As a Pit Bull advocate, it deeply upsets me that this breed makes up the largest percentage of dogs in animal shelters nationwide. The unfortunate reality for so many dogs of this breed is that there are hundreds of Pit Bulls in the shelters, making their chances of getting adopted immensely low. There are too many Pit Bulls in shelters and nobody to adopt them. This is not due to behavioral issues, it is due to the stigma that has plagued this breed for decades.
Every year, approximately 1.2 million dogs are euthanized. Pit Bulls make up 40% of these deaths. That equates to roughly 480,000 deaths of Pit Bulls every single year. Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes account for 33% of shelter intakes nationwide, but that percentage is often higher in larger cities. Unfortunately about 75% of shelters euthanize Pit Bulls immediately after they take them in, giving this poor animals no chance of adoption and a better life.
So how did Pit Bulls get their bad reputation? Prior to the early ‘80s, there was only one dog attack story that featured a Pit Bull. This news story was about a man who had a pack of 26 dogs attack a young woman, with one of these dogs being of the Pit Bull breed. By 1986, thirty communities had set laws in place that banned the Pit Bull breed. What triggered this change in perception is largely due to the comeback of dog fighting in the 1980s, with the Pit Bull being deemed the breed of choice based on the breed’s build. Pit Bulls were also notorious for being guard dogs for drug dealers, with a largely publicised attack in 1987 where a Pit Bull guarding a marijuana crop in California aggressively mauled a two year old boy to death.
This stigma has affected the breed forever, creating a new slogan for Pit Bull advocates all over– Blame the owner, not the breed. A study compiled a list of the top ten most aggressive dog breeds. Shockingly, the Chihuahua ranked number one followed by Dachshund and then the Chow Chow. While Pit Bulls are among the top breeds, they come in 8th place. Yet this breed is seen as the public enemy for Americans based on the actions of a few irresponsible dog owners.
One way to prevent the death of these Pit Bulls is to spay and neuter your dogs. A female dog can produce two litters every year with each litter consisting of 6-10 pups. With the female dog and her offspring, 67,000 dogs can be produced in just 6 years. If we can reduce the number of Pit Bulls being produced, we can significantly decrease the amount of Pit Bull and Pit Bull mixes in municipal shelters and help eliminate the stigma that has tainted the reputation of the breed.
Photos by Elizabeth Perryman Tell Me This Didn’t Happen: Poems on Truth — a poetry reading presented by faculty from the School of English, hosted in the Honors College and produced by the Common Experience. Truth is the Common Experience theme for the 2019/2020 school year, the readings portrayed the authors personal truth.