Pit bulls: Ferocious beasts or just misunderstood?

These dogs are fierce, aggressive and to be feared. They’ll attack at a moment’s notice and like no others. Chances are the breed that comes to mind is pit bull, doberman or rottweiler. Shame on you. Actually, these stereotypes are so enforced in society that it’s become normal and accepted to consider certain breeds as dangerous or monstrous.

While I don’t know enough about rottweilers or dobermans to speak for them, I can vouch for pit bulls. After the first time meeting my pit bull mix at a shelter, I wondered why this breed had such a bad reputation. The dog in front of me was anxious, quiet and too afraid to move an inch. Following my inquiry about her history, I was told that she was abandoned on a highway and likely beaten before that.

Unfortunately, cases like hers happen frequently. Most people know that pit bulls used to be bred and trained to fight, and it still happens today illegally. Even those who don’t wish to fight pit bulls get them for protection. In reality, pit bulls are very human-friendly and playful, which is why so many get abandoned after their owners realize that these dogs are generally not the anticipated fierce guard dogs.When dog fighting was a legal sport, the owners would be in the fighting ring the entire time and would have to wash each other’s dog before the fight. If a pit bull snapped at any person, it would be disqualified. It was a requirement that the dogs be human-friendly if they were to fight.

The Houston Chronicle recently covered a seizure of 285 pit bulls from a home, where it’s believed that the owner was breeding them for illegal fighting. They were subjected to intense cruelty and poor living conditions, supposedly to enforce aggression. All of the pit bulls over six months old have to be put down because of irreversible damage. When there’s talk of pit bulls attacking people or other dogs, the breed in question is usually not confirmed. It’s hard to tell the difference between a pit bull and a Staffordshire Terrier or numerous mixes that may have pit bull-like qualities or looks. Witnesses to these attacks will generalize and guess that the breed was pit bull. With these recurrences, the pit bull name is never cleared. Because of this, pit bulls are banned from many apartment complexes, dog parks and even pet stores. I wish my pit bull could live with me, but I’m among many who must keep mine elsewhere.

To set the record straight, pit bulls aren’t even close to biting more than other breeds. According to one Huntsville veterinarian, chows are the breed that statistically bites the most. Concerning aggression, what matters is not the breed but the particular dog and how it was raised and socialized.

Sadly, pit bulls make the news more because of their already-tarnished reputation. If people instead would focus more on the lives pit bulls and other “dangerous” breeds have saved, plus the fun-loving personalities of these dogs, there might be a chance that the pit bull name could be restored.

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