The pitbull was the result of crossbreeding bulldogs and terriers in the early 1800s in the UK.
This form of breeding resulted in a bold, strong, and determined mix-breed – the humble pitbull.
While pitbulls have many character traits, they are most infamous for attacking innocent people and “eating children alive” – at least, that’s what several news stories prefer to highlight. Over the past few decades, it has become quite common to learn about stories of pitbulls harming and killing innocent people. This has led to dread and mass hysteria, forcing authorities to ban pitbulls in their states. At this point, we’re curious to know – are these dog breeds really dangerous or are simply misunderstood? Why do pitbulls have such a bad rep? Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
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History of Pitbulls
Pitbulls are not a specific breed. They are a class of several breeds, including American Pitbull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, etc. These dog breeds were bred in the 1800s in England for blood sports such as bull-baiting, bullfighting, etc. These forms of games were a sheer source of entertainment for lower classes that used to take delight in pitting two dogs against each other.
However, not every pitbull bred at that time was fierce and ruthless. Many of them turned out to be kind, sweet-natured, family dogs. As time passed, pitbulls started to garner a lot of attention from other parts of the world, especially America. In no time, these dogs became American sweethearts and featured in many movies and commercials, and many families adopted them as their pets.
Many were recognized for their hardworking and diligent traits and were therefore bred for herding sheep and protecting livestock. They were also trained to be mascots during World War I and World War II and were regarded as an epitome of loyalty and bravery in those tough times.
However, pitbulls didn’t enjoy the “family dog” or “working-class dog” stature for long. There came a point when people stopped calling pitbulls loyal, sweet, or friendly and considered them nothing but a threat to their safety. If a pitbull was spotted anywhere close by, it filled people’s hearts with fear and made them run for their life. And it is still pretty much the same case these days.
How Did Pitbulls Get Such a Bad Reputation?
In 1835, when the British Parliament imposed the Cruelty to Animals Act, prohibiting pitbull baiting and other fights, the public came up with a new kind of entertainment – ratting. In this game, pitbulls were trained to kill rats in a short amount of time. This was done in a “pit” so that the dog couldn’t escape. To ensure they were agile, strong, and fit for fighting, bulldog and terriers were crossbred. These kinds of so-called games and entertainment were enough for people to believe that these otherwise sweet, friendly dogs were awful and terrible.
Things took a turn for the worse when the Supreme Court passed the Animal Welfare Act of 1976. This act outlawed all types of dogfighting in all 50 states of the United States and was considered a felony. This drew the attention of criminals that started to focus on playing this callous sport illegally. Dogfighting started to take place in large, hidden sheds or desolated undergrounds, away from the reach of the authorities.
The criminals started to breed dangerous dogs for their selfish motives. The aim was to mix two such breeds that could produce extremely steely and merciless pitbulls. This kind of breeding could be seen everywhere, and their demand increased as well. More and more people wanted to make money through these illegal dogfights, and nobody cared for the training or socialization of the pitbulls. Many criminals also bred pitbulls for their safety and protection.
In 1987, a pitbull attacked a child that got too close to the fierce animal that was guarding a criminal’s marijuana crop. Many more spine-chilling stories came about related to pitbull attacks. Due to these stories, pitbulls were no longer considered to be loyal, friendly creatures. Instead, they were associated with crime and poverty. Even though times have changed, pitbulls are still pictured as “urban thugs,” and just a means to make loads of illicit money!
The wild tales of pitbulls are not a mystery to the world. We all know that pitbulls can be terrifying and dangerous, but are they to be blamed for their vicious nature? Well, animal experts are of the view that pitbulls should not be held responsible for the way they behave.
First of all, these are not purebred animals. Breeders choose two different dog breeds to produce them, which goes to show that the breeds chosen to make the pitbull are entirely up to the breeder. This doesn’t always work in favor of the poor pitbulls. They are largely mass bred for all the wrong reasons. Sadly, because of some selfish and irresponsible breeders, pitbulls have garnered a disastrous reputation.
Various media outlets have also played a part in heightening the terror that surrounds pitbulls. They have successfully established an air of caution around pitbulls, deepening the culture of fear of these lovable animals.