Pit Bulls Are Not Vicious Dogs

 

            People all across the world and, especially in the United States have heard of the dogs called Pit Bulls. Immediately, one has visions of a vicious, man eating, drooling monster that maims and kills people on a daily basis that is seen on media outlets almost daily. Yet, could people be wrong about these dogs and actually know very little about them other than what the media wants one to know? There is a breathtaking side to these dogs, full of gentleness and loyalty towards their owner that is rarely seen or shown by the media. As an owner of two of these beautiful creatures known as the American Pit Bull Terrier, it is my obligation to educate and show the average person that there is a side to these dogs people do not know exist.

            There are many factors to consider when one hears of a vicious mauling by a “Pit Bull”. Often a dog bite is blamed on a Pit Bull when in all reality the dog is not a Pit Bull at all! People assume a dog is of a certain breed based solely on the dog’s appearance. This often leads one to presuppose that a dog is a Pit Bull rather than a Labrador Retriever mix breed.  Unless one is present that knows the dog’s lineage, it is impossible to know exactly what breed a dog is to an untrained eye. If the dog has large jaws and cropped ears one immediately assumes it is a Pit Bull. According to the National Canine Research Council, when a report is being made about a dog bite, ”Breed descriptors obtained from these sources may come from the dog’s owner. They may also come from persons who have no direct knowledge (i.e., animal control officer, victim, neighbor, police officer, witness, unnamed source) of the dog’s lineage.” In other words, there are numerous problems with reported dog bites that are often blamed on Pit Bulls. For instance, most dogs in the United States are mixed breeds. Little is known of a dog’s lineage when a report is made by an individual or taken by an animal control officer after a bite.  

For hundreds of years, the breeds of dogs known as Pit Bulls, in which there are many, have been known as “Nanny Dogs” due to their loyalty, devotion toward their owners and their love of children. One can easily find numerous links on the internet that shows this to be true. An astounding dog trainer, photographer, and blog-gist, Yonah Ward Grossman  explains the history of the Pit Bull with American families and even the United States military. Mr. Grossman states:

“For generations if you had children and wanted to keep them safe you wanted a pit bull, the dog that was the most reliable of any breed with children or adults. The Nanny Dog is now vilified by a media that always wants a demon dog breed to frighten people and LHASA-APSO BITES MAN just doesn’t sell papers.”

The most decorated dog in the history of the United States military and the only dog ever to receive the rank of Sergeant for extreme bravery was a Pit Bull breed known as the Staffordshire Terrier. The dog was named “Stubby” and he being a Pit Bull breed, did not stop the United States military from placing medals around the dog’s neck and proudly displaying his image which eventually led to the Pit Bull becoming America’s Mascot for over a hundred years. There were abundant posters manufactured during war and peace proudly displaying the Pit Bull as the face of this great country. Sergeant Stubby was known for capturing an enemy spy, getting shot with chemical weapons during the war against the Germans. Sergeant Stubby learned the bugle calls, didn’t flinch during firefight and was even injured by a grenade attack leaving shrapnel throughout his body. The Pit Bull still forged on and was on the front of newspapers and magazines. “[Stubby] even visited the White House twice by Presidents Harding and Coolidge.” As noted on The Smithsonian Institutes Americans at War website dedicated to this wonderful Pit Bull mascot.

            Another great dog trainer well known the world over, Cesar Millan, owns several Pit Bull breeds and, consistently shows and writes on his programs how wonderful these dogs can be. Mr. Millan tries to educate the public that the Pit Bull has gotten a bad rap by simply being such a loyal and devoted dog. The dog will do what is taught, whether that is watching over children, doing tricks or, fighting in a ‘pit’ which is where the dog breeds originally got the name they are known as today. Mr. Millan states on his website:

“If current news reports are to be believed, pit bulls have been attacking and biting humans left and right—to the point that many communities are considering breed-specific bans on pit bulls.

Would it surprise you to learn that pit bulls used to be America’s darlings? Before the mid-80s, stories of pit bull attacks are practically non-existent. There is even some confusion over exactly which breed of dog is a pit bull—the definition includes the American pit bull terrier, the Staffordshire terrier and, at times, the bulldog. This confusion seems to have dogged the breed from the beginning, as there is some disagreement over the origin of pit bulls.”

 

            A great resource for learning about Pit Bulls is the world famous Villalobos Rescue Center. Each year, this well known Pit Bull rescue saves hundreds of Pit Bulls that are abandoned, subject to death by Breed Specific Laws or by abuse. It is common for the Pit Bull to be subject to abuse and cruelty just because of the type of dog it is. Villalobos Rescue Center sums the plight of the Pit Bull perfectly in their statement that can be found on their website; “Unfortunately Pit Bulls are their own worst enemy – their loyalty and devotion make them the perfect victim.” People are in fear of Pit Bulls just because of what the media has portrayed to the public. Rarely, if ever, do the media outlets show the positive Pit Bull stories. Never do we hear about the Pit Bulls that alert their owners to house fires or, dogs who are trained to alert when their owners are about to have a seizure. There is one Pit Bull in particular that was treated extremely cruelly as a puppy that is now a therapy dog in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools.  This Pit Bull goes by the name of “Gremlin the Thera Pit”. This dog in particular has made reality in curbing the myths surrounded by the most feared breeds of dogs known as Pit Bulls. Gremlin’s page on stubbydog.org states “Gremlin was also the first pit bull ever accepted into the University Hospitals’ Pet Pals program, which has been around for 24 years.” Gremlin cuddles with the patients whom the dog has never seen or known before. Likewise, children are comforted holding the Gremlin’s paw while reading a book in the classroom.

