One hundred years ago, Pit Bulls were the symbol of patriotism and American pride, appearing in World War I propaganda posters as the representation of fearless canine courage. Pit Bulls were considered a loyal, trusted friend to children and were well cared for family dogs.
Today, they are police dogs, therapy and service dogs, movie stars and loved family pets. Yet, in the 21st Century, the Pit Bull is the most misunderstood, abused, and exploited dog in the world. It is their loyalty, strength, and an eagerness to please their guardians that make these dogs such incredible companions. But all these positive attributes have also been used against them by criminals and have caused Pit Bulls to be the most harshly judged, criticized and misunderstood breed.
It is the Pit Bull’s extreme loyalty and willingness to do anything for his owner that can create the trouble when these dogs have the misfortune to end up in the hands of irresponsible, abusive or criminal owners. For those that end up in the nightmare world of dogfighting, they will suffer unimaginable extremes of cruelty – a fate no animal should be subjected to, and which was finally brought into the media spotlight when Michael Vick was exposed for his heinous and cruel acts involving Pit Bulls with his involvement in dog fighting. However, if a Pit Bull has the good fortune to belong to a loving, compassionate family, he will enjoy a happy life as a beloved family member. Even many of Michael Vick’s dogs, who suffered such evil cruelty, became family members and even lived with other pets — some of the dogs became therapy dogs, spending their days at hospitals, nursing homes and schools.
It is the misunderstanding and misconception of Pit Bulls that leads them to be feared and hated – often times by people who have never been around one and know nothing about these dogs, except for the negatives they have heard. Media hype and anti-pit bull propaganda has unfairly fueled the prejudice towards the breed as a whole, inciting fear for all dogs perceived to be Pit Bulls. The myths that fan these flames include that these dogs are inherently dangerous, that they have “locking jaws,” and that they don’t feel pain, all of which are incorrect, but these careless allegations continue to contribute to the intolerant and bias views against these incredible dogs. The negative reports are always bigger than the positives when it comes to Pit Bulls, and despite the continuing efforts by supporters and facts denouncing inaccuracies, much of the public continues to be misinformed about the breed. Pit Bulls continually have the prejudice stacked against them, even when they have done nothing wrong. They are at the very center of breed specific legislation (BSL), which is government led discrimination against all dogs having the appearance of a Pit Bull, punishing innocent dogs and responsible owners, and vilifying all for the acts of a few.
But for those who know Pit Bulls, they enjoy them for what they are – devoted, loyal, loving, happy dogs. They are no different than any other canine and they deserve to have a chance, just as all dogs do, and not be judged on their appearance or their breed. Just a century ago, Pit Bulls were celebrated — they were more than a dog, they were a symbol. Through continued public education and awareness, the Pit Bull can become less of a villain and return to what they truly are – what they were seen as not that long ago by the world – just a loyal, loving companion.
saveapetusa.org ~ Compassion is our Compass