One pit bull we gained custody of, named Asia, looked like a skeleton covered with skin when PETA released her from the 15-pound chain that had restricted her for years. Instead, there was this social movement, with thousands of people signing petitions to save the dog and sending in donations, while the fund for the boy’s treatment hardly gained any donations. In truth, bully breeds are goofy, loyal, lovey dogs, by and large fantastic with children. She is seven and is extremely affectionate, wonderful, and smart. The title “pit bull” has expanded so dramatically over the years that people are lumping any dog with a large head and short coat into that category rather than separating out each of the pit bull breeds. But that doesn't prove anything. They are the only breed I avoid when walking my Dalmatian. All rights reserved. Pitbull-type dogs make outstanding canine citizens and are loving companions in millions of U.S. households. When developing a breed, breeders selected only those dogs that performed their job best to produce the next generation. Tell us about your own experiences with pit bulls. The American Pit Bull Terrier is a companion and family dog breed. In the U.S., we have 320 million people and between 77 and 83 million dogs. Many people THINK they are, and if you ask them for proof, they send you lists of bite statistics and news reports of Pit Bull attacks. Yeah, if we aren’t careful we are. There have been many highs and lows, they have come through so much, and they are still with us. Breeds such as the American pit bull terrier, the American staffordshire terrier the American bully and the staffordshire bull terrier are all included. [Laughs] You can’t make broad generalizations. In 2014, while playing near his house in Phoenix, Arizona, four-year-old Kevin Vicente was savagely attacked by a pit bull named Mickey. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Then you have urban dog fighting, which is more a one-off, “I want to see if my dog can beat your dog.” Both are forms of torture and need to be eradicated. Simon Worrall curates Book Talk. It is not uncommon to hear such a story where this type of dog is concern. A study on fatalities between 2000-2009 in the journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that in over 80 percent of those cases there were four or more significant factors related to the care and control of the dog. The Pit Bull is one of the most divisive dog breeds in the world. Genetically speaking, the pit bull may have some aggressive tendencies in their blood line as may rottweilers, doberman pinchers and a variety of shepard breeds. It happens both in the country and city. What I love about pit bulls are the same things I love about dogs. She is gifted, insightful, and her writing addresses uncomfortable ... full review ... Shows are much more prone to bite before a pit bull. 36 talking about this. Pit bulls make up only 6% of the dog population, but they’re responsible for 68% of dog attacks and 52% of dog-related deaths since 1982, according to … Yet he was a perfectly normal, fun, happy little dog. Everyone thought the dog would be euthanized. All rights reserved. Mickey the pit bull nearly killed a child but ended up in a cushy, air-conditioned cell while the boy could not find funds for medical surgery. This type of canine is used today as catch dogs to hunt and drive livestock, to gather semi-wild hogs and cattle, and as family companions. There’s a great book about this by Radley Balko called, The Rise of the Warrior Cop. Attacks by Pit Bull Terriers are more likely to cause severe morbidity than other breeds of dogs. It’s such an individual thing. Fatalities are incredibly rare. Aren’t we in danger of treating animals better than human beings? Immediate surgical exploration is required to prevent catastrophic outcomes, especially limb loss. With similar characteristics, pit bulls are generally broad in stature, powerful in bite ratio and sporting a large square head. Kevin Vicente was severely bitten. Animal Farm Foundation was founded by a now retired literary agent named Jane Barkley, who lives on a horse farm in upstate New York and wanted to restore the reputation of the American pit bull terrier as a mascot. The pit bull is the name for a “type” of dog. That was one of the things that troubled me. But while dog aggression may be normal in pit bulls, that doesn't mean it can't become a problem. What do you love about pit bulls, Bronwen? Part of HuffPost Environment. Pinto had been in an animal control facility, fairly isolated for the first six months of his life. Follow him on Twitter or at [Travel to the Chinese festival where dogs are on the menu.]