Do Pit Bulls Really Need To Be Banned?
Veterinarian Reviewed on October 28, 2009 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Miami, Cincinnati and Denver are three of the largest metropolitan areas in the USA that have city-wide bans on pit bulls.
The term pit bull is actually used to describe three different types of dogs: The American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
By the way, the pit bull ban in Denver applies to any dog that merely looks like a pit bull, regardless of their behaviorism.
Breed Specific Legislation
The basic definition of breed specific legislation (BSL) is that it bans or restricts certain types of dog breeds based solely on their appearance and being perceived as a ‘dangerous’ breed or type of dog.
A BSL breed ban normally insists that all dogs of a certain appearance be removed from the area in which the ban was initiated.
Keep in mind that breed specific legislation only applies to dogs of a certain appearance that have been targeted by the ban. It does not, however, take in consideration how the dog was bred, raised, and trained by its owner. This legislation also does not take into account the actual individual behavioral characteristics of the dog.
The media has done part of its job in that it has caused a sensation concerning pit bulls and has suggested to the public that they are the meanest, toughest dogs out there. News headlines are revolved around dog bites, where the dog was named a pit bull even though it was actually unidentified. It appears that
whenever a dog makes news and no-one can immediately identify it, it is labeled as a pit bull.
However, the majority of the media is not doing its job by not writing stories as unbiased as possible. They have instilled fear into people with their words regarding pit bulls.
The truth is that the stigma associated with the pit bull sprung from careless dog owners who failed to socialize and properly train their dogs. There are some dog owners who willingly leave their dog outside tied to a pole with no interaction whatsoever with its human family. And then these same owners wonder why their dog bit them?
Pit bulls have been used in dog fighting rings for many years and a spinoff of this has been their growing popularity amongst young people and gang members who wish to have a pit bull simply because of its tough looking exterior.
Contrary to popular belief, pit bulls were once considered to be “America’s Nanny Dog”! This title stems from many people considering the pit bull has a reliable and loving member of the family during the first half of this century.
During World War I, pit bulls were a symbol of American courage and were even featured in a series of patriotic wartime posters. Even before then, from 1890 to 1948, pit bulls were the most popular choice because they were considered as a good natured watchdog and family pet.
Television shows such as “The Little Rascals” during the 1930s, had an American Pit Bull Terrier named Petey as part of the cast. Another television show called “Our Gang” also featured a pit bull. The television show “Little House on the Prairie” had a pit bull named “Jack the Brindle dog” as the family’s pet dog.
Even Helen Keller owned a faithful and loving pit bull.
Many pit bulls are owned, or have been owned, by a variety of celebrities including:
President Roosevelt, President Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Edison, Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire, Mary Tyler Moore, John Stewart, Ann Bancroft, and Brad Pitt.
As with any dog, a pit bull’s behavior is a direct reflection of the care, training and love (or lack thereof) that their owners have instilled upon them.
A temperament test conducted by The National Canine Temperament Testing Association, found that the poodle, golden retriever, Border collie, English setter, German pointer, as well as numerous other breeds were considered likely to become more aggressive than pit bulls.
In fact, of the 122 breeds that were tested, the average score was only 77%; whilst pit bulls scored 95.2%.
The overall temperament of pit bulls is so great that the breed has been used as search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, and service dogs.
Pit bulls are easily trained and actually do make wonderful household pets, but because of this, pit bulls have also been trained to be fighting dogs. This is the part that is exploited by newspaper hype.
For every negative news story concerning a pit bull, you will find at least three or four positive news stories as well. You just have to dig a little bit deeper.
Photo Credit: Lexus2D
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan