Tech student headed to basic training, looking for home for dog

Now two and a half, Odin has been a trusty sidekick to owner Max Puckett since he was just six weeks old. Now, Puckett is preparing for the next chapter in his life; one that can’t involve his beloved pitbull terrier.

“Once I graduate, shortly after I’m going to have to go basic officer leadership training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri,” Puckett said. “When I’m there, I won’t be able to take Odin with me. The best choice for Odin, even though I’ve had him since he was a puppy, is to find him an extended foster, or possibly an adoption home.”

A member of the ROTC program at Texas Tech, Puckett is a soon-to-be commanding officer. He said it’s something he is excited for, but leaving Odin won’t be easy.

“Well, I’m going to lose my dog,” Puckett said. “You know, there’s a chance that I won’t be able to get him back after the extended foster, and that’s probably going to be difficult. And even when I’m gone for two weeks, or a month, or two months of training, it’s difficult on me you know, because I’m a dog person.”

So he’s determined to find him the perfect family.

“He has to live an active lifestyle,” Puckett said, “or else he gets excited inside the house if he doesn’t get to go on his walks. And just a knowledgeable owner who pretty much knows what they’re doing, not a first-time owner.”

Puckett has until December to find Odin a foster family. He will graduate on the Dec. 14, and his training will begin shortly after.

Dr. Anderson: Should any dog breeds be banned?

Q: With recent events in Bloomington-Normal regarding the pit bull dogs attacking two people and causing serious injuries, what is your opinion about breed bans? I have heard a lot of talk about this from people online and am concerned because I have a pit bull mix dog. He is very sweet and has never caused any problems, but I can tell that some people are afraid of him by how they look and act around him. I don’t want to have to give him up or have him taken from me if some sort of ban is put in place.

A: Every time an unfortunate incident like this one occurs, there seems to be an outcry to ban certain breeds of dogs. Of course, there are the usual suspects such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, German shepherds, etc. All of these breeds are large, powerful dogs, so some people are naturally afraid of them. That doesn’t mean that most of these dogs are dangerous, though. We see plenty of pit bulls (almost daily) that are very nice and well-behaved dogs. Those that aren’t are due to lack of training or had been rescued from a bad situation where they may have actually been trained to fight.

The reality is that there are probably just as many dog bites due to small dogs as there are to large dogs. It’s just that people aren’t afraid of an 8-pound Chihuahua that might try to chew your ankle off, but they are afraid of a 65-pound pit bull that could chew your face off. In either case, it really falls back onto the owner for how the dog has been trained — or not. The saying that there are no bad dogs, just bad owners is probably close to the truth.

For these reasons, my personal opinion is that specific breed bans don’t really work and should not be done. Singling out a dog’s action as being representative of the entire breed is discriminatory and won’t really help to solve problems relating to public safety.

As an example, two of my favorite breeds of larger dogs are boxers and golden retrievers. Both breeds are known as being extremely friendly and well-socialized, but in the wrong person’s hands, both can be turned into vicious, dangerous dogs.

Hopefully, the community at large will react appropriately to this situation, and punish the people responsible for this attack, without punishing an entire breed or category of dogs.

Got a pet-related question? Send it to Dr. Anderson, a veterinarian at Hawthorne Park Animal Care Center in Bloomington, via email at  

Shedding some light on pit bulls’ bad rap

Shedding some light on pit bulls’ bad rap

By Elizabeth Wang

“Affectionate,” “friendly” and “lap dog” aren’t usually characteristics used to describe a pit bull. But increasingly, local pit bull owners are teaming up in an attempt to change the misconception of aggression many people hold about the breed.

October 27 is National Pit Bull Awareness Day. It’s a day designed to appreciate and educate the public about pit bulls. For it, dog walks were organized around the state to help spread awareness about pit bulls and the responsibilities of their owners.

Danette Johnston is a recent pit bull owner and the founder of Dog’s Day Out in Ballard (, a dog day-care center and training facility. Since adopting Rufus, an American Staffordshire terrier and border-collie mix, earlier this year, Johnston said she hasn’t noticed any significant aggressive or violent behaviors. She’s trained her dog to be obedient and well-mannered to prove that this breed is no more dangerous than the next.

“If you can show them how great [pit are, that’s how you change somebody’s mind,” Johnston said. “It stems from fear. [Pit have this reputation so we need to show [the what they can be.”

While the term “pit bull” officially comes from the breed American Pit Bull Terrier, it is commonly misused as a blanket term for dogs with a “boxy head” and “short body” physical features, Johnston said.

“No matter what dog it is, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, somebody’s going to call it a duck,” she said.

When dog bites occur, Johnston said she notices the media directs a lot of attention at pit bulls, specifically pointing a finger at the breed and causing widespread misunderstandings about a pit bull’s true nature.

“Do pit bulls bite people? Sure they do,” Johnston said. “So do Chihuahuas, German shepherds, Labradors … There’s this reputation of the pit bull, which is coming from somewhere. Somebody bit somebody at some point. But then there’s the pit bull that I have that lives with a five-year-old and cats and plays with other dogs, so there’s a discrepancy somewhere. Something’s going on.”

Mary Jo El-Wattar adopted her second pit bull, Bella, earlier this year and has been taking her to obedience classes at Dog’s Day Out since January. Her previous dog, Emily, was also a pit bull mix. But when El-Watter first started looking for a pet, she didn’t even think to consider pit bulls. Her and her partner were only looking for a smart, trainable and affectionate breed that would be good with the grandchildren.

