Pit Bulls: A Misunderstood Breed

Did you know that in the early part of the 20th Century, the American Pit Bull Terrier was the number one breed chosen for the family pet? Many of us base our opinions on what we hear in the media; we hear that Pit Bulls are overly aggressive, prone to biting, and in general should be banned as a breed. My partners and I would like to give you some facts, dispel some myths, and show you the side of the breed that the media chooses not to tell, so that you can make your own informed decision on this breed of dog.  Here at NPLB, we love the bully breeds and believe they have gotten a bad rap due to a number of circumstances, many of which are out of the dogs control.
                     

 

                   

Myth Number one: “Pit Bulls are a bad breed”

I can say only this, since I have been involved with animal rescue, pit bulls have rushed up to the front on my list of favorite breeds because of their loyalty, smarts, trainability, and willingness to please. Unfortunately, these are the same traits that make the breed so attractive to criminals, as well as to dog fighters. This brings me to myth number one, “Pit Bulls as a breed are just plain bad.” In actuality, Pit Bulls test significantly higher in temperament testing than the average score for all breeds. Pit Bulls passed the test 82.5% of the time compared to 77% which is the all breed average. This is the fourth highest passing rate of all 122 breeds that were tested. For those that are wondering what temperament testing is, basically they put the dog through a series of stressful and confrontational situations and if the dog shows any sign of panic or aggression they fail. The truth is a dog, is a dog, is a dog. There are no bad dogs, or bad breeds, there are only bad owners (not always out of malice mind you, ignorance can often be even more dangerous). Many times, before a bite occurred, there were many signs given by the dog that something was not right. By not right, I mean under-nourished, abused, tethered to a tree or in the yard at all times, etc. Regardless of the breed, if any dog is treated in such a way the results will often be no different. The sad truth is, with pit bulls and many other “aggressive breeds,” the offender is usually the one on two legs holding the leash. Whether it be for status (as it often is in large cities like Chicago), dog fighting, as a weapon (yes, it happens), or a number of other reasons, the dog is most often the victim and only doing what it is trained to do. The following links will take you to stories regarding the dogs that were seized in the now infamous Micheal Vick case.

               

Former fighting dogs get a second chance

Beaten-down dog from Vick case has his day

                     

 

               
Myth number two: “No matter how good the dog seems, you can never trust a pit bull”
Let me start by saying that if you are leaving your toddler or infant alone with any dog, regardless of breed, size, or previous history, you need to put some thought into how good of an idea that really is. All dogs, breed not being a factor, are still animals and therefore act on instinct when stressed or scared. This article on Discovery.com talks about the "fiestiness" rating of many breeds. Believe it or not, the three dogs most likely to attack by nature, according to a study performed by the University of Pennsylvania, are 1) Dachshund, 2) Chihuahua, and 3) Jack Russell Terrier. These three breeds are common family pets who, despite being prone to more aggressive behavior than other breeds, are often adopted for the sole purpose of our children. In my personal experience, I have been bitten by Labs, Jack Russell’s, and Cocker Spaniels, but never by a Pit Bull despite working with them at a much higher frequency. This points to one thing, "responsible owners = responsible dogs." Where did the Pit Bull wind up on this list you may ask……..number 6. This link will take you to a page that tells the more aggressive breeds and has an interesting tidbit about the Pit Bull breed at the end: Which Breeds are the Most Aggressive. The sad truth is that many people are more aware of the violence associated with Pit Bulls, so the media runs almost exclusively stories about Pit Bull attacks as opposed to the Dachshund, Jack Russell Terrier, Cocker Spaniel or Pomeranian that mangled children last month as well. Another thing that you are not often informed of is the many stories where a Pit Bull acts heroically. The response when asked this question is often “we do not deem those stories news worthy.”
             

