Pitbulls: Fighting Machines or Family Members?

Rebecca Brady, Staff Writer

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When you hear of a dog attack, do you think of a specific breed? Do you label specific dogs as aggressive, without any context? You may or may not have, but let’s face it, stereotypes and generalizations are huge in our society and they even fall onto dog breeds. One breed that has taken the hardest hit by generalizations of predisposed aggression is pitbulls.

Throughout the news, media, and even TV and movies, pitbulls have been labeled as “killers” and not suitable family dogs. If you think this way about pitbulls, I am here to end that.

For as long as I can remember, I have been surrounded by pitbulls. When I was only three years old, my parents rescued my first dog from a drug house in Hyannis. Her name was Snoopy and she was a pitbull. Not only was she the most loving dog that never showed aggression, but she brought so much joy into our household. We saw Snoopy as another family member, and she was treated that way as well. In all honesty, her stereotype might labeled her as unsafe but she was actually more of a dog that constantly needed love and attention.

People say that pitbulls are inherently vicious and aggressive, and there is no way around this. Even the term “pitbull” is simply a generalization of dogs that are strong, and have block shaped heads. The dogs that fall under the pitbull branch are American Pit Bull Terriers and Staffordshire Terriers and any dog that even slightly resembles the look that defines a pitbull.

In fact, in some dog attacks pitbulls are the assumed aggressors, even if the dog wasn’t a pitbull and only had any slight resemblance to a “pitbull.” Also, genetic testing isn’t even done to prove this at times, leaving speculation about what the true breed was.

People think aggression is a  part of their DNA, which is simply untrue. Due to pitbulls’ strength and body structure, they were sadly used as bull-baiting, bear-baiting, and fighting dogs,  mostly in the United Kingdom. This history, or simply their muscular structure, could have been where the negative stereotype came from.

What pitbull owners and activists are trying to get the world to understand is one simple thing: no dog is inherently dangerous and aggressive simply due to their breed, and any dog that shows aggression or danger most likely learned that trait. If a dog was not shown affection, was left outside all night, was not fed regularly, or even was physical abused it would most likely become aggressive out of fear and confusion.

Of course, some dogs can be born more inherently aggressive than others, but this is not solely dependent on breed. A chihuahua could be aggressive, but we would not regulate their breed because of one bad dog; that is just silly. Generalization like that is the reason for a lot of problems in our society. Just think, if breeds did not exist—this problem would not exist. We would label dogs as aggressive if they truly showed signs of it, not just because of their genetic makeup.

Currently, I have a three year old pitbull named Layla that was a rescue as well. Like my other pitbull that unfortunately passed away, she has never shown signs of aggression. She has only shown our family love and brings happiness to everyone that encounters her. Layla does not fall under the stereotype of a “pitbull,” because it simply does not suit her. The stereotypes of a pitbull need to change, because they are not fitting, nor do they do any good.