. When we caught up with the author by phone, she explained how her own pit bull, Nola, confounded her fears of the breed; how the story of the pit bull is deeply interwoven with the history of the United States; and how a foundation in upstate New York is trying to restore the reputation of this most polarizing breed. So your chance of being killed by any type of dog in the U.S. in any given year is one in 10 million. With similar characteristics, pit bulls are generally broad in stature, powerful in bite ratio and sporting a large square head. Have you owned them? My cat has bitten me as has a yellow labrador. Let’s use an oversimplification to explain: Let’s say in a town there are 100 Pit Bulls and 10 Pugs. You will learn here that while Pit Bulls make great family companion… This interview was edited for length and clarity. Pit Bull breeds generally have a high play drive, and they require a lot of physical exercise. And what advice would you give to our readers if they are thinking of owning one? Given the staggering amount of press coverage of Michael Vick's pit bulls, television shows devoted to pit bulls, such as Pit Bulls and Parolees, now in its tenth season, Cesar Millan's Dog Nation, co-branded with a pit bull, and the constant production of "positive pit bull" campaigns on the Internet, it seems unlikely that the average person cannot identify a pit bull. … Treat your dog with kindness like your children. It is difficult for experts to label these as “non-pit bulls.”. Pit bulls, like these in Oxford, Mississippi, arouse strong passions. Of course, the process of domestication has led to wonderful canine companions for the most part; hence, “man’s best friend.”. Unpack this problem for us, as police in America today seem to be shooting more than just innocent dogs. [Meet the United States' most popular dog breeds.]. I have to confess: I have never met a nice pit bull. Stronger animal control laws, public education and responsible … Pit bulls were originally used for bull- and bear-baiting, and later were bred to fight dogs in an arena. You’re informed. I mainly want to put a little bit of everything about pit bulls such as history, health care, feeding and actives for a pit bull, as well as maybe uploading some more pictures. Pit bulls in the news. A self-taught canine behaviorist, I have been studying the pit bull controversy for many a year. You care. A June 20th piece by Charlotte Alter called “The Problem With Pit Bulls” elicited a flood of protest mail from supporters of the breed. They are banned in the United Kingdom and several other countries. [Laughs] I guess it’s dueling anecdotes. Her bookstore appearances now require security, and her home has been equipped with surveillance cameras. From 2005 to 2015, pit bulls killed 232 Americans, about one citizen every 17 days. There was a case in Idaho recently where a policeman shot a dog in a car because it barked at him. It wasn’t until I started to meet some that I began to question those assumptions. Kathleen Gemmell is an animal rights proponent and an author. That’s a good thing because the more it’s pushed out the better. Pit Bulls are the most misunderstood dogs there are. That’s always been the demographic the dogs were most popular with. There’s the Staffordshire bull terrier, which has been a conformation breed since the 1930s; and the newer breed called the American bully, which was derived from the American Staffordshire terrier in the 1990s. Please share this video with your family and friends Ten months later, he still bears the scars. It is commonly accepted that "pit bull" is not a breed but a loosely defined and general category. Facebook page for The Truth About Pit Bulls blog. Each breed was developed to perform a specific job, whether that job is hunting rabbits, retrieving downed birds, herding livestock or sitting on peoples laps. There is professional dog fighting, which has traditionally been white and rural. A true story about a pit bull dog that's honest - no gushing, just the facts - that demonstrates once and for all, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that pit bulls are DOGS like any other dog. They will always be a powerful symbol. They are banned in the United Kingdom and several other countries. ©2021 Verizon Media. It mostly comes from fear. Obviously, the police have a very difficult job. People who have studied these cases, like Jeffrey Sacks at the CDC, have shown that when it comes to fatalities caused by pit bulls, the breed identifications are often not accurate. While more Pit Bulls bit someone, they weren’t more likely to bite someone. From 2005 to 2015, pit bulls killed 232 Americans, about one citizen every 17 days. The truth about pit bulls . In doing so, they encouraged wild speculations about these dogs that were not based in science or historical fact—things like they have 5,000 pounds of jaw pressure. To others, they are victims of prejudice and misunderstanding. But it still happens, as the wounds on the head, neck, and leg of this pit bull in North Carolina demonstrate. But Pit Bull type dogs, that is the breeds that were bred for fighting, and their crosses seem to do it more often than other breeds. If they don't get vigorous exercise