This is going to be a bit of a rant. Sorry, not sorry. Because this is something that just gets under my skin.
We were watching our set of TV shows last week, and on two- yeah, TWO- of them, they leaned on the “mean, aggressive pit bull” trope. On one, the Good Guys were looking for a suspect and were told he wasn’t around because he was attending the funeral of a child who had been mauled to death by two pit bulls. The dogs were not a part of the ongoing story, and never appeared nor were mentioned again. There was absolutely no need to specify “pit bull”. It didn’t matter to the story. It was a throw off comment. It would have been just as effective to say the child was mauled by two dogs. In the second, the Big Bad Guy had the stereotypical aggressive, intimidating pit bull that he took with him everywhere. He used the dog to intimidate, and in one case (off camera) to attack and kill a man.
Those sort of characterizations make me both angry and sad. I own an American Pit Bull Terrier, and Lambeau is the sweetest, happiest, least aggressive dog you could meet. Depicting them like they were on those shows, and particularly the one where the child mauling was mentioned, is nothing more than breed profiling. And it’s wrong. Yes, I am fully aware that bully breeds were originally bred for bull and bear baiting, that they have (and, unfortunately, still are) used in dog fighting, and have been used by drug dealers and gangs as attack/guard dogs. But that’s not in any way all they are. Along with the breed selection for the often illegal purposes these dogs were used for, they were also bred to be very human oriented. To live with their families. In the case of the American Pit Bull Terrier, they were bred to be farm dogs, helping track and herd wild hogs and cattle.
I do understand that these dogs can have temperament issues, most often with other dogs. They are muscular and strong, with a lot of energy. Like most dogs, they need socialization, training, and exercise. Can they be trained to be aggressive and dangerous? Yes, but so can many other breeds (GSDs, dobermans, rotties, and more). Are there pitties that are not suitable as family pets? Yep. Just like there are shepherds, cocker spaniels, chihuahuas, dachshunds, and individuals in most breeds that would not make good family pets. I don’t think a pit bull is the dog for everyone. I put a lot of work into Lambeau, and I still work with him every day. I know him. I know his cues and when he’s getting over-excited, or stressed, or upset by a situation. I know when to step in and just move him away. But you know what? That’s part of owning any dog, not just a pittie. Given the right circumstances, you couldn’t ask for a better dog. Everyone loves Lambeau, and Lambeau loves everyone. It just gnaws at me when people fall back on a stereotype like the “mean, aggressive pit bull” without thinking what they are doing, and use it like in those TV shows as a fall back when it isn’t necessary. I’d love to see that stopped. And I’d like people in general, when they see things like that, to begin to think “but not all pit bulls”. Because in reality, it’s not most pit bulls.
Done with the rant. Have a picture of my pittie, who is more dork than anything else!
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