The Truth about Pit Bulls

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 4:00pm

“Pit Bull.” There is no other breed of dog—or arguably, any other animal at all—whose mere mention can elicit such strong opinions. Try a word-associate game with your friends: Ask them what they think of when you say “Pit Bull.” Chances are that by the numbers, their responses will be more negative than positive. And it’s no wonder: No other type of dog is as widely banned from housing, legislated against, or incorrectly vilified by the media.

How did we get here?
Pit Bulls were once widely considered ideal family pets—affectionate, loyal and gentle with children. But in recent years, these dogs have suffered tremendously from a combination of overbreeding, bad publicity and irresponsible owners. In reality, the overwhelming majority of Pits and Pit mixes are sweet goofballs who have gotten a very bad rap.

Learn the truth.
National Pit Bull Awareness Day, on October 27, is a day of appreciation and education designed to change perceptions and stereotypes about Pit Bulls and their responsible owners. Please take a moment to learn the truth about these wonderful dogs and consider rescuing one of them from a shelter.

Are you a proud Pit Bull parent? Please participate in National Pit Bull Awareness Day, and help us dispel the myths about these dogs by leaving a comment below about your wonderful pooch.

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Ashley Pollock

I have two wonderful pittie mixes! Penny Lane is a rescued beagle pit mix who is one heck of a hunter, keeping our garden free of all types of rodents! Ramzee is our recent rescue pup who is so willing to learn and to please, part pit and what we think is lab as he can not get enough frisbee time! Both came from rough starts, Penny being thrown from a car and Ramzee returned to the shelter for having "too much energy". Both of my babies are excellent alert dogs but will only end up showering the visitors with kisses! I usually have snuggle bookends when on the couch... Penny on one side and Ramzee on the other. They are so willing to please and to learn. They are both absolutely amazing around my sister's 3 young children. Some how instictively knowing they need to be even more gentle on leash or when taking treats. The major key to having such lova'bull' pitties is training and exercise! This breed is truly amazing! Full of love and respect and an ability to be such goofy goofy clowns I don't think I could ever have any other breed! These are not just dogs, these are loyal companions that will pick you up even on your worst days. Give them the training, love and respect they need and you will have a best friend for life! I feel so bad for the people with such closed minds that they aren't even willing to see the true light of the breed. Wake up people... your bias is aimed at the wrong end of leash! My dogs would change your mind..........

Liz O.

I got my first Pit Bull at the American Family Pet Expo in Costa Mesa California from a Rescue organization (Orange Co. Friends of Homeless Pets...had to give them a plug)Lola (a red nose)was 10 weeks old. I knew nothing of Pits or big dogs in general. My last dog was a Scottie, 10yrs before that. Lola is as lovable as they come. Right away we went to training classes. I didn't want an unrully "big" dog. At 5 mos old she learned to "fetch" a ball...she is now tennis-ball obsessive. She has never has an assertive, much less agressive thought pass through her head. A year later I rescued Rocky, (a blue) who's much larger and has the typical pit bull blocky head. He's very impressive looking! He was only 8 weeks when I got him. He's very submissive and quiet and loves his treadmill. I refer to them as my 70 lb lap dog wannabes. I wouldn't have any other breed of dog. I do get some looks once in a while...a 61 yr old woman with two Pits! Wouldn't trade them for the world.


I think this conversation is much more complicated than the dichotomy of Pitt Bulls being "good" or "bad".
The question for me, is if it is alright for people to have aggressive breeds in an urban/shared space environment. When I say aggressive, I do not mean running down the streets and attacking children (which we call all agree is not acceptable). I am referring to a dog, that when it gets into a shuffle with another dog at a park is easily capable of killing that dog and severely injuring anyone that tries to break up the fight.
It is clearly the same mentality as racism to criticize a breed rather than an individual dog.
However, I live in NYC, the dog fighting capital of the world. Many of the Pitts in the dog park are rescues (which is wonderful), however they are sometimes rescues from people that have bred them for dog aggression in dog fighting circles. Most "Pitts" I see are likely Pitt mixes and either way are wonderful dogs, but SOME/FEW are very dog aggressive, and when people try to break this up it can be a blood bath. There are no Beagle fighting rings, or Beagles being breed for aggression-hence not a big problem with violent Beagle attacks, or people walking across the street with their kids when they see a Beagle.

