Anyone who has come into contact with Pit Bulls knows that they are amazingly loving, compassionate creatures that make some of the best companions around. Whether it’s through owning them, rescuing them, volunteering with them, or just simply befriending them, most people walk away from Pit Bull encounters wondering why and how these horrible stereotypes about them exist. Well, why do any stereotypes exist? Ignorance, misinformation, and lack of understanding are probably the biggest causes of the perpetuating of these harmful and derogatory misconceptions. Luckily, there are many organizations that are bringing awareness to this phenomenon, and setting the records straight about Pit Bulls once and for all! One of these sources is BuzzFeed, who has gone out of their way to put the following ridiculous rumors to rest:
- Pit Bulls Are Inherently Aggressive and/or Dangerous – This is absolutely FALSE and probably the most damaging of all Pit Bull stereotypes. Based on this incorrect “fact,” people are then able to draw other horrible conclusions about Pit Bulls that aren’t true either. People especially like to tout this “fact” about the Pit Bull breed being naturally dangerous due to their lineage, hereditary factors, and other nonsensical claims about their past. *NEWSFLASH*: ANY dog can be aggressive and scary if you train it to be that way. Pit Bulls just happen to have a bad reputation because they are pretty muscular in stature, but if they are *NOT* trained to be guard dogs/fighting dogs/intimidating, then they will be the loving, compassionate creature that they are meant to be! To be honest with you, I have personally heard more stories of Labradors and Golden Retrievers attacking/biting people than Pit Bulls – and Labs/Goldens are supposed to be the ~classic family dog~ that is loved by everyone. The bottom line is that *NO* dog is inherently aggressive, mean, or scary – they become that way due to training (or lack thereof), neglect, and/or abuse. The good news is that they can be rehabilitated and trained despite their trauma and behavioral issues – I have witnessed firsthand DOZENS of “aggressive” Pit Bulls become lovely and well-behaved dogs after just a month or two of training and love!
Pit Bulls Have “Locking Jaws” – This is also usually accompanied with the above false statement as “PROOF” that Pit Bulls are scary monsters that are dangers to society. The claim is that Pit Bulls’ jaws are ~designed~ to latch onto its “prey” and “not let go” until the victim is either hurt very badly or dead. Whoever began propagating this misinformation is a mystery, but it is absolutely baseless and not backed by any kind of science or fact. Actually, as BuzzFeed points out, Pit Bull jaws exert way less force than Rottweiler and German Shepherd jaws – not to mention, *NO* dog that exists has jaws that “lock” and aren’t able to be pried open. This is a ridiculous “fact” that needs to just stop being spread already, so if you hear anyone utter this nonsense, please shut it down immediately with some good old-fashioned TRUTH. To quote PetFinder: “Pit Bulls do not have any special physical mechanism or enzyme that allows them to “lock” their jaws. If you compare a Pit Bull skull to a skull of any other dog breed, you can see with the naked eye that both skulls share the same characteristics and general bone structure. However, one personality trait of the Pit Bull breed is determination. Whatever Pit Bulls do, they do it with a great deal of enthusiasm, and it is this trait that can make it seem like they have a locking jaw when they bite down on something and are determined not to release it.”
- Pit Bulls Are Crazy and Behave Badly – NOPE. Again, this is just misinformation that is spread far and wide by the ill-informed masses. The truth is, that literally *ANY* dog can be “crazy” and “badly behaved” if it is allowed to by its owner; this shouldn’t be a shock to anyone. How does a dog become like that? Uhhh, well how does a child become that way? Lack of parenting, of course! The idea that a Pit Bull is somehow inherently less “trainable” than any other dog is annoyingly stupid and untrue – in fact, Pit Bulls regularly test above other dogs in temperament and training tests. Unfortunately, many people who buy Pit Bulls as puppies fail super hard at training them and let them run amok, creating the “crazy, badly behaved” Pit Bull stereotype that uneducated people refer to. I have seen firsthand many Pit Bulls that are a year old or younger in the shelters that have obviously not been given the training, attention, and love that they deserve. Many times, these Pit Bulls are purchased/adopted solely to be a “guard dog” and subsequently left in the backyard or tied up to a post without any kind of companionship or guidance. Without any kind of authority, a Pit Bull will become like a child who isn’t taught any manners or etiquette – unbridled, annoying, and hyper.
- Pit Bulls Have Always Been Known as “Bad Dogs” – Another statement with absolutely no merit to it whatsoever. The truth is that when Pit Bulls were first widely bred and owned, they were known as “Nanny Dogs” because they were extremely gentle protectors of young children and even babies! Furthermore, at one time they were also known as “America’s Dog” due to their helpfulness and willingness to work side-by-side with humans. A great example of this fact is Sergeant Stubby, who saved countless lives in WWI, making him one of the first canine war heroes. It wasn’t until people began breeding and training them specifically as guard dogs, fighting dogs, and other such threatening dispositions that they even began to have “aggressive” tendencies. The thing is that Pit Bulls just want to please their owner, so obviously if you intend to train them to be a scary, intimidating dog, they will become a scary, intimidating dog in order to fulfill their duty to you. Truth be told, a Pit Bull’s loyalty is enough to protect you in case the situation arises, so if you give them the love, friendship, and attention they desire, they can defend you if need be.
