Pit bulls are one of the most polarizing dogs in the world of pets – you either love them or you hate them, there is no middle ground. Unfortunately much of the hatred is based on unfair stereotypes and biased reporting of a few bad actors. The truth is that the vast majority of dogs in the pit bull family are very well behaved and loving family pets. So why do people think that pit bulls are a public health hazard?
On a regular basis city and neighborhood governments are looking at passing breed specific laws relating to pit bulls and other dog breeds that are considered to be dangerous or a nuisance. These pushes completely ignore the fact that organizations like the American Bar Association, the Centers for Disease Control, the Humane Society, and more are against such legislation for various reasons.
First, telling the difference between a pit bull and another breed of dog is almost impossible, even for the experts. In one study almost 6000 “dog experts” were asked to identify the predominant breed of 20 shelter dogs. Breed was only correctly identified about 27% of the time, and 22% of the dogs were only identified correctly 1% of the time. If dog experts can’t even visually identify a dog’s breed, how would breed specific legislation work out, exactly?
But the most important reason for a lack of support of breed specific laws is that it takes the responsibility away from the dog’s owner for keeping it under control. Blaming the dog instead of its human is a losing proposition.
What’s more, pit bull related breeds are often very well behaved. American Staffordshire Terriers pass the American Temperament Test Society’s screening for temperament over 85% of the time, Staffordshire Bull Terriers pass more than 91% of the time, and American Pit Bull Terriers pass more than 87% of the time. The most unruly dogs according to these tests? Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Chow Chows, Dobermans, and Dalmatians.
There are 90 million dogs in the United States and approximately 20%, or 18 million, of them are pit bull related breeds. With that many dangerous, unruly dogs roaming our neighborhoods and streets, if pit bulls were really a public health threat we would be hearing about dog maulings on a daily basis in every city in America.
Learn more about why pit bulls are not a public health threat from this infographic.
Source: Online Masters in Public Health