What if I told you that pit bulls were once the perfect dogs for children?
It's true. In the early 20th century, the pit bull was considered to be one of the best family dogs.
The breed is a descendant of bull baiting dogs - "bulldogs" that were used to bite and hold bulls, bears, and other large animals. When this activity was banned in the 1800s, these dog owners began to make their dogs fight each other instead.
But when the breed made its way to America, the pit bull's loyal and gentle nature made it the ideal family dog - and these dogs were trusted around children.
These dogs were not just excellent dogs for children and families. They were actually used to represent America during World War I. The pit bull, with his proud stance, represented the American military in political cartoons and propaganda fliers.
How, then, did this gentle breed become associated with fighting and dog attacks? The answer is ownership. Studies have shown that in many cases the breed is not what determines whether a dog will attack a human; it is the ownership and treatment of the dog.
Pit bulls that are used in dog fights are kept in poor conditions. They are often starved and beaten to encourage aggression. Sometimes owners will use small animals like smaller dogs and rabbits to train their dogs to kill. These dogs are trained never to give up during a fight, which usually leads to serious injuries or even death.
Even though dog fighting is illegal in all 50 states, organized dog fights have a strong subculture. You may think that only "lowlifes" take part in this so-called "sport," but in fact there are often lawyers, judges, and teachers participating in the ring.
It's heartbreaking to see the noble, gentle pit bull be treated in such a way. Because of illegal fights, many humans have become afraid of the breed. But there are things you can do to help raise awareness and put an end to dog fights.
One thing you can do is to adopt a pit bull! If more pit bulls are placed in good, loving homes, less will end up in horrible situations.
Becoming aware of legislation and local pit bull issues is another way you can help. Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to keep up to date on dog fighting legislation in your state. You can also volunteer at a local animal shelter and help keeping pit bulls and other dogs physically and mentally fit through exercise and love. Or