Recent dog attacks have pit bull owners on the defense

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The Guevara family breeds pit bulls. Maritza Guevara said she was hesitant at first. "I was nervous about it because my 3.8 lb chihuahua," said Maritza Guevara, pit bull breeder. That fear has since subsided.

The family insists a dog's behavior is up to its master. "A lot of people want their dog to act mean, to be mean, but that's just how you raise them you know," said Cuit Guevara, pit bull breeder. "I have kids and I have them around my nieces and my son."

Maria Huitron agrees. Huitron owned a pit bull for years. Although she never had a problem with hers, she knows there's a dark side. "A lot of people use them for fighting," said Huitron.

Huitron said she knows the damage the breed can cause, and doesn't want to put her baby in harm's way. "Seeing the little boy who got killed by a pit bull and the two-year-old who got bit by a pit bull, and the thing is to me, I would never get a pit bull, no more, at all," said Huitron.

Dr. Doug Ashburn has been a vet for 30 years. He believes a dog's behavior is dependent on its upbringing. "There's some dogs that have been trained to do some bad things and that comes down to responsible pet ownership then going against the breed itself," said Dr. Doug Ashburn, Southwood Drive Animal Clinic.

While Dr. Ashburn said pit bulls aren't to blame for their behavior, he said it's the owner's responsibility to catch warning signs. "If they've got a dog they know has aggressive tendencies I think they're sitting on a ticking time bomb," said Dr. Ashburn.

Which may tear a family apart. "They can't risk a human life for the sake of the animal's life."

But for some, pit bulls are part of their family.

While the exact number of deaths caused by pit bulls is tough to determine, a 2007 study showed there were 33 Americans killed by dog maulings.