Pit Bull Pushback Reminds Me of NRA

There is a movie, there is a book and there are special training groups dedicated to challenging the “stereotypes” about pit bulls. Here’s the blurb for I’m a Good Dog:

Perhaps more than any other breed, the pit bull has been dogged by negative stereotypes. In truth, pit bulls are innately wonderful family pets, as capable of love and good deeds as any other type of dog. Setting the record straight, Ken Foster sings the praises of pit bulls in I’m a Good Dog, a gorgeously illustrated, tenderly written tribute to this most misunderstood of canines.

This is almost certainly false and even at best is entirely misleading. I’m a dog lover, the owner of three dogs of different breeds, and an avid reader on dog training, behavior, and care. I’m far from an expert. So I pose this post mostly in the form of a question, but I’m prepared, more or less, to call bullshit on this.

First, certain breeds of dog are physically capable of inflicting serious damage on humans and some are not. A normal, healthy toddler stands very little chance of suffering maiming or death from a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Even snippier small breeds bred for the purpose of killing small animals can’t inflict much harm on school age children. And while pit bulls aren’t the largest breed, they certainly aren’t small, they have powerful jaws and teeth.

Second, different breeds of dog have different dispositions. There is some wiggle room, of course, within breeds. And if you abuse even the dopiest, friendliest Golden Retriever, it will eventually turn savage. Conversely, a properly treated Akita or Pit Bull will be a good companion as well. There are people who own wolves and wolf-hybrids and successfully tame them as well. But the starting point does vary quite a bit by breed. Labrador Retrievers are much more difficult to lose control of than, say, a Doberman.

It seems to me that an apt comparison might between BB guns and assault rifles. Sure, if everyone who ever owned an AR-15 had 300 hours of training on it and was a sharpshooter, kept it properly locked away, etc. etc. things like Sandy Hook would never happen. Conversely, if someone has a pellet gun and shoots it point plank in a toddler’s eye, that kid could go blind or die.

The problem is the ease of turning an AR-15 into an instrument of mass killing and the difficulty of turning a BB gun into one of even serious harm.

Worse, it is exactly the killing potential of assault rifles that attracts them to the kinds of people that we don’t want to own guns, or, put another way, the kind of people who want to use them for their intended purpose. Similarly, it is the reputation of Pit Bulls as killer dogs meant for dog fights that attract them to the kind of dog owner that is likely to be least responsible with them; the fact that they also allegedly serve as great family pets doesn’t diminish this at all.

I’m not really saying there should be a pit bull “ban.” But don’t whine to me about their being “misunderstood.” Don’t complain when your insurance is higher because you own a dog that can inflict a lot of damage on someone.


3 thoughts on “Pit Bull Pushback Reminds Me of NRA”

  1. Well, if you want to effectively argue that they aren’t misunderstood, you might first choose to do some actual research, rather than supposing that your vague notions of the laws of dog behavior and DNA are actual fact. Instead, you end up inadvertently proving my point: they are misunderstood because people like you assume to know something that you actually do not. Reminds me of this quote, which is ironically often misattributed to Twain: ” “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it is what you know for sure just ain’t true.”


  2. If no one can criticize anything without being an expert, we would be living in an aristocracy of “experts.” So, as I explicitly stated in my post, I am not an expert. But you don’t respond like one, you respond like an Internet commenter with a pithy quote and a mere denial after taking a shot at an unspecified failure of expertise—which I never claimed.

    If you can point out a contention of fact or an invalid argument, I’d like to hear it. Can you tell me, if it’s merely an illusion, why insurance companies ask homeowners if they own certain breeds of dogs and not others? Are they being fooled out of their money on claims? Is it a conspiracy? Do tell.

    If you can convince me, not that pitbulls are “misunderstood” but that they actually, in fact, bear no more risk than any other breed, I will retract my point. I simply don’t see how this can be the case, but I’d love to hear it.

    If you can further convince me that, whether it’s wrong or right, the existence of this “misunderstanding” does not result in more dangerous dogs because it attracts the wrong kind of dog owner to the breed in the first place, I’d love to see empirical proof of that. If this weren’t the case, I wonder, why are there so many pit-specific shelters to begin with?

    If people have hurted your fee-fees about your dog, I’m sorry. I’m sorry not all of us have degrees in dog microbiology and behavior. Maybe if you could deign to make your point to us mere mortals in a less propagandistic, contrarian manner we would be more encouraged.


Comments are closed.