 

           

Myth number three: “Pit Bulls should be banned from our cities”

If more people died in accidents involving mini-vans, would we do away with them? No, that would be ridiculous. The vehicle has no control over the things a driver does while in control of it. Do you blame spoiled kids for their behavior? I know that I don’t, I blame their parents. So why is it that when a dog bites someone, we blame the dog and not the owners? If there is to be a breed specific legislation, it needs to address the conditions of the dogs, not what breed they are. It is alarming how often incidents with Pit Bulls often go hand in hand with their owners having criminal records. If the animal has not been properly registered, this number is even higher. Another alarming statistic is how many attacks are by unaltered (not spayed/neutered) dogs. 92% of all dog attacks are by unaltered dogs, regardless of breed, and 95% of that 92% are unaltered males. With this information in hand, why not tailor legislation towards the care and handling of the so called “Bully Breeds” instead of doing away with them altogether. I doubt that too many responsible pet owners would have issue with mandatory spay/neuter, licensing (with micro-chipping), and education on your specific breed, not to mention regulating breeders and harsher enforcement when they are in violation. Here is an interesting statistic for you; 150 people are killed every year by falling coconuts, but only 3 are killed by Pit Bulls. This means that you are 50 times more likely to get killed by a coconut than by a Pit Bull, maybe we should ban coconuts trees instead.

       

 

         

These are some statistics that I found on the website

www.thetruthaboutpitbulls.com, which is a very good read, as well as used for research on this editorial.

         

1.) Since 1998, the breed most involved in fatal attacks has been the **********(don't want to put any other breeds on the spot), not the Pit Bull.

2.) Although there are no accurate or even near accurate census records for dogs in the U.S., in some populations pit bulls are estimated to comprise some 30-40% of the dog population, making it by FAR the most popular breed. Considering that there are an estimated 53,000,000 dogs in the U.S., and assuming that pit bulls make up 20% of that population, there would be approximately 10,600,000 pit bulls in our society. In 1998, five pit bulls were involved in 2 fatal attacks. That is roughly ONE dog out of 2,120,000 - or .00004716 percent of the pit bull Population.

3.) Over the 32-year period from 1965-2001, Pit Bulls have been blamed for/accused of an average of 2.48 human fatalities per year.

4.) About 40 people (children) per year die by drowning in 5-gallon water pails. A person, during their lifetime, is 16 times more likely to drown in a 5-gallon water pail than to be killed by a Pit Bull.

5.) Approximately 50 children in the US are killed every year by their cribs - 25 times the number of children and adults killed by Pit Bulls.

6.) Approximately 150 people are killed every year by falling coconuts. Therefore, you are more than 60 TIMES MORE LIKELY to be killed by a PALM TREE than a Pit Bull.

7.) Each year, 350 people drown in their bathtubs. You are 151 times more likely to be killed by your bathtub than you are by a Pit Bull.

8) Every year, more than 2,000 children in the U.S. are killed by their parents or guardians either through abuse or neglect. A child is more than 800 times more likely to be killed by their caretaker than by a Pit Bull.

9) It is estimated that 5,000,000 dogs per year are killed in shelters. Since in many places pit bulls make up 30-50% of the shelter population, and are less likely to be considered for placement than any other breed, guessing that 25% of those dogs killed are pit bulls is a very conservative estimate. Therefore, it can be assumed that roughly 1,250,000 pit bulls are killed per year. Therefore - it is at least a HALF MILLION TIMES MORE LIKELY that a Pit Bull will be killed by a HUMAN than the other way around.

10) The average Number of people killed by a Pit Bull each year is 3.

11) It can be estimated that for every Pit Bull who kills, there are 10.5 MILLION that DON'T!

I have included some links so that you may better inform yourselves of the facts on this breed that has been vilified by many, yet so vehemently defended by others. I hope that you will take the time to look at some of them.  (gdf, 2008)

 

Links to more information

Knock out Dog fighting

Bad Rap

Mid-America Bully Breed Rescue

For Pit's Sake

The Truth About Pit Bulls

Fear Versus Fact
               

 

(click pictures to see vidoes)