Carson Bonner, Campus Carrier news editor

Commonly known as the Pit Bull, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers have gained an unfortunate and unfair reputation, especially in recent years. Known for traits such as their stocky, muscular build and square faces, the dog originally bred for animal baiting faces an unfair stereotype of being aggressive and dangerous. But this isn’t true. The problem is not the dogs themselves, but the treatment they are given by humans.

            The breed traces back to the early 1800s in England, where pit bulls were bred to bait, bite and hold large animals such as bears and bulls. After animal-baiting was banned, they were bred to fight. People trained their dogs to be as aggressive and violent as they could, to ensure that bets placed would result in a large payout. Flash forward to 2023 and dog fights are still happening, though they are now more frowned upon. People still breed their dogs for fighting rings, and then, when the dog turns on them, they are shocked and announce to anyone who will listen that the breed itself is aggressive and uncontrollable. 

            In reality, pit bulls are merely athletic, easy to train and high-energy animals. According to Global Animals, the breeds of pit bull are all capable of being trained to be persistent. They are taught to pursue whatever task they are instructed to do, which is why they were bred so easily for baiting and fighting. This trait has become a part of what makes these dogs who they are, so they now are some of the most easily trainable domesticated dog breeds. 

            Over 90% of the Floyd County PAWS Shelter dog population is made up of pit bulls that have either been surrendered by owners, taken from cruelty cases, or people who have called animal control because they saw a pit bull outside and felt threatened by its presence. According to the PAWS policy, dogs that are too aggressive to be adopted are not placed in the kennels with the other dogs. The pit bulls that are available for adoption are all dogs that have been deemed manageable and safe for the public. They are not violent and they are not aggressive. 

            One dog there is named Rocket. She is two years old and has a sweet temperament and loves people and kids. She was fostered for several months but had to be returned due to familial illness. Many people have walked by her and when one woman was asked if she’d like to meet her, she declined saying that those types of dogs would kill you in an instant. This type of mentality toward pit bulls is the only thing keeping them from getting adopted.

            Some would argue that they’re clearly dangerous given how many have been attacked by them. According to an article on Dogs Bite, 64.8% of fatal dog attacks from 2005-2017 have been pit bulls, but something that is mentioned is that most of these incidents were caused by improper training and also previous ownership. Sometimes when pit bulls are improperly trained after being removed from fighting rings, cases of animal abuse or guard dog cases, they still believe their job is to attack when their owner is threatened, whether that perceived threat is real or not. If the dogs are trained properly and taught other ways of defending rather than biting, this statistic will be drastically reduced.

            Pit bulls are not bad dogs, they were bred to be workers and fighters. The solution to ending the stigma against them is cliche but simple: love. According to an article from Petful, the best way to teach a dog to be less aggressive is to be firm but affectionate with them. In essence, the only thing keeping the aggressive image of pit bulls is human behavior toward them.

Posted by Campus Carrier

Leave a Reply