By, LEXI MUELLER
The American pit bull terrier is a dog breed that has long been enveloped by a dark stigma in the United States. The history of dog fighting that has long surrounded these dogs has lead to them being unfairly judged for things outside of their control. I’ve witnessed this with my own pit bull at home, Kiya, who faces judgment from ignorant people every day as we walk down the street of my suburbia neighborhood. From people crossing to the other side of the street when we walk by to adults openly telling me that my dog could be “vicious” without ever even meeting her, it has really shown the incorrect stigma that has been taught through public opinion.
Pit bulls have had a long history in the United States. Originally seen as a loving, frontier dog and respected war icons, they were soon forced into a brutal history of dog fighting and animal abuse. Because of their large and muscular figure, dog-fighters went out of their way to use these caring animals for the cruel sport of dog fighting. This has lead to a fixed mindset carried by many Americans of a vicious dog that is not fit for family life. This opinion could not be more wrong. I’ve decided to use a list of facts and myths about these animals to help people become more informed on this issue.
- When pit bulls were first brought over to America, they were known as the “nanny breed” to many families because of their kind and loving nature when playing with children.
- The American pit bull terrier has scored exceptionally well on the American Temperament Test for dog breeds, beating out many popular breeds such as the Collies and Golden Retrievers in terms of temperament.
- Many of the pit bulls that have been rescued from dog fighting rings have since gone on to be rehabilitated and used as therapy animals.
- Pit bulls are American heroes! In the early 20th century, pit bulls represented American forces on posters and in the field. During World War I, pit bulls stood as a symbol for American patriotism and bravery.
- They are quite determined. When pit bulls put their minds to something, they will achieve it at all costs. This makes them great sporting dogs and very trainable. This also makes them excellent therapy dogs.
- They love people! Pit bulls love to snuggle, cuddle and roll around with all people. They have a high tolerance for craziness, usually being very mild tempered around screaming children and lots of tail-tugging.
- Many people have heard the myth that pit bulls bite harder than other dogs and have a jaw that locks. This is an obvious myth, with facts proving that scientists have yet to find an animal that can completely lock their jaw and that pit bulls have a weaker bite than many other dogs, such as the Rottweiler.
- People also like to argue that fatal pit bull attacks are more common than they actually are. According to research, you are 200 times more likely to die from taking over the counter aspirin than from a fatal pit bull attack. You are 60 times more likely to be killed by a falling coconut than you are to be killed by a pit bull attack. Additionally, you are also 16 times more likely to die by drowning in a five-gallon bucket of water than you are to die as the result of a fatal pit bull attack.
- Many people also believe the seemingly ridiculous myth that pit bulls are incapable of feeling pain. This is, of course, very untrue as pit bulls are just as capable of other dogs of feeling pain and emotion.
- People have also believed the common stereotype that pit bulls are inherently vicious because of their history with dogfighting. This is also untrue, as it has become obvious that there are no bad dogs, just bad people. Dogs are a reflection of the people who have trained them which was shown heavily through dogfighting.
- Lastly, people have argued that it is dangerous to get a pit bull from a rescue or shelter because you are incapable of proving its history. As someone who adopted my pit bull from a shelter, I can argue this point to be untrue. While history can have its effect on any dog, it is most important to choose a dog based on its behavior and the connection you make. As said before, dogs are a reflection of the people who they live with and will adapt to be loving, caring animals under the right protection.
As a pit bull owner, I encourage others to look past the stigma of modern media that has taught our society to be afraid of these loving animals. When my family originally adopted a pit bull five years ago, we were a bit nervous about what this breed would mean for our family. She has turned out to be the biggest blessing and helps set a perfect example for the breed every day. I encourage everyone to help make a difference in pit bull stereotypes by reading these facts and taking it into consideration next time you pass by one on the street. Pit bulls deserve the same love as all other dogs and should not be characterized by the cruel nature of humans that have unfairly treated them in the past.
PHOTO OF A PIT BULL | PHOTO BY GRACE HULIN