Elizabeth Clarke

Spring 2016

Photo by Alexandra Novitskaya on Unsplash

There is nothing quite as satisfying as waking up with a warm, fuzzy, love-bug snuggled up against you. Pets have been known to improve feelings of happiness, responsibility, mental health and physical health in their owners. Unfortunately, every pet is not viewed equally, despite the benefits they can all provide.

A prime example of this pet prejudice can be found when researching pit bull terriers. As a pit bull mama myself, I can safely say rescuing my dog was one of the best decisions of my life. However, according to a “Time” article by Paul Tullis, shelters have reported pit bulls as being a breed that faces low rates of adoption and high rates of euthanasia. The stigma surrounding this cuddly breed has immortalized them as being ruthless, violent killers that pose a threat to all around them.

Negative media coverage has been a huge contributing factor to the fear of pit bulls. Story after story of dog fights, attacks, and adoptions gone wrong began flooding the news, and without any positive pit bull experiences to balance things out, a bad reputation was created for these pups who have done nothing to deserve it. Pit bull bans have popped up all over, despite a study done by the American Veterinary Medical Association that found that pit bulls have never been identified as ‘disproportionality dangerous’ when compared to other dog breeds. Cities like Denver, CO, and Miami, FL, have tried to ban pit bulls, causing thousands of innocent and adoptable dogs to be euthanized. Recently, Montreal, Canada enforced a pit bull ban, resulting in an influx of beefy blockheaded dogs into the U.S. These bans have not significantly reduced dog bites or public safety, because pit bulls are not the only dog that ever attacks anyone, obviously. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control has not categorized dog bites by breed since 1998, when they determined there to be no accurate and sufficient way to distinguish between all of the breeds and mixes that exist today.today

This misrepresentation of the breed is entirely unfair and inaccurate. Yes, pit bulls can be huge and muscular and intimidating, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also sweethearts. Photos and videos of affectionate ‘pitties’ circulating the internet, often accompanied by hashtags such as #dontbullymybreed and #adoptdontshop are generally the most successful positive media exposure this breed gets.

Aggressive and dangerous pit bulls are not a result of their biological differences to other animals, but rather the environment they are raised in. Many organizations feel the same way, such as the America Pit Bull Foundation, which is a non-profit that is changing the stigma against pit bulls by providing “resources and education for responsible breed ownership” as well as training rescued pit bulls to become service animals for veterans.

Irresponsible ownership is the number one reason for dangerous dogs — pit bull or not. Aggression against humans or other animals is not a trait specific to pit bulls, but one that is taught to them by their handlers and enforced with abuse, eventually becoming the only way for the dog to survive. These dogs were not born like this. They were conditioned. Therefore, pit bulls are not the demonic characters in this story — humans are.

If you feel as strongly as I do about the unfair treatment of these beautiful dogs, visit www.americanpitbullfoundation.com today and learn more about how you can help spread the love for pit bulls today.