for at least an hour per day, whether it's games, dog sports, work of some kind, a jog or a brisk walk, they are apt to invent something to do. There’s the American pit bull terrier; the American Staffordshire terrier, which was the American Kennel Club conformation breed that branched off from the American pit bull terrier when folks wanted AKC legitimacy and didn’t want to be associated with the American pit bull terrier riff-raff. In other words, perfect storm of factor upon factor. I grew up in the 1980s, and I was always terrified of them. They all share more than 99.8 percent of their DNA. The first thing I did when I was consulting this book is reach out to the experts in the animal sciences to talk about what’s going on with these incidents and how best to prevent them. But the trigger-happy mentality is pretty bad. It is an inherently aggressive breed, isn’t it? It’s a long, involved story. Whether you love or hate them, they’ve been a huge part of who we are from the Battle of Gettysburg onward. One obvious question they could investigate: Was the dog actually a Pit Bull? But when the authorities threatened to euthanize Mickey, public opinion swung behind the dog, not the boy. The following is basic breed information for anyone who is interested in acquiring a Pit Bull. Photograph by William Albert Allard, Nat Geo Image Collection, The Most Feared Dogs May Also Be the Most Misunderstood,, Kevin Vicente was savagely attacked by a pit bull named Mickey, a heroine for the pro-pit bull community and the target of threats and harassment, Chinese festival where dogs are on the menu, when it comes to fatalities caused by pit bulls, the breed identifications are often not accurate, the United States' most popular dog breeds, policeman shot a dog in a car because it barked at him. The truth is pit bulls are loyal to their owners and will do whatever their owners want them to do to please them. Some states and cities have acted on the research: The state of Maryland has determined that pit bulls are \"inherently dangerous\" and all owners are liable for any injuries they cause, according to the Baltimore Sun.Even the U.S. Army has acknowledged that pit bulls are high-risk dogs; they are therefore prohibited in some military housing units.Pit bulls join several other breeds on the list of dogs that are reco… Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. It is the owner not the dog. I know that sounds odd because I spent all this time writing a book specifically about pit bulls, but I really did come to appreciate that all dogs are the same species. Eventually the use of dogs in blood sports was banned in many countries, but unlawful pit bull fighting still occurs in many a back alley. So are a handful of other breeds and mixed breeds. When people say, “Oh, these dogs are bred for fighting,” it’s true that the original breed, the American pit bull terrier, which originated in 1889, was developed for fighting. No. Many say that any pit bull raised in a non-aggressive environment by gentle and knowledgeable owners will not attack. If you compare a Pit Bull skull to a skull of any other dog breed, you can see with the naked eye that both skulls share the same characteristics and general bone structure. I am. With the exemption of the jack russell terrier, the bite of the doberman as an example, is less likely to cause the damage that the immensely powerful pit bull can inflict. You visited a place called Animal Farm Foundation. Those problems are real, and they’ll take a while to solve. She wanted to give shelter dogs a chance that they were not receiving in most shelters in America. This is a child who really suffered, his family suffered, and that deserves an incredible amount of compassion. In order to do that, they partnered with the media to put dog fighting on the front page of every newspaper in America. The majority (60%) of dogs identified as "pitbulls" do not have DNA signatures from any of the pitbull-type breeds - leading to exceedingly inaccurate breed information in media reports and in unreliable statistics about dog bites and fatal attacks. All breeds can and do attack as they are the domestication of select breeding of the wolf. Dog fighting is on the decline in the United Sates due to tougher laws and better surveillance. While the average score of the 231 breeds tested was a mere 82.4 percent, Pit Bulls scored a 86.5 percent (the higher the score the better). The short version is: The dogs were really popular during WWI and the Depression, when there was this nostalgic feeling around the average blue collar working Joe. The American Pit Bull Terrier is technically the only true pit bull, although the American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier are often referred to as pit bulls. They were seen as all-American: no fuss, no frills, everyday dogs. Shouldn’t they be banned here? With all the pit bull controversy, it is interesting to note that one is most likely