She saw him as he was being prepped for examination and despite constant poking and prodding from the vet staff, he remained perfectly still.
It didn’t take them long to realize that he had broken every leg. Yet, even with the excruciating pain, he never growled.
This was Northborough resident Kim Grant’s first day working as a vet tech-assistant at Tufts and it would be a day that would have a lasting impact on her life.
“I remember being nervous and hesitant to approach him, especially given how much pain he was in. However, as I got closer, he never showed any signs of aggression. It was then that I noticed something moving under his blanket. I lifted it up and surprisingly It his tail wagging away despite all that pain” said Grant.
He was a pit bull. Just one of the many out there who, in recent years have been stereotyped as aggressive and dangerous. As Grant spent more time working at Tufts, she would encounter many more pits who changed her perspective.
“Even though I grew up with Rottweilers and German shepherds, I still had some reservations about pit bulls before I had the chance to interact with them and understand how gentle they can be. You often hear them being branded as dangerous, but I quickly learned that’s not the whole story,” Grant said.
The term pit bull does not refer to one breed in particular but rather many breeds including - Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers, American bullies, American Staffordshire terriers, and sometimes American bulldogs. Pit bulls are also often classified by physical characteristics - one of the most prominent being a blocky or square-shaped head.
When 55-year-old Christiane Vadnais was mauled to death by a dog in Montreal in 2016. Even though Vadnais was killed by a dog registered with the city as a boxer, not, as was first believed, by a pit bull, the city council went ahead and put a pit bull ban in place in September 2016.
“The pit bull issue is probably the single most divisive issue related to animals in America today,” Hal Herzog, a psychologist at Western Carolina University who studies human-animal relationships, told The Washington Post in a 2016 interview. “I think that the main reason that [pit bulls] draw out such deep emotions is that, unlike conflicts over animal research, circuses, zoos, and meat, the pit bull debate is deeply personal.”
In its position statement on canine legislation, The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) writes that it supports "the adoption or enforcement of a program for the control of potentially dangerous or vicious dogs that is fair, non-discriminatory and addresses dogs that are shown to be dangerous by their actions.”
“Canine temperaments are widely varied," the APDT states, "and behavior cannot be predicted by physical features such as head shape, coat length, muscle to bone ratio, etc. The only predictor of behavior is behavior.”
Since instituting its pit bull ban, Montreal has had a change of heart. Valérie Plante, the newly elected mayor of Montreal, kept her campaign promise and last December ended the part of the bylaw that specifically targeted pit bulls.
And just this past April, the city of Lakewood, Ohio, ended its pit bull ban and replaced it with a new “dangerous dog ordinance.” While this ordinance still takes precautions based on the behavior of potentially dangerous dogs, it no longer isolates pit bulls.
Shortly after her introduction to pit bulls at Tufts, Grant decided it was time to adopt one of her own. She has now owned three pit bulls.
“I’m going to keep getting pits," Grant said. "I want people to change people's ideas of what a pit is and help them move away from the stereotypes.”
“If people can open their hearts and minds and move away from the fear driven coverage pits usually receive, I think people would be surprised at what they find - dogs filled with endless amounts of love.”