Pit Bulls are not to Blame – No

As I read this question, is it the duty and obligation of the upstanding press to vilify a breed of dogs, I vehemently state no. There is no reason the media should out one breed of dogs because of a reputation earned by irresponsible owners. In my opinion, the media should feel morally obliged to defend all that is good in this breed, and end the unreasoning fear and hatred of a lovely, loyal dog.

The history of the American pit bull is steeped in blood and fierceness, yet also in loyalty and protection. The believed descendants of this breed were thought to have started their career with humans as guard dogs, and battle dogs. They were bred to be loyal, fierce, and protective. To examine the breed shows they have these characteristics in spades.

The Roman emperor Claudius started breeding the original dogs as fighting dogs, using them for entertainment in the arenas, prizing them for their tremendous abilities. Once labeled a fighting dog, the pit bull was shoe-horned into that position. Humans, ever ready to exploit a talent, used the undying loyalty along with their natural skills, to warp and train them into killers.

Even baiting comes from more innocent functions. Butchers originally used the pit bull to keep unruly bulls in line. The dogs would latch onto the sensitive nose of the bull, and hold it in place until a handler could take control. Yet there seems to be an element in humans that delight in cruelty, and these dogs were put in baiting rings, which became a common bloodsport throughout England. Current fight training for these dogs is not to dissimilar from previous centuries: every step is designed to create a violent, blood hungry animal that will fight to the death against any opponent.

This history has tainted the breed, leaving them marked forever as “violent”, “unpredictable”, and “unsafe for humans”. Even after the breed was brought to America and taken to the frontier, they could not escape they reputation. In the West, they became utility dogs, and once more the loyal guardians they had started as. Even the AKC would not accept the dog, deigning them to be fighters, and ignoring all the other attributes of the breed. It took over fifty years for the pit bullto be accepted as a pure breed, though it was forced to change its name to Staffordshire Terrier.

Despite the laws against it, some people continue to pit these dogs against each other for “fun” and “sport”. Dogs are treated poorly, turned into killing machines, and all signs of the loving animal inside is stripped away. It seems the pit bull will never escape his ill-gotten reputation, and the only thing he did to earn it was be strong and fierce.

One neither should, nor could, deny the past. Pit bulls have been used meanly in the past, and will most likely be used so in the future. They were bred to be an aggressive animal, meant to defend by any means necessary. When they attack, their temperament and negative history should not be used to condemn the entire breed. Each attack should be addressed on an individual basis, not blanketed by statements generate by fear and misunderstanding.

When there is an attack, the press sees fit only to list statistics showing mauling trends in certain breeds. Only the worst of the pit bull is pointed out, and never is the noble dog defended. No one on the news reports how many pit bulls are loving and wonderful animals, nor do they say what percentage of the breed is responsible for attacks on humans. Never does the media remind us of all the good pit bulls, of the famous ones.

When a pit bull goes rogue, or snaps under the neglect of her owner, there is no one in the media who reminds us that pit bulls worked non-stop after the 9/11 tragedy. We are not reminded that pit bulls have been mascots to our boys in WWI and WWII, or that the pit bull was a mascot for American strength in the early 1900’s. Why does no one defend a breed that has been owned by Helen Keller, Theodore Roosevelt, and Jessica Alba?

Instead, the media should be responsible for demonizing the true villain. When a pit bull goes out of control and mauls someone, the owner of that dog should be put under the magnifying glass. Why was his dog so wild, why was the dog not better trained, why was the dog allowed into a situation where it would lose control? Nurture, versus nature, is a large part of a dog’s personality. Any dog, even one of the “violent” breeds, will be loving and sweet if raised that way. Any breed can turn vicious if abused and raised cruelly.

Do not decry the breed. Decry the inhumane treatment the poor fighting dogs receive. Decry the irresponsible people who adopt a dog they have no understanding of, nor a desire to take care of them. The media should put the blame where blame is due, and stop perpetuating the myth of a killer breed.