Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Pit Bulls Get a Bad Rap
I have a 7-year-old pit bull named Shelly, and she is the most wonderful, gentle animal I have ever owned. She has never attacked anyone and doesn’t show any signs of aggression. I am so tired of people treating her like a vicious beast. The misconceptions about pit bulls are totally unfounded and most people buy into them without doing any research on their own.
I am so tired of all the frowns and negative energy that I get from people when they see me with my dog. Landlords and insurance companies are also prejudiced against pit bulls. Good luck renting an apartment/house or getting homeowners insurance if you own a pit bull. In Denver, you cannot even own a pit bull if you live within the city limits. If they catch you with one, they’ll put it to sleep, no questions asked.
The way a dog behaves, regardless of what type it is, depends on how the animal is trained. Responsible dog owners will spend the time and money to train their pit bull and will act responsibly in raising and caring for the dog. If you train your dog (it does not matter what breed) to be aggressive and a fighter, that’s what you’ll end up with. Just ask Michael Vick.
Here are a few of the most common misconceptions about pit bulls:
The locking jaw. The pit bull's ability to grab hold of a target and not let go dates back to its role as a Butcher's Dog controlling cattle by grabbing cows by the nose. This talent gave rise to the myth that these dogs have a specially engineered jaw structure that "locks" onto an object. There is no scientific evidence that pit bulls have greater bite power than many other large-breed dogs.
Fighters make good guards. If a menacing reputation can help keep a person safe, then pit bulls are a shoo-in. But historically they've been bred as human-friendly and aggressive to cows and other dogs only. They are not bred to hurt people!
Unfortunately, backyard breeding and hybridizing of pit bulls with large guardian breeds such as bull mastiffs and Rhodesian Ridgebacks may result in oversized dogs with the fighting skills of a pit bull and the aggressiveness of a guard dog.
Bad to the bone. There is no evidence that pit pulls are any more vicious than any other breed. In fact, in temperament tests on pit bulls for unprovoked aggression administered by the American Temperament Test Association pit bulls passed 83 percent of the time, which is above average.
A Jekyll-Hyde gene. When Seattle resident Heather Bauer was looking to adopt a dog last year, she was warned that a pit bull can "turn bad" at around 2 years old. Bauer decided on a Boston terrier. Like many myths, the warning is half-true. Pit bulls are extremely faithful and will not turn on anyone unless provoked, which is no different from any other dog.
"Most dogs begin to challenge for social position" at around 2 years old, says Dr. James Ha, an associate research professor in animal behavior at the University of Washington. "If behavioral challenges are anticipated and dealt with appropriately from the beginning, the dog quickly figures out their position and relationships and settles right down."