If current news reports are to be thought, pit bulls have actually been assaulting and biting human beings left and right — to the point that many neighborhoods are thinking about breed-specific restrictions on pit bulls.
Reasons of Pitbull’s Bad Reputation
Would it surprise you to find out that pit bulls used to be America’s darlings? Before the mid-80s, stories of pit bull attacks are practically non-existent. There is even some confusion over exactly which type of dog is a pit bull — the meaning consists of the American pit bull terrier, the Staffordshire terrier and, sometimes, the bulldog. This confusion appears to have dogged the breed from the beginning, as there is some disagreement over the origin of pit bulls.
Two possible histories of pit bulls
In one theory, pit bulls started during antiquity as the so-called Molossus, a now-extinct type that was used by the Greeks as shepherds and watchdog. In times of war, they marched off to fight with their people. Ultimately, so the theory goes, the Molossus made it to early Britain, where it ended up being referred to as the Mastiff. In the first century CE, Rome found the type after defeating the Britons, and the dogs spread out all over the empire. For the next 4 hundred years, they were used as war dogs, and intermixed with various local types all over the European continent, becoming the leaders of the modern-day pit bull.
A contending theory places the origin of the pit bull in England at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, when butchers would use large, Mastiff-type dogs as “bullenbeissers,” which translates as “bull biter.” Trained to acquire a bull’s nose and not let go up until the animal was suppressed, these dogs were the only manner in which human beings could gain back control when a bull ended up being upset. Sadly, this practical if suspicious use ultimately led to the “sport” of bull-baiting, where dogs were put in a pit with a deliberately riled-up bull and spectators positioned bets on which dog would hold on the longest, or bring the bull down. You’ve probably thought it by now, but this is likewise the origin of the terms “pit bull dog” and “bulldog.”
Still not a particular breed, the bullenbeissers were reproduced with Terriers, integrating their intelligence with the strength of the Mastiffs. As bull-baiting happened banned in the 19th century, dog battling ended up being popular as an underground and quasi-illegal activity in the UK. British immigrants to the United States at that time brought dog battling, in addition to their dogs, to the New World. However, as the breed spread to Americans and Americans spread across the continent, pit bulls began to be put to their original use, as basic function herding and working dogs but still with bad reputation. Because of their battling history, however, the American Kennel Club would not acknowledge the breed till 1936, although they specified it as a Staffordshire terrier, unique from the American pit bull terrier.
Early perceptions of pit bulls
Far from being thought about a killing machine on legs, pit bulls seem to be an American favorite in the early half of the century — indeed, during World War I, the nation itself is personified as a pit bull on army recruitment posters, and numerous pit bulls go on to end up being famous in the American armed force. Describing an athlete as a pit bull is a typical sports metaphor through the 1930s, and it is implied as the greatest compliment. There is also a popular racehorse in the late 1930s called Pit Bull, in addition to a variety of pit bull stars of early motion pictures. Regularly, pit bulls are related to children, as in the Our Gang funnies, along with Buster Brown, both simply put movies and as the business mascot for a shoe company. The popular RCA Victor picture of a dog and a gramophone also featured a pit bull terrier.
From the millenium up until the early 1980s, there is precisely one dog attack story to make the national papers and discuss pit bulls, but that’s probably due to the fact that it included a man deliberately siccing a pack of 26 dogs on a girl. Is it enough to have bad reputation for pit bull breed? Probably, yes. According to a 1947 post in The Independent (St. Petersburg, Florida), “Attorneys stated they believed it was the very first time the state had conjured up a statute which would find the owner guilty of manslaughter if it were shown that he allowed vicious animals to run free and they attacked and eliminated a person.” There’s no reference 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. Ironically, though, it remains in Florida forty years after this occurrence that the first breed-specific ban is enacted. In the intervening years, “pit bull” continues to be a popular description for athletes when the breed does show up in papers, it’s more often than not in a categorized advertisement for young puppies.
The only mention during the 1960s that isn’t really an advertisement is a rather amusing bit from chatter writer Earl Wilson, who reported in his August 22, 1969 column, “Sonny and Cher, who used to frighten people, have actually now been frightened by individuals. ‘Totally horrified’ by the Sharon Tate murder case, they purchased a huge dog — ‘a pit bull terrier’ — to secure them and their little daughter Chaste [sic] at their Hollywood Home…” It is at about this time that using large dogs for personal defense ends up being popular, but pit bulls are still not singled out as especially unsafe. In 1971, a brand-new law permits the U.S. Postal Service to bill people for injuries caused to letter providers by their dogs, however it applies to all dogs, and the general mindset is still one of human obligation. In a syndicated New York Times story from 1977 on dog bites, opening with the story of a seven year-old kid getting an extremely small injury from a Great Dane, author Jane E. Brody advises, “(S) imple precautions on the part of the dog owners and potential victims could avoid the majority of these attacks.”
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Change in perception and restriction on pit bulls
Less than a years later on, that had all altered, and by New Year’s Day 1986, over thirty neighborhoods are considering type specific legislation and prohibits on pit bulls. What altered?
For one thing, in spite of being prohibited in all fifty states, dog combating picked up in the 80s, and the pit bull is the dog of choice. It is likewise the preferred guard dog for drug dealerships and gangs, with a hugely advertised attack in 1987 in which a pit bull safeguarding a marijuana crop in California mauls and eliminates a two-and-a-half year-old young boy.
By the summer of that year, each proposed restriction has ended up being law, however not always with the assistance of animal professionals. Kent Salazar, head of Albuquerque’s animal control division, commented at the time of their proposed ban on pit bulls that he didn’t believe a restriction on pit bulls was necessary, saying, “We have all the ways to protect people with provisions about vicious dogs.” He also noted that, a few years formerly, Doberman pinschers were the target of such restrictions. His words went unheeded, and Tijeras, New Mexico, just beyond Albuquerque, passes the most difficult pit bull restriction of the time, permitting animal control officers to seize and ruin them on sight without settlement to the owner.
The different pit bull breed bans are decried by animal control officials as “the most focused legal attack on a pit bull they can remember,” as well as “canine racism.” The Houston Chronicle quotes unnamed authorities as placing the blame for the problem squarely on human beings. “(M) any of the pit bull attacks are due to a skyrocketing number of improperly bred and badly skilled dogs raised by backyard breeders, who are attempting to cash in on the pit bull’s growing credibility as an inexpensive, but lethal effective guard dog, particularly in metropolitan areas.”
Almost thirty years after the start of this anti-pit bull hysteria, the tide seems to be turning a little bit, however every advance is followed by an action back. Even as Florida is trying to reverse all breed-specific legislation, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin is thinking about imposing a brand-new restriction. Yet it just takes a quick take a look at the history of pit bulls to recognize that the dogs are not the problem; the humans who misuse them are. For over a hundred years, holding the owners personally accountable was enough to prevent attacks, and the breed was viewed as really child-friendly. With outreach and education, it might be possible to restore that image and restore the pit bull’s reputation, bring back an classic American dog to its rightful location among humanity’s best friends.
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