            Performing a search through Google.com on the words “Pit Bull Myths”, one will find over 475,000 links. Amongst the enormous list of myths of Pit Bulls are “locking jaws”, “tremendous biting force”, and the “inability to get along with other animals”. Debunking the myths surrounding these great dogs is a full time job. Pit Bulls are very social. They get along easily with other animals. Personally, there are over eight cats in my home and three other dogs that get along magnificently with my two Pit Bulls. Upon reading the article “Breed Myths” one will find that Pit Bulls do not have locking jaws, in fact it is impossible for any canine species to have any such capability. “There is absolutely not evidence for the existence of any kind of ’locking mechanism’ unique to the structure of the jaw and/or teeth of the American Pit Bull Terrier, says Dr. I. Lerh Brisbin of the University of Georgia (from the ADBA booklet, “Discover the American Pit Bull Terrier.)” In specialty testing, the biting force pressure for a Pit Bull is “less” than that of a German Shepherd and the Rottweiler. As with other myths, “Pit Bulls have the same nervous system of any other breed, and they can and do feel pain.” This is in accordance to the webpage “The Real Pit Bull” on the page “Breed Myths”.

 

            According to American Temperament Test Society, Incorporated, the American Pit Bull Terrier scored higher than 86.8 percent of other breeds in means of their temperament. According to their website,

“This test simulates a casual walk through a park or neighborhood where everyday life situations are encountered. During this walk, the dog experiences visual, auditory and tactile stimuli. Neutral, friendly and threatening situations are encountered, calling into play the dog’s ability to distinguish between non-threatening situations and those calling for watchful and protective reactions.”

In other words, they score the dog based on surprise visits from other animals, people, stressful situations and scary situations where the dog may snap, attack or charge. The American Pit Bull Terrier scored better than almost 89% of all other dog breeds. That alone is fairly impressive. The Pit Bull scored higher than the Poodle, Bearded Collie, and even the beloved Chihuahua. All these dogs are seen daily in commercials and in our and our neighbor’s homes.

Many people the world over have heard about the football star named Michael Vick. Mr. Vick is a very wealthy individual that often forced Pit Bulls to fight in a fighting ring or what is better known as a “pit”. More dogs were killed by this man in cruel and inhumane manners due to not being aggressive than those whom were used to fight. These dogs were not aggressive, were not vicious, and simply were not fighters and this is why they were killed. Their lives were cut short by wagging their tails and wanting to show kindness and sympathy as any other breed of dog does on a daily basis.

            If one can open their mind they can clearly see, Pit Bulls are not instinctively dangerous and vicious dogs. They can be taught to fight just as they can be taught to love. Just as any dog, they like to play, snuggle and will alert to anyone pressing the doorbell. On occasion, Pit Bull breeds, along with any other dog breed can and will bite but, one must take into account what was happening when the bite took place. The media tries to sell sensationalism, and a dog that can’t fight back with words, is the best form of attack for the media to use for their stories. Humans must speak up for the discriminated, and this includes the breeds of dogs classified as Pit Bulls. These dogs, just as any other, will aim to please their master. If the master wants them to sit, they will quickly learn to sit. If their master wants them to become aggressive, they must be taught by the human to be aggressive by forcing this behavior upon them. Fear is the basis of the Pit Bull myths and conclusion of the breeds. Due to this fear, cities across America have implemented Breed Specific Laws which ban the breeds of dog deemed as Pit Bulls. Often innocent dogs are immediately put to death by simply having body and facial characteristics of the breeds of Pit Bulls, or simply being of a Pit Bull breed with no regard for the temperament of the individual dog. Perhaps, it is the wrong end of the leash we are blaming for being the vicious killers.

 

 

“The Problems with Dog Bite Studies.”

National Canine Research Council, LLC. 2013.

Web. 26 April. 2013.

<http://www.nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/dogbites/the-problems-with-dog-bite-studies/>

 

“For Over 150 Years Americans Knew What Pit Bulls Were Famous For. BABYSITTING!”

 Grossman, Yonah Ward. 4 May 2011.

Web. 26 April. 2013.

<http://www.ywgrossman.com/newblog/?p=997>

 

“The Price of Freedom: Americans at War”

National Museum of American History, Behring Center, Smithsonian Institute. 2004.

Web. 27 April. 2013.

<http://amhistory.si.edu/militaryhistory/collection/object.asp?ID=15&gt;

 

“How Did Pit Bulls Get Such a Bad Rap?”

Millan, Cesar.

Web. 26 April. 2013.

<http://www.cesarsway.com/dogbehavior/basics/How-Did-Pit-Bulls-Get-a-Bad-Rap>

 

“Pit Bull Facts.”

Villalobos Rescue Center

Web. 26 April. 2013.

<http://www.vrcpitbull.net/dog/training/pit-bull-facts/&gt;

 

“Gremlin the Thera-Pit.”

N.P.

Web. 26 April. 2013.

<http://stubbydog.org/2012/03/gremlin-the-thera-pit/&gt;

 

“Breed Myths.”

The REAL Pit Bull

Web. 26 April. 2013.

<http://www.realpitbull.com/myths.html&gt;

 

“American Temperament Test Society, Inc.”

American Temperament Test Society, Inc.1999 – 2013

Web. 26 April. 2013.

<http://atts.org/&gt;

Pit Bulls Are Not Vicious Dogs

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