“I didn’t have any notion of what would be a fit for me,” El-Wattar said. “And didn’t meet what I thought I needed … But she and I just looked at each other and I took the leash and we just walked off into the sunset … Emily sold me on pit bulls.”

El-Wattar said she never had any preconceived ideas about pit bulls and doesn’t know why there is this media hype around their aggressiveness.

“I don’t know how pit bulls have become so stigmatized to be bad,” she said. “I’ve only seen a very family-oriented dog … I just know that I walk down the street and if there’s a pit bull, I don’t feel afraid.”

As pit bull owners, both Johnston and El-Wattar feel the need to keep their dogs well-trained and well-behaved as to set an example to the public about pit bulls.

“That’s the responsibility of someone who owns one of these dogs,” Johnston said. “I don’t just mean your responsibility to that dog, but the responsibility to your community and your society … No matter how good my dog is, he is going to be judged by the way he looks when we go for a walk so my dog needs to be better trained to be really fantastic on the leash; he needs to be an ambassador for the breed.”

After public examples of extreme situations, such as the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal — where NFL football player Vick was involved in organizing several dogfights and even executions — pit bulls can be viewed as vicious and tough. But Johnston and others agree that pit bulls are actually as good-natured as any other dog. She said each dog’s aggressive tendencies should be individually evaluated and not generalized as a breed. She noted that one of the pit bulls used in the scandal is now being used as a therapy dog.

It can be said that pit bulls have impulse-control issues, which might mistakenly be confused with aggression, but it’s not necessarily related. Johnston said that impulse-control is completely trainable in pit bulls as with every other dog. She concludes that pit bulls, in terms of aggression, are not any different than any other breed. They’re just goofy, determined and people-focused animals.

“Try to get your pit bull off the couch,” Johnston said. “It’s not going to happen; they’re the ultimate lap dog.”

Dogs Day Out will be hosting “Pittie Party,” an information session about pit bulls, on Sunday, Nov. 11, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Entry is $25 and is for “humans only.” More info can be found at

Pet of the Week: Penny

Penny, a 3-year-old female Pitbull, is the featured pets at Just Animals Shelter in Mazon. Penny is potty trained, doing well at learning manners and loves to play fetch in the yard.

This pretty Penny has been running with her foster mom while training for her 5K, and really enjoys it. Of course, let’s not forget about all the fun car rides where she is able to let her ears blow in the wind. She also enjoys quiet time, snuggling with her foster family of mom, dogs and children.

She would love to go to her new forever home soon. Anyone who would like to meet her can call for an appointment at (815) 448-2510.

The adoption fee includes vaccinations, spay/neuter, microchip, Heartworm or FeLV/FIV testing, and dewormings

If you would like to make a donation, please send to P.O. Box 275 Mazon, Ill., 60444. Just Animals Shelter is a non-profit, no-kill animal shelter that has saved thousands of animals since opening in 1997.

Pit Bull Bites Off Ear of Teen Owner Defending Pet from Attack

A 19-year-old man was walking his dog on Tuesday afternoon around 3:00 p.m., when his pet was suddenly attacked by two loose Pit Bull Terriers in the Bankstown area of southwestern Sydney, according to

The teenager tried to rescue his pet from the dogs, but the Pit Bulls then started mauling his legs so savagely that he fell to the ground. As he did, the Pit Bulls turned their attention to biting him on the head and one bit off his left ear, witnesses at the nearby bus stop reported.

Residents of the area on Lehn Road in East Hills heard his screams and rushed to help the young man.

They finally managed to scare the dogs away. Paramedics responded to the emergency call and took the victim to Liverpool Hospital, where he is reported in stable condition.

The victim’s ear was found nearby and surgeons attempted to reattach it, according to officials at the hospital. The young man is also being treated for severe bites to his left leg, a spokesman for Ambulance Service of NSW said.

The Pit Bulls were captured after the attack, around 3.20 p.m. The owner was identified and is cooperating with police.

The owner said the dogs had escaped from his yard without his knowledge and they are American Staffordshire Terriers. Inspector David Firth, from Bankstown police told ABC702 News this morning, that it is his understanding that the dogs jumped or climbed over metal fencing.

“He has owned them both since they were puppies and…there was not any history of them attacking anyone in the past,” Firth stated. He also advised that the breed is not on the restricted dog list and the dogs had not been declared dangerous. Residents in Lehn Road said they often saw the owner of the AmStaffs walking the dogs on leads.

In 2010-11, there were 252 reported attacks from American Staffordshire terriers in NSW, and 16,503 of the dogs were registered with councils, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Attacks are defined as incidents where dogs rush at, bite, harass or chase a person or another animal.

The five breeds that were responsible for the highest number of attacks in NSW in that period were the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Australian cattle dog, German shepherd, American Staffordshire Terrier and Rottweiler.

Veterinarian Peter Higgins, of Dogs NSW, said, ” I think we’ve got to make it compulsory for people to do training. “Dogs are attack animals, he told the Sydney Morning Herald, “so if you take control, if you’re the boss, then a lot of these attacks will actually go away.”

Dr Higgins said the breed of dog believed to be involved in this attack needs a strict owner. “They need a strong boss. If you’re not that sort of person, they’ll start doing their own thing,” he said.

Doctors at Liverpool Hospital are not yet sure whether the reattachment of the teenager’s ear will be successful.

Paul Scott, spokesman for the Bankstown City Council announced that the Bankstown Police Department is conducting a thorough investigation and that the dogs involved in the attack are being held at the local animal shelter.

Lt. Firth stated it has not yet been determined whether charges will be filed against the dogs’ owner.