One of the most troubling juxtapositions facing American society today exists between the dog as the loving family pet and the intensely-feared pit bull. Many municipalities are taking the extreme measure of outlawing pit bulls as a breed without regard to their beloved importance in thousands of homes across America. Upon closer examination, the history of the pit bull breed is troublesome at best; the pit bull, an animal that was once bred to serve the primitive needs of ancient civilizations, is among the most misunderstood breeds of modern times. Content to leave the pit bull behind in its villainous history, Americans must strive to better understand the effect humans have had on the history and behavior of pit bull terriers in an effort to end discriminatory legislation.
Dogs currently categorized as pit bull terriers are found across several different breeds. Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and American Pit Bull Terriers are descendents of the bulldog (ASCPA). The earliest mention of this breed dates back to the Roman Empire, where Ancient Roman warriors were so impressed with the fighting prowess of the bulldogs used in England that they began importing them to Rome (Real). Soon, these dogs became commonplace in emerging societies throughout Europe as hunting companions and entertainers. Baiting was considered an acceptable form of entertainment to English nobilty; this involved releasing a dog into a ring with a chained bull, bear or wild boars. Baiting these animals required the dogs to bite and maintain a strong hold around the face and neck (ASPCA). This form of entertainment proved to be so brutal that it was a common method to allow the dog to attack game at length to tenderize meat prior to consumption (NPR). Bulldogs, used for their ability to fight, were bred with terriers to provide the agility of longer legs and a sleeker physique (PB.org). These dogs earned reverence for their gentle nature towards humans,...
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