The pit bull, perhaps the most maligned breed of dog in the United States, has its origins in the United Kingdom and not far from its perceived reputation as a killer, in dog fighting rings or pits. They were bred in the 19th century as a cross between English Bulldogs and Terriers to be more agile in the fighting pits against bears, rats, other dogs and any other animals for the purposes of gambling.
Pit Bull Aggression
Legend has it that the handlers of those dogs attempted to cull any dog that showed aggressive behavior towards humans. That theory fits the cliché “don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” and is supported by Jack London’s “law of club and fang.” Pit Bull detractors however, preach that any aggressive behavior demonstrated by fighting dogs was and is rewarded and encouraged (probably true based on the human garbage that support dog fighting today). Although that would suggest that those people who are involved in the horrific act of violence that is dog fighting take enough care and interest in the animal to do anything more than chain it up somewhere between fights.
Mischaracterized and Misidentified
Not officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club, the American Pit Bull Terrier is one of the more misidentified breeds of dog and usually based solely on a visual inspection. There are many bully breeds that are not pit bulls, but are lumped in when it fits with people’s assumptions about dangerous dogs. The already indistinct bloodlines of the American Pit Bull Terrier have been diluted by overzealous breeders and many owners who neglect to spay or neuter their pets leading to unwanted litters. The many delineations that have sprung off are often mistakenly identified as pit bulls and that’s fine, except, it’s not. Those identifications are entered into databases where they are then used in research for all sorts of things, like; canine behavior profiles, statistics about dog bites and attacks, shelter populations, etc.
How Bad Legislation Comes to be
When some jerk embellishes the story of how his neighbor’s Rottweiler nearly tore his arm off, and would have too, if he wasn’t empowered with the superhuman strength of an energy drink; claiming it was a blood thirsty pit bull to the local media, which sends the story to their national affiliate, it becomes another statistic. Despite the fact being the dog responded to his physical abuse with a nip and it isn’t a pit bull at all. However, a local politician up for reelection sees the story, grabs onto it to help distract from his extra marital activities, and proposes legislation discriminating against certain breeds in his area.
What We Can do to Help These Dogs
The next time you hear of a story about a pit bull attack do a little digging to find out if it’s true. And even if it is an actual pit bull attack don’t support bigoted laws that target all dogs of a certain breed or breeds based on isolated or even limited encounters; support laws that target abusive owners and negligent breeders.