Written by: Lilly Wright
As an owner of a 10 month old pitbull puppy, I have single-handedly witnessed people’s fears and opinions of pitbulls. When walking my dog, people cross the street to completely avoid my puppy and I as we approach them When I’m telling people about my new puppy and they ask what breed he is, their face completely changes and they reply with a simple “Oh.” Some even ask, “Aren’t you scared that something could happen?” Instead of asking if I’m scared, the real question is: why is society as a whole so afraid of pitbulls?
In the U.S., over 700 cities have placed bans on the Pitbull breed, including not being able to own a Pitbull. Their bad reputation has gotten worse from people hearing stories of attacks, bad behavior and strong bites. However, any big dog is capable of doing what a Pitbull can. Even popular breeds like Dobermans and German Shepherds have stronger bites that Pitbulls do.
The root of this bad reputation started in dog fighting rings. Members of those rings chose pitbulls over other dogs because of their bulky body and strong bite. They treated the dogs so poorly that they did not know how to act properly. They then put the dogs in a ring with other fighting dogs to rip each other apart. The dog who has only been taught cruelty learns that the only way to survive is to fight and become vicious because it is the only thing they have ever learned. What people don’t understand is the behavior of those Pitbulls is caused by how their “owner”- the person who is supposed to protect and take care of them- taught them to act.
When raising a child, you teach them how to act and behave. If you fail to teach them basic things, they do not treat others with respect and become “bad” kids. It is the same way with dogs. When you get a puppy, you have to train them. When judging pitbulls based off of their reputation, people do not realize that the stories they have heard are reflections of how they were raised. My Red Nose Pitbull, Peanut, is one of the sweetest puppies I have ever met, and I have met a lot of puppies through volunteering at the APL. We adopted Peanut when he was six months old. He was staying with one of the coordinators at the APL for two months after he was cleared of Parvo, a contagious virus easily transmitted to puppies who are not vaccinated. Peanut lived in complete isolation for the first four months of his life and within two months, the coordinator trained him to do everything right. He doesn’t bite, he is potty trained and he knows all of the basic commands. The APL would train any other dog the same exact way.
Of course we still had to work with him to perfect a few things, but he is the sweetest, most gentle dog I have ever met, who loves to make new friends. It breaks my heart when someone will not let Peanut come near them and their dog once they realize he is a pitbull. They base their feelings towards him off stories they have heard instead of actual experiences. If people would give Pitbulls a chance, they would realize the loveable dogs do not actually act how they are portrayed to be and could potentially even become close with one.