Aug.2, 2010, Littleton, Colorado – the Denver Channel reported that Linda Robinette’s Chihuahua, Buster, was grabbed by a coyote in his own back yard. Buster would surely have been killed, but when the neighbor’s Pit Bulls spotted the coyote and gave chase, the wild canine dropped the Chihuahua and ran off. The Pit Bulls didn’t stop at just chasing the coyote away, they found Buster hiding under some bushes and they stood guard over him until help arrived.
I have never lived with a Pit Bull nor rescued one. I am not a fan of the breed, and never thought I would ever write an article in their defense. However, when I think back on it, I can’t think of a single reason why I have viewed bully breeds with such disregard; every bully I have ever met was a sweet and affectionate pet. The sad truth is that Pit Bulls have been vilified, and they are not the first dog to suffer because of society’s perception of them. During the 1960’s, the Doberman Pinscher and German Shepherd were the breeds commonly reviled. Both had the reputation of being vicious and unpredictable: the same qualities that are currently attributed to Pit Bulls.
“Pit Bull” is not a breed, but a catch-all phrase used to describe American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and is a term that has been ingrained into the American consciousness as being synonymous with fear. Pits get a bad rap. In 2002 the American Temperment Testing Society listed APBT’s, AMSTAFFs and Rotweillers all in the 82 percentile, meaning that 80+% of the dogs tested passed the temperament test.
From the ATTS website ( http://www.atts.org/index.html ): “The ATTS test focuses on and measures different aspects of temperament such as stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness as well as the dog’s instinct for protectiveness towards its handler and/or self-preservation in the face of a threat. The test is designed for the betterment of all breeds of dogs and takes into consideration each breed’s inherent tendencies.
The test simulates a casual walk through the park or neighborhood where everyday life situations are encountered. During this walk, the dog experiences visual, auditory and tactile stimuli. 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.”
While comparing breed scores on the ATTS website, it is important to take into consideration the quantity of dogs tested in each breed. When the scores of dogs with similar sized samplings are compared, it becomes clear that no breed is a total winner, and no breed a total loser. All dog breeds (including mixed breeds) fall within the 72 – 92 percentile, leading me to conclude that no breed is villainous; Dogs are the product of their environment. Humans by and large are responsible for the context many dogs find themselves in; and the wholesale practice of vilifying a breed is ludicrous. The dangerousness of a dog is directly related to ownership practices.
Pit bulls all too often become the victims of humans of dubious morality. Humans that keep them – and train them – to fight. Humans that torture them…starve them, neglect and abuse them. The fact that so many rescue groups exist who are devoted to the bully breeds is a testament to the deep affection that many people hold for these loyal and handsome dogs.