Pit-bulls have had controversy surrounding them for many years. There are some people who think the breed should be eradicated because of the breed being vicious to other dogs and people. There have been numerous cases that have made news headlines about pit-bulls attacking people. One of the main concerns people have is that pit-bulls are the number one breed of dogs commonly found in dog fighting circles. Due to them being raised to attack and kill other dogs, they are difficult to retrain to socialize with other dogs and people and end up either being euthanized or live out the rest of their life in a cage. These cases have led to pit-bulls being banned in certain cities and states. On the other hand, there are people who are fighting to protect the rights of pit-bulls as well as their right to own them. Their belief is that the dog breed is not inherently vicious, but it is the dog’s owner who makes the dog attack viciously. If people were to ban every dog that they perceived as dangerous due to a few bad owners, then there would not be many dog breeds left in the world. This essay will examine both sides of the argument of whether or not pit-bulls should be a legal pet or deemed to be illegal to own due to the recent aggressive attacks of some.
During 2005 in Aurora, Colorado a ten-year-old boy by the name of Gregg Jones was attacked by a pack of pit-bulls. Several people tried to beat the dogs off the boy with sticks until the police could arrive to help. Two of the dogs were caught and quarantined, while the third one had to be shot by a police officer and later euthanized (ABC News). Jones ended up losing his arm from the attack. In 2006, the city of Aurora banned the ownership of pit-bulls due to the high increase of pit-bull attacks. One of the people who supports the decision is Colleen Lyn, the founder of Dogsbite.org which shows that pit-bull attacks show up more than any other dog breed in statistics. "It is the pit bull bite style, that holding shake is why they show up so disproportionately in fatalities," (Jojola, 2014). City Councilor Bob Roth is in agreement with the ban and hopes that it continues to stay in effect. "I'm told over and over again, I don't want pit bulls in my neighborhood. I don't pretend that's scientific study," Roth said (Jojola, 2014). While the ban of pit-bulls was in effect, Lyn believes that is the reason that there have not been any reports of dog bites within the city. Lyn and Roth are not alone in their belief that pit-bulls are one of the most vicious dog breeds. Dr. David A. Billmire, a professor and director of the Division of Craniofacial and Pediatric Plastic Surgery at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, believes that there is no need for pit-bulls at all. “Based on my extensive experience, I believe that the risk posed by pit bulls is equivalent to placing a loaded gun with the safety off on the coffee table. In my opinion, these dogs should be banned,” (Billmire, 2014). He states that when a pit-bull attacks it is usually unprovoked and persistent unlike when other dogs bite it is usually a warning and the other dog is quickly released. Many people fear and apprehension of pit-bulls arise from the fact they were bred for their aggressiveness. Not only do the people who are against owning pit-bulls worry about their violent tendencies, but they also believe that pit-bulls are commonly badly behaved, aggressive to humans who are not their owners, and cannot be rehabilitated if rescued from a bad home. The people who are for pit-bulls believe that the blame and hate for the dog breed is unfairly placed on the dog. The people who should be held accountable for a pit-bull attack should be the dog’s owner.
The ASPCA, Animal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, states that a specific ban on pit-bulls does not help the case but instead creates a false illusion of public safety. “Every dog is an individual. Treating them care, training and supervision they require should be the judgment of their character and not their DNA or appearance, (ASPCA). Many supporters of pit-bulls take the stance that the ASPCA has taken on with pit-bulls: how they are taken care of contributes to how they act. In the past, pit-bulls were deemed to be “America’s dog” since many famous iconic canines were pit-bulls. The family’s dog from Little House on the Prairie was a pit-bull as well as Petey from The Little Rascals. There are many false assumptions that surround pit-bulls that cause people to still believe that they are violent. According to information gathered by the American Temperament Test Society, pit-bulls had a passing temperament score of 82.6 (ATTS). The score shows that pit-bulls beat many “family dogs” such as Collies, Beagles, and other types. This information shows that the way that a pit-bull acts highly depends on how the owner trains it or the lack of it being properly trained. Nancy Tranzow, the founder of ColoRADogs, believes that breed-specific banning is an overblown idea fueled by misguided fear. "We need to stop looking at the breed of dog, and we need to start looking at what responsible ownership looks like. Addressing the owner and not banning the dogs is the way to take care of problems of dogs biting," (Jojola, 2014). Another point that people who are for the legalization of pit-bulls are that there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. The majority of people who own dogs, including pit-bulls, offer them a loving and warm home where they are treated as family. The small minority of people who do not are the ones whose dogs are attacking other dogs and people. Pit-bulls, like many other dogs, have and can be successfully rehabilitated without any issues. Also, pit-bull is a broad term that encompasses many dogs that are actually not pit-bulls but look like one. If people were to successfully ban pit-bulls, how would they pick which variations and would mix breed pit-bulls be banned as well. These issues brought up by supporters shows how flawed gender specific banning can be. It does not fix the main issue which is that the owner should be held accountable for a pit-bull attacking someone and not the entire breed. The argument of whether pit-bulls should be legalized everywhere or illegal is still up for debate to this day.
Pit-bulls have gone from being America’s favorite dog to America’s most notorious dog in the past years. People have started advocating for the entire breed to be illegal or banned. This is because of the rising number of dog attacks that have primarily come from pit-bulls. Some cities, such as Aurora, Colorado have already begun taking measures in getting the breed banned from the city. In contrast, there are people who are fighting for pit-bulls’ rights. They believe that the dog breed is not at fault because there are no bad dogs but bad owners. They debunk many myths that are associated with pit-bulls such as them having temperament problems and being impossible to rehabilitate. Their main cause is that the owners of the dogs should be punished and not the breed itself. To them, breed specific banning does not solve the issue but only mask the problem. Without a doubt, the controversy surrounding pit-bulls will be around for years to come until both sides can come to a compromise about the issue.
"Boy Clings to Life After Pit-Bull Attack." ABC News. ABC News Network. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=1285789>.
"Position Statement on Pit Bulls." ASPCA. ASPCA. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <https://www.aspca.org/about-us/aspca-policy-and-position-statements/position-statement-pit-bulls>.
"ATTS Breed Statistics." American Temperament Test Society Inc. American Temperament Test Society Inc. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <http://atts.org/breed-statistics/>.
Billmire, David A. "There Is No Need for Pit Bulls." Cincinnati.com. USA Today, 29 June 2014. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/06/29/doctor-says-ban-pit-bulls/11709481/>.
Jojola, Jeremy. "Pit Bulls Dangerous or Just Misunderstood?" 9News. NBC, 22 Oct. 2014. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <http://www.9news.com/story/news/local/investigations/2014/10/21/aurora-pit-bull-ban-ballot-issue/17666325/>.