October 29 is National Pit Bull Awareness Day, a day to celebrate the sweet, squishy blockheads of the dog world. Here at Roice-Hurst Humane Society, we love our pit bulls! Most days, you’re almost guaranteed to find at least a few pitties waiting in our kennels or foster homes to be adopted. In recognition of National Pit Bull Day, let’s review some facts and bust some myths about these lovely dogs.
1. The breed ‘pit bull’ is not actually a recognized breed by the AKC. Pit bull is an umbrella term is used for dogs who are short and stocky with boxy heads. Recognized breeds that are often lumped into the pit bull category are American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and other types of bulldogs and large terriers, as well as dogs mixed with or resembling these breeds. Visual breed identification is often subjective, especially in shelters, because most shelter dogs are mixed breed dogs, and shelters have no way of knowing their genetic makeup without costly DNA testing.
2. In the 1800s, pit bulls were used for the cruel practice of bull-baiting, but eventually were bred as farm help and family pets. The original pit bull used for fighting rats, bulls, and bears was a mix between the Old English Bulldog and the Old English Terrier, and this original mix is now an old ancestor of today’s pit bull type dogs. After pit bulls were introduced to America, these dogs became known and loved as the charming dogs that we see them as today and were often used as family and farm dogs. However, because of their strength and trainability, some people continued to exploit the breed by using them for dog fighting, which became illegal in America in 1976 and was classified as a felony as recently as 2008. Because pit bulls are strong and have historically been used for cruel entertainment, a cultural stigma surrounds these dogs. Like any breed of dog, when well-socialized, pit bulls can make wonderful pets. The American Temperament Testing Society performs yearly tests of over 240 dog breeds, and pit bull type dogs consistently pass temperament tests at a rate of 87.4 percent, which is similar or higher than other popular dog breeds. They’ve earned the nickname “nanny dogs” because many pitties tend to be gentle around children. If you still give pit bulls a bad rap, the squishy, lovable blockheads here at Roice-Hurst are on a mission to change your mind! Stop by and meet them!
3. Pit bulls are the most common dog found in animal shelters, and dogs labeled as pit bulls spend three times longer in them compared to dogs not labeled as pit bulls. Despite their stigma, most pit bulls are extremely loyal and affectionate family pets. Pit bull type dogs are often banned by housing policies and sometimes entire cities, limiting the homes that they can go to, therefore leading to longer shelter stays. Fortunately, over the past few years, breed-specific legislation has become less popular and many cities have chosen to revoke or lessen restrictions on pit bulls. Instead, cities are opting for breed-neutral regulations designed to address problematic dogs, irresponsible owners, and unsafe situations regardless of a dog’s appearance or breed.
Anyone who has adopted a pittie into their family will tell you how charismatic and loving these dogs can be, so the next time you’re considering taking home a shelter dog from Roice-Hurst, ask to meet our pit bulls!