I’m going to put on my grumpy pants for today’s post. It’s about Pit Bulls. Please, no groaning!  If you’ve never met a Pit Bull and are only listening to the news media about them, read on! As I watched the news one morning, I heard someone described as a Pit Bull. I said to myself, “Oh? Does he have a happy, wagging tail, roll on his side for a belly rub and give sloppy kisses?”  No, of course he meant that this person was rough, tough and determined.  I’m getting frustrated with this generalization and the bad reputation given to Pit Bulls. As a result, people walk past them in shelters and won’t even consider them for adoption. These dogs are crowding shelters by the thousands, and it’s a growing problem that effects this entire country.

No doubt, there are many aggressive and dangerous Pit Bulls out there. Because they have large jaws, the tendency to grab on and not let go with their tenacious Terrier-ness, people can exploit these characteristics to make the dogs do very bad things. Improper training, no training at all, and training to cause aggression can turn Pits into killing machines.  Also, through inbreeding, Pits can have genetic aggression. So can all breeds. In the 60’s and 70’s, the Cocker Spaniel was so overbred that it was difficult to find one that wasn’t aggressive.

I’m sure that this post will bring angry stories of Pits who have harmed people. I agree, lots of those stories exist.  And they exist for all breeds. The problem is that there are so many Pits in urban neighborhood now, no wonder we hear so many stories. As a society, we have labeled certain breeds over the years as “bad.”  Remember when German Shepherds were feared? And how about Rottweilers and Dobermans? Now it’s the Pit’s turn.

I’d like for people to know that the true nature of a Pit Bull is a very sweet, loving and sensitive dog. If you’ve ever met a nice Pit Bull, you will be taken in by his welcoming grin and infectiously wagging tail that whips you with happiness. A good Pit will want to sit in your lap and cuddle, not realizing that he’s a 40-50 pound dog. They just want to be hugged and loved. Pete, the beloved dog in the Little Rascals show, was a Pit.

If only it was just the dogfighters who are breeding Pits. Then maybe there wouldn’t be so many aggressive ones out there. What many people don’t realize is that when breeding Pits for dogfighting, the dogs must not be aggressive to humans because the people need to go into the pit with the dogs. A dog who aggresses to humans in the pit cannot be handled. These dogs are worthless to the owners and those are the ones you often hear about that get thrown away like garbage or killed mercilessly.

Oh, by the way, there is no such thing as a “pure bred Pit Bull.” They are not a recognized breed – just a category of dogs with a similar look. Lots of dogs are tagged as Pits but really are not: American Bulldogs, Staffordshire Terriers, and bully mixes.

In my next post on this topic, I’ll discuss the issues of the quickly growing Pit populations. Contrary to popular believe, it’s not just the dogfighters who are breeding them. We’ll take a look at where all of these Pits are being bred, the reasons for Pit Bull overpopulation and the problems created in shelters as a result.  If you love animals, you will include Pit Bulls. Not all of them are the devildogs portrayed by the media. They need our love too.

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