Region 8 Investigates: The bully or the breed?

The bully or the breed
Published: Feb. 6, 2016 at 4:12 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2016 at 2:41 AM CST
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(Source: KAIT)
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(KAIT) - It has been an ongoing discussion whether the pit bull breed is monstrous or just misunderstood.

Some argue the breed is born to attack while others say attacks are only brought on by a lack of training.

Gail Sizemore of Bradford said if it wasn't for pit bulls being dangerous animals, she would still be able to hold her son in her arms.

Sizemore's son, Levi, was attacked and killed by a pit bull three years ago.

Levi had climbed over a fence to play with a family dog when the pit bull suddenly attacked.

The dog attacked the boy's neck and head, causing blunt force trauma and fatal wounds.

"It broke his neck," Sizemore said. "The dog, in one bite, shook him like a rag doll."

Levi played with this particular dog several times.

"Levi had been around that dog many, many, many occasions and he never showed a sign of aggression," Sizemore said.

She said Levi had dreams of becoming a police officer one day. Sizemore said that dream was cut short because of this vicious breed.

"What caused my son to be in a casket is the inability of me to know which pets to choose to have my child around," Sizemore said.

Since the attack Sizemore has become an advocate for other families who have lost children to pit bulls and pit bull mixes.

Donna Gray of Jonesboro, however, feels as if she is a victim of the negative stereotype for pit bulls.

Gray came home to find her pit bull, Blue, shot in the head.

She told Region 8 News her dog was killed because someone probably thought he was dangerous.

Gray said Blue was the most loyal member of her family.

"He loved my kids, he loved playing with them, he loved sleeping with them, he loved chasing after them," Gray said

Gray grew up with pit bulls.

"I have never had a dog turn on me, not once and I have had numerous pit bulls," Gray said. "If you raise them bad then they are going to turn bad, but if you raise them to be gentle and caring they are going to be just like that."

Region 8 News looked into the amount of animal attacks within Jonesboro over the past three years to see what breed ranked the highest.

According to Jonesboro Police and Animal Control records there were about 70 attacks by pit bull or pit bull mixes. Labrador retrievers were second with 16 attacks, followed by boxers and German shepherds with 4 each.

According to animal control, the pit bull attacks are most likely higher than other breeds because they are the most reported and often send people to the hospital.

"They have a lock jaw, so when they bite they actually clamp down and it makes it hard to release whatever they got," trainer Jennifer Schmett said.

Just because smaller breeds do not have reported bites, does not mean they do not bite or attack.

"A lot of time people let the smaller breeds get away with things because it's cute," Schmett said.

Schmett is a certified trainer in Jonesboro and said the key to making a pit bull a loving dog is good training.

"If you train them like you should, and socialize them well, it doesn't give you any problem. The breed as a whole is a very good breed," Schmett said.

Schmett said pit bulls are actually born more loyal than dangerous.

"They have quite a bad rep and it is pretty unfortunate because they make really good pets, " Schmett said.

The Northeast Arkansas Humane Society said they have trouble adopting any dog that has any type of pit bull in it because of the stereotype.

"A lot of it has to do with how fast people are to react on the breed. It has been Rottweilers before and German shepherds," Schmett.

Schmett said a pit bull is not for everyone though, so research is always important; but, she said being scared of the breed should not be a deciding factor.

"Do your research, but do a broad research. Don't just look at one area that says this breed is bad and make sure you do your training with any dog," Schmett said.

Others like Betty White of Randolph County argue no matter how much training a pit bull gets it still have the possibly of turning on someone or other animals.

"No matter how much training you give this dog, no matter how much care you give to it. It is bred in those breeds, you can't get it out of them," White said. "That is what they have done, you just have to be cautious."

Several people and cities have worked to have the dog breed banned all together.

White worked to ban the breed in Randolph County when neighborhood pit bulls were roaming free causing her family to worry.

White would not let her grandchildren play outside in the backyard because she feared an attack.

"A child and a woman of small stature can't fight them off and I don't think we should have to," White said.

White said she wants all animal owners to be cautious with their pets and always have them on a leash or chain.

Region 8 cities with a ban on specific breed can be found on this interactive map.

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