Pit bull prejudice

Pit bulls don’t deserve the aggressive stereotype

Pit bull prejudice

For most of recent history, pit bulls have been shrouded in the unjust stereotype of a vicious, dangerous and deadly dog breed. Even owning one is punishable by up to six months of jail time in England.

Despite the stereotype, pit bulls are actually a wonderful breed to have in the home and when well trained, as with any dog, are some of the most loving and loyal dogs one could ever own.

This bad reputation hasn’t always been the reality of the American Pit Bull Terrier. The breed descends from Old English bulldogs in the early 1800s. This is also when they got their name.
According to the advocacy group Love-A-Bull, the “pit” comes from their use in the practice “ratting,” an activity where dogs were put in pits with rats and forced to kill as many as possible in a certain amount of time.

The “bull” comes from a much darker part of their history. In the early 1800s, one to two dogs were forced to fight a bull chained to the ground for hours until the bull collapsed from injury, all for people’s entertainment.

Shortly before the Civil War, they were brought to America by British Isle immigrants. During this time, according to Love-A-Bull, they were used as farm dogs to herd cattle and as guard dogs for families.
Because of their protective, loyal and loving demeanor towards humans (especially children), they became a national symbol during WWI and WWII and labeled the “All-American Dog.”

Despite this, as dog fighting grew more popular in the ‘80s, so did breeding pit bulls for it. Because of their natural strength and size, they were an extremely popular choice for fighting. It’s worth noting that most of the pit bulls rescued from fighting rings have been able to be rehabilitated. This includes 48 out of 51 pit bulls used for fighting by former dog fighter and football star, Michael Vick. As the use of pit bulls in dog fights grew, so did the stigma that surrounds them to this day. The media has played a huge role in this.

In 1987, Time Magazine had a cover photo of a pit bull entitled “The Pit Bull Friend and Killer” and in the same year, Sports Illustrated ran a similar cover entitled “Beware of This Dog.”
While things seem to be getting better, as of 2014, according to Dog Bite Law, 50% of pit bulls are still put up for adoption and remain in shelters about three times longer than other breeds.

Yes, dog attacks are at the hands of pit bulls more than any other breed but, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Veterinary Association, pit bulls are not inherently more aggressive than any other dog breed. Their behavior is a result of their upbringing, and due to their past use, is usually conditioning for them to be aggressive guard dogs.

Despite all of this, things are starting to change. Due to education by animal rights groups and major veterinary corporations, the attitudes of people towards the breed are starting to shift. However, there is still much more work to be done. Pit bulls still dominate animal shelters, they’re still given up for adoption more than any other breed and are still the most commonly used dog in dog fights.

They need help. They need people to adopt and properly care for and train them. They need to be kept when adopted. They need a chance.