This morning I read an article about how the image of pit bull type dogs is finally being resurrected and it was so refreshing to read that I thought I’d throw my two cents in there since I don’t have anything more exciting to talk about right now.
It wasn’t so long ago that Americans fondly referred to pit bulls as “nanny dogs”.
They were the breed of choice by families, from rich to poor, because it was common knowledge that they were the most reliable with children. There are countless stories of pit bulls placing themselves between the child they love and a source of danger, whether that be a pool the child could fall in, other dogs or people playing too rowdy, or an intruder in the home.
In temperment tests (basically how many times you can gab the dog in the face before he reacts) Golden Retrievers hold the title of Most Tolerant Breed. Second place goes to Pit Bulls. Guess what that means? All other breeds, from Yorkies to Labradors to Italian Mastiffs were less tolerant than Pit Bulls.
In addition to being known as “America’s Babysitter”, Pit Bulls were also once used as a patriotic symbol. Their big, smiling faces and steadfast personalities embodied our American values.
Sergeant Stubby, in the photo above, is the first and most highly decorated canine in American history. He fought alongside American soldiers in the trenches of France for 18 months. Stubby warned the men when gas attacks were coming, pulled soldiers from “No Man’s Land” back to safety, warned them of incoming fire which gave them a chance to duck for cover, and just raised moral in general.
So how is it that Pit Bulls, “America’s Sweetheart Breed”, came to be viewed as such villians? I honestly believe that the media (who remember, once loved Pit Bulls) play a large role in the public’s current view. “Yorkie Poo Bites Man in Face” just doesn’t conjure up a very dramatic imagine. And let’s be honest, after sex, drama sells the best.
If you look back, it is pretty clear that the media is always in search of a breed that they can vilify. Before Pit Bulls it was Rottweilers, before Rottweilers it was Dobermans, before Dobermans it was German Shepards, and before German Shepards it was (and this one is probably going to shock you) Blood Hounds. Yep, even Blood Hounds were once a highly feared breed.
And this kind of brings me to my last point. What exactly is a “pit bull”? I know I use that term as a broad generalization for dogs that I love but what does the media or legislature mean when they use the term “pit bull”? Do they specifically mean the American Pit Bull Terrier? Or also American Staffordshire Terriers? What about Bull Terriers? Are they including American Bulldogs too? So what about English and French Bulldogs? Or wait, maybe they mean terriers in general. Okay, so then are they also including Cairn Terriers and Border Terriers? What about Yorkshire Terriers. Ok ok, now I’m just being silly. But you see what I mean, right? The physical “attributes” that they use to determine what is and isn’t a pit bull are just so general that if you aren’t an expert, which the media and stuffy congressmen certainly aren’t, how can you determine what is and isn’t a pit bull? I could talk for hours about BSL and incorrect identification, but I digress for now.
My point right now is, if the media reported “mutt attack” or just plain old “dog attack” instead of “vicious-baby-killing-monster-pit-bull-attack” maybe we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in right now. It’s time to acknowledge these “bad dogs” as what they almost always are, victims of circumstance rather than the perpetrators of violence. Let’s start looking at the other end of the leash and punishing those who really are the “bad guys”.
Just like nearly ever single person living in America today, pit bulls are a jumble of DNA, and all the more awesome for it. Pit bulls are about as American as it gets. Just like apple pie.
*I normally love feedback and comments but if you don’t agree with me, you can go ahead and keep your opinion to yourself please-and-thank you.