Exposing “The Pit Bull Friend And Killer” — The Real Truth About Pit Bulls
We’ve all heard the stereotype — Pit Bulls kill. Pitbulls are vicious beasts, demonic animals. Pitbulls are frightening creatures to avoid at all costs. Certainly, above all else, never, EVER, let your children around one!
Now, let’s look a bit deeper into those beliefs. Where exactly did we hear them from? Who was the person that said this? Do they have any actual education behind their biased theories, or are they simply ignorant ravings with no real rationality?
The vast majority of those who oppose this magnificent breed do it out of ignorance. They see this muscular, intimidating animal, and simply assume it is a violent creature. Or they have read some biased story from one of their friends — maybe read a violent tale from one of the many Pit Bull bashing websites out there.
The American Kennel Club, one of the most reputable animal organizations in the world, rank their version of the Pit Bull, the American Staffordshire Terrier, at a whopping:
97% with Children
84% with Other Pets
The United Kennel Club, another enormous organization rivaling the mighty AKC, recognizes the American Pit Bull Terrier as an excellent family companion, eager to please, that has always been noted for its’ love of children.
Truth Behind the Stereotypes
I just gave you some very real, factual evidence from two of the most reputable kennel clubs on earth. Evidence derived from countless highly educated and vastly experienced people that have spent their lives working with these dogs, many with advanced doctoral degrees.
Do you think these people would stake their considerable reputations backing such an animal if there were the slightest chance they could be wrong? Now that you know the truth of the story, who are you going to believe?
Bite inhibition refers to the pressure exerted when a dog bites down on something, or rather their conscious control over said pressure. Normally puppies first begin to develop this skill naturally among littermates (i.e. if a puppy bites another too hard unintentionally during play, the victim will yelp and scurry away — play stops for both pups. The puppy doesn’t want the play to stop, so he learns not to bite so hard next time).
This is one of several reasons why it is crucial puppies not be separated from littermates too early! Most suggest no earlier than 8 weeks, certainly not less than 6 weeks for minimal social development to take place.
Yes, Pit Bull were originally conceived to be the ideal ‘pit fighting’ animal, but that doesn’t mean they in any way deserve the negative stereotype countless people give them.
Pit Bulls were originally conceived and trained to battle each other viciously, never stopping until either human handlers stepped in or one of two opponents lie dead. They would literally ignore lethal, even fatal, injuries until the end was upon them. That being said, no handler wanted to watch his Pit Bull, the animal he spent so much time with and resources on, get torn to shreds in front of him.
Pit Bulls Were Specifically Bred for their Loyalty with Humans!
In order to halt the fight and treat his animal, handlers often needed to be able to enter the ring without fear of injury themselves. For this reason, Pit Bulls were specifically bred for their bite inhibition and loyalty to human handlers! Very few breeds, even today, possess such honed skills.
Bit of History
It was a sad day for ‘Bull Baiting’ enthusiasts when the violent English sport was outlawed in 1835. Unfortunately, these promoters of death turned from dog vs. bull in favor of dog vs. dog; the Pit Bull was born.
Bulldogs were the common participant in the sport of Bull Baiting. They were perfectly bred for the task- facial wrinkles helped provide channels for blood to flow away from the eyes, loose skin helped them manage glancing blows, jaw structure helped them latch on to their opponents.
Bulldogs were actually known to latch on and ‘swing’ from a bull’s face as their combatants thrashed about. More often than not, the bulls would succumb to exhaustion and blood loss. Since then, nearly all of the aggression has been bred out of the animals through selective breeding.
Note: As stated above, Pit Bulls were specifically bred and trained NOT to bite humans.
Coming to America
Immigration came from England to America around the turn of the century, bringing both dog fighting and the Pit Bull along with it. Unlike today, however, these dogs were extremely popular and very respected.
In the early 1900’s, Pit Bulls were one of the more popular breeds in America, highly valued and cherished for their relationship with young children. After all- you have a dog not only bred for their intense loyalty, but one easily capable of tolerating, even enjoying, the many pokings and proddings little kids have to offer.
If you wanted to keep your children safe, the Pit Bull was your answer; the most faithful and loving of any dog breed.
*Studies have shown both the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier are capable of a friendlier, and more sociable temperament that the most popular dog breed in America today- the Labrador Retriever.
Downfall of a Champion: When Did the Rep Go Sour?
During the first half of nineteenth century America, Pit Bulls were extremely popular and highly sought after; the dog to have. Thanks to poor, careless breeding practices, illegal dog fighting, and the help of negative media attention, this once great animal quickly became hated and feared.
In fact, many enthusiasts credit a highly biased article published by Sports Illustrated in 1987, The Pit Bull Friend and Killer, for much of the negativity surrounding the breed. Ironically, Sports Illustrated senior editor Jim Gorant has since spoken out after the Michael Vick dog fighting ring became news, which says a bit about the magazine’s conflicting nature.
Bad Newz Kennels
For those of you who haven’t heard, Michael Vick is a very successful NFL Quarterback, playing for the Atlanta Falcon’s at the time, who also ran an interstate dog fighting operation. Several dogs were murdered violently under his care. Vick or members of his crew reportedly tortured, often to death, dogs that couldn’t or wouldn’t perform to his specifications.
Vick served a two-year sentence before going right back to the NFL, earning an extremely high income and continuing to live his lavish lifestyle. Thanks to enormous public support, most of his once abused dogs were able to be rehabilitated and now live with loving families.
This story earned national headlines; the vast majority don’t. Most dogs under these conditions sadly end up being destroyed.
It is selfish, careless people only concerned with filling their pockets, like Vick above, who helped contribute most to the Pit Bull’s negative reputation.
Recognized by the United Kennel Club, the American Bully (another feared breed with a misunderstood reputation) was developed as an extension of the American Pit Bull Terrier, bred first and foremost to be the Ideal Family Companion.
According to the UKC, aggressive tendencies are very uncharacteristic and highly undesirable.
Conclusion: Socialization and Nature
Dogs don’t think like humans, a fact all too often ignored. They don’t think in terms of passion, hate or love, good or evil. Outside of human interference with selective breeding, dogs are what nature intended them to be and nothing more.
No dog is inherently ‘bad’, and no dog is out to harm yo
u. Dogs are out to survive, protecting their well-being and longevity.
That being said, dogs very much are a product of their environment. If a human owner is violent, abuses the dog, or teaches it to fear other humans and dogs (Vick being an example) — it will. If the dog is kept in isolation, never allowed to encounter other people or animals, it will react with natural fear and anxiety when meeting an unknown creature for the first time. If any dog is taught to believe other animals will try to kill it, it is going to defend itself or try to escape.
Can you really blame any animal for reacting in the only way it knows how in order to survive?
In the end, a dog will act how nature intended it to act; no dog is intellectually capable of understanding human behavior. Humans, on the other hand, are easily capable of understanding the simplicity of animal behavior — if they devoted a little bit of time and effort.