BSL is generally ineffective and expensive to enforce. We need to look beyond breed and focus on the owners who encourage bad behavior in their pets. Here is why Pit Bulls don’t deserve a bad rap.
Years ago, Pit Bulls had a completely different label, that of “Nanny Dog.” In fact, in the 30’s and 40’s, the Nanny Dog was viewed as the dog to keep children safe. So how did the Pit Bull become so feared and the target of such discrimination?
Pit Bull Myths
Michelle Charvat of Youngstown, Ohio, is a proud dog mom to rescued Pit Bulls and shares, “I have been around pits that have been freshly pulled from fighting rings, covered in wounds and some even fearful of humans.”
She says what she sees in the eyes of Pit Bulls is their soul begging for love and attention. They are full of life and still have plenty of love to give. She says their scars remain but that the vicious monster is of the two-legged variety.
Perhaps most startling are the myths associated with the breed, such as the Pit Bull’s locking jaw that will not let go (untrue), how they are innately human aggressive (not so), and are unable to feel as much pain as other breeds. The last statement breaks this writer’s heart, as all beings are capable of feeling pain, including the beloved Pit Bull.
The Pit Bull does not deserve the bad rap, as he is cloaked with a variety of untruths that add to urban legend and a propensity for fear surrounding the breed.
Roots that Run Deep
The American Pit Bull Terrier traces his roots back to the British Isles. Bull bating was a common practice predating the actual breed, dating back to the Romans. Mixes of bulldogs and terriers were combined and used to immobilize a bull, which was tethered down.
So indeed, the breed does not deserve a bad rap. A bit of a background is needed to determine why exactly pit bulls get a bad rap and why they should not.
According to the American Kennel Club, these dogs came to American around 1870, where names like Pit Dog, Pit Bull Terrier, and American Bull Terrier were tossed around. At one point, the breed was even called a “Yankee Terrier.”
The AKC accepted a particular breed into their stud book in 1936, dubbing them “Staffordshire Terriers,” and later in 1972, the American Staffordshire Terrier.
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the breed, and there is a difference between the Am Staff (American Staffordshire Terrier) and the Bull Terrier. There is no actual Pit Bull in the AKC’s registry. Without getting too historical, it is worth noting that the only bull terrier breeds recognized by the AKC are the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier.
Pit Bulls do not deserve a bad rap because they are actually quite docile dogs, who when in the wrong hands and bred by the wrong people with a propensity for harm and ill will, the nightmare ensues.
Thankfully, bull bating was made illegal in 1835. Instead, owners began pitting dog against dog in fighting rings.
In 1976, the Supreme Court passed the Animal Welfare Act of 1976 and dog fighting was made illegal in all 50 states.
It is ironic that Pit Bulls were considered the number one family dog at the turn of the 18th century and now they are vilified in so many communities.
Today, Pit Bull mom, Charvat, says her life never has a dull moment with her dogs. “Their loyalty, compassion, personality, love and devotion goes above any other breed and they do not deserve the bad rap they get,” she says.
Thousands of Pit Bulls are euthanized every day and until a stance is taken and they are portrayed in a positive light, Pit Bull advocates and loving owners will continue to shine the light of goodness on this sadly misunderstood breed.
Indeed any breed can bite, any breed can be provoked (just like people), but only when we open our minds to listen, enforce stricter laws and punishment for those who harm animals and use them to fight, this is when things will change.