A Dog Like Any Other
Owners, not breeds, should have bad rep
Published: Monday, September 9, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 9, 2013 17:09
About a week ago, the death of a 7-year-boy received national media exposure. Two dogs mauled the boy after they got loose from their owner’s home. The story didn’t get national exposure because of the attack itself, but because of the dog breeds involved.
Most dog attacks that are reported by the media are focused on Pit Bulls. This breed has gotten a bad reputation because of this negative media exposure. You rarely read about a small yippy dog that bites the neighbor kid. The media and the public continue to contribute to common misconceptions about Pit Bulls.
Edward Daniels II, owner of Pit Bull Mixes Fat Boy and MJ, pled guilty to manslaughter and not guilty to tampering with evidence after he washed the blood off the dogs. Daniels said he did not know where the blood came from, and he thought one of his neighbors had fired shots at the reportedly Pit Bull Mixes, Fat Boy and MJ. This seems a bit strange since the dogs were not wounded; the owner should’ve immediately investigated the issue.
Reports say that Daniel’s neighbors had addressed their concerns about his aggressive dogs before the attack. The owner, however, did not take any action. Number one problem with breed stereotypes? Irresponsible dog owners.
Pit Bulls are often used for status. Some owners have Pit Bulls to appear rough and tough, which doesn’t help the negative portrayal or the breed’s demeanor. Dogs are not an accessory and should not be able to be used to make people look a certain way. The same thing goes for Yorkshire Terriers in purses.
Most dog attacks that are reported by the media are focused on Pit Bulls. This breed has gotten a bad reputation because of this negative media exposure. You rarely read about the small yippy dog that bites the neighbor kid. The media and the public continue to contribute to common misconceptions about Pit Bulls.
Many people do not even know how to distinguish a Pit Bull from several different breeds. These breeds are lumped together and classified as aggressive and harmful animals. American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, Bull Terriers, Boxers and Bull Mastiffs are some of the breeds that are often confused to be “Pit Bulls.”
A 2008 DogsBite.org study shows that 59 percent of dog attacks are by Pit Bulls. So, clearly there is something going on here, but the breed itself is not to blame.
Pit Bulls—along with American Staffordshire Terriers—have been popular breeds that have been specifically bred to have aggressive demeanors for fighting. And the history of dog fighting is a long one. This is one reason why some Pit Bulls (definitely not all) have a greater tendency to attack. Just as I inherited my mother’s love for writing and reading—and a bit of my father’s short temper—dogs are going to inherit characteristics from their ancestors as well.
Today dogfights are classified as a felony in the United States, but they are still occurring. In late August, 367 Pit Bulls were rescued in Alabama and Georgia from one of the largest organized dogfights in the U.S. People wonder why the breed tends to be more aggressive—people are still breeding the animals to behave that way. Dogfights need to be cracked down on so that dogs will no longer be bred for aggression; this includes stricter regulations on breeders.
These negative stereotypes affect potential renters as well. Pit Bulls are at the top of the list for the riskiest dog breeds for homeowners, so renters can refuse to rent to people who own the dogs. This causes many problems for people who are trying to find places to live, even if their dog is not aggressive and is properly bred, trained and taken care of.
My heart goes out to the family that lost their 7-year-old due to irresponsibility. Owners need to take responsibility of not only their own pets, but for the reputation of Pit Bulls and other dogs as a whole.
Emma is a senior majoring in Journalism. Follow her on Twitter @emmajheaton2.