I had a wonderful Pitt name Charger ten years ago. A cuddly black dog who was a giant 90lbs, tall and muscular. Charger came from a line off fighting dogs and had been rescued as an infant puppy. He was loving and well trained, as well as very affectionate. However, when another dog snapped at Charger, he went into a full out attack mode, like clicking into a kill mentality with the other dog. He saw a trainer often, but this problem only happened when another dog snapped at him, so he was an angel with the trainer and I. Charger once got into a fight with another Pitt Bull at a friends house, and when someone attempted to break up this awful bloody fight, charger tore off that persons jaw. Yeah, it sounds crazy, and it was. Seven days in the hospital and multiple surgeries for that friend and fellow Pitt owner. I don't think Charger even realized it was a person and not the other dog when this was happening.
I have seen many dog fights being a dog owner who goes to the dog park twice a day, but only three stick in my mind, all involving Pitt Bulls. The other tiny scuffles never made an imprint because they were so minor and the dogs just "dropped it" after a tiny fight with no injuries.

One, three months ago I watched a Pitt lock onto a Puggle who had just sniffed it as they crossed paths on a public sidewalk in San Francisco. The Pitt who belonged to a homeless person snapped and locked on the Puggle's face, and it was a bloody mess that took ten people, buckets of water and fifteen minutes to unhinge the Pitt Bull from the Puggle. I was shaking for a day after seeing this and the Puggle was severely disfigured, and rushed to the vet in a bloody mess, but lived.

The second happened in a friends living room when another friends lovable rescue PItt decided it no longer liked her cat that it had spent years getting along with. It attacked the cat, then her dog stepped in and was severely injured, and then the owner was severely injured by her Pitt trying to break this up. Everyone survived, but the cat, dog and Pitt owner all required surgery from the severity of the bites.

Yes, any breed of any dog is capable of attacking a person or dog, but not any breed is capable of doing so much damage (there is a short list). My main concern with Pitts is the dog aggression which has been breed into the fighting rescues (of course the fault of humans and not the dogs, but still a problem when you encounter this sub-category of Pitt), and how capable Pitts are of causing bodily harm in addition to this aggression is a dangerous combo.

I now have a Shiba Inu/Shepard mutt rescue. She is wild at times, but even if she had her heart set on it (and she is NEVER dog aggressive-EVER even when they snap at her she just shows them a nasty face and walks away) could never tear of someones jaw the way my old Pitt Charger did. My dog goes to the Dog Park twice a day, and although I let her play with any dog, I am openly a little racist and stand very close when she plays with Pitts.

Although the lab biting more than Pitt statistic may be true, what about the Death by Dog Attack statistic, Pitts are pretty high on that list, along with the other aggressive breeds

That said, it is absolutely ignorant to think that all of any type of dog is violent. There are wonderful dogs of any breed. This is a very complicated conversation in many shades of grey.

RW Tripp

I found my pedigreed Staffordshire Terrier (Pit Bull) abused & abandoned as a puppy in a park garden, hence her name DAISY. I only recently lost her at age 12. She was always a very sweet affectionate & playful creature, only showing agression if it were shown towards her. I recently changed home owners insurance companies to AAA of S. Cal and found they would not insure if a Pit Bull was at the residence! Their stance appears to be nothing more than unresearched bias. Short of changing insurance providers again, is there anything ASPCA or it's members can do to address this anti Pit Bull bias?


