Pit bulls: A misunderstood breed that deserves far better treatment and care

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Photo by Hannah Locke

Hannah Locke, News Editor

When it comes to dog fighting, pit bulls are the breed of choice. 

These dogs are strong, loyal and often dominant. This fact has given the dogs a negative reputation. When some people think of pit bulls they think aggressive, mean, maybe even violent because of this reputation. When I think of pit bulls, I think of my own dogs who are hyper, but still loving and playful. 

Loy Norrix sophomore Ana Dunfee has owned her pit bull, Peggy, for eight months. Despite the reputation that pit bulls have, Dunfee’s family wasn’t swayed in their adoption.

 “The reputation is entirely systematic and forced upon the breed, plus we have owned a pit bull before,” Dunfee said, “I love pit bulls.” 

I find myself agreeing with her, pit bulls have been wrongfully judged all because of people who see the breed as nothing but money making, entertainment. 

Illegal dog fighting in the United States is detrimental, but still highly profitable for those who participate and spectate. On top of that, the federal penalties that violators are given are barely a slap on the wrist.  In only two states is it legal to be a spectator to dog fighting. It is a misdemeanor to be a spectator in 26 states and a felony in 22 states

According to author Jacob Silverman in the article How Dogfighting Works, “Dogfighting is illegal in every U.S. state and in many countries around the world, though enforcement in other countries is frequently lax or nonexistent.” 

The poor enforcement has not done enough to prevent dog fighting, and the continuation of the practice is by far the main component in the negative view of pit bulls everywhere.

Another contributing factor to the harmful repute of pit bulls would be misinformation. Such misinformation can make people not want to own the breed, or not care for the breed correctly if they do end up buying or adopting. 

The stereotypes are just that, stereotypes, and when people hear them they have no choice but to believe them because it is all they know. If we were to give correct and unbiased information to dog owners and people in general, then maybe the breed would be viewed differently.

An example of a common misconception is that pit bulls are more aggressive than other dogs. The article Myths and Facts about Pitbull-Type Dogs contradicts this. “A recent peer-reviewed study that analyzed canine aggression in different breeds concluded that there was no significant difference in aggression between legislated breeds (such as pitbull-type dogs) and the non-legislated control group (Golden Retrievers).” 

Many of the myths and stereotypes associated with pit bulls are based upon misleading information that doesn’t actually come from credible sources. 

Another Norrix student and eight-year owner of a pit bull named Monster, Olivia Polderman, agreed. 

“I feel like until you have one [pit bull] and have cared for one, you can’t set a stereotype for something you’ve only seen a negative reputation for,” said Polderman.

Adoption rates can also be drastically affected by the misinformation spread about pit bull dogs which can contribute to even more of these dogs being euthanized or exposed to dangerous activities like dog-fighting. The lack of adoption of pit bulls from shelters can lead to euthanization, or them being put down, as a result of overpopulation in shelters. 

The article Pit bulls and Euthanisia Rates from Save A Bull Rescue states that “about 75% of municipal shelters euthanize pit bulls immediately upon intake, without them ever having any chance at adoption.”

If people were given the correct information, and also taught how to properly care for this breed, then these dogs would live far better lives. Junior Alec Ward’s pit bull, Luna, was adopted 6 years ago and Ward agrees that the bad rap pit bulls receive is harmful and unfair. 

“If you’re looking to get a dog, get one from a rescue, not a shop. Also, don’t let negative stereotypes affect your choices,” said Ward.

When my family and I first adopted our pitbulls, Sebastian and Walter, from a rescue, they were hyper, not well trained and anxious dogs. We were never worried about them being violent or aggressive with us, but it was obvious that they would need instruction and training. 

With hyper activity there can be some struggle, especially with the size of pit bulls and their muscle mass. On top of that they are very dominant dogs, so people who adopt them must be committed to being the “alpha” of the household, so that the situation does not become dangerous. 

With patience and thorough training, however, like any other breed, pit bulls can be well behaved, smart, and good listeners

After almost a year after having Sebastian and almost five months of having Walter, their improvement has been drastic. They still need to be exercised, and they bark at cats through the windows, or new people who come into our house, but our adoption and treatment of them was not swayed by outside, ill-informed opinions and neither should yours.