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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Vindicating the Pit Bull

Review: Bronwen Dickey, 'Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon'

Some years ago, I found myself sitting with three friends outside a bar near a mountain in Phoenix, Arizona. As we surveyed the foot traffic to the desert hills, we saw a surprising number of people with pit bulls. Perhaps motivated by the amount of beer consumed, one of my friends announced that he was going to purchase a pit bull. Another turned to him: “That’s terrible. Those dogs will kill you.” The third chimed in: “What? Those dogs just want to cuddle—they’re over-sized lap dogs.” Neither deterred him in his task, and he recently reported to me that both of our compatriots were wrong that day. Pit bulls are neither killers nor cuddlers.

Polarized opinions about pit bulls have created “the pit bull wars,” a public battle over the temperament, breeding history, and place in society of pit bulls. In Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon, Bronwen Dickey says that the castigation of pit bulls began in the 1970s and reached fever pitch in the 1980s. Pit bulls gained a reputation as aggressive fighting dogs and guard dogs during the “crack epidemic” of the 1980s. This reputation was largely baseless, but it was very public. Throughout the 1990s, many local governments enforced breed-specific bans on pit bulls because of the story that the dogs had been bred for one purpose only: to fight “in the pit.”

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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

For every story about how wonderful and misrepresented they are there is one where they tore some toddlers face off..
SO lets use the recently popular skittles analogy: You have two bowls of skittles. One is the bowl representing pit bulls.. and has some poison skittles in it. The other represents other dogs.. without any poison skittles.. Which one do you want to grab a handful of.

Anonymous said...

this is a good article but the fact remains that Pit Bulls accounted for 74% of dog bite fatalities. Quite simply, if a pit bull wants to bite you, it can kill you.

Anonymous said...

1:09 PM - an analogy that could easily apply to so many things.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't leave any dog unsupervised with a baby or young child.It's not breed,its the owners who mistreat them. And the stats are off-more bites are attributed to the Cocker Spaniel breed than any other dog.

Anonymous said...

First of all 1:09 it is hardly a 1:1 ratio. There is no reason for the media to post a story of a family who returned home to excited tail wags and kisses from their pitbull. So should the dog be blamed for media bias? Remember when it used to be Rottweilers, then German Shepherds, then Dobermans? Their bites are severe because of how strong they are, just like any other large breed of dog. Your ignorance on the subject is shown by your butchering of that analogy.

1:58 is correct, absolutely. I am a pitbull owner and as one have taken it upon myself to train my dog appropriately. She is not placed in situations where an incident can happen. She is walked securely on her leash. She was socialized at a very young age and is introduced to other dogs and people in a proper manner. She also gets along GREAT with my other 2 dogs and my extended family's pets. If this were the case with every dog owner, regardless of breed, there would be much fewer incidents.

I also firmly believe that there are many people who get a pitbull becausethey have a reputation. They want a dog chained up outside that looks scary. This dog doesn't get trained and when it gets free it attacks a person or a pet. There's your news story. One bad owner and all dogs perceived as pitbulls have a bad name. Pitbull is not even an actual breed of dog. It's a generalized set of physical characteristics. It can apply to the American pit bull terrier, staffordshire terrier, dogo argentino, etc.

Anonymous said...

2:56 nailed it. A dog behaves how you allow them to behave. They need boundaries and exercise.

Anonymous said...

You are mistaken. Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes are the most dangerous dogs in America. and they usually attract an owner who wants to profile how "bad" their dog is. Bad behavior is often encouraged by the owners. Look up the stats. People killed by dogs. overwhelmingly most deaths are by pit bulls or pit bull mixes. most dog bites are also from these dogs. You don't like the facts?

Anonymous said...

I have felt that way about Pit Bulls till I met one. He was 6 months old at the time. My daughter brought him home and said I want you meet someone. He run in and jumped on the sofa next to me (stating I'm home). Well he changed my mind and for 15 years I enjoyed his love and protection. I now have 2. One grew up with the first one (Say, that was his name)from 8 weeks old and she(Essie)is now come this November will be 16 years old. The 3rd one is my Ruckus age 10. He has grown up with Essie from the age of 6 months. I love all dogs and cats it is people I don't like for the way they treat them. Yes they are big and can look mean. If you raise them right there is nothing better. If you raise them just like kids to be mean and hate then that is what you get, a mean and unhappy and mistreated animal. (map)

Anonymous said...

Ultimately it comes down to the owner of the dogs. I hate to make this simplistic. But cars do not kill people - drunk and negligent drivers do and many more people die in these cases. And I could go on forever with different examples. Also, lets not forget many bites/attacks can be prevented. I have been bitten three times in 50 years. ALL three my fault. Let address the issue of the owners, people taking responsibility for themselves and move on to more important issues.

Anonymous said...

3:29 Where do you get your facts?

bob pinto said...

A mid-1950's episode of Lassie ( Jeff's Collie) featured the subject of pit bulls. The breed was originally called bull terrier.

Anonymous said...

Go to the humane society all the dogs there are mixed pit bulls some come from really bad homes then they adopt them to people some of them should not be adopted like the dog tuggy very dangerous and it's been there for some time now