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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Pit bulls get a bad rap

Pit bulls were once thought of as “Nanny dogs” due to the gentleness and loyalty with which they treat their owners. Previously considered America’s favorite dog, the pit bull breed is now seen as the nation’s scariest.

The pit bull’s bad reputation comes from the terrifying, misunderstood death of a Cincinnati child in 1983 that has led to housing bans and insurance coverage deficiencies.

According to an article by Jamey Medlin in the DePaul Law Review, the dog at fault had been stolen, likely abused, resold and chained up in the backyard of a family home; upon returning to his first owner, the dog looked thinner and was in significantly poorer health.

The pit bull’s violence was a product of stress, fear and anger, not a preexisting breed hormone that magically made him more aggressive.

Dog breeds cannot accurately be used to determine the likelihood of a dog’s hostility or propensity to bite, according to the Center for Disease Control. Dogs are products of their environments, just as people are.

The nation can realize pit bulls are not the dangerous monsters insurance companies and landlords make them out to be; all it requires is an Internet search. From there, animal lovers and anyone with a heart will do the rest.

Insurance claims for dog bites has decreased since 2012, but the average cost per claim has increased by more than $10,000 in the last decade alone, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

According to the ASPCA, those among the pit bull breed are adopted less and less, finding themselves either stuck in shelters or adopted by owners whose only intent is to use them for fighting or security purposes.

As a result of the stigma, pit bulls may spend several weeks or months in shelters, and some end up being euthanized. According to the Huffington Post the number of pit bulls killed in U.S. shelters each year is unpredictable and can range anywhere between 800,000 and 1,200,000 dogs.

In Tucson, a quarter of the dogs Pima Animal Care Center sees per year  — 3,500 to 4,000 — are pit bulls and pit bull mixes. People often end giving up the dog because of the breed’s stigma, insurance coverage or home owner restrictions.

“The breed in general is a stoic and strong breed that requires, like any dog, a responsible and caring owner who is dedicated to training and socializing them,” PACC employee Justin Gallic said.

I have a pit bull mix at home. When my family and I went to rescue, we found Buddy, a 2-year-old yellow lab/pit bull mix who was shy, flea-ridden and had been unwanted for nearly two months. 

Buddy couldn’t have had a more perfect name. 

He is a mellow dog who spends his days sprawled out on the couch ready for belly rubs and snuggling onto laps.

Buddy is now 10, and visibly aged, but when he thinks our other dog, Potter, is getting too much attention, Buddy won’t hesitate to roll over on you and make you give him your love.

Pit bulls are like any dog: They’re a lot like children who need guidance and attention. Stigma toward these dogs could be overcome easily if they weren’t so heavily wrapped up in politics.

As of November 2014, 19 states have passed laws that prevent breed-specific legislation, according to USA Today. The argument is that these laws don’t reduce dog bites, but they do increase euthanasia.

If people learned just a little more about the breed, then there would be less fear, less reason for laws to ban them — and maybe one less pit bull behind bars for a crime it never committed.


Ashleigh Horowitz is a creative writing freshman. Follow her on Twitter.

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