The Rights and Responsibilities of Owning Pit Bulls

Date:  2022-01-14 05:40:56
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Introduction

Pit bulls may be a controversial breed of dogs, but in reality, they are just that. For years, in the United States and other parts of the world, pit bulls were often considered as guardians due to their gentleness and loyalty towards their owners. Unfortunately, in the recent past, due to their strong appearance, certain groups especially gang members and drug dealers have devised ways to exploit their loyalty and tendencies for dogfight making them a symbol of violence. Even today, this wonderful breed of dogs remains greatly misunderstood by many people across the United States, mostly because of irresponsible owners. Similarly, there are a number of myths and stereotypes about these dogs that are often propelled by lack of knowledge and are greatly misleading. Pit bulls can make great pets if they are well taken care of despite their rocky past. They are smart, gentle and always sweet even with minimum care and can make great pets if given a chance. Despite some laws, everyone who is responsible enough should have the chance and right to own a pit bull.

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History of Pit Bulls

Due to lack of knowledge many people associate pit bulls with a brutal history. What these people do not actually understand is that pit bulls were often celebrated dogs. According to (Bastian n.p), pit bulls gained a lot of popularity in the mid-18th century due to bull baiting, a sport that involved setting dogs on bulls for public entertainment. Pit bulls were often preferred due to their strength and intelligence. Even after the ban of bull baiting in 1835, pit bulls were still used in other underground sports which included rat baiting and dogfighting. The research also suggests that in the early days of the United States, many immigrants from Europe brought along pit bulls as part of their families despite being bred for fighting sports (Bastian n.p). These families thought that the dogs were incredibly intelligent, loyal and friendly. Their popularity grew even bigger in the United States due to the number of exemplary deeds they performed including watching children, protecting the family, farming and providing companionship. During this time, pit bulls were often referred to as Nanny Dogs and could watch the children while families are not present or working outfield. Pit bulls were often lauded as American heroes in the twentieth century. For instance, Bud who stood by Horatio Nelson Jackson on his 1903 first-cross country road trip gained as much popularity as his companion throughout the trip and even became the face of The Auto Era in advertising (Bastian n.p). Similarly, these dogs were seen as a sign of fearlessness and protection in the United States, especially during World War I and II as they were used as a national mascot in advertisements. However, the resurgence of dogfighting in the late nineteen eighties made pit bulls public enemy number one. A natural fear developed as people saw more and more of these dogs on street corners. Moreover, most pit bull owners at that time used their pets as a boost to their intimidating image by propelling abusive and aggressive behaviors. This saw the media demonizing pit bulls and hence completely tarnishing its public image.

The breed does not have a brutal and an ugly history as portrayed by some media houses and the general public but completely misunderstood. According to research, pit bulls are currently one of the most common dogs in the United States despite the popular thought that the breed is a killer animal (Burrows, Tyrone and William 139-152). This contradicts the popular opinion that pit bulls are dangerous and everyone is scared of them. Different groups of people, young and adults want to own a pit bull if not more. There are also many celebrities like Jon Stewart and Jessica Alba who proudly take pictures with their pit bull pets showing us just how much the public perception of the breed as dangerous animals is wrong. Similarly, throughout history, there have been a number of notable figures like Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison and Helen Keller who owned pit bulls as pets and were great supporters of the same (Burrows, Tyrone and William 139-152). If pit bulls are as dangerous as people say, then why are so many important people so comfortable with them and why are they in every block today? Any pet is aggressive depending on how the owner raised it. As opposed to media speculation, research shows that breed is not a factor in bite-related fatalities. The same research also shows that there is no difference in bite severity between pit bull breeds and the non-legislated breeds (Dickey 96-113). This indicates that everything people believe about this breed of dogs is merely a speculation.

