When people think of Pit bull they think one of two things: dog or danger. It is commonly perceived that the Pit bull breed, or Staffordshire Terrier, is more aggressive and prone to act more violently compared to other breeds. On the other hand, Pit bull owners, or dog lovers in general, will argue that Pit bulls are like any dog breed and deserve to be perceived the same as any other dog breed. Some possible reasons for the belief that Pit bulls are aggressive may include past experiences and/or simply a general misconception. Those who think Pit bulls are like any dog breed may have a positively connotated first-hand relationship or experience. Yet, discrimination is real and it affects many.
The Pit bull Terrier originated a few hundred years ago, and they were used for dog fighting, keeping bulls in their pits, and carrying the heads of cattle and bulls after kills (Fogle 274). Although it is a rather brutal beginning, every breed is not created by choice. Humans breed dogs for specific purposes. According to Dr. Joshua Kunnath, this process is called artificial selection. This means one thing: it was not the choice of the animal to be bred, the way they were bred. Regardless, they were bred for violent purposes. However, it is still in an animal family that is known to be perhaps the most loyal pet known to man: the dog.
Pit bulls are either thought of as a gentle breed that is a fit companion for any person and one you can trust your children with or a dangerous killer that can never be trusted in any circumstance and are only good for fighting and brutality. The things that Pit bulls are known for, violence and being brutal, can be from being a guard dog or an attack dog, yet, attacking and guarding can be taught to any breed of dog by humans. The poor reputation can be spread by people that have had bad experiences with the Pit bull. However, to judge a breed of dog entirely by one thing done, by one dog, cannot be fair. There are no strong studies on all dog breed bites/attacks, and/or measurements of aggressive behavior versus other breeds. Pit bulls have also played a part in history, such as fighting in the civil war and being friends to famous inspirational figures. An uncivil dog would not cooperate in such momentous activity. Discrimination should not exist against this breed of dog, Pit bulls are just like any other dog.
We, as humans, have dealt with the negatively connotated word and idea of discrimination in the past and it currently still poisons the society we live in today. Thinking of the action ‘to discriminate’ is not something that we typically view as a positive. Therefore, we should think that it should never be practiced. Yet, discrimination exists, and it may not always be towards humans, but animals. In this case specifically, dogs. Yet, even more specifically, pit bulls. The origin of this judgment and discrimination could very well be due to a negative past experience. For example, being a victim of a pit bull bite or attack could be why one would not trust pit bulls. Or perhaps a bite or attack from a pit bull and leaving a loved one a victim. Or possibly hearing of an incident or attack in which it pit bull inflicted injury upon a human or another animal. But is it right to practice judgment and discrimination on one group of any species from one thing that one of those species did, or multiple that were negatively highlighted? Because, as any base level statistics course will explain, only one case or trial of any particular event to base any conclusion on is a very poor assessment.
Although dogs can lack personality traits as compared to humans, not all dogs are the same and this is fact. If we already know it is not just to practice judgment and discrimination among a simple species such as dogs from one bad experience, then I will not mention how easy it would be to use that same judgment and discrimination with our own species.
Not many think that the Pit bull would contribute to anything aside from a modern perspective, let alone historically. One inspirational figure that was known for having a Pit bull was Helen Keller. According to Good Pit Bulls, Keller owned a Pit bull, named Sir Thomas, a dog of companionship rather than as a guide dog. She also assisted the introduction and movement of the breed Akita into the United States. Another mention in history, according to Fight4Them, an organization against animal abuse and dogfighting, from the times of the World Wars, there was ‘Sergeant Stubby’ who went into battle with John Robert Conroy of the 102nd Infantry in the 26th Yankee division while World War I was being fought. Stubby went into battle in 1918 and was assigned the duty of keeping watch for enemies who, on his own, brought in a German soldier to American capture. Blood of his leg was drawn from a German hand grenade for the great United States of America. He was granted multiple awards for his service. This noble dog died of old age.
