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Nature or nurture: Debate over pit bulls growing on social media

Nature or nurture: Debate over pit bulls growing on social media (WRGB)

SCHENECTADY, NY (WRGB)--"Why would you consider getting a dog breed that, every single year, kills more people than all dog breeds combined?" said Colleen Lynn.

Colleen Lynn, President of the nonprofit website DogsBite.org, warns against deciding on a pit bull for a family pet. She calls them "zero margin of error dogs,” with a bite that means life or death.

"It's designed to inflict maximum damage, and they will continue attacking until death or intervention,” she said.

Lynn's organization advocates on behalf of dog mauling victims. She acknowledges the years long debate between nature versus nurture with pit bull behavior, but her website states that it is "genetics that leaves pit bull victims with permanent and disfiguring injuries."

"Herding dogs herd, retrieving dogs retrieve, due to inbred traits. These traits are not taught to them after birth. Fighting dogs were selectively bred to fight and there isn't an instruction manual necessary,” Lynn explained.

Cydney Cross is Cofounder of Out of the Pits, a local dog rescue, and encourages people to place responsibility on the other end of the leash.

"If people did what they were supposed to do, and kept their dogs responsibly, there would be no incidents anywhere,” Cross said.

She says often times, people aren't even correctly identifying the breed involved in an attack.

"Of course anything that happens to be short haired, maybe brindle, and big headed suddenly becomes a pit bull."

As a therapy dog trainer, Cross says pit bulls make some of the very best, and she has owned several, including 8 year old Stella. For the first three years of her life, Stella was in a notorious dog fighting ring. Now, Cross says you'd never know what she went through. She takes Stella to hospitals, schools, nursing homes - hoping to bring happiness and to restore the breed's reputation.

"They're full of joy and I think you can see her silliness, they just make you smile."

The ASPCA has given a position statement on pit bulls that reads in part:

“All dogs, including pit bulls, are individuals. Treating them as such, providing them with the care, training and supervision they require, and judging them by their actions and not by their DNA or their physical appearance, is the best way to ensure that dogs and people can continue to share safe and happy lives together."

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