I actually started this post yesterday, and it came to my attention just today that talk show host Kelly Ripa said something very offensive to pit bull owners….“But the gangster’s dog is uh, I mean if it’s a gangster it would have to be a dangerous, uh, Pit Bull kind of dog, right?”.) This just confirms that ignorance is rampant about this dog breed, therefore the need to get the word out more and more!
It seems October is a busy month in the pet world! I have already covered Adopt-A-Dog-Month, and I think Pit Bull Awareness is equally as important.
I have never owned a Pit Bull. I have only ever known one very well. Scarlett was a client of the pet sitting business I co-owned. I was not her regular pet sitter so didn’t see a lot of her, but the times I did I got to know her as a quiet, sweet, intelligent, and loving girl. She may not be a purebred pit bull, but the term “pit bull” actually encompasses a variety of different dogs. The purebred version is an American Staffordshire terrier; also known as a Pit Bull Terrier. This breed was derived from the original Staffordshire Bull Terrier in England, a cross between bulldog and terrier. Dogs that are mixes of all these breeds and others such as boxers can also be referred to as Pit Bulls.
The AKC standards describe this breed of dog as “friendly, loyal, and protective”. They are considered people oriented dogs who will thrive as part of a family, especially if they are given a job to do. They are intelligent and excellent guardians. They can excel at obedience, agility, and tracking. They need exercise, but can also be great dogs for apartments or condos. With their short coats they do not enjoy the cold, so they are happy as “couch potatoes” in the cold weather, or anytime. They do not shed very much, which makes them great indoor dogs.
Wow, this sounds like a great dog to me! So where on earth did Pit Bulls get the reputation they have as aggressive killers today? Well, we all know a lot of it comes from drug dealers and other assorted dirtbags like Michael Vick, who abused these dogs and trained them to be fighters and killers. Pit bulls are easy to train, and they are people pleasers, making them an easier target for these criminals. They are strong and muscular. The media grabs hold of any story of an aggressive Pit Bull, when in reality there are probably just as many dog attacks involving other breeds. We dog lovers know that these dogs are not born this way, any more than any other dog breed, and that there is not any certain group of “bad dogs”, only “bad owners”.
For every bad Pit Bull story you hear, I bet I could find hundreds of dedicated and loyal Pit Bull owners who are trying to turn this ignorance around.
Gosh, I can remember back when I was younger, the same type of media attention and stereotyping on other breeds…..Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepherds. My cat was killed by my neighbors’ German Shepherd, but I don’t go around assuming that every German Shepherd is a cat killer!
Not only do we have the media jumping on these bandwagons, but then we have to get insurance companies and governments doing the same. You’ve possibly heard of BSL (Breed Specific Legislation), and this has become a big problem for Pit Bull lovers (and some other breeds termed aggressive). BSL bans or restricts certain types of dogs based on their appearance or the perception that they are dangerous. The truth is any dog can become violent or attack someone. They are animals, after all. As long as there are ignorant people out there who are not spaying and neutering their pets (always a good idea to help temperaments as well as curb overpopulation), and people who encourage their dogs to be aggressive, or don’t contain their dogs properly, this is going to be a problem. But it is not a problem of any particular dog breed. We’ve already established that Pit Bulls can be a combination of different breeds, so how are these legislators even determining this anyway? This is simply stereotyping and prejudice aimed at dogs instead of people. It is just as wrong to my mind. The most well known story of all is of Lennox, a dog in Ireland who was executed because of BSL. He was a mixed breed dog that looked like a pit bull.
If you are considering adopting a dog, please consider this wonderful breed. Be sure there are no restrictions with your community or your insurance company (I hate that I have to say that, but I would not want anyone to adopt a dog and then be forced to give it up because of something like that). Pit Bulls have a very high euthanasia rate, and there are many, many needing homes. I will leave you with a couple photos of some adorable pittie puppies. They are really some of the cutest puppies too!! I know, I know, all puppies are cute.