Pit bulls have been fighters for America and have participated in great historical events, but perhaps it is not all that historic. It is possible to train any large strong breed of dog to do the exact same thing and have the exact same output of said nobility. These dogs were also used for perhaps the most violent event of all: war. The dogs have to have had some amount of substantial fierce brawn to be present in the midst of combat. Well, if it is possible for anyone to train any dog to do any job, then consequently, it is not only one breed that could have carried out the same task, but any breed. This is absolutely correct. It is possible to train any dog, to do anything, including acts of combat in war, dogfighting, or being a guard dog. Even if Pit bulls ceased to exist, there would still be many other breeds that could attack like Pit bulls. If one believes that Pit bulls can attack, then it should be considered that instead of a Pit bull clamping its jaw down it could also be a Rottweiler, Great Dane, or perhaps the famous, most common dog entrusted in serving alongside the police force of the United States of America: the German Shepherd. The police train German Shepherds to attack criminals, is that seen as a noble thing done or a vicious act? Pit bulls can do the same thing.
Only Hellen Keller’s dog, in particular, could have been nice enough to be a companion. But perhaps it was only that dog, and not all Pit bulls are that way. If the same logic is applied that it may have been only that one dog that is aggressive, then can it also mean that it was perhaps one Pit bull, in particular, that was vicious. However, when some think of Pit bulls, there are still many that have dangerous thoughts of the animal. The reality is, the times it is heard that a dog was mean or vicious outweighs the accounts of happiness by far! For example, suppose there was a hypothetical news report, a ‘top story’ news report, with a title of “Nice dog greets kid with a lick on the face! Authorities are investigating.” This sounds ridiculous, right? This is because it is mainly the negativity around dogs that is reported, like injuries and attacks or even encounters that may have very well been blown totally out of proportion.
Personal experience can be a strong testimony to have reason to discriminate a Pit bull or the entire breed. However, statistics are fact, in which far more cases can be argued with. Discrimination exists not only in a personal setting, but as well as a business standpoint. Let us look upon the statistics of bite ratio compared to other dogs with the Pit bull. But, before we do, allow a mention from Larry Cunningham’s The Case Against Dog Breed Discrimination By Homeowners' Insurance Companies when speaking of breed discrimination. “...[insurance companies are] claiming that some breeds are...more dangerous than others...[breed discrimination] is without a basis in science. No study has...counted...the number of bites per breed...a national reporting system does not exist for dog bites.” If no strong data has been collected and no “national reporting system” has been established, then how does one assert a case, statistically, against the Pit bull by claiming that they are a more ‘violent’ breed as opposed to others? No data supports the idea that Pit bulls are more aggressive than others, therefore, the argument that Pit bulls are just like any other breed has room to be existent. Perhaps there have been bite number count for pit bulls and other ‘violent’ breeds, but there is no bite number for every breed to compare them to. The pit bulls have only had their bites counted to highlight the feared danger.
Pit bulls are like any other breed and deserve the same respect and fair treatment as any other breed. They deserve to not be discriminated against. There are no strong studies of all dog bite numbers to compare to the Pit bull to claim any more violent behavior versus other dogs. Discrimination is not just in any situation, even with dogs. Pit bulls have fought with American troops in battle and have been loving to figures like Helen Keller. If one has a personal issue with Pit bulls, the best way to overcome the fear or feeling is to befriend a Pit bull that is kind and gentle. Let them smell your hand, always allow yourself to be seen, and let them be aware of your presence. They are, in fact, man’s best friend.
Admin, Good Pit Bulls. “Helen Keller's Sir Thomas.” Good Pit Bulls, 31 May 2016, www.goodpitbulls.com/blog/famous-pit-bulls/sir-thomas/. 16 December, 2016
Cunningham, Larry. “The Case Against Dog Breed Discrimination By Homeowners' Insurance Companies.” SSRN, papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=711182. December 05, 2016
Delise, K. “Welcome to CAB Direct.” CAB Direct, Anubis Publishing, 2007, www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/20123181077. December 06, 2016
Fogle, Bruce. “Pit Bulls.” The Encyclopedia of the Dog, Dorling Kindersley, New York, 2007, pp. 274–275.
Pisani, Elana. “Pit Bulls: Dog Breed Discrimination And Laws | Global Animal.” Global Animal, May 24 2016,www.globalanimal.org/2015/07/10/pit-bull-discrimination-a-people-problem/. December 06, 2016
“War Dogs: Pit Bulls In The Military.” Fight4Them, 24 May 2012, www.fight4them.org/war-dogs-pit-bulls-in-the-military/. December 15, 2016