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The Pit Bull’s Bad Rap: Dispelling Common Myths About America’s Most Feared Dog Breed

December 3, 2013
Image courtesy of http://stubbydog.org/

Image courtesy of http://stubbydog.org/

Let’s set up a test. Close your eyes and imagine that you are walking along your favorite hiking trail. You look up to see the horrifying site of a  dog attacking a person.

What kind of dog did you picture?

If you’re like most people, you probably pictured a Pit Bull, and with good reason. It is likely that every depiction of the breed that you have ever been exposed to is a negative one. These depictions might include Michael Vick’s dog fighting conviction or just another story one of the dozens of stories of a Pit Bull attacking a person. Based on these stories, our perception of the Pit Bull is that it is an intrinsically aggressive and violent breed.

This could not be further from the truth.

The fact remains, however, that due to this perception, State legislatures throughout the county have produced breed-specific laws. The facts about the Pit Bull breed suggest that these laws are nothing short of an egregious waste of resources. So let’s take a minute to look at the myths about America’s most feared dog breed, and the facts which suggest that our perceptions simply aren’t reality.

Myth 1: Pit Bulls are Among the Most Aggressive Breeds

False. Really false. In fact, according to the American Temperament Test Society, Inc. Pit Bulls rank second, only to Labrador Retrievers, in terms of tolerance:

Pit Bull Tolerance

Myth 2: Dogs in the “Bully Breeds” are mean (bullies)

There are a variety of breeds which are commonly refereed to as “bully breed” dogs. These include pit bulls, bulldogs, mastiffs, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Boxers and Bull terriers. However, the semantics are misleading.

The “bully breed” title does not refer to their temperament. It refers to fact that they descendants of the original English baiting dogs. These dogs were bred and trained to grip and hold bulls, bears, and other large animals. However, when bull-baiting was banned in England in 1835, owners of these “bully breed” dogs resorted to putting on fights between their dogs.

Myth 3: Legislation which bans pit bulls from specific areas will reduce attacks

No organization has ever been able to provide evidence that laws pertaining to specific dog breeds make communities any safer. However, there are plenty of examples of how breed-specific legislation can actually make things worse. For example, in many communities where ownership of Pit Bulls or other breeds is highly regulated, owners will fail to attain proper licensing, micro-chipping and vet care, which has a negative overall impact on the community.

Conclusion: Operator Error

What does this all mean? It means that the real issue with Pit Bulls is not their intrinsic personality traits, but rather their treatment by humans:

Pit Bull Treatment

As injury attorneys, we have represented dozens of clients who were injured due to a dog attack. Often, individuals are hesitant to bring law suits against negligent dog owners because they think the dog will be harmed. In many cases, this is false. However, it is critical that cruel or irresponsible dog owners are held accountable for their negligence. By removing these people from the dog owner mix, we can begin to ensure that all breeds receive fair treatment based on the facts, not the myths.

Images courtesy of  Alissa Scheller of the Huffington Post and http://stubbydog.org

Posted by Robert Reeves at 11:42 am - 6 comments
  • http://google+ Lori Cascanette

    Beautifully put. In ontario canada pitbulls are banned. I had one nd loved her very much. Yes they can be aggressive but so was my black lab. Especially if they didnt like someone or with the kids. I learned when there was something or someone she didnt like but the way she held herself or her fur would stand up from her neck to her tail. I knew the signs. I strongly believe its the owners. No dog ever born says im going to hate people or im going to attack people. They are innocent like a child. The raising of any dog is imparative to how it will be as its grows, just like a child. The laws should be more towards the person who wants to own such a “dangerous” breed. Its the humans who give them that bad rap not them themselves, they just want to be loved just like anyone or anyrhing else. Personally i would do anything to take this ban off them cause i would do anything to gey another. Love them one of the best dogs i ever had

    • David Uzee

      Im in 300% agreement BECAUSE I’ve personally watched PEOPLE BULLY COWARDS TRY TO TEACH THEIR HARMLESS PUPPY PITBULLS
      THEIR BULLY COWARD TRICKS
      WHICH I HAD2 WALK AWAY FROM THIS!!!! PUPPY DOGS R THE SAME AS A HUMAN BABY; IF YOU DON’T RAISE
      EM WITH LOVE &
      A♥ THEY WON’T
      & WILL NOT HAVE
      A ♥ & LOVE,, YOU
      KNOW THAT SAYING THAT U CAN’T TEACH A DOG NEW TRICKS
      IT ALSO REAPPEARS TO THE COWARD BULLY PERSON WHO HAS TO HATE HIMSELF ALSO; WHICH TO ME DAVID UZEE
      IS A DEVIL OF AN EXCUSE TO INFUSE HATRED TO ANY OF GOD’S
      CREATION::: WHETHER IT BE
      HUMAN, DOG, CAT or ANY LIVIN
      THING ON THIS HATE FILLED PLANET: WHICH TO ME IS IF IT DONT PERTAIN 2
      ME I DON’T GIVE A DAMN. I REALLY FEEL SO TERRIBLE ABOUT THIS WORLD HAS CHANGED IN MY
      58+ YEARS I’M
      SUSPENDED IN
      ANIMATION. I’M @ A LOSS FOR WORDS SO ALL I CAN DO PERSONALLY IS CRY WITHOUT
      SHEDDIN A SINGLE TEAR& PRAY THAT GOD
      HAS A MONSTROSITY OF A MIRACLE IN STORE FOR ALL
      OF FUTURE HUMANITY & ALL
      OF HIS CREATIONS AMEN!! HAVE A ♥
      PEOPLE OF THIS
      EARTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Naoma Roos

    I adore pitbulls. I was crushed when we went to sign the lease on our new place and the landlord said, “no pitbulls.”

    My city has anti-[breed]discrimination laws in place and the listing said, “dog friendly,” so I didn’t even think to ask if the landlord had breed bans. I can’t even reason with anyone on the matter; I say “landlord,” but really, she’s the property manager so she’s powerless to change the rule.

    Currently, I’m working towards becoming an expert in dog behavior, psychology and training. For now, I’m working with an amazing, rescued/retired greyhound who has some dominance issues. He’s my best friend and a joy to have in our home but it’s work. He’s living proof that any dog can have problems, even a notoriously relaxed breed, and that the right approach can balance almost ANY dog.

    My hope is that, if we share articles like this and educate people, the breeds will no longer be blamed and the people who abuse animals will finally be held accountable.

  • maureen

    I had an American staff cross
    German shepherd the most wonderful dog I have ever had my best friend for twelve year

  • http://pitbulllover196988@gmail.com SUSAN BEERS

    I’VE HAD PIT BULL’S SINCE I WAS REST 18 YEARS OLD AND THERE ABSOLUTELY THE BEST DOG’S I HAVE EVER HAD RIGHT NOW I HAVE TWO AMERICAN PIT BULL’S BRUTUS AND NAKITA ON A DAILY BASIS THESE TWO SHOW EVERYONE THEY COME IN CONTACT WITH THAT PIT BULL’S ARE LOVING AFFECTIONATE LOYAL ATTENTION CRAVING PIT BULL’S ALL THEY WANT IS TO BE LOVED AND CHERISHED AS TRUE FAMILY MEMBERS AND NOT TO BE RIDICULED AND JUDGED

  • http://www.stopthatdog.com Tim

    Interesting article. I have to agree that nine times out of ten it comes down to the owner, and not the dog.

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