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May 12, 2013

Pit bulls: Bad breed or misunderstood?

Experts say perception isn't always the reality

(Continued)

“They’re very affectionate and really just a good dog,” Morrissey said. “She, in particular, is really good with children.”

But Morrissey said pit bulls aren’t for everyone.

“This type of dog is not for a first-time dog owner,” she said. “They need a lot of attention, discipline and exercise. This isn’t the type of dog you can just leave at home all day. A lot of socialization is good for them.

Sheila Johannesen, animal control officer for Danville and Hampstead, agreed pit bull behavior often depends on the owner.

“If a pit bull is brought up correctly and with proper training, then there should be no issues,” she said. “A lot of these people with pit bulls that are in situation where they are a danger to public have not had proper training. In all fairness to some of those pit bulls, even the friendliest of breeds would have probably done same thing.”

But it’s a stigma that sticks.

Bill Verge, owner of Verge Agency Insurance in Plaistow, said he won’t sell homeowner’s insurance to anyone who has a pit bull.

“I don’t know of any company which would write a policy for a homeowner with a pit bull,” Verge said. “Anytime anybody puts in an application, we ask them and if they do we can’t write them an policy.”

Verge said pit bulls and Rottweilers are among the dogs which are on insurance providers’ prohibited list.

Many communities have restrictions on pit bulls; some even ban them.

In 1991, Haverhill, Mass., adopted an ordinance requiring all pit bulls to be muzzled and leashed when off their owner’s property. In 2008, the ordinance was changed. Since then, “dangerous dogs” are covered by the muzzle/leash requirements. A dangerous dog is defined as one that has bitten or attacked any person or has tried to.

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