Newspaper often run stories of pitbull attacks, and it can seem as though there is such an attack every day.
That is far from the truth, so why have these dogs been subjected to such a bad reputation?
There is not one simple answer to that question.
In the 1970’s, Doberman Pinschers had a similar bad rap. People who grew up in the 70’s probably remember their parents making them cross to the other side of the street if someone was walking a Doberman. There were regularly news stories about the “vicious” animals.
Interestingly, sometime in the 1980’s, Dobermans suddenly learned to behave. News stories about Doberman attacks disappeared from the headlines, but don’t think it was safe to go back into the dog park.
There was a new bad dog in town:
Just as fast as the Doberman’s disappeared from the headlines, the Rottweilers took their place.
People feared these giant, gentle dogs and the breed was banned from apartments and dog parks while Dobermans were suddenly welcomed in places where they formerly were not.
Fast forward to the 1990’s and the process repeats itself again. This time, Rottweilers fade from the media spotlight and are replaced by pitbulls.
Rather than go into a discussion about why the media needs to have an ever changing lineup of bad dogs, lets instead look at the truth about pitbulls and pitbull attacks.
In the early part of the 20th century, pitbulls were the number one family dog in the United States. They earned the nickname of “nanny dog” because of the gentleness they displayed to children.
Many people will roll their eyes if you tell them this fact, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Major corporations chose the hugely popular pitbull to be part of their logo. Even today, many are familiar with the RCA logo and that of Buster Brown shoes, both of which feature a pitbull.
Even one of the most popular children’s shows of all time had a pitbull as part of the cast. The “Little Rascals” became famous on the television show "Our Gang"
which included their exploits with Petey, a pitbull.
So then why all the stories about pitbull attacks? Well, on rare occasions, they do attack humans.
They do not, however, attack more than other dogs. All dogs have the potential to attack, but almost all dog attacks could be prevented if owners acted responsibly.
Many would be surprised to know that black labs, golden retrievers and many other breeds are also guilty of attacking humans.
Why would this come as a surprise? Because the news reports typically only the name the dog when it was a pitbull, it can appear to readers that only pit bull attacks.
Headlines are quick to shout “Pitbull kills child in back yard”, but if the attacker had been black lab or other breed, the headline would likely only say “Dog kills child….”
To make matters even worse, many attacks by mixed breed dogs are wrongly attributed to pitbulls.
While pitbull attacks do occur, they are rare. Pitbulls do not bite the most, nor are they the most aggressive breed.
In fact in testing to determine human aggression, pitbulls pass the test at a higher rate than the dog population in general.
If all owners acted responsibly, pitbull attacks , as well as attacks by other dogs, could be virtually eliminated. Let’s work on banning bad owners rather than banning a breed.