I`ve been reading some of those beautiful stories and thought I need to ad mine, too. Through a horrible tragedy we lost 4 of our companions this year (our house burnt down). One of my surviving dogs, Harley, a pit/weimeraner mix, who always was my clown , managed to wake me . He is the sweetest dog and everybody who meets him, loves him, even though his energy level is always high..thankfully we live on 10 acres and he gets to run a lot. After a few months of broken hearts I felt Harley went into a depression, where actually he was reflecting me. We decided to go to APA (Austin pets alive) here in Austin and find a new girlfriend for Harley. We needed a dog, that got along with cats, dogs...chicken :-). We decided to adopt Zena, a pit/staff mix lady, about 6 years old. Zena has managed to help heal my broken heart and got Harley up and running again. She is the sweetest lady and the cats just love her. Every day she is so excited to bounce in the thicket , trying to find critters, we will love and cherish her as long as she lives and I am really glad we got her and Harley is , too :-)

Louise Cook

I have owned 5 pitties and they were all the sweetest, most goofy, loveable animals alive. A couple lived to ripe old ages but a couple had cancer. I miss all of them. Right now I'm not able to have a large dog but when I lived in Huntington Beach there were many,many pitbulls in the area and I got my full of petting and loving on my goofy loves. One, a really big boy, lived a couple of buildings up from my apartment and when his owner, a tiny little woman, would clean she would park him outside on the sidewalk until she was done vacuuming. And without any leash or chain, there he would sit waiting to be let back into the house. It was the funniest sight; this huge dog just sitting there and not moving a muscle except his tail. And my next neighbor had Charlie, a 7-year-old female, who went nuts with wagging her tail, if anyone would pet her. I oculd go on but unless you have experienced the love of a pitty you cannot understand how loyal to the breed people are that have either known a pittie or been owned by one. They are beyond loving, smart, and loyal. Laws against pitbull fighting have got to be enforced, and make the penalties fit the crime. Actually that goes for all 'sports' that included injuring an animal, i.e., cockfighting, bull fighting, dog fighting.

sylvia whittum

Pitbull terrers are so endearing with the most expressive faces! We have adopted, bought only one, and fostered several over the years. We have had other breeds but none compare to the pitbull terrier. They are good guards but most are accepting of and like people and children. They need socialization to different situations and obedience. They are very active but do calm down. They are also highly intelligent!!

Kristen V Havelka

Though he isn't really my dog he is my ex-boyfriends. His name is Herc and he is probably the biggest Pit Bull I have ever seen and I will admit he looks a little intimidating but he is the sweetest dog I know. Herc is also the biggest baby I know he is scared of everything it seems and thinks he is the size of a kitten. When my ex's friend came over who Herc had never met before Herc ran on to the couch plopped his body in my lap and hid his head. Now don't get me wrong he is a great protector to he loves the neighbor kids, seems like the only time he realizes he is big is when he plays with them, but last week when he and the kids were outside playing a man came walking up who no one had ever seen before started talking to the kids he apparently got a little to close for Herc's liking because the next thing we knew the kids mother was outside screaming and was calling the cops. The kids said the guy went to grab one of them and Herc jumped on him and knocked him down, he never bit the guy just made it so he wasn't getting up. When the police came they did take Herc and the man away and we later found out the man was an unregistard sexoffender who had moved without talking to his probation officer. We end up getting Herc back safely and we along with the childrens mother are so happy he was there to protect her little ones. Herc again is not my dog but my ex and I do share him. Herc mainly comes over at night when my ex goes to work and stays with me he is a great cuddle buddy and just an all time great dog!


My little white pit bull Luckyy Pinkyy Starr is the sweetest dog I have ever known. She takes more "abuse" from my toddler than any dog should have to, and never even blinks an eye. I can't imagine my life without her!


Jazmine is a half-pit-bull, half-boxer, 3-year-old female that we adopted from our local shelter. She's loving, affectionate, and has a sense of humor. She's in love with my 10-year-old cat, Peanut, who claims "she's not my type." Seriously, though, I don't think I could have found a more wonderful dog. The joy she brings into our family is priceless. She was abused and it took a couple of months for her to get used to her new surroundings. I bought her the Rolls Royce of dog beds, give her plenty of love, affection and yes, food, and I think she loves us just as much as we love her.