I'm in the process of reading "The Lost Dogs" by Jim Gorant. It is the chronicle of the rehabilitation of the Pit Bulls seized in the Michael Vick dog fighting bust.
I want to finish the book before I post about my reactions ect, but I came accross this segment last night and wanted to share it. There's another thread where we have been discussing the suitability of Pit Bulls as pets, but I've chosen to put it here...
The following is quoted from the book (pages 135-136) and though I have not requested permission, the quote is about "facts" and paraphrased so I hope not to be crossing any legal boundaries. It is fascinating.
It says: Pit Bulls are the latest breed to get "sucked in to a self-fulfilling cycle of fear, hype, substandard care and rising population". But in the 19th century, there was another breed considered "so viscious and insidious" that it inspired "almost universal fear and loathing".
Back in the nineteenth century, the term bloodhound referred to a variety of breeds including Irish, Siberian, Cuban and other bloodhounds. These dogs were used to track escaped prisoners and slaves, guard stores, protect homes and thus were encouraged to be protective and territorial. As a consequence of their work, they often ended up pitted against people and many of these situations included violence. The bloodhound, therefore, gained a "reputation as a fearsome beast with a taste for blood". Thus, the bloodhound (and one thinks the name might have been an exacerbating factor) caught the attention of people attracted t the idea of having a tough dog.
The bloodhound population increased and new owners were decidely not raising the dogs to be family pets!
What turned things around for the Bloodhound?
The emergence of the German Shepherd!
The GSD arrived in the US around 1910 and quickly gained a rep as a great guard dog with an aggressive streak. Again, a population spike in the GSD and in 1925 New York propesed a ban on them. Australia herself banned them in 1929.
In the 1950's the GSD gave way to the Dobermann which had earned it's own fearful reputaion as the Nazi's dog of choice during WW2. Again a population spike, and again the "wrong type" of dog owner hastened to add this breed to his stable of "tough" dogs!
So, on the the Pit Bull. "The Little Rascals'" dog, Petey, was selected for the show as the producers wanted a dog known for being a great family dog. Petey was indeed a Pit Bull/ Staffordsire terrier.
But in the 1970's enterprising reporters started writing about the underground world of dog fighting- and suddenly Pit Bulls found themselves in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.
"This had the effect of promoting Pit Bulls as the next in line of tough guy dogs. By the early 1980's the Pit Bulls reputation had made it a popular dog amongst an emerging drug and hip-hop culture.
Between 1966 and 1975, there was 1 newspaper account of a fatality that resulted from a Pit Bull attack. In 1986, Pit Bulls appeared in 350 newspaper, magazine and journal articles.... many were the result of Pit Bull hysteria (emphasis mine) in which almost any incident involving a dog was falsely reported as a Pit Bull attack.
The breed which had existed in some form for hunderds of years, didnt suddenly lose control. The dogs simply fell into the hands of many more people who had no interest in control".... or for the betterment of the breed, like the bloodhound, GSD and Dobermann before them.
Lost in all the legislation was the fact that, for decades, the Pit Bull has been considered one of the most loyal, loving and people-friendly dogs on the planet.
Fascinating stuff. Watch this space.