to be bitten by one of these breeds; dachshund, chihuahua, and the jack russell terrier. Just look at the human animal and the violence we have created in our world. Yes, any dog can attack their owner. We … This stressed to me how resilient animals are, in general. When she started, most shelters in the U.S. denied pit bulls without giving them the chance at adoption. Would you trust them around your children? ! ... and her interviews are thoughtful and unbiased. I have a great book called The American Pit Bull Terrier Handbook by Joe Stahlkuppe and would like to add some of its information to this page. Pit bull type dogs include breeds such as Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, and American Staffordshire terriers, amongst others. 108K likes. Standing for … He was temporarily blinded in one eye and his jaw was broken. Today is National Voter Registration Day! Animals are unpredictable. Not just pit bulls but dogs as a species. Secondly, there’s no science that bears that idea out. You tell us that pit bulls used to be among America’s favorite breeds—Petey, the famous dog who was part of Our Gang/The Little Rascals was a pit. However, one personality trait of the Pit Bull breed is determination. Petey, shown here in 1928 with child actors from the Our Gang comedy series, won the hearts of Americans and catapulted the pit bull to the high point of its popularity. All too often, they serve as a proxy for our own prejudices. Make the most of your reading with comments, events and more. The incident illustrated the bitter divide in perceptions of pit bulls—as Bronwen Dickey, author of Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon, has discovered to her own cost. Four-year-old Kevin Vicente was attacked by a pit bull named Mickey in Phoenix, Arizona. In some areas, regulated breeds also include a variety of other dogs like American Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers or any mix of these breeds—and dogs who simply resemble thes… I have met everything from the most scary and unstable pit bull to the most bombproof and mellow. And the more terrified everyone became, the more people who probably should not have had these dogs, wanted them. Reality: Pit Bulls do not have any special physical mechanism or enzyme that allows them to “lock” their jaws. Dickey consulted dozens of animal experts and pored over mountains of data before emerging with a conclusion as mundane as it is profound: Pit bulls are just dogs. They consistently achieve excellent temperament scores, are successful as service dogs, therapy dogs, K9 police dogs, and as family pets. Regulated breeds typically comprise the “pit bull” class of dogs, including American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and English Bull Terriers. We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote! In that same town, all 10 Pugs and 20 Pit Bulls bite someone. You’re unstoppable. But when the authorities sought to put the dog down, public opinion swung behind the dog, not the boy. November 16, 2013. Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase. I'm thinking about adding to this page. But, first of all, it’s not one breed, it’s four. It's impossible to determine breed by appearance alone. In fact, the UKC's official breed standard for the American Pit Bull Terrier states that "most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression." 5.0 out of 5 stars The unvarnished, unbiased TRUTH about pit bull dogs, once and for all. To some, they are canine killers that should be banned. Dog fighting is a serious problem, but all the cruelty investigators I consulted said that it is decreasing. But the three other breeds that are lumped into this category have always been dog show conformation breeds. They are the most wrongfully feared and legislated against. Important conversations are happening now. But in the 1970s, there was this well-intentioned move by the humane movement to stamp out what was left of illegal dog fighting. All dogs are special, but living with a pit bull really is different. Originally bred as fighting dogs, pit bulls were used to hold the heads of larger animals, including bulls. By attempting to show that negative views about pit bulls have often been shaped by misunderstandings of the breed and its history, she has unwittingly become a heroine for the pro-pit bull community and the target of threats and harassment from those who see her as an apologist for a vicious animal. The total of reported Pit Bull bites doesn’t reflect the likelihood of a Pit Bull bite. For people who are thinking of getting a pit bull, I would say, focus on the individual dog in front of you. And for those who already have one or more and would like to learn more about the breed, or simply for anyone who would like to understand these great dogs… on. Be aware, you may face some issues with housing and insurance. [Note: It would be remiss to not add that often drug houses are guarded by pit bulls as they may be owned for protection in crime ridden areas for their ability to intimidate.]