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Negative Attitudes Toward Pit Bulls Moderating

Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it illegal for cities to ban specific dog breeds like pit bulls.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) More people are getting more bullish on pit bulls.

The furor over the breed has died down some in recent years.

One Missouri lawmaker wants to make it illegal to ban the breed from communities.

Some local animal lovers agree.

For animal groomer Mona Smith, she's never had a problem with a pit bull in her more than 20 years at All Creatures Animal Hospital in St. Joseph.

"They get such a bad rap and they're such nice dogs," she said.

Those who like pit bulls have been working to change the dogs' image of being America's most dangerous dog. They say the demeanor of a pit bull, like any other good or bad dog, is a result of its owner.

"If you teach them to be aggressive, they'll be aggressive," Smith said. "The majority of pit bulls that come in are the sweetest , loving dogs.

More people are starting to agree. While many cities have outlawed pit bulls, 17 states have made it illegal for municipalities to ban a specific breed of dog like a pit bull. Smith says those cities with bans have been misguided.

"They don't give them a chance," she said. "Once they decided they don't want it and ban it in town, they just don't give them a chance."

Jeff Waggoner at Twin Pines Animal Clinic says many pit bull owners have gone underground.

"People don't admit to even having them anymore," Waggoner said. "Even if they do, it's a boxer mix or its's a terrier mix of some sort. As far as I'm concerned, they're a great dog."

Recent studies have shown that other breeds like Chihuahuas and Dachshunds are more likely to attack than a pit bull.

"Little dogs will bite you more than a big dog will," Smith said. "It's because they're more of a momma's baby sitting in your lap so they're more protective."

Smith believes there are good dogs and bad dogs, regardless of the breed.

"You can't pick on a breed because you think they're mean. I think you should ban mean dogs."

The Missouri bill to forbid breed-specific legislation is in the house waiting for committee approval before going to a full vote.

In addition to the 17 states with the law, five others are considering similar legislation.
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