You don’t need to tell pit bulls (also affectionately known as pits, pitties or bullies) and their guardians that it’s a dog eat dog world. Pitties went from being America’s darling dog to vilified quasi-assault weapon status.
Thankfully, there is some great news to report: laws targeting pit bulls are softening around the country. However, pit bulls and their guardians still face many other battles. Despite countless stories of heroic pit bulls, many pit loving families have to make difficult choices.
Pittie Good News First
As reported in The Huffington Post, Lisa Peters, an American Kennel Club spokesperson, explained, “Lawmakers are realizing that targeting dogs based on their breed or what they look like is not a solution to dealing with dangerous dogs.”
Here are some ways the pit bull bias is changing:
– In the U.S., eighteen states do not allow breed-specific bans in their communities
– Six more states could soon follow
– Certain cities are reconsidering labeling pit bulls as “dangerous animals”
Emotions run deep. Pit bull lovers insist that their dogs are loving members of their families. Pit bull adversaries insist that “they are a volatile breed whose genetics drive them to kill more than two dozen people in the U.S. each year, many of them young children.”
Still a Battle for Pit Bulls
While public and legal perceptions of pit bulls may be softening, it’s still a fight. As reported in The Press-Enterprise, in Lake Elsinore, pit bulls and pit bull mixes will be required to be spayed and neutered. Households with pits will have to sterilize their pet by the age of 4 months; the first violation could cost guardians a $100 fine.
Battle for Pittie Guardians, Too
While it’s hard to be a pittie, it isn’t easy for pit bull guardians either. It’s not uncommon for pit bull owners to have to choose between a home and a family member. According to Mother Nature Network, “Landlords and property management companies are allowed to ban breeds they consider dangerous or aggressive. For them, it’s all about liability and making other renters feel safe.” Some residents like Carol Devia choose their dog. Devia and her family, including her teenage son, sleep in the family’s auto, and “[t]hey drive back and forth between wooded areas and parking lots where they can get Wi-Fi and cook.”
Housing issues mean that most pit bull owners will have to resort to obtaining an extra insurance policy for their dog so that liability is on the owner, not the landlord. Yet, as reported in The Huffington Post, getting insurance is a whole other battle. While there are some bully-friendly insurers, this is far from the norm. Bob Hartwig, Insurance Information Institute’s president, boiled it down to numbers. The average cost of a dog bite “‘is about 25 times what the average person pays for their annual premium.’” In 2012, insurers coughed up a whopping $500 million in dog bite related insurance claims.
The Good and Bad of the Bully
Some lawmakers may be giving bullies a break, but mainstream media didn’t really get the memo; they love to harp on the latest pit attack. While there are many attacks where pit bulls “maul“ a human, there are innocent pits, too. An innocent pit bull was shot in the face, and a Syracuse woman allegedly starved “her pit bull by leaving it chained to an attic pole in mounds of its own feces.”
Police officers in Arizona also shot a pit bull after they witnessed a dog fight, and they claimed that the dog “seemed” to attack two children. Yet, we know that police officers don’t always have the best track record in determining animal aggression. Ironically, a pack of stray chihuahuas (and other dogs) are free to roam another Arizona neighborhood where they “chase” and “act hostile” towards neighborhood children without being gunned down.
Pit bulls can be heroes, too. A pit bull mix recently saved her human pack by alerting them that a fire was ablaze in the home. There’s also an entire site dedicated to stories of heroic pit bulls — some pits have stopped home invasions, prevented abductions and sacrificed their lives for their guardian.
This “softening” attitude towards pits is long overdue. Bullies aren’t inherently evil. They are a strong breed that require dedication and discipline. While pit bull supporters like to throw out “blame the deed, not the breed,” the humans behind the deeds should sometimes share in the blame. One thing is for sure: whether the laws continue to soften or not, a pit bull’s love and loyalty for it’s guardian is always strong — sometimes at the dog’s own expense.
Photo Credit: Reader of the Pack