Pit Bulls: Should They Be Banned

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When people hear the word pitbull one of two things comes to mind. One, Pitbulls are dangerous and need to be gone, or two, Pitbulls are misunderstood and sweet. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course, but unless hard facts are found to prove that pitbulls are an aggressive breed, people should not give them such a bad reputation.

First of all, pitbull is not technically a breed, it is an umbrella term used to cover breeds such as the American pitbull terrier, the Staffordshire terrier, and the bulldog. And also because of the stigma surrounding them, any dog that even remotely looks like a “pitbull” is classified as one.

There are two theories to how pitbulls came to be. One theory is that they started as a breed called molossus, which is now extinct. The molossus were used as shepherd dogs or as guard dogs by the Greeks. Also one or two times they were used in wars as war dogs. After the Greeks they ended up in Britain. When the Britains discovered the molossus, they renamed it the Mastiff. Then, when Rome conquered Britain in the first century CE, Rome discovered the Mastiff. After the Mastiff was discovered by the Romans, it was spread throughout the empire and used as war dogs for the next four hundred years. Over those four hundred years, the dogs were bred with other breeds throughout Europe, creating the pitbull.

The second theory says that the origin of pit bulls started in England around the time of the Norman Conquest in the year, 1066. The theory says that they came from mastiffs also. Butchers would use Mastiffs as bullenbeissers or bull biters. Their job was to latch onto the bull’s nose until it was subdued. Bullenbeissers later led to the sport of bull baiting. Bull baiting is a sport where a bull and several dogs are placed in a pit and people bet on which dog will last the longest. Bull baiting is where the names and breeds of pitbulls and bulldogs came from.

There are so many stereotypes surrounding the pitbull. One big stereotype is that they are not good with children, this is nowhere near true. First, the pitbull breeds were bred to be family dogs and to be friendly and loving. Second, pitbulls are better with children than most other breeds, especially smaller breeds. Another stereotype is that pit bulls are born aggressive. Animals cannot be born aggressive, just like people cannot be born evil. Something has to happen to make you a certain way. Aggression can be caused by abuse or starvation, or it can be caused by not being properly socialized as a puppy. There are some aggressive Pitbulls, but every breed has a few out of the entire breed.

Another effect of their reputation is banning. “More than 700 cities across the country have placed bans on the breed”. There are even some insurance companies and housing complexes that ban them. Wisconsin is considering a ban on pit bulls right now. Luckily, states like Florida are lifting theirs bans on Pitbulls and starting to lighten up a bit.

Pitbulls used to be so loved and admired, but in less than a decade that had all changed. “By New Year’s Day 1986, over thirty communities were considering breed specific legislation and bans on pit bull”. Then, by the end of 1987 all of the proposed bans were law. How did they go from adored to hated?

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“Would it surprise you to learn that pit bulls used to be America’s darlings? Before the mid-80’s, stories of pitbull attacks were practically non-existent”. “From the turn of the century until the 1980’s, there was exactly one dog attack story to make the national papers and mention pitbulls”. Pitbulls were so loved that they became a symbol of bravery and strength. You would see Pitbulls on World War One posters and in films, and calling an athlete a pitbull was a compliment. There was even a racehorse named pitbull in the thirties. So what happened to make people fear pit bulls?

They were originally bred to be war dogs in some of the first American wars, but once they were not needed for war they were bred and trained to family dogs. It also does not help when you hear stories of police shooting pitbulls. It makes you think that the police are doing this for self defence, which is the case sometimes but not every time. “There was a case in Idaho recently where a policeman shot a dog in a car because it barked at him”. Most of the time it goes shoot first ask questions after. There have been times that they get a call about a dangerous dog and shoot a pitbull at the wrong house. The police seem to make Pitbulls scarier than they actually are.

Another aspect that led to Pitbulls being so feared is dog fighting. It started in the sixties, then got banned, and then, even though it was illegal, started again in the eighties. The most used dog was the pitbull when it came to dog fighting. When drug dealers and gangs started using pitbulls as guard dogs or for protection, it did not help either.

The media has started to notice this fear surrounding pitbulls and started using it to their advantage. They will used the name pitbull, or bulldog, or any related name to get more views or reads. The sad truth about stigmas around different dog breeds is that, as soon as we get rid of our pitbull fear, some other breed will be the new “dangerous” breed.

Most of the dog attacks that occur are because the dog is poorly trained or neglected. “According to the American Humane Association approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered”. Also, “Approximately 25% of fatal dog attacks involved chained dogs”.

People that are against pitbulls and think that they deserve their reputation sa that having a pitbull is an unnecessary risk. They say, “Pitbulls were bred to fight and are like having a loaded gun in the house”. “Pitbulls account for the vast majority of fatal dog attacks, causing 71% of fatalities between 2011 and 2017, according to the victims group, DogBites.org. That’s up from 56% between 2005 and 2010”. These people only look at the statistics. This is their first mistake most dog bites and attacks are not reported because not much harm was done. So looking at the statistics does not give you the whole story.

People are against them because they know about the dog fighting and think that they are fighters or super aggressive. Honestly, we should feel bad for dogs that are stuck in dog fighting because forcing them to fight is abuse and torture, and it hurts them. The temper and aggression of a dog depends on the owner's ability to train and love them not some decision the dog makes. People have to switch their perspective. People are not always the victim. If you really think about it, Pitbullspit bulls are the victim of criminals, dog fighting, and so many other things.

When a dog bites or attacks the odds of it being reported are not very high because the majority of attacks are by smaller dogs. People do not feel it necessary to report smaller dog attacks because little to no harm was done. When a bigger dog attacks, almost every time it is reported because there is injury. When a pitbull attacks or bites, it is reported almost every time because people fear them and want them gone. There was a study done to test done to see what the temper of pitbulls was compared to other breeds. Pitbulls passed the test with an 82%, while other breeds only passed with a 77%.

There is no need to be afraid of dogs though. Most dogs are very sweet and just want your love. Also, “In the U.S., we have 320 million people and between 77 and 83 million dogs. So your chance of being killed by any type of dog in the U.S. in any given year is one to 10 million”. The fear of pit bulls or any kind of dog is irrational, unless you do not treat them well. Yes, in the beginning, they were big, scary war dogs, but when the need went away they became sweet family dogs. The need to fear them went away a long time ago. Now, we just need to love them. 

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