In honor of Pit Bull Awareness month, I wanted to do something to shed a little light on this “breed.” I put that in quotes because pit bull is NOT actually a breed. It is a group of breeds, used to describe a dog who looks a certain way. A “pit bull” can be anything from an American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, even an American Bulldog. They are generally on the shorter side, stocky, long tail, cropped ears (I HATE the cropped ears!). A “pit bull” can weigh anywhere from 40lbs to over 100lbs….Now, if a pit bull can be a mix of any of those breeds, and weigh anywhere within that range…why do we automatically judge them based on what a previous “pit bull” has done? Why don’t we judge all dogs based on the individual being? They can obviously look different, so wouldn’t it be better to assume that they can act differently. It isn’t right to say, for example, every single mom is a loser on welfare, taking advantage of the system. And yes, I personally have heard those words before…it was quite a shock, since I am a single mom, and yep my son has Medicaid as insurance. Then I heard “oh…well…you’re the exception.” How about just don’t judge until you know the facts?!
Pit bulls are not for everyone. Dogs in general, are not for everyone. Some people prefer small dogs; some prefer large dogs. And that’s perfectly ok. But comments like “well how many Chihuahuas do you know that have killed someone” is just judging and sticking with that mentality that got them their bad rap in the first place. Let’s look at some common myths about pitties…
#1-“Pit bulls are vicious and mean killers.” What the what?! Ok, YES they are larger dogs, so YES their bite hurts MORE than say a Chihuahua. (Just picking a little dog, no offense to Chihuahuas!) If John Smith got bit by a Chihuahua, is he going to have to go to the hospital? Probably not. If he got bit by ANY large dog, is he going to have to go to the hospital? Most likely, the answer would be yes. Big dog = big bite. That has absolutely nothing to do with the breed. It is a size and strength factor. So really, if you are going to judge based on the potential damage of a bite, then you should hate ALL large dogs, right??
#2-Pit bulls have locking jaws. This is one of the biggest myths about these dogs. They do NOT have locking jaws. It is 100% false.
#3-Pit bulls are dog and human aggressive and therefore should be banned. This would be like saying every person that has blonde hair and green eyes is a thief and should have their hands cut off. Ridiculous right? So why are we allowed to treat an entire group of dogs like that? As a child, our family dog was a pure bred chocolate Labrador. He was sweet and loving. He also was dog aggressive. He literally pulled me across an entire field, and over a paved street, to get to a dog that he didn’t like, and he did this multiple times. (I was too young, or too stupid, to let go of the leash!) Does that mean he was a bad dog? Does it mean he should have been put to sleep because of this? Absolutely not. My parents dealt with this issue, and loved him for all of his good traits. Are there some pit bulls that are mean? Yes, there are. There are also Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, and Dalmatians that are mean. Next you’ll hear “Well I’ve NEVER met a Golden Retriever that was mean.” And my (albeit smart ass) answer will be “have you met every single dog in the world? Oh also, have you met my pit bull? Did he rip your face off? No? Ok then.” I personally have been bit by a German Shepherd before. He was a grumpy old dog, and he apparently didn’t appreciate a child incessantly clapping her hands and yelling for him, so he jumped on me and bit me. (Actually I don’t know that he actually sunk teeth into me, but the intent was there.) This obviously didn’t make me hate dogs, and never once have I thought that Shepherds were mean vicious dogs that shouldn’t be allowed around children. I have always understood that the incident was that particular dog. Moral of the story…Judge the dog based on it’s individual traits and behaviors…NOT on what another dog did, who happened to look like him. PS-One more short story, I actually have recently met TWO LABS that were child aggressive. It was only because they had not been socialized around kids. Does that make you leery of labs now?? I’m betting the answer is no.
#4-Pit bulls will kill small animals, dogs and cats included. Now I can’t speak for every pit bull, but I can certainly tell you about mine. He is not always nice to other dogs, but he is made of sweetness when it comes to my parent’s two small dogs (a cocker & a Chihuahua). Neither of them like him, and often growl at him. (They are actually very sweet dogs, just not fans of other dogs in their space.) Oscar just wags his tail and ignores them, or hops around trying to get them to play. He has NEVER bared his teeth, or even attempted to give either of them attitude. He has also met a very tiny kitten, and was just happy to meet a new friend. He was curious, and wanted to play, but there was no malice or aggression whatsoever. Lucy…a boxer…on the other hand, was never allowed to see the kitten face to face because she was so aggressive.
#5-Pit bulls that are in shelters have been abused, neglected, fought, and therefore can’t make good family pets. Well first, let’s be clear that this could be true about ANY dogs in shelters, no matter the age, breed, or size. MANY of the dogs that end up in shelters have been neglected in some way. SOME have been treated so badly that they are fear reactive, and therefore putting them to sleep ends up being the most humane thing you can do for them. THIS is the exception though. Usually, with proper training, patience, and lots of love, most DOGS can be adopted from a shelter, and integrated into family life, living out their lives happy and cherished as they should be!
I am not saying that ALL pit bulls are sweet, loving family pets. I also can’t say that about Chihuahuas, Labs, or Boxers. Dogs are different, just as people are different. People react differently to life situations. Past experiences, beliefs, morals, genetics…they all mold us into who we are. The same goes for dogs. So, all I am asking is that you judge a dog based on it’s individual personality. Don’t believe everything you read or have heard. Surely by now we’ve all learned that the media embellishes stories and sometimes even flat out lies. I mean, how many times have you read that Jennifer Aniston is pregnant? If every time it were true, she’d have like 15 kids by now! Just do your research. If you are going to judge, at least have a true, real reason behind what you are saying. I don’t expect everyone to love pit bulls. And I don’t expect every pit bull to love every person. Life would be boring if everyone was the same. But for me, for my pit bull, for pit bulls and pit bull lovers everywhere….please, stop repeating these silly, untrue, ridiculous myths. Meet a pit bull, face to face, and then speak of your experiences with that dog only. You might be surprised about the positive things you find yourself saying!
If you have a POSITIVE story about a bully breed, please share it on my Facebook page HERE! I’d love to hear about the bully in your life!
Click HERE to read The Real Story of Snow White! (Hint, it is really cute & it just might have a pit bull in it!)