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The American Pit Bull Terrier: BSL is not the Answer

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posted on Dec, 27 2005 @ 11:50 AM
How did the APBT go from the 'unofficial' mascot of the United States of America in the early 20th century, to the most hated and feared of all breeds throughout the world today?

Let's start with a brief history of the APBT:

By the time of the early 1800's due to selective breeding a dog had emerged which was very similar to the American Pit Bull of today. Due to a slow economy and a law which prohibited people of low economic means from owning a sporting dog the practice of bull baiting began to diminish.

In 1835 bull baiting was officially banned. This forced people especially of the lower classes to find alternatives for their dogs. This resulted in a sport known as ratting where a number of rats were placed in a pit for a specified time with the dog. THIS IS IN FACT WHERE THE "PIT" IN THE AMERICAN Pit Bull TERRIER NAME CAME FROM NOT FROM FIGHTING OTHER DOGS. The terrier part of the name came from its ability to hunt small game and was one of the reasons why ratters knew it would excel in the rat Pit. The larger the number of kill the better the dog placed in the match. Due to the constraints of space and the agility of Black & Tan and now extinct White terriers of England these terriers were often being mixed with the old bull baiting dogs to achieve dogs which were premium for these purposes.

It is believed that this practice of mixing bulldog's and terriers began in the town of Staffordshire England and became known as the Staffordshire Bull and terrier.

Due to the agility and gameness of this new found breed many began to also fight dogs with each other. Soon dog on dog fighting and ratting became so popular that practically all Inns and Pubs were equipped with a fighting pit.

As colonization of America and Canada began these people also brought their dogs. These dogs soon became known by the name of "Pit Bull Terriers"

As time progressed a gentleman by the name Chauncy Bennett founded the UKC in 1898 with the American Pit Bull Terrier as its foundation dog breed. Although some are fortunate enough to own a UKC registered Pit's the majority of the public has chose to not register their dogs due to financial constraints and subsequent loss of bloodline determination.

Here at The American Pit Bull Registry we seek to turn this trend around and to register peoples otherwise un-registered American Pit Bulls and to encourage people with otherwise registered Pit Bulls to dually register their dogs here.

By the time of WWI the American Pit Bull Terrier had became a well loved and desired dog. In fact the Pit Bull was used as Americas canine mascot of the time and seen in such posters as this during war time.

Even some Famous People have been owners/ own APBT:

Many a famous people such as Fred Astaire, President Roosevelt, Jack Dempsy, Thomas Edison, Madonna, Michael J Fox, Brad Pitt, Bernadette Peters, Sinbad, Alicia Silverstone, Linda Blair, Humphrey Bogart, Usher, Mel Brooks, Ann Bancroft, John Stuart, Jan Michael Vincent, Pink (the singer), Kelli Williams (Actress from The Practice), Ken Howard (Father in Crossing Jordon - his Pit Shadow saved his life), Malcolm Jamal Warner, Stephan Jenkins, Rosie Perez, Ananda Lewis, Amy Jo Johnson, Mary Tyler Moore, Steve and Terrie Erwin (Crockhunters), Jack Johnson (Hawaiian singer), Bill Berloni (Broadway show dog trainer who has said that the Pit is the breed of choice for training), Anthony Robbins, Molly Price (Actress from Third Watch), President Woodrow Wilson, Frankie Muniz, AJ Mclean, Barbara Eden, and even Helen Keller have been lucky enough to own this magnificent animal.

Helen Keller with Pit-Bull

Now, down to the breed specifics:
According to the American Temperament Testing Society, the APBT scored a 83.4%, ranking it in the top 20% of breeds having a solid temperament.

1. Pit Bulls are often dog-aggressive to one extent or another (this often shows up at or near sexual maturity). A dog that was previously non-dog aggressive may "turn-on" and suddenly doesn't like other dogs of the same sex, or, for that matter, any dogs at all, even housemates they have been raised with. Adult Pit Bulls should NEVER be left alone with other dogs and require proper supervision

2.Pit Bulls tend to LOVE people. All people. This makes them a poor choice for a "guardian breed". Most of them are simply too friendly to protect a house against strangers. A Pit Bull that shows unprovoked human aggression (puppy play nips do NOT count) is showing BAD temperament and in most cases should be put to sleep. Such a dog should obviously NEVER be bred under any circumstances. The breeding of dogs with bad temperaments is one of the largest problems the breed faces today and fuels the fire of breed specific legislation.

3.Pit bulls tend to be very "soft" with their family, meaning that they are eager to please their humans. They should not have to be "shown who's boss", but will thrive under "positive leadership". A Pit Bull of proper temperament is a devoted and loving family member, inspiring immense loyalty to the breed. You will often hear a Pit Bull's owner tell you that after owning one, they will never own any other breed.

Now, as a breed willing to please, an APBT can be taught to do anything to please it's master. If this means a drug dealer, or other criminal, needs a dog to intimidate others, and to guard his 'stash', that is exactly what a pit-bull will do.

We have heard the tales of brutality. The maulings, bites, and in some cases, fatalities, linked to pit-bulls. "Google" pit-bull attacks, and 1000's of links will appear. But, this is minute in the scale of bully-type breed population in the USA. A person has a better chance of being hit by lightning, than to be mauled by a pit-bull.

So, you ask, what happened in the last 20 years to make pit-bulls so dangerous?

One factor is; drug dealers discovered the tenacity and endurance of pit-bulls, and their strive to please their owners. Criminals exploit this fact to their own sick gain. Another factor is that pit-bull attacks are sensationalized by the media. "Labrador attack" will not get as much attention "pit-bull mauls 7 years old child".

Some breeds have been labeled as the 'boogeyman' of their era's. In the 70's, it was the Rottweiler (due in part to the movie "The Omen"). In the early to mid-80's, it was the Doberman haunting everyone's dreams. From the late 80's to the present, the APBT is the scapegoat for poor handling, neglect and abuse.

Some areas have enacted BSL's(Breed Specific Legislation), with Denver leading the way. An alderwoman in Chicago has just suggested it, after the attack last month in Cary, Illinois. These people claim that pit-bulls are unpredictable, and ticking-time bombs. But they have no proof to that fact.

Rather interesting, how we don't here veternarians saying anything to support these claims. Ask any vet, and they will tell you that the APBT is one of the most abused and neglected breeds in America.

So, I implore all of you: don't believe the hype: pit-bulls are not the man-eating killing machines they are portrayed to be. They do not have locking jaws, and do not turn on their owners in the blink of an eye. They will not rip your children's arms off. Truth is, they would probably lick you to death, if you let them!!!

American Temperament Testing Society
Furry Friends Foundation
Pit Bulls on the Web
Understand a Bull
Least Friendly Dog States


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