Just like everything our dogs do is scrutinized to the 100th degree, so is everything that Pit Bull owners and supporters say.
With this in mind, I present the TOP TEN TERMS & PHRASES TO RECONSIDER as a Pit Bull Advocate (in no particular order):
(1) “My Pit Bull doesn’t know he’s a Pit Bull, he thinks he’s a Poodle!” – what you are inadvertently saying here is that the myth about Pit Bulls being dangerous is true but you have one of the few Pit Bulls that doesn’t fit the stereotype. The reality is that MOST Pit Bulls do not fit the negative stereotypes.
(2) “She’s a lover, not a fighter” – oh, this one riles me something awful! It seems innocent but essentially, it’s drawing a line between fighting dogs and regular family pets; the comparison pits a “loving dog” against a “fighting dog”, as if the same traits could not possibly exist in the same dog. It IS completely possible for a dog of any breed to be both capable and willing to fight another dog and yet still be a wonderful loving family pet which is evidenced by dogs rescued from fight rings who have gone on to be adopted into normal homes.
(3) “Bait dog” – this is just one of those things that won’t go away. The truth is, the ONLY way to know if the dog was intended to be used as “bait” is if the person tossing the dog in the ring tells you so (and we hope none of our readers know people that would do such a thing).
Simply being a smaller or weaker dog in the ring does not make the bait dog legend true, it just means that not only are the dog fighters criminal animal abusers, but they also have no idea what they are actually doing. Additionally, promoting the idea of bait dogs may give those who seek to abuse dogs more ideas. The fighting history of the APBT is violent and horrible, but that does not mean that there weren’t some rules for the sickening battles. It’s a complete and utter myth that one must “train” dogs to fight by “making” them maul smaller dogs and we only serve to further endanger dogs by repeating this myth to others.
(4) “Fighting dog” – ANY dog is capable of being abused by dog fighters. Pit Bulls aren’t “fighting dogs” so much as they were exploited in fighting rings; they are also family dogs, Service Animals, Therapy dogs, Search & Rescue dogs, disc dogs, flyball dogs, dock diving dogs, weight pull dogs, lure coursing dogs, conformation champions, agility record holders…the list goes on and on. There is a very subtle difference here but one I think deserves more attention. I cringe a bit when I see Pit Bull advocates use the term because it’s often to make a distinction between what they seem to see as two different types of Pit Bulls.
Was the breed developed for fighting other dogs? Yes, this is a historic fact. However, I think it would help a great deal to bring the plight of dogs abused by fight rings into the home of Joe Q. Public if we stop creating a distinction between the types of abuse. Dogs used in fight rings are every bit a victim as dogs abused in other ways. We need to work harder to lessen the stigma that “fighting dog” carries by getting back to basics – dog fighting is abuse, it’s victimization, and it’s exploitation with no need to call it or the dogs affected anything else except when needed by the law.
(5) “Pit Bulls are amazing dogs as long as they have the right owners” – this is really along the lines of “It’s All in How Your Raise Them” but I thought it deserves special mention. If Pit Bulls are only amazing dogs as long as they have the right owners, then the reverse would be that if they don’t have perfect owners, they are not amazing dogs. We all know this isn’t true as the APBT has proven time and time again to be stable and loving with humans in the vast majority of cases. Pit Bulls are amazing dogs, period, and we need to make sure our word choice reflects that when we are sharing our love for our dogs with the world.
(6) “There are no bad dogs, only bad owners” – this one is tricky. Bad owners are usually unloving, uneducated, abusive, and/or all of the above or more. But bad owners don’t always have dogs with behavior problems (mike vick, anyone?). There are also wonderful owners who have dogs with severe behavior issues, including human aggression. Simply being a “good” owner will not result in a “good” dog anymore than being a “bad” owner will result in a “bad” dog. Some dogs are simply not wired correctly and even the best owner in the world cannot help that. We need to be supportive of those owners who have dogs with special needs and phrases like the above only serve to make it more likely that those owners will be hesitant to get help with the issues they are having.
(7) “The only breed I trust is the Pit Bull” – well what could possibly be wrong with this one? Making the distinction that Pit Bulls are somehow the safest breed comes with similar issues to making the distinction that Pit Bulls are somehow the most dangerous breed. There is not one single breed of dog that can be, or should be, trusted 100% of the time. Dogs are dogs and any dog of any breed can be dangerous, isn’t that a basic premise of the anti-BSL movement?
(8) “(insert toy breed) is more dangerous than a Pit Bull” – another statement that is counter to the anti-BSL movement. The basic idea against BSL is that there is no one breed of dog that is more dangerous than another. All dogs should be judged on their own individual bite histories without regard to their breed so we cannot possibly further our cause by throwing any other breed under the BSL bus.
(9) “But the Pit Bull was known as the NANNY DOG” – as lovely as the idea sounds, this is completely untrue. I know, I know, there have been a million blog posts saying that the Pit Bull was known as the nanny dog, but there are also a million blog posts saying that Pit Bulls are the breed responsible for the most human fatalities and that isn’t true either. Pit Bulls don’t have to have a silly nickname to still be good with children, so why continue to repeat this myth? Do we really want parents to think that it may be okay to leave a young child unattended with ANY dog, like this goofball dad in Florida did?
When we spread misinformation, even if the misinformation shows our dogs in a positive light, it can backfire, like it does in this anti-Pit Bull blog post about the Nanny Dog Myth. I’ve done my own research and cannot find any verifiable sources that the APBT ever had this nickname. Yes, there is some anecdotal evidence that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier was given this name (possibly as a marketing gimmick) but the SBT is not an APBT, though the breeds are closely related.
(10) “My Pit Bull is the sweetest little angel on earth and wouldn’t hurt a fly” – while your dog may be gentle as they come, many people will look at you as if you have no clue what is on the end of your leash. Dogs are not furry humans, they are dogs, and denying this doesn’t do any of us any good. I’ve found that what some Pit Bull advocates do in an attempt to defend from some of the horrible things that are said about our dogs, is make super cutesy statements about how squishy and loving their dogs are. Again, this is true for many dogs but when you hop on a heated comment thread that is bashing Pit Bulls and say something like this, you won’t be taken seriously by most people on that thread/page/site etc. It’s most often best to fight ignorance with facts and logic, not opinions peppered with whimsical phrasing. We do the most justice for our breed when we can meet the anti-Pit Bull contingent pound for pound with the research and history that cannot be denied. Your cuddle monster will thank you later.