When I was growing up, we always had at least one, if not two or more dogs. I have always loved dogs, even after I was attacked by a 90 pound Alaskan Malamute when I was about six years old.
It wasn’t a very severe attack and it was my fault anyway. I was told not to sit on the floor because the dog would consider me a toy. I did it anyway and reaped the consequences. I had to get stitches, but otherwise I was fine. I still harbor a mild fear of the breed though. There’s a Malamute that goes to the dog park where I take my dog. Yesterday, that Malamute picked up a five-pound dog in his mouth and flung it across the park. The little dog was dazed, but unharmed. The little dog probably shouldn’t have been in the big dog park in the first place. We have separate big dog and little dog parks so things like that don’t happen.
A few months ago at the dog park, I was warned, not attacked, but warned by a Caucasian Mountain Dog (Ovarchka). In an instant, 140 pounds of flying fury got my jeans in its mouth before it backed off. I made the mistake of walking between the dog and its owner standing a few feet away.
From puppyer.com: “The Caucasian Mountain Dog is affectionate, demonstrative, and gentle with family members. They are highly protective of their family and territory and extremely suspicious of strangers and dogs. This breed is even-tempered, steady, and possess keen senses. Any danger, real or perceived, will result in warning growls and barking. Caucasian Mountain Dog’s will not hesitate to respond with lightening-quick speed to protect what or who belongs to them.”
Note that is says affectionate and gentle with family members. I very much believe that is true. However, that breed is pure guard dog. Guard dogs are naturally suspicious of strange dogs and strange people. To the Caucasian Mountain Dog at the dog park, that’s exactly what I was. Fortunately, I have not seen that dog at the dog park since.
Those examples illustrate what I’m talking about today: perception. Because I was attacked by a Malamute, I’m a little intimidated by the breed. Because I was warned off by a Caucasian Mountain Dog, I’m rather terrified of them now. I would never approach one, and if I saw one out somewhere, I would do my best to avoid it altogether. Yet, neither of those opinions are justified. It’s just my perception based on two examples. Two dogs do not make a bad breed.
But what happens when it’s more than two examples? What happens to breeds like the American Pit Bull Terrier when they are forced to fight by countless idiotic humans? Confirmed asshole, Michael Vick was convicted of dog-fighting. What they don’t tell you though is that 47 of the more than 70 dogs, mostly Pit Bulls, that were removed from Vick’s kennel were sent to animal sanctuaries or adopted. One rehabilitated dog named Mel was adopted and received an edible key to the city of Dallas, TX to the dismay of some of the city’s residents.
A century ago and more, the Pit Bull was referred to as America’s babysitter or “The Nanny Dog” because they were so good with children.
Some of you may look at that picture and be absolutely horrified. How could you trust your child with a killer dog? Pit Bulls are dangerous! Get it away from the baby before it kills it!
In reality, that dog probably looked at that baby as its own child. It would defend that child to the death if it had to, but that dog wouldn’t harm that child, because it sees it as a member of its family.
Pit Bulls being perceived as killer dogs wasn’t always the case and it shouldn’t be the case now. Pit Bulls are kind, friendly, intelligent and playful dorks. They are very good with children. They are good with other dogs. They are good with people. They are not monsters until we turn them into monsters.
It’s humans who are the monsters. Humans are the ones who took a lovely breed and turned some of them into killers by abusing them, neglecting them and training them to kill. Dog fighting has to be taught; it is not innate. The fact is, dogs are what we make them. We are the ones who bred them for certain traits. We created the Pit Bull in the first place and now we ostracize and vilify them. We are to blame. It is not the dog’s fault.
The dog has not changed; our perception of them has. Pit Bulls are still America’s babysitter.
My dog is a Pit Bull/German Shepherd mix. When I went to add her to my insurance policy for liability, just in case anything were to happen, they asked me what breed she is. Without thinking, I said Shepherd mix, because that’s what it says on her paperwork from the dog pound. The girl on the phone said, “Oh, good. If she was a Pit Bull, we couldn’t add her to your policy at all.”
The Pit Bull’s reputation is attacked time and again and the media just perpetuates the myth. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen news of a dog attack and heard the reporter say “a Pit Bull type dog brutally attacked” so and so, when the dog isn’t really a Pit at all. And they always use the adjective “brutally” as a scare tactic. If my dog were to attack someone, I’m sure the media would report her as a Pit Bull, not a Pit/Shepherd mix.
From the American Pit Bull Terrier wiki linked above: “Australia, Ecuador, Malaysia, New Zealand, the territory of Puerto Rico, Singapore and Venezuela and twelve countries in Europe have enacted some form of breed-specific legislation on pit bull-type dogs, including American Pit Bull Terriers, ranging from outright bans to restrictions and conditions on ownership.
Certain counties and cities in the United States have outright banned ownership of the American Pit Bull terrier, as well as the province of Ontario in Canada. American Pit Bull Terriers are also on a list of four breeds that are banned in the UK.”
This is not right.
Humans of earth, please stop thinking of these dogs as killers. Stop the perception. While it is true that some Pit Bulls have been so abused by humans that they can’t come back from the edge, Pit Bulls are not natural killers. Even if they are trained to be killers, sometimes, they can unlearn it. Over two thirds of the killer dogs brutalized by Michael Vick were able to be rehabilitated. Pit Bulls are killers only when despicable human beings turn them into killers. It is not their nature. It is not the breed; it’s the human.