- Pit Bulls Are Unpredictable and Can “Turn” On Their Owner – *SIGHS* NO, NO, NO, and NO. There is *NO* dog that is unpredictable and acts violent/aggressive out of nowhere and without warning. All dogs have body language that they conveniently express to their owners and anyone else they come in contact with. If you pay attention to their body language, you can tell that they either approve or disapprove of something, are fearful/stressed/confused, and therefore ready to react on these circumstances. Also, there are general rules of thumb as to how to approach a dog, interact with them, and even behave around them in order to *NOT* have a possible incident. Unfortunately, many people aren’t really aware of how to interact with dogs (especially strange dogs they meet for the first time) OR read their body language, so that’s where problems arise.
- Pit Bulls Are Bred for Fighting – UGH, we’ve already touched on this, but obviously this is FALSE. Pit Bulls have always been bred for their loyalty, work ethic, companionship, and gentleness, among other characteristics. Nanny dogs, war heroes, and other workers/friends make up the majority of Pit Bulls. Only 3% of Pit Bulls have actually been involved in dog fighting, which is an extremely small amount. Not to mention, when these fighting Pit Bulls have been rescued, they have been rehabilitated into the loving pets that they have the potential to be. No matter how much horror and mistreatment a Pit Bull takes, they can be molded back into their natural, loving, disposition.
- Breed Specific Legislation Makes Neighborhoods Safe – Okay so for starters, “Breed Specific Legislation” is just a fancy way of saying “Dog Discrimination Laws” based on the fact that Pit Bulls have a bad reputation. As I have discussed, Pit Bulls *WRONGFULLY* have these stereotypes against them that have been allowed to multiply and spread over the last few decades to distract from the bigger issue – BAD/IRRESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERSHIP. So, the places that enact BSL-based laws are *NOT* safer as a result of them. What about all of the non-Pit Bull breed dogs that are untrained, badly behaved, and “aggressive”? Is it okay for them to be that way just because they are not Pit Bulls? That’s basically what these BSL-related laws and ordinances imply, and they are definitely contributing to the continued ignorance and misinformation being spread about Pit Bulls. The only thing more ridiculous than banning Pit Bulls completely from neighborhoods and communities is that some BSL laws are created that charge Pit Bull owners an arm and a leg to legally be able to keep them. They either have to pay a flat fee each month for their Pit Bull to live with them, and/or pay for insurance SPECIFICALLY to cover any possible Pit Bull attacks that may happen in the future. How absurd and discriminatory is that? Oh yeah, and there’s always the fact that EDUCATION on responsible ownership and COMMUNITY OUTREACH to encourage dog safety is actually creating safer communities – NOT BSL. In the UK, it was found that the number of annual dog attacks stayed the same after they enacted BSL, but decreased dramatically when programs were created to HELP owners become more educated and responsible about dog ownership. Makes sense, doesn’t it?!
- Nobody Wants a Pit Bull for a Pet – UMMMMMMM, NO. If anyone says this to you, please scoff at them and put them in their place. It may appear that “no one wants a Pit Bull” based on how many Pit Bulls there are in animal shelters, but Pit Bulls are actually one of the top 3 favorite dog breeds in 28 states (based on a survey by Vetstreet). There are many Pit Bulls in animal shelters for the same reason that there are increasingly large numbers of German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies – they get “too big” for their owners. By this I mean that the owner buys the dog as a small puppy, and for some reason is *SHOCKED* when the dog grows to its adult size, which is SURPRISINGLY BIGGER than PUPPY SIZE! Wow, who would have thought that some dogs get bigger than puppy-sized?! These idiots then decide that their dog is “too big” because they didn’t have the forethought or general intelligence required to realize that the dog was going to BE that size all along, and decide to drop them off at the shelter to get a different dog. It is also not a coincidence that these same people are usually the same ones that do absolutely *NO* training in obedience or behavior for their dog, so they also think that their dog is “too crazy” and “badly behaved.” It’s sad how often this happens, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why Pit Bulls fill animal shelters all across the country.
Hopefully we all learned something here today – the most important thing being that Pit Bulls are *NOT* different from ANY OTHER DOG in terms of their *SUPPOSED* danger they pose to society, *ALLEGED* threat they create for the safety of our communities, and *RUMORED* hereditary behaviors that make them scary and mean. The fact of the matter is, that *ANY* dog has the ability to be a “bad dog” if it isn’t given the training, love, and attention that it deserves. So the next time you encounter someone that spouts some ignorant “facts” about why Pit Bulls are the worst dog ever, PLEASE put them in their place with some ACTUAL FACTS. Just try to be calm and collected about it, of course.