Packed pet parenting class teaches pit bull care

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) -- Many current and potential pit bull owners spent Saturday morning in a pet parenting class at Knox County’s Young-Williams Animal Shelter.

The goal of the class was the teach people how to be a good parent for the potentially violent pups.

Kristen Hill and Matt Turner, who recently rescued a whole family of pit bulls, were among those in attendance.

"We rescued mom, dad, and all of their litter,” Hill said. “We then had them all spayed and neutered.”

They ended up giving all but one away, but still used the special class to learn how to raise their new pet.

Kristen said the class gave her a new understanding of the breed.

"You have to raise them together and teach them to love each other,” she said. “Keep them spayed and neutered and if you socialize them, you shouldn't have any problems.

Hill also learned that pit bulls rarely attack people for no reason.

"They'll bite you because they're scared, not mean," she said.

Kristen and Matt were joined by about 30 other pit bull enthusiasts at the free seminar, which was not about promoting the breed, but providing education.

"We want everyone to make a thoughtful choice before bringing an animal into their home," said Taylor Slemmer, a humane educator.

This class was held on the heels of a fatal pit bull attack and recently proposed legislation to ban potentially vicious dogs in Tennessee.

Teachers explained that with responsible ownership, pit bulls can be good pets, offering companionship and even therapeutic relief.

"They are strong and interesting dogs that respond well, but good leadership seems to be a must," said Slemmer.

Kristen and Matt went in with little understanding of their new dog, but left with a different outlook.

“I didn't care much for pit bulls, but opinions changed after the class," said Turner.

The class certainly succeeded in giving the breed a little bit of a better reputation for those in attendance.

It also had such a good turnout that the shelter has scheduled another class that's already full and has a waiting list.
The parenting classes are something the shelter does all year.

In January, they focus on pit bulls and next month they will look at hounds.

You can find a link to the Young-Williams Animal Shelter on the Hot Key.

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  • by Sara Location: Toronto, ON, Canada on Jan 22, 2008 at 09:30 PM
    Brilliant! The Young-Williams Animal Shelter is doing a wonderful thing, educating people to be responsible dog owners. I wish more cities would follow this lead. While I am glad to see this article, I am very sorry that the reporter fell into the media trap of libelling these dogs with urban myths. They are no more "potentially violent" than any other breed or type of dog; a dog's behaviour is the responsibility and result of the HUMAN owner.
  • by d and e Location: tazewell on Jan 20, 2008 at 03:47 PM
    education is the only way we any of us are going to learn. this was a smart idea. its a good start
  • by Lindsay Location: OK on Jan 20, 2008 at 02:32 PM
    Pretty cool! I own three APBTs, and they are an awesome breed which needs an equally awesome owner. When you hear of Pit Bull problems, it is always due to an owner shortcoming. Dogs don't read the newspaper or local laws; they rely on the owner to guide them in what is acceptable behavior and what is not.


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