Pit bulls: A man’s best friend or nightmare?



By Roberto Brandt, CONTRIBUTOR
A dog has been classified in many cultures as man’s best friend, a loyal companion, or even as a licensed tool for therapy. Some dogs can find a forever home easier than others because of the stigma humans have attached to some breeds. One dog that has many negative perceptions is the American Pitbull Terrier due to its hulking muscle mass, large jaws, and intimidating presence. Through circumstances that are not entirely the dog’s fault, these animals have received the label of fighting dog or a dangerous beast. Thanks to these perceptions many pitbulls struggle to find a family willing to adopt them.
Even with the struggle to get adopted in this day and age pitbulls have many different types of support systems from shelters to animal rescue homes. One such company is called Save A Bull Rescue.
Save A Bull Rescue is a nonprofit company which arranges for pitbulls to find a proper home and allows volunteers to come care for these dogs general well being. This company does all in their power to prevent these dogs from becoming abandoned, or euthanized.
“Through a dedicated network of volunteers and partners, plus support from our community, Save-a-Bull rescues and rehomes pit bulls who deserve a second chance,” the mission statement reads.
As of this year, more than 33 percent of dogs in shelters are pit bulls in comparison to larger cities with the percentage as high as 55 percent, according to the Save A Bull Rescue website. At municipal shelters more than 75 percent of pit bulls are euthanized immediately after they are brought in.
However not all shelters resort to immediate euthanization. One of these is the Hayward Animal Shelter.
A company which works with the American Canine Association and focuses solely on testing the temperament of dogs claims that pit bulls have a temperament passing rate of 86.7, which is much lower than more common household dogs such as the beagle, chihuahua, and the border collie, according to the American Temperament Test Society. It all comes down to the discipline and training they receive.
These temperament tests assess dogs for breed-specific behaviors or suitability for adoption from an animal shelter by observing the animal for unwanted or potentially dangerous behavioral traits such as aggressiveness towards other dogs or humans. The average overall passing rate for a dog’s temperament is 83.4 percent, indicating that pit bulls are above average.
Like any human child or animal, pit bulls require an amount of training in order to achieve acceptable social behavior. These dogs are not born mean, and if they are mean it is due to the way they were raised. If you train a pit bull to fight other dogs and to attack intruders that is what it will do. It was not because it was born hateful it is just doing what it was trained for.
What’s even more telling is that, it is not within a pit bull’s inherent characteristics to bite humans, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.This means that a pit bull most of the time must be trained to bite someone and that training is caused by human interaction.
Another rumor proven false about this specific breed is that they have a “locking jaw,” which allows them to hold on to people when they bite and not let go. This has been proven false by the AVMA, which has attested that pit bull’s jaws work the same way as any other dogs.
The Hayward animal shelter, which has been operating since 1975, has been a longstanding safe haven for lost and abandoned animals. This shelter’s primary goal is to ensure that all animals find a safe and loving home where they will be treated with kindness and love.
A representative at the Hayward animal shelter claims pit bulls have become less common to find in shelters.
“We have seen a decrease in the trend of homeless pit bulls, we maybe average one to two pit bulls in here every two months. The last one we had was only in our care for about a day before she was adopted,” the representative said in an interview.
A study was done at Arizona State University to see if simply the title pit bull would be an obstacle for these dogs to get adopted. The researchers took 30 dogs, 15 labeled as pit bulls and the other half labeled lookalikes such as boxers, or other similar dogs. The dogs labeled as lookalikes met families and were adopted in 13 days as opposed to the other group labeled pit bulls who sat in the kennels for almost 42 days. This study allowed the potential owners of the dogs to meet the dogs with no other information besides the fact that the dogs had specific labels. The owners were able to meet the dogs face to face and see how loving and sweet they are. Many people are willing to adopt dogs, but only after they see that the dog is labeled a pit bull do they have second thoughts. This leaves the animals locked away simply due to their breed.
“We were surprised how very similar-looking dogs sometimes get labeled ‘pit bull’ and other times as something completely different,” Lisa Gunter, the lead researcher, said in an interview with the Washington post. “These dogs may look and act the same, but the pit bull label damns them to a much longer wait to adoption.”