Don’t judge a dog by its bark

Kyle Graham , Photographer

As an avid dog lover, it bothers me when I hear people discuss how dangerous pit bulls are. Just about everyone I have heard this from has never owned one.

A common misconception is that they are naturally aggressive. Where is the fairness in that? To blacklist an entire dog breed because of various cases is unjustifiable. I won’t go so far as to say it is the same as racial discrimination, but it does support the same principle. No individual comes out of the womb with intentions of targeting another. It is the environmental factors that person experiences growing up that shapes them, one way or another. This is the same case; if a dog of any breed is brought up having their owners abuse them, they are instinctively going to fight back.

Granted, there is history behind how each breed has progressed to where it is today. At first, pit bulls were mainly bred for fighting. They were not to kill but to be contenders in fights. Much like boxing, the matches would consist of rounds in which each dog would score points based on what he or she was able to do to the other.

The reason pit bulls were chosen for the sport is that they are the most tolerable dogs toward humans. A recent BarkPost temperance test showed pit bulls taking the number 3 spot with an 85.6 percent overall rating.

Their patience level is high enough that they can handle the stress of dog fighting. They are more likely to build trust with their owners. Because of this, you will often see instances of children going to the hospital from bites. This is from negligent parents allowing their children to approach and put their hands on a dog they have never seen before. The dog is much more likely to defend itself when it feels cornered or forced into an unfamiliar situation or when protecting its owner.

I used to have a golden retriever that nipped someone who did the same thing. That was the only person he ever showed any aggression towards. Aggression is attributed to reflex and stimuli more than it is natural personality.

Victoria Stillwell, revered dog trainer, states “the myth that all pit bulls are dangerous or ‘bred to violent’ is simply not true.”

I currently work at Woofers Dog Daycare. In the short time I have been there, I have seen more instances of breeds that are known as the sweetest dogs initiating the rougher play than I have of pit bulls. Out of the few hundred dogs that come through, not one of the pit bulls has tried to show unwarranted aggression towards me.

One dog, Watson, is the first to greet me when I come in for work each day. He is one of the pit bulls I see on a regular basis. As soon as I sit to take a water break, he is in my lap ready to give me all of the doggy kisses he assumes I want. On the other hand, I have seen Labrador retrievers bark and bare their teeth at me just for walking near them during one of their afternoon naps. It all depends on how the dog was raised and what kind of environment they are in.