In the opening credits of a popular Animal Planet reality series, Tia Maria Torres of Villa Lobos Rescue Center says she runs a shelter for the world’s “most misunderstood breed of dog.”
She’s talking about the dogs known as “pit bulls”— and she is right.
It wasn’t always that way: a little over 100 years ago, pit bulls and bully breeds were “America’s dog”—a beloved family pet known for being wonderful with children, and even a poster dog during World War I.
Sadly, because of their strength, determination and loyalty to humans, these qualities were taken advantage of by those involved in dog fighting. Despite being illegal in all 50 states, dog fighting has been responsible for indiscriminate, poor breeding and a tendency for these dogs to end up in bad homes with irresponsible owners.
It also doesn’t help that the media focuses on the most sensational stories involving pit bulls. In fact, before the 1980s, stories of pit bull attacks were very few and far between.
Over time, these factors have made dogs with pit bull characteristics one of the most feared, abused and hated animals in existence. That fear eventually evolved into unjust breed-specific legislation (BSL) that banned pit bulls and bully breeds in many states, cities and communities around the world.
Pit Bull Awareness Day was created to help dispel myths and stigmas about these dogs and put to rest that the breed is inherently dangerous and menacing. Like any dog, pit bulls make wonderful, trustworthy and devoted pets if they are socialized and trained by responsible owners.
Some facts to know:
- “Pit bull” is not actually a specific breed—the term is a generic, abbreviated one used to describe the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and any mix of these breeds.
- Pit bulls consistently rank among those breeds with the best temperaments in American Temperament Test Society trials. It’s worth noting that most of the pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick’s notorious and abusive Bad Newz dog fighting ring not only survived, but became loved family pets, agility champions, and even therapy dogs.
- Pit bulls are not genetically more likely to bite than other dogs. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that while pit bull type dogs are one of the breeds most involved in biting incidents, that list also includes Labrador retrievers, Chihuahuas and Jack Russell Terriers. Biting incidents almost always have more to do with environment and a lack of training and supervision.
- Pit bulls do not have “locking” jaws that make their attacks and bites more severe. The fact is that pit bulls are a determined, enthusiastic breed by nature, so anything they do, they do with gusto.
Remember: all dogs share 99.8% of their DNA and what they eventually become is mostly up to their human caretakers. At [HOSPITAL NAME], we want to make sure your dog—no matter the breed—has the happiest, healthiest life possible. If you have questions about caring for your pit bull or any pet, don’t hesitate to give us a call at [HOSPITAL TEL NUMBER].