Pit Bulls in New Zealand

December 7, 2011  

Karen Batchelor of the American Pit Bull Terrier Association Incorporated of New Zealand writes about what it’s like for pit bull type dogs in her country

By Karen Batchelor

Back in the early to mid-1980s, the puppy millers in New Zealand discovered the American Pit Bull Terrier. It instantly replaced the Rottweiler as the dog du jour, and pit bulls began being imported from well-known puppy mills in the USA, UK, and Australia. They sold for around $5,000 per pup, and much money was being made in dog fighting, drug dealing and peddling puppies. The wannabes lined up in droves to get a “muscle” dog. A club was formed and a registry was set up to follow the bloodlines, complete with fake pedigrees, cross-breeding and paperhanging. ran “shows” and took fees at the gate for every class in every competition.

They sold heavily studded collars and harnesses, breaking sticks and treadmills, as well as books about dog fighting. It was very lucrative and attracted the wrong crowd. Soon the word spread.

The dogs coming to these shows changed in physique, color and temperament as certain breeders sought dogs they could man-train as weapons.

Suddenly there was the “black and tan allele,” a massive Rottweiler mix that was far bigger than the breed standard and that had a long nose and a fluffy tail. Then came the “blue hippos,” as they were referred to by Diane Jessup. They had the club’s papers, so these were the new pit bulls that were in the hands of people not fit to have fleas, never mind fine dogs on which for them to feed. Today you can’t give them away, and they choke the pounds and shelters up and down the country.

In the mid-1990s a man was killed by his “pig dogs,” and the call went out to ban the “pit bulls.” Breed-discriminatory legislation had arrived. National MPs Brian Neeson, Christine Fletcher and Maurice Williamson went on the attack, and this death hit every newspaper. Before we knew it there was a snarling “pit bull” on every front page, pictures supplied by the millers at their “shows” with chain-happy fighting dogs raging at any dog in view – but the viewer was led to believe that the rage was aimed at humans. A veritable media fest ensued, and the media were typically and unprofessionally merciless. They still are.

This death, by the way, was only the second death by dog in the history of this country. There have been only five in total. In fact, no pit bull has ever caused a death in New Zealand, or even a serious injury, despite accusations that subsequently were proven unfounded.

The politicians have had a field day with an ignorant public ever so grateful for being able to rid society of these “mindless, vicious killers” as Neeson was quoted saying. To this day, the unaware public believes that pit bulls should be wiped out. They have no clue how shamelessly they have been deluded. The politicians here are all still singing from the same song sheet as far as dog control and breed-discriminatory policies are concerned. For example, Rodney Hide of the ACT party told me privately that he thought BDL was “nuts,” yet he’s just banned Presa Canarios. The Labour party’s Nanaia Mahuta introduced a bill to the house seeking mandatory spay and neuter of cats and dogs, a measure that has failed everywhere it’s been legislated.

Bob Kerridge of the Auckland Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals made the infamous claim “All pit bulls are born bad.”

Virtually everything has been proposed except what is required to address the obvious causes of any problems involving public safety – and that is bad owners.

Pit bulls in New Zealand today are still demonized and suffer no-exception euthanasia policies if they end up in the shelters despite decades of qualified opinion that there is nothing wrong with pit bulls that not falling into the wrong hands doesn’t fix completely.

The real deal still exists in safe hands in New Zealand today. With their deeply loyal, gentle and stable temperaments, they will always exist thanks to the ever-growing number of people who discover and love this tragic breed and stand by them no matter what, just as they do for us.

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3 Responses to “Pit Bulls in New Zealand”
  1. I blogged about the history of pit bulls and they were the only breed of dog that was bred for pure ignorant human pleasure and they’re having to pay for it as well as the humans that love them. Why must we continue to pay for the mistakes of ignorant folk. As I have admitted in the past as shameless as it was I was once part of the “uneducated” folk who listened to the media thinking this bully breed needed to be banned. Thank God for my son who opened my eyes to the truth (we discussed this last night). Now I am the proud parent of two pitties as well as a foster and true advocate for this bully breed! I/we are doing our part to ensure this bully breed will be here forever and educate those that don’t know them but want to ban them.

  2. JenFortin says:

    It just breaks my heart to read about the plight of pitties in New Zealand. Pretty chic is right, we bred the pit bull for mans pleasure only, now we are turning our backs to this beautiful breed. I own 3 myself and work really hard to change peoples perception of them. To all pit bull owners out there, please be responsible for your dogs.

  3. SelwynMarock says:

    Absolutely Disgraceful neo-Nazism in its true form.