In Defense of Pit bulls
Pit bulls are among the most misunderstood and maligned (badmouthed) breed of dogs. Over the years, the media has been portraying them in a negative light. This kind of portrayal has largely been due to the misconceptions and myths associated with pit bulls.
Prior to this negative depiction of pit bulls, they were considered the “perfect nanny dog” by children (Holland). They were seen as friendly in nature, stable, loyal as well as non-aggressive to children and adults. However, this has since changed, especially after 1990s when the media inappropriately started portraying pit bulls as bloodthirsty monsters that are more dangerous and harmful compared to other dog breeds (Coile).
As a result of this false portrayal, parents and children have become increasingly afraid of them. They recoil in horror upon spotting one of them. Some pull their children closer with the intention of protecting them from what they assume are prowling werewolves (Lam). As this paper will demonstrate, this should not be the case. It will argue in defense of pit bulls by showing that they are still the loyal, stable, non-aggressive and friendly breeds of dog.
Those against pit bulls and portraying them in bad light argue that they have features that make them inherently dangerous and vicious. For example, some people state that pit bull breeds have locking jaws. They also say that they are overly aggressive towards human beings. It is also their view that pit bulls are dangerous to adopt, especially if one has no known history and parentage from a shelter or rescue is not known (Dickey).
There is also a widespread myth that pit bulls are preferred by people with irresponsible breeding habits; effectively stating that pit bulls attract the most irresponsible and worst form of dog owners (Marrs). All these perceptions and myths have only served to bad-mouth pit bulls and to make them unattractive to the majority of people in our society.
They have also led to high rates of abandonment, torture and abuse of this breed of dogs compared to any other breeds (Landau). The negative portrayal of pit bulls is also as a result of some people using them as fighting dogs. They gained this bad reputation as early as 1066 AD during the England’s Norman Conquest when they would be used as “bullenbeissers”, a term which means “bull biter” (Coile).
During this time, they were trained to latch onto the nose of bulls and also how not to let go of an animal until it is subdued. The use of pit bulls was considered as the only way through which human beings would regain control after bulls have become agitated. Following the ban of bull-baiting in the 19th century, the popularity of dog fighting increased, especially among those who were involved in the quasi-illegal activities and underground businesses in the United Kingdom (Landau).
The British immigrants to the United States brought this game into the country, and they too utilized pit bulls for this purpose. It is for this reason that pit bulls have continued bad reputation over the years. However, what is rarely mentioned is the fact that they were used as fighting dogs due to their extreme loyalty to their human owners (Lam). While the perceptions and myths above about pit bulls may appear to be valid, facts and scientific evidence provide otherwise.
According to a study conducted by the American Veterinary Medicine Association, there is no evidence showing that pit bulls are disproportionately dangerous (Holland). It has also been established that this breed of dog does not have locking jaws; they do not have special enzymes or mechanism allowing them to lock jaws.
A comparison of their skulls to that of other breeds of dogs shows that they share general bone structure and have similar characteristics. It is their determination that when biting down on something and not easily releasing makes them appear like they have locking jaws (Coile). The misconception that pit bulls are inherently vicious can also be refuted using facts. It should first be noted that this myth is a stereotype that is simply aimed at the entire breed (Landau).
When evaluated on own merit rather than the breed, one can easily find out that a pit bull is truly a good dog that is inherently friendly to humans and other dogs. The argument that pit bulls are aggressive towards humans and other dogs is unfounded (Marrs). Perhaps the way pit bulls are raised or trained make them an aggressive breed.The myths and misconceptions associated with pit bulls have created an impression that their adoption is dangerous, especially if they have unknown parentage and history.
This myth is inappropriate because it fails to acknowledge that, just like humans, each dog ought to be judged by their own behavior and personality (Marrs). It also fails to recognize that pit bulls that are portraying negative behaviors and personalities are not doing so because of their nature but because of other factors.
These factors include having been horribly neglected and abused in the past or having been forced to fight (Landau). Pit bulls that have been rescued and raised properly tend to show proper temperament and behavior towards human beings. This explanation helps to address the other false portrayal about pit bulls that adopting a pit bull puppy is better than an adult one.
Regardless of whether someone adopts a puppy or an adult one, the most important thing is how one treats a pit bull. One should nurture it in such a manner that enables it to develop desirable and positive traits (Dickey). From the above discussion, it is evident that pit bulls are loyal, stable, non-aggressive and friendly breeds of dogs.
As has been noted, the myths and misconceptions that have been kept alive over the years regarding pit bulls and which have portrayed them in bad light are unfounded. There is no scientific evidence to show that those myths are actually natural to pit bulls. In fact, some of the reasons why pit bulls gained bad reputation such as being used as fighting dogs are anchored on their positive trait of being loyal to human owners.
Therefore, these are the traits that should be portrayed and not some myths about them, It is also clear that humans have a role in making sure that pit bulls are being treated like other breeds of dogs so that they develop traits and personalities that are desirable and which can help them to sustain their loyal, stable, non-aggressive and friendly nature.
Coile, D C. Pit Bulls for Dummies. New York, NY: Hungry Minds, 2011.
Dickey, Bronwen. Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon. NY: A.A. Knopf, 2016.
Holland, Joshua. In Defense of the Pit Bull.” 02 May, 2013, Salon TV. https://www.salon.com/2013/02/05/in_defense_of_the_pitbull_partner/ Accessed 23 Mar, 2018.
Lam, Stephanie. Pit Bulls. Hauppage, N.Y: Barron’s, 2012. Landau, Elaine. Pit Bulls Are the Best!Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co, 2011.
Marrs, Megan. “In Defense of Pit Bulls: Monsters or Misunderstood [Infographic].” 2018, Lifehack. ; https://www.lifehack.org/302240/defense-pit-bulls-monsters-misunderstood-infographic; Accessed 23 Mar, 2018.
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