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Furious, deadly, killers, fighters … These are just some of the names that people use to describe Pit Bulls. Although 71% of dog bite fatalities are from pit bulls, are we too quick to judge the dogs? When looking at these numbers, you are just looking at numbers without an explanation. These bites are the effects of a cause. In 2005, a technician reached into a sedated dog’s mouth to find the source of the bleeding. Once her hand was in the dog’s mouth, the dog went into convulsions as if a seizure had come on. When the dog began to seize, the technician’s skin broke. On the report of the dog bite, you will not see the cause. You will just see that the bite occurred from a Pit Bull.
Let’s see a little bit of history behind the bully breed. There are said to be two different theories of pit bulls. In one theory, pit bulls began during antiquity as the Molossus (a now extinct breed) were used by the Greeks, and they would march off to war with their humans. In the first century, Rome discovered the breed after defeating the Britons, and the dogs had spread all over the empire. For the next 400 hundred years, these dogs were used as war dogs and intermixed with various other local breeds, which have come to be known as Pit Bulls. Another theory places Pit Bulls in England at the time of the Norman conquest in 1066. Butchers used large, Mastiff-type dogs as “bull biters.” These dogs were trained to latch onto bull’s noses and not let go until the bull was subdued. These were the only ways that humans could regain control once the bull became agitated. This practice became known as a sport called “bull-baiting”. Within this sport, people would put a riled-up bull and a dog into a pit, and the humans would place bets on which dog would hold the longest or bring the bull down. This is the origin of the name “pit bull dog,” shortened to “pit bull.”
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Some Pit Bulls were bred for fighting. Does this mean that all Pit Bulls are bred for fighting? The answer is No. This just means that they may be more likely to fight with other dogs. This does not mean that they can not be placed around other dogs and not be aggressive or fight. Other Pit Bulls were bred for companionship. “These dogs have long been popular family pets, noted for their gentleness, affection, and loyalty.” A dog’s behavior develops through its interaction between environment and genetics. Many diverse factors influence the development of behavior. Some of these factors include early nutrition, stress levels influenced by the mother during pregnancy, even temperature in the womb, housing conditions, and the history of social interactions. Early positive experiences are key in decreasing the tendency of them to grow up and show aggressive behavior. Puppies that learn to interact, play, and communicate with humans and other dogs will be less likely to show aggression when they are adults. The reality is that all dogs, no matter the breed, can be bred or trained to develop aggressive behaviors. This means that the responsible ownership of the dog, any dog, requires a commitment to proper socialization, humane training, and diligent supervision.
So many dogs come in brindle colorations, but this coloration of dogs often get labeled as Pit Bulls, even though they may not have the slightest bit of Pit DNA in them. “An animal control officer was once asked why a dog in the Lost Dog Runs was labeled as a Pit Bull even though it was an excellent specimen of an American Bulldog. The response was that “he’ll end up in the wrong hands anyways just because people will think he’s a Pit.”
It’s sad to think that we label dogs on their color and discriminate based on the dog’s appearance. Pit Bulls are a silhouette of their owners. If the owner leaves the dog outside, chained up to a tree, without any human or dog interaction, that dog will show signs of aggression. On the flip side, if your dog is in a loving home with plenty of human and animal interaction, that dog will grow to rarely ever show signs of aggression. I believe that if a dog grows up in a household of love and companionship, the dog will only show aggression when their family is in the sight of danger.
I personally own three Pit Bull and English Bulldog mixes. These dogs are far sweeter than our smaller dogs. All they want is to snuggle up on the couch with you, eat snacks, and play with the other dogs and cats. I chose this topic because it seems to be a recurring subject in the media. Pit Bulls are just like any other dog. They deserve to be treated just like every other dog. If you claim to be a dog lover, you do not discriminate based on the dog’s “history” or appearance. Yes, some dogs are bred for fighting, but that does not mean that all dogs are just for fighting. Most Pit Bulls are just there to be your friend. They don’t want to harm even the smallest rodent. I know most of everyone has seen a Facebook video of a Pit Bull giving kisses to a baby or a baby kitten. Where is the aggression there? I hope this has cleared up some of the misconceptions about Pit Bulls and allows everyone to have an open mind when it comes to Pit Bulls.
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