Most choices for “Neighbor of the Year” are human, but a pit bull named Titan received that honor at a ceremony held by the Vintage Pointe Neighborhood Association in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
Titan saved Gloria Benton’s life when she fell and fractured her skull after suffering a brain aneurysm. Her husband John was preparing to leave for work. Had Titan not run up and down the stairs, urging John to follow him, Mrs. Benton would have been dead before her husband found her at the end of the day.
Other pit bulls are credited for heroic deeds. In September, a pit bull helped save an elderly woman who rolled down a hill and was stuck against a sewer grate. In a 2009 case, a neighbor’s pit bull saved a woman being beaten by her former partner. And fans of Pit Bull Sharky will be familiar with videos of the lovable pooch gently tolerating a menagerie of ducks, chickens, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits. (See video below.)
On the other hand, an 11-year-old boy in Surrey, B.C., was ripped apart by a pit bull, who would likely have killed him had a neighbor not attacked the dog with a baseball bat. In Yuba County, California, a pit bull bit a five-year-old and only backed off when shot by a neighbor. The owners said he was a family pet and had never shown any violent tendencies.
Pit bull supporters blame bad owners for the breed’s vicious reputation. The American Temperament Test Society gave them a higher temperament rating than most dogs in a 2011 study. However, the dogs were bred for bull- and bear-baiting as well as dog fights. They are a muscular, aggressive breed and need the right owners.
The Dog Breed Info site cautions:
The American Pit Bull Terrier can be willful with meek owners and needs a firm hand. They are generally okay with other pets if they are raised with them from puppy hood. They are very friendly, but not recommended for most people, because most people do not understand how to properly raise and treat a dog.
Pit bulls are known to be exceptionally loyal and loving with humans but aggressive toward other dogs. R.E.D (Rescue Every Dog) offers good advice on training and living with pit bulls and warns: “This is NOT a breed for everyone! The only way to repair the pit bull’s bad reputation is to keep them in the hands of responsible owners.”
People are like that too. Bad actors generally have a history that puts them squarely on a crash course. But people can change too. I know someone who grew up in a chaotic home that set his siblings careening off into risky directions. This man decided to end the cycle – and did. So his children grew up in a stable, loving home and now have stable, well-loved families.
Originally published on Care2.com