GREENSBORO - Pit bulls often carry the stigma of being overly aggressive dogs, but is that a fair assessment of the animal?
Experts say, technically speaking, a "pit bull" isn't even a breed. Dr. Janine Oliver, a veterinarian at Benessere Animal Hospital says it's a broad term, but "bully breed" dogs or even terriers are known for something she calls "gameness,” meaning they don't give up. But she says that doesn't mean aggression.
“If they are misdirected by people, or not trained at all, then sometimes they make mistakes and if you're big and strong your mistakes are worse than if you're a little,” she said.
Dr. Oliver’s Greensboro clinic opened about a year ago. In addition to treating dogs and cats, she always rescues and rehabilitates animals who have had a rough time, or don't have anywhere to go.
Many of those are pit bulls, or pit bull mixes.
“There's very, very few dogs that cannot be rehabilitated,” said “Sometimes it's just a simple as teaching them how to trust humans again. Teaching them that we're not going to beat them or jerk them around.”
When it comes to dogs like pit bulls, mastiffs or even bull dogs, she says these kinds of dogs want a job to do. They're loyal, they're tough, and that can be good or bad, but she says it all comes down to training.
“Each breed does tend to have kind of personality and a kind of look, I will tell you that each dog is different, they're like snowflakes, they're like humans,” she explained.
Above all, she says all dog owners need to be responsible, and that many people forget how important the human factor is when raising an animal.
“No matter what breed you have, [training is] what you need to do to have a good canine citizen,” she said.
Her personal warning for pet owners is this: she says no child, nine and under, should ever be around an animal alone - dog or cat. She says kids are unpredictable, and so are animals.