Responsible Pit Bull Ownership
American motivational speaker Wayne Dyer once said, “Judgments prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances.” (Dyer, 2012). This quote holds true in relation to the public’s perception of “pit bull” type dogs. Pit bulls are often judged by their muscular bodies, large head, and strong jaws. Pit bulls are consistently portrayed in the media as aggressive as well. Because of this, pit bulls face a variety of different obstacles to overcome. From breed specific legislation (BSL), to dog fighting, to homelessness and euthanasia, the list of obstacles to overcome may seem impossible. However, “Experts say that five factors affect a dog's tendency to bite: owner quality (quality of care, level of supervision provided); degree to which the dog has been habituated to people; training received (level and type); behavior of the victim; and genetic predisposition to be dangerously aggressive” (Pet Owner Liability, 2001).Only through education on the true nature of the breed and promotion of responsible ownership can pit bulls be helped. One of the most serious threats that pit bulls face is breed specific legislation (BLS), often referred to as breed banning. A breed ban is a law where certain breeds of dog, often “pit bulls” are banned in certain areas. Breed specific legislation has been “developed as a reaction to the sense of a growing dog bite problem in communities (whether real or perceived)” (Wisch, 2008). American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and mixed-breed dogs with the characteristics of these breeds are all often categorized as pit bulls under these laws. In reality as reported by an article by Erin McCormick and Tom Wallack in the San Francisco Chronicle, “After all, German shepherds killed more people than any other dog in the late 1970s, when many people favored the breed for its fierce reputation. Then, for two years, it was Great Danes. Rottweilers topped the list of killer dogs through most of the '90s, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control. Now it's pit bulls” (McCormick & Wallack, 2005). This is an example of how popularity of a breed of dog may land them in the hands of the wrong owner. How and why did breed bans begin? As Melanie Coulter, executive director of the Windsor/Essex County Humane Society in Windsor, Ontario said, “Any breed of dog can be dangerous” (Coulter, 2012). Pit bulls are included in breed bans in so many places because they are strong dogs and when they do attack it has worse effects than a Chihuahua bite. Many people who fight to keep breed bans in place do so after suffering an attack by a pit bull on themselves, a loved one, or a pet. However, just as the entire human race cannot be imprisoned because of crimes committed by one person, an entire breed of dog should not be banished for the act of another. The media does not help with the public view on pit bulls either. In fact pit bull owners recently cried foul after a McDonalds add that stated, “Eating their Chicken McBites was “less risky than petting and stray pit bull, shaving your head, naming your son Sue or giving your friends your Facebook password” (International Business Times, 2012). Many media sources report on pit bull attacks because they tend to do more harm, which gives the illusion that pit bulls are genetically pre-disposed to attack. In a 2012 interview Garland Clark, director of Bama Bully pit bull rescue in Alabama said, “The National Canine Research Council studied dog bite reports and media coverage. They found that incidents involving pit bulls are reported differently. Reporters often sensationalize or exaggerate the facts, calling an event a mauling when in reality it was only a simple puncture. Who can blame them? It seems like the more gruesome the story, the higher the ratings.” (Garland, 2012). Another problem that the pit bull breed faces...
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