What Is A Pitbull?
This question is not as easy as it may sound. For many people, the word “pitbull” includes American Pitbull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, in other words, any dog with some terrier in its mix. Some people even include Boxers, Bullmastiffs and Great Danes. The truth is, without a DNA test, it is nearly impossible to spot and accurately indentify a true Pitbull. This is a problem when dealing with apartments that don’t accept people with pit bulls and airlines that don’t allow them to travel. In order to discriminate and enforce rules, people have to have an answer to this question. And in order to be “safe”, they draw a broader stroke that goes beyond the truth.
Are Pitbulls Dangerous?
Many people THINK they are, and if you ask them for proof, they send you lists of bite statistics and news reports of Pitbull attacks. The reality is that the media doesn’t actually research the breed of dog that does the attacking, and Pitbulls get the blame. Remember, it’s impossible to determine breed by appearance alone.
In fact, for this reason and many others, both the CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association do not recommend discriminating based on breed. The frenzy against Pitbulls is nothing but blind fear fueled by a need to find a scapegoat. There is not a single shred of proof that the American Pit Bull Terrier is a vicious, dangerous breed.
Here is an interesting FACT:
The American Temperment Test Society (http://www.atts.org) perform their standardized temperment tests regularly on popular breeds. You can visit their web site to view upcoming testing dates and actually get your own dog tested. Here is their description synopsis of the test:
“The test simulates a casual walk through a park or neighborhood where everyday life situations are encountered. During this walk, the dog experiences visual, auditory and tactile stimuli. Neutral, friendly and threatening situations are encountered, calling into play the dog’s ability to distinguish between non-threatening situations and those calling for watchful and protective reactions.”
The dog fails the test if it shows:
- Unprovoked aggression
- Panic without recovery
- Strong avoidance
American Pitbull Terriers passed the test at a rate of 85.3%. This score is higher than that of Collies, Golden Retrievers, and other dogs generally considered “family friendly”. The average dog scores around 77%.
As most dog behaviorists and trainers will tell you, a dog is almost 100% a product of it’s owner and the training it receives. Well-trained “pitbulls” have proven highly successful as therapy dogs and search-and-rescue dogs. The reality is, more people die drowning in backyard swimming pools every year than die from dog attacks. That doesn’t make it any less tragic, but to call it an “epidemic” is unfair.
Pitbulls are not the first breed to be unfairly labeled “dangerous”, and they won’t be the last. According to the Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States (RDOWS), there are seventy-five breeds of dog in the United States alone that are banned or restricted somewhere in the country. Yes, 75 BREEDS. These include some odd choices, including the Airedale Terrier, Australian Cattle Dog, Belgian Sheepdog, Springer Spaniel, French Bulldog, Pug, St. Bernard, Newfoundland, and even Golden Retreivers. Yes, Golden Retrievers. Make sense? Of course not. Neither does labeling ALL dogs of ANY breed.
For more information, check out these Pitbull sites: