Dog Fight

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 7, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly.

In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, last Friday, 12-year-old Nick Faibish was mauled to death by his pit bull in San Francisco.

According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, almost 5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year. Five million. 800,000 of those seek medical attention.

One of the top biting breeds are pit bulls. Now, some areas like Denver have banned the dog entirely, but those restrictions are being fought by some animal activists.

Joining us now from Los Angeles is actress Linda Blair, the president of the Pacific Coast Dog Rescue Shelter. Ms. Blair has adopted a pit bull. Is that correct?

LINDA BLAIR, ACTRESS/PRESIDENT, LINDA BLAIR WORLD HEART FOUNDATION: Well, actually, Bill, I started my own foundation for this very reason. I'm actually the president of Linda Blair World Heart Foundation, but I was the president of Pacific Coast.

Yes, I had the incident of a gray Brandola pit bull followed me home seven years ago. And like everyone else, I was terrified. But what I found in the coming days, trying to find his home, was that his demeanor and his personality was completely different from what I had learned in the press.

So in the coming years, I've spent a lot of time, I've done a lot of rescues with pit bulls. And I've done a lot of research and studying on the original breed history, what they're about, and that they were never, ever intended to be human aggressive.

O'REILLY: OK, but you know, you're good with animals. Your history is you're a horse woman. You feel comfortable around animals. I can understand you being able to handle this.

But when you — you know, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Veterinary Medical Association both come to the same conclusion, that pit bulls are twice as likely as other dogs to attack and hurt people, twice as likely.

BLAIR: Actually Bill, I think that those findings are not correct, and I am willing to go up against them. We've been debating this recently because of what's been happening in...


O'REILLY: Ms. Blair, are you going to tell me that you, Linda Blair...


O'REILLY: ... are going to go up against the Centers for Disease Control and the American Veterinary Association?

BLAIR: Yes. Because they don't have all the breeds on there, Bill. So you can't have a complete finding if you don't have all the breeds on there.

O'REILLY: All right. But certainly you have to understand...

BLAIR: You have to remember...

O'REILLY: Certainly you understand that it's provable that pit bulls cause more damage to people in this country...

BLAIR: Actually not. Actually not.

O'REILLY: ... than any other — with the possible exception of Rottweillers.

BLAIR: No. The Shih Tsus and different breeds — there are different techniques — techniques that are in the bite. So again, the breed was originally used for dog against bull baiting back in history, so they were never bred to be human aggressive. And they were always taken out of the mix.

Now in America, what they've done is that there are a lot of mixes, so we can't always tell what the dog has, if they're not — the dog in San Francisco I guarantee is not a pure pit.

O'REILLY: One more question, please. I don't want to get bogged down in this. I've got to go with the stats.

BLAIR: But that's you, everybody's different.

O'REILLY: Would you go — would you say to American parents buy a pit bull for your — the kids in the house? Come on.

BLAIR: I say to no one buy any dog. I want to end the big pet overpopulation right now and all the puppy mills.

Bill, why I started the campaign I did against the dog fighting is because all the criminals, all the people that are doing illegal dog fighting, gambling, bringing children into the issue. I don't want pit bulls or any dogs in the wrong hands of people. And that's what's going on right now.

O'REILLY: Well, I'm with you on that. But I want everybody to be — I want everybody to be very cautious, Linda, around these dogs.

BLAIR: I want people to be responsible, Bill.

O'REILLY: I want them to be cautious.

BLAIR: And if I could say anything, responsible, get trainers, understand the breed. It's not for everyone. And in San Francisco...

O'REILLY: That's right. It isn't. It's for people who are very, very sophisticated in that area.

Ms. Blair, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Now I want to go over to Lisa Lange. She was the vice president of communications for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

What do you think about it? Are your people opposed to the Denver roundup of pit bulls?

LISA LANGE, VICE PRESIDENT, PETA: PETA is in support of banning breeding pit bulls across the board.

O'REILLY: Really?

LANGE: We're in favor of abandoning — abandoning breeding them, breeding all dogs, frankly. As Linda said, we're euthanizing 4 to 7 million dogs and cats in shelters every year. For every animal bred, an animal is euthanized in a shelter. So for just the overpopulation crisis, we're in favor of the ban on breeding.

In addition to that, it's true what Linda says, that pit bulls were not bred to be human aggressive, but they were bred to fight and kill other animals for human sport. And as a result, that's why you have the big, boxy chest and the big jaw. They were bred as weapons.

And as a result, you have a lot of drug dealers out there. You have people who use pit bulls as macho status symbols. They're bought and they're bred to use as breathing security systems.

As a result of that, many of them live on chains. Many of them are beaten and abused. Many of them are starved, and are aggressive as a result. The dogs are paying the price, and children are paying the price.

And therefore, we are in favor of not only not allowing these animals to be bred but punishing people who do.

O'REILLY: OK. So you don't want any more pit bull mills, where they mate two pit bulls, they have the dog, and then they sell the dog to somebody who fights the dog or uses the dog, as you said, for some macho purpose. You would outlaw that.

LANGE: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: Now in Denver, in Denver, Colorado, the city ordinance says you can't have a pit bull, and if you do, the city is going to take it away. Are you for that?

LANGE: No. I think that the problem with Denver was that when they banned the breeding of pit bulls, they didn't enforce it. So you end up with a lot of people with pit bulls.

Some dogs are wonderful in nature. Many of them are unpredictable. So now they have a huge problem on their hands, because when they passed the ordinance, 15 years ago banning the breeding of pit bulls, they didn't enforce it. So now they have a lot of people with pit bulls. Some of them are being abused. The majority of people...

O'REILLY: Well, every city has it, but right now if you have a pit bull in Denver, the city can come in, take the dog, euthanize it, fine you, arrest you. And I'm wanting to know if PETA is for those criminal prosecutions?

LANGE: No, unfortunately they're in a situation now they have to take it on a case-by-case basis. There are pit bulls living in homes with people who are very kind to them, who have raised them since they were puppies.

O'REILLY: So you're not favoring the Denver law again right now?

LANGE: As — we're in favor of the ban on the breeding and the ban on the breed, but we are not in favor of people going in and removing pit bulls from good situations and euthanizing them. That's not the way to go about that.

O'REILLY: I just want — I just want everybody to know that Linda Blair is very good with animals. And you know, if I saw a pit bull following me home, believe me, I'm not going to adopt it, OK? I'm going to be up a tree.

LANGE: Gosh.

O'REILLY: All right?

LANGE: Yes, I think...

O'REILLY: So you've got to be very, very careful with any stray dog, but particularly with that breed.

Lisa, thanks very much.

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