced pit bull
    owner who will not “set him up to fail.” FYI: That means potential
    owners must set up strict containment and movement protocols with zero
    margin of error allowable or there will be a bloodbath. And to think he
    was once a therapy dog.

    Reply
    • Thomas McCartney says:

      Sheena and Odie have since washed out of the pit bull service
      dog program

      Pits for Patriots cites as their inspiration two “successful” pit bull
      service dog organizations, one in New York, and one in Tampa Bay,
      Florida.

      The Tampa Bay organization, called Pit Bulls 4
      Patriots, was founded with the intention of training rescued pit bulls
      as service dogs for veterans with PTSD. Unfortunately, by the time the
      Chicago Pits for Patriots had cited them as their inspiration, Pit Bulls
      4 Patriots had already been forced to abandon their original concept.

      They retooled and renamed themselves Hounds 4 Heros, a program that
      uses rescued greyhounds instead. Why? The pit bulls were not working out
      as service dogs. They took too long to train, and they found that pit
      bulls were too “sensitive” to work with handlers with PTSD because they
      “reflected” the symptoms of their handler’s PTSD.

      Evidently,
      the pit bulls were exhibiting common symptoms of PTSD: anger,
      irritability, hyper-vigilance, and anxiety whenever their owners did.
      Irritable pit bull service dogs. N o T h a n k Y o u.

      “We
      became clear that we need dogs who are able to provide calm in any
      situation rather than matching the handler’s feelings. Also, it is
      critical that PTSD service dogs can adapt and recover quickly from
      stress, and to be resiliant enough to do that again and again”

      In addition, the wonderful pit bull “washouts” could not be easily
      adopted so the founders of the organization are now the proud owners of a
      boatload of pits. Rescue pit bulls, it seems, are not inherently
      (genetically), suited to service dog work. Unfortunately Hounds 4 Heros
      not only took down the page the above quote comes from, there is no
      archive of it either.

      However, Hounds 4 Heros has written in
      depth about just what makes rescued greyhounds such great candidates as
      service dogs for veterans. Knowing that they were forced to scrap their
      original concept, it is not hard to read between the lines. It seems
      that greyhounds possess inherent (genetic) characteristics that that
      make them good PTSD service dogs and pit bulls do not:

      Reply
      • Thomas McCartney says:

        “In our
        search for the “perfect” PTSD service dog, we are very excited to have
        Murray join us. Greyhounds tend to be calm, loving but not pushy, caring
        but not overly sensitive, and are happy to relax and go wherever their
        person needs them to be.”

        This second quote speaks directly to
        their experience with pit bulls and they speak to both genetic and a
        reasonably knowable and appropriate early experience for the greyhounds:

        Our dogs are carefully selected for having exceptionally calm and
        stable temperaments. We like working with greyhounds because we do not
        have to train over any strong genetically bred instincts and drives
        (such as protection/guarding, being territorial, herding, dog
        aggression, or hunting).

        It was surprising for us to learn
        that although some greyhounds have a strong prey drive, most do not.
        While growing to adulthood in preparation for racing, greyhounds remain
        in daily contact with their litter mates and other hounds.

        They are spared from the jarring loss of their pack at an exceedingly
        young age, unlike most other dogs, who are bred and quickly sold as
        pets.

        Reply
        • Thomas McCartney says:

          This continued companionship with their own kind is
          extremely healthy for balanced brain development and canine social
          skills. Since they are being groomed to become racing dogs, their lives
          are disciplined, with plenty of exercise, routines, and very clear
          guidance from all the humans they come in contact with.

          As a
          result, they tend to be peacefully submissive to people, and easily
          accept direction. This is very helpful in their new roles as service
          dogs for our PTSD veterans.

          This next quote perfectly explains the very real dangers of trying to shape dogs bred for fighting into service dogs:

          We can’t overstate the importance of the balanced minds and good nature
          of these dogs for their job as psychiatric service dogs.

          It
          is critical that our dogs are going to be calm and stable “on their own”
          without the necessity of great guidance and leadership from their
          handler.

          When living with someone who has fluctuating weak
          energy and leadership skills, such as anyone with a psychiatric
          disorder, a dog will revert to its genetically bred instincts and/or to
          default behaviors learned in puppyhood.

          Skilled training can
          override weaknesses in temperament and high-drive instinctual behaviors,
          but our PTSD handlers will not be able to maintain training over the
          top of these things. The longer the team spends together, the more the
          dog’s training would “unravel” and revert to the genetic predisposition
          of the dog.

          Reply
          • Thomas McCartney says:

            Examples of this would be an unbalanced German
            Shepherd who falls back inappropriately to his instinct to guard and
            bite when threatened, or a herding dog who neurotically begins nipping
            at the feet and heels of anything that moves around his person.

            With the greyhounds their default is to either relax, or quietly
            withdraw into themselves. As a result, they don’t act out, become
            dangerously unbalanced, or create problems for their handlers or the
            public. They are able to maintain and return to their trained behaviors
            with relative ease.

            These gentle, intelligent, and malleable
            dogs respond very well to our positive training methods. They are able
            to perform the many kinds of tasks and work that most benefit people who
            face the daunting challenge of living with PTSD.

            And that is
            the crucial issue for safety – what instincts (genetically controlled
            behavior) does the dog default to when not under guidance or under the
            guidance of someone who is not an expert dog handler.

            Animal
            Farm Foundation is the other pit bull service training dog organization
            mentioned in Manning’s article. They are going at it the right way. They
            have put out a nationwide call for pit bull service dog candidates that
            they will evidently transport to the Farm at their own expense.

          • Thomas McCartney says:

            They must figure that by casting an enormous net, they will be able to
            find one or two pit bull outliers with the temperament of a lab.

            But the best news is Animal Farm Foundation now admits that anyone can
            identify a pit bull, because they will accept any dog that was
            identified by anyone at a shelter as a pit bull for the program.

            They have evidently already placed five pit bull service dogs with
            handlers, but stopped promoting their feat after blogging about the
            first three. The serviceman with PTSD and his dog are not listed as
            being one of the pit bull service dogs placed by AFF.

            Stunt pit
            bull service dogs are dangerous for the reasons Hounds 4 Heros outlined
            above. And Animal Farm Foundation’s efforts to promote pit bulls as
            service dogs and to emphasize that you can train your service dog
            yourself makes them even more dangerous.

            In many respects, pit
            bull service dogs are silly stunts. If it takes 4 years to train a dog
            to be a service animal, one can conclude that dog is not really suited
            to the job.

          • Thomas McCartney says:

            This is just like BFAS crowing about a fight bust dog getting a CGC certificate after 6 years of training when normal dogs need only 8 to 10 weeks of basic obedience classes to become a good citizen.

            But, even if all of Animal Farm Foundation’s pit bulls are truly cream puff pit bull outliers, they are encouraging everyone to pick up a rescue pit bull, train it up themselves, and seat it under the restaurant table next to yours. Bon Appetit!

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