Cinema Veterinary Centre
Pit Bull Awareness
October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month. This event was created in 2007 by Jodi Preis of Bless the Bullys. It was created to bring awareness about this breed and to educate the public about what great dogs pit bulls really are. Because Cinema Veterinary Centre is a pit bull friendly clinic we would like to provide you with a little information on the breed so that you can better understand this affectionate and gentle dog.
Pit Bulls scored above any other breed on the American Temperament Test for the past eight years in a row – even above the golden retriever! This test measures different aspects of the dogs’ temperament. During this walk, the dog experiences visual, auditory and tactile stimuli that determines the dogs temperament. This test is used nationally by animal shelters and rescues, as well as part of the Guide Dogs of America’s training. Neutral, friendly and threatening situations are encountered, calling into play the dog’s ability to distinguish between non-threatening situations and those calling for watchful and protective reactions. Failure on any part of the test is recognized when a dog shows: unprovoked aggression, panic without recovery and strong avoidance. (More information can be found here: http://atts.org/tt-test-description/ )
In the most recent test, 1,548 pit bull–type breed dogs were tested and 85.8% of them passed the test with flying colors. (The term ‘pit bull’ encompasses certain breeds of dog from the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, and the American Bulldog.) To put this in perspective, of all other breeds tested (Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs) out of 30,876 dogs tested, only 83% passed. This information indicates that pit bulls may not be the dangerous dogs they are portrayed as.
Early in American History these dogs were celebrated. Pit bulls were an American favorite in the early half of the century — during World War I, the country itself is personified as a pit bull on army recruitment posters, and several pit bulls go on to become famous in the American military. They were once known as the “nanny dog” due to their loyalty and love for children. In fact, in the early 19th century they were known as the number one family dog.
From the turn of the century until the early 1980s, there has been exactly one dog attack story to make the national papers that mention pit bulls. However this story involved a man intentionally commanding a pack of dogs to attack a young woman. According to a 1947 article in The Independent (St. Petersburg, Florida), “Attorneys said they believed it was the first time the state had invoked a statute which would find the owner guilty of manslaughter if it were proven that he permitted vicious animals to run free and they attacked and killed a human being.” There’s no mention of pit bulls as vicious and no call for a ban of the breed, just a human who is held responsible for inducing the dogs to attack. It is best to remember a dog wants to please his trainer and is not aware of the consequences of their actions.
In the late 80’s dog fighting made a comeback and the dog most widely used for fighting was a pit bull due to the dogs’ physical disposition. Shortly after this, there was a proposed ban on the dogs. Since then the media has highly publicized all pit bull attacks. The National Canine Research Council conducted a 20 year study of fatal dog attacks and concluded that “no breed of dog has a particular method of attack or inflicts an exclusive type of injury.”
People who are ignorant about the breed, and the negative portrayal from the media, are allowing society to make misguided judgments about these dogs. It is estimated that roughly 1,250,000 pit bull – type dogs are killed in shelters every year. If we as a society can help bring awareness to this majestic breed, we can save lives and prevent people from losing their best friends. It is the responsibility of the pit bull owners to raise well behaved, socialized dogs; and the blame for any dog whose temperament is less than satisfactory should solely fall upon the owner. Now that you have more information about pit bulls, we hope you can choose to look at these sorely misunderstood dogs differently.