. It is difficult for experts to label these as “non-pit bulls.” Originally bred as fighting dogs, pit bulls were used to hold the heads of larger animals, including bulls. But once a dog becomes a symbol like that, people can act in ways that are not rational. All breeds can and do attack as they are the domestication of select breeding of the wolf. The officer claimed that he was shooting a vicious pit bull. These were dogs that had not been socialized; were large and sexually intact; and had no relationship to the person who was killed. You use the term “battlefield mentality” when discussing the number of dogs shot by police. But, by focusing on the dog in front of you, you will make the best choice. I wouldn’t say get a dog just because it’s a pit bull, just as I wouldn’t reject a dog out of hand just because it’s a pit bull. Bred by combining the tenacity of the terrier and the power of the bull dog, pit bulls have also shown their prowess as bear-baiters. They don’t have that heritage. It seems to be shoot first, ask questions later. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- Rarely do the writers perform actual research. Hear in lies the dichotomy… “IF” one is bitten by the more likely biters, it can be fairly straight forward to see that they are of small stature and can be fought off. Recently, a woman in Connecticut was mauled by two pit bulls and she ultimately lost her struggle to survive. The Truth About Pit Bulls. I always hesitate to invoke that example because the fact that mine is wonderful doesn’t negate the fact that there are really nasty dogs out there! It was a major media spectacle. In fact, the dog was a registered black Labrador. All were historically bred for two purposes: to control vermin and to fight. It’s getting a lot smaller because technology is allowing cruelty investigators to be very savvy about catching these guys. Who's right? PEOPLE is rerunning this 2016 article about pit bulls to address and clear up some myths about this group of dogs. Dog Aggression vs. Human Aggression Today, Mickey is living in an air-conditioned cell in an Arizona jail with a thousand-dollar webcam so people can see what he’s doing. My own pit bull is called Nola. In the 1950s, with the consumer boom after WWII, there was a huge push toward kennel club breeds and the pit bull fell by the wayside. Definition of this category varies depending upon the source. An exercised Pit Bull is a well-behaved Pit Bull. There have been police who shot and killed dogs at the wrong house or killed dogs who were just going about their business. It takes place mostly in Louisiana and Texas, though there was a major bust in Missouri a while back. In a word: no. such an undeserved reputation of being cold blooded killers. In April 2007, law-enforcement officials raided a 15-acre property owned by Vick in rural Surry County, Virginia, and discovered dozens of pit bulls, … I would never state that one should or shouldn’t own a pit bull. Add your voice. Tell us about this rescue operation and a dog called Pinto. WELCOME TO THE PAGE!!! This page discusses the most notable traits of Pit Bull type dogs, including the potential for dog aggression. The story of the pit bull is fascinating because it is such an American story. One of the things they do when you stay at the farm is to have a shelter dog be your roommate, so the dogs can get used to a family environment and they can get more information about how the dog behaves in that environment. The fact that they get lumped in is part of the problem because we’re basing things on what they look like and not necessarily what they are. If one attains a puppy, it can be difficult to know the genetic predispositions in a given dog. Find the dog that is right for you and works for your lifestyle. Thank goodness, after the attention the case received, the Vicente family has had more donations. How did they go from mascot to monster? Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter. DECONSTRUCTING BOGUS "PITBULL STATISTICS". THE COLORS ARE AMAZING AND THIS DEAN RUSSO DEFINITELY KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT PITBULLS! The owners of this page are apart of a community called F.A.H. We don’t know the exact figures, because no one’s required to keep a comprehensive list of dog shootings, but we can probably guess there are thousands every year. The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is a dog breed recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA), but not the American Kennel Club (AKC). Dog aggression is a common issue in pit bulls. Any blocky headed dog, or any mix of breeds that is between 35 and 100 pounds and upwards of 30 individual dog breeds may currently fall in this broad category through the use of visual breed identification. Dog breeds are characterized by certain physical and behavioral traits.