Pit Bulls have a poor reputation. As a result, it isn’t uncommon for these dogs to spend a long time in the care of animal shelters and similar organizations before they manage to find someone willing to take them in. Hopefully, the story of Brutus will convince more people to give Pit Bulls a chance. In short, Brutus was found at a home in Oklahoma. Apparently, his previous owner had to move, with the result that she just abandoned him there rather than do the responsible thing. Instead, it was a neighbor who brought Brutus to the local animal shelter when Brutus’s loud barking got him wondering what was going on. Subsequently, the Pit Bull was entrusted to the temporary care of Melanie Parkins and her husband Ken, who were entrusted with the task of getting him ready for adoption. Something that proved to be extra-challenging because it turned out that Brutus had received neither the proper training nor the proper socialization from his previous owner. Still, the couple persevered, as shown by how they spent several hours working with him on a daily basis for a year and a half. That effort paid off when a family took a chance on Brutus. During the first week, he saved the family’s son Jason by waking Jason’s mom Amber in the middle of the night, which was important because the child was suffering from seizures at the time. As a result, Brutus’s family has since gone on to get him even more training, with the result that he is now a certified therapy dog who has worked in nursing homes.
Why Don’t People Want Pit Bulls Anyway?
As mentioned earlier, Pit Bulls have a poor reputation. To some extent, this is because of their roots. For those who are unfamiliar, bloodsports were much more popular in the past than in the present. To name an example, the English used to love cock throwing, which consisted of throwing weighted sticks at a tied-up rooster until it died. Similarly, the English used to love both bear-baiting and bull-baiting, which saw dogs being pitted against bears and bulls respectively. Changing attitudes in the late 18th century and early 19th century caused these activities to be banned. Unfortunately, bloodsports didn’t die out altogether. Dog fighting continued to be a thing, particularly since it was easier to hide from the authorities because it was less of a spectacle. As such, Pit Bulls continued to see use for such activities, which laid the foundations for their future reputation.
Having said that, it is important to note that the public perception of Pit Bulls took a dramatic turn for the worse towards the end of the 20th century. The gist of it is that dog fighting has never gone away altogether. Instead, it is still happening in the present day. Certain dog breeds are favored for dog fighting over others. For instance, Pit Bulls are well-built dogs that can be quite intimidating when presented in certain ways. On top of that, they had a preexisting reputation for aggression. As such, Pit Bulls saw a lot of use for dog fighting in the relevant period, which had a very negative effect on their image because the news reports on such incidents strengthened these dogs’ association with negative characteristics. Simultaneously, Pit Bulls are also one of the dog breeds that have been subjected to bad breeding practices, which are very much capable of increasing a dog’s chances of exhibiting either physical issues or behavioral issues or both. Combined, these things have resulted in something of a vicious cycle when it comes to the Pit Bull’s image. They are seen as being aggressive, so they are sought out by people who want aggressive dogs. That gets publicized, so they are seen as being even more aggressive.
Is This Fair?
For proof of the Pit Bull’s poor image, look no further than the fact that it has often been subjected to breed-specific legislation. However, that is rather unfair. After all, breed-specific legislation is opposed by organizations that range from the American Kennel Club to the American Veterinary Medical Association, which tend to be seen as reputable authorities for very good reasons. There are a number of reasons why breed-specific legislation sees so much opposition. First, it is addressing a real issue from a not particularly helpful angle. Dog breed is often seen as having a very strong effect on what a dog will be like. However, this effect is often overstated. It is possible for dogs of every dog breed to show serious issues, whether because of a lack of training, a lack of socialization, or some other issue. As such, breed-specific legislation is painting with too broad a brush. Moreover, it misses out on problematic dogs belonging to dog breeds that aren’t covered by it. Second, resources spent on enforcing breed-specific legislation mean resources that can’t be spent on more effective measures.
Studies have been conducted on what measures work and what measures don’t work. Those have made it very clear that breed-specific legislation just isn’t very useful for keeping people safe, meaning that it is better to focus on education as well as the enforcement of actually effective measures such as leash laws. On top of these, Pit Bulls have also been subjected to a lot of misconceptions. For example, they don’t actually have locking jaws. Dogs might show a great deal of diversity, but at the end of the day, dogs are still dogs. Instead, Pit Bulls are like terriers in that they are somewhat likelier to bite and shake, which makes sense because they are descended from terriers. Similarly, Pit Bulls are sometimes said to be unpredictably aggressive, which is no more true for them than for any other dog breed. The exact cause for aggression might not be clear to dog owners. However, there tends to be a cause of some kind. Perhaps the dog is feeling scared, meaning that it has decided to lash out after its initial warnings have been ignored. Alternatively, perhaps the dog has become worked up but lashes out at someone or something else that is perceived as interfering.