Ignorance leads to fear. And because of their ever-desperate battle to remain relevant and look busy, politicians love when their constituents fear something.
This is especially true when it comes to the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), commonly referred to simply as the Pit Bull. No other breed has been so unfairly maligned. No other breed has been the target of so many sensationalized media frenzies. And no other breed has been as big of a target for snarling, self-righteous politicians.
Targeting Breeds Doesn’t Work and Ignores the Problem
In many areas, due to general ignorance of the breed, Pit Bulls and their owners are victims of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) or Breed Discriminatory Legislation. Severity varies from county to county. Usually there are laws against breeding, heavy fines for extra registration, more strict leash laws where a muzzle is always required, and even the requirement to keep the animal in cage, even if the yard is fenced. And sometimes owners must post a “Beware, Dangerous Dog” sign, with no regard to whether the animal in question is actually a threat.
In the most extreme cases, dogs can be rounded up by thugs, over the screams and pleas of the owners, and taken to be murdered.
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All of it unwarranted. The only benefit: the local champion of the BSL gets a few pats on the back for “getting something done.” As with most laws, the intended purpose is never accomplished. The number of dog bites or attacks by dogs are not reduced. In fact, a decade after the UK passed the Dangerous Dog Act of 1997, dog bites were up 50%. Spain passed a similar act in 2000, and statistics remained unchanged.
This is because they fail to recognize the root cause of 100% of dog incidents: stupid and irresponsible humans. 85% of all attacks come from dogs who are in abusive or neglectful home. And all could have been prevented if the proper precautions had been taken when certain signs exhibited themselves. People are always responsible and should be always be the ones held responsible.
But every time there is a news story that comes out about some Pit Bull attack, it seems another “champion” arises to take advantage of the situation. If a Cocker Spaniel or Poodle was involved in an attack…who cares? No one has an unreasonable fear of those breeds. People would rightfully laugh at a politician who demanded the euthanization of all poodles in the area.
If I may bastardize the quote of Stalin: “A bite from a Poodle is a statistic. A bite from a Pit Bull is a tragedy.” Never mind that American Pit Bull Terriers consistently score in the top 5 of all breeds in temperament tests administered by various organizations.
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The truth is that few dog breeds bond so well to their human companions, or show so much unreserved affection. In fact, Pit Bulls actually make horrible guard dogs, because they always want to make friends first, and ask questions later.
Myth #1: Pit Bulls are Naturally Aggressive.
While it’s true that a Pit Bull that is not properly trained and socialized can sometimes be aggressive towards other dogs, this never translates to people. Most dogs will attack and try to kill some kind of animal. That’s what they were originally bred for. Where do you think coonhounds, foxhounds, and wolfhounds got their names from?
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Pit Bulls are typically submissive to all humans and love children. As mentioned above, APBTs actually make horrible guard dogs for this very reason. Do you know how easy it is to steal a typical Pit Bull from an owner’s yard? Almost as easy as taking candy from a baby.
The temperament test administered by the American Temperament Test Society, measuring confrontational situations that produced negative reactions, discovered that Pit Bulls passed 82% or better. The average of the general dog population? 77%.
Remember the Vick case? 50 dogs were rescued from the situation, most Pit Bulls. One of them now visits hospitals for a living.
The truth is that any breed can be dangerous if owned by someone irresponsible or not trained properly.
Myth #2: Pit Bulls have stronger jaws then most breeds, and can lock them.
Pit Bulls have lower jaw pressure than Rottweilers and German Shepherds. These rumors likely came from newspaper articles without any factual evidence. And biologically, Pit Bulls have jaws that, proportionally to their size, are no different than other breeds.
Myth #3: Pit Bulls are only good for fighting.
Anyone who has owned, or even been around a normal Pit Bull, knows this is false. The APBT is one of the most intelligent and compassionate breeds you will ever come across, and their desire to please their owner is near fanatical. Its innate physical ability is almost unsurpassed
For these reasons, Pit Bulls have been used in search and rescue operations, competed highly in obedience and agility trials, always excel in weight-pull competitions, and serve as therapy/service animals.
What they excel in most, it seems, is being a loving companion. They make great family pets.
Breed Fears are Cyclical. Politicians Looking to Advance Their Career are Constant
First, they came for the Pit Bull, and I didn’t care, because I didn’t own a Pit Bull…
And you know the rest.
Sadly, Pit Bulls aren’t the first breed to be discriminated against based on fear, and they won’t be the last. Mastiffs and German Shepherds have had their day. Dobermans have had a turn.
BSL and over-zealous politicians are simply bad for all dog owners, and the public in general. It’s short-sighted, uses tax money for no measurable benefit, authorizes Gestapo tactics against private property, and makes criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens. All bad precedents.
Don’t get caught up in the fear. All you’re doing is helping some power-grabbing politician step up the ladder where they can do even more damage. So don’t support BSL.