Companions not killers

I have a pit bull. He doesn’t maul me. Unless you count his super sloppy kisses when I come home from work.

Brody, my 2-year-old pit bull mix, is just like any dog. The moment he hears my car in the driveway, he rushes to the front window. I open the door to find him prancing around the living room with his tail wagging uncontrollably. He is happy to see me no matter what kind of day I’ve had.

After Brody greets me, he curls up on the couch beside my dad. I sit down to watch the news with them and a pit bull comes on. Brody’s ears perk up and he starts squeaking his favorite toy. He wants to play with them. Too bad he doesn’t realize the dog the newscast just showed was confiscated from a dog fighting ring and due to be euthanized.

Whenever a pit bull makes the news, it’s never for a good reason. Typically the story is about cops busting a dog-fighting operation or a child getting attacked. Most of the time the pit bull was shot on the scene or immediately euthanized.

Pit bulls who are trained to fight don’t become killers over night. They only begin to show outward signs of aggression after enduring severe abuse from their owners. Most fighting pit bulls spend their lives chained up with little to no food. Fighting dogs also endure countless beatings and intense suffering. They don’t know what it’s like to be loved by a human.

The only way for a fighting pit bull to seek approval from their owner is by killing their opponent and winning the match. Fighting is a means of survival for these pit bulls.

I understand euthanasia is necessary in extreme dog fighting cases. However, not all pit bulls are fighters. When I hear a news story about someone’s pet pit bull being shot, I think other restraining techniques should be tried first.

Cops who take dog behavioral training classes are less likely to be bit when they enter an owner’s property. Learning how to read dogs’ body language is not only beneficial for the pit bull and the owner but for the cop as well.

Labeling pit bulls as inherently aggressive is unfair to the breed. If the mainstream media and viewers acknowledged the history of the breed, pit bulls would not have such a poor reputation.

The bulldog, aka pit bull, originated from England in 1835. Bulldogs were bred for the purpose of bull baiting. Their job was to bite and restrain bulls, bears and other large animals by holding the animal’s head.

Bull baiting was banned in the 1800s. As a result, people resorted to fighting these dogs against each other for entertainment and profit.

When bulldogs were brought to America, they were bred to be heavier and taller. Breeders then changed the name of the breed from bulldog to American Staffordshire Terrier.

The slang term “pit bull” arose soon after because dog fighting took place in a ring or pit. A pit bull is not an official breed. Dog fighters gave them the name.

A common myth is the belief that pit bulls have locking jaws, a mechanism in the jaw that locks down on the object they are biting and prevents its release. In an article by the Huffington Post, the myth was proven false after research showed the skull structure of a pit bull is no different than any other breed of dog.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, even though pit bulls were bred to fight it doesn’t mean that they can’t be around other dogs or that they’re unpredictably aggressive toward people. Since the 19th century, pit bulls have been popular family pets, noted for their gentleness, affection and loyalty.

I consider all breeds of dogs to be loving companions with good intentions. Every dog I encounter I judge them by their temperament on a case-by-case basis. However, strangers rarely give the same respect to my pit bull.

I will never forget the time I was walking Brody and we passed a little boy playing in his yard. As we walked by, a woman came out of the house and demanded I get Brody away from her son. This infuriated me because I was on a sidewalk and I didn’t approach her son. If only his mom took the time to evaluate Brody’s loving personality, maybe she would think twice about hating the entire breed. I just wish people would realize Brody isn’t a ticking time bomb. He is my best friend.

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