Myths About Pit Bulls

Today, pit bulls are still largely misunderstood because of the proliferation of myths. These myths have often contributed to the stigma that surrounds pit bulls and have contributed to the rise in the United States shelters. Most people assume that pit bull is a breed of dog while the truth is that the name is actually generically applied to several breeds such as the American Staffordshire terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier to protect against victimization due to bully appearance (Rock n.p). Against the misconception that pit bulls are born to fight, the breed is actually trained to fight by the owners who are profit-seeking through entertainment in the form of dogfights. People also believe that pit bulls have locking jaws. However, according to leading veterinary experts, there is nothing peculiar about the anatomy of the pit bull jaws (Rock n.p). In fact, these veterinary experts argue that there is nothing referred to as jaw lacking in any breed. Moreover, media houses and other mediocre researchers often unfairly skew dog bit statistics to paint pit bulls as dangerous predators. In any story involving dog attacks, these media houses as a way of sensationalizing the stories often demonize the dogs to further fuel fear and turn the general public against the breed.

For years, breed-specific legislation has been biased against pit bulls. The support for these discriminating laws is purely based on myths and misconception that the breed is dangerous due to their bully nature. There is also evidence suggesting that breed-specific legislation does not diminish the number of dog attacks in the United States (Twining 25-52). The truth is if one considers the frequency of dog attacks in the United States by the percentage of pit bulls, the seemingly high number of pit bull attacks is actually low. Even with more and more convincing pieces of evidence that pit bulls are no more dangerous than any other breed of dogs, the government through shelters around the United States continues to put down the breed before giving a chance of proper care. Research shows that in the recent past only 0.0012 percent of the estimated five million pit bulls in the United States were involved in fatal attacks compared to 0.005 percent of 240, 000 purebred Chow Chows currently living in America (Twining 25-52). The fact is the broad-skulled pit bull often looks intimidating than the puffy Chow Chows making it hard for media houses to accurately report the devastating Chow Chows attacks. Despite being as harmless as any other dog, misconceptions and myths have spread advertising the exact opposite. The general public has developed fear against pit bulls that they are starting to say they are not welcome in the country.

With proper care, pit bulls can be the most loving, most confident, people-oriented beasts that have a strong sense of dependence on their owner. Due to their dependence on human owners, this breed responds remarkably to positive training and care (Geier n.p). While in public, pit bull owners need to have their dogs on leash because they are joyful and would probably run around causing problems. Back at home, pit bull owners need to constantly keep their dog indoors or create a fenced backyard, big enough to let them roam freely. Pit bulls are energetic and probably one of the most playful pets a person could own, therefore, it often needs to run around and being a good owner, one needs to set enough time to play. In addition, pit bull owners need to treat their dogs positively and respectively because they are intelligent and usually respond to what they see.

Conclusion

Pit bulls are not a statistic. They are loving, joyful and one of the most loyal companions one could ever have. They are not monsters and are widely misunderstood. Only people responsible enough to own one can understand that all the myths and misconceptions surrounding pit bulls are untrue. The government should devise laws that are favorable to pit bulls because they too need proper care.

Works Cited

Bastian, Jon. "How Did Pit Bulls Get Such A Bad Rap?". Cesar's Way, 2018, https://www.cesarsway.com/about-dogs/pit-bulls/how-did-pit-bulls-get-a-bad-rap. Accessed 7 July 2018.

Burrows Jr., Tyrone J., and William J. Fielding. "Views of College Students on Pit Bull "Ownership": New Providence, the Bahamas." Society Animals, vol. 13, no. 2, June 2005, pp. 139-152.

Dickey, Bronwen. "Dogs of Character." Virginia Quarterly Review, vol. 92, no. 2, Spring2016, pp. 96-113.

Geier, Elisabeth. "True Story: The Highs and Lows of Loving A Pit Bull". The Dog People, 2017, https://www.rover.com/blog/true-story-pit-bull-personality/. Accessed 7 July 2018.

Rock, Robin. "Myths and Facts About Pit Bulls". Petfinder, https://www.petfinder.com/pet-adoption/dog-adoption/myths-and-facts-about-pit-bulls/. Accessed 7 July 2018.

Twining, Hillary, et al. "Managing the Stigma of Outlaw Breeds: A Case Study of Pit Bull Owners." Society Animals, vol. 8, no. 1, Mar. 2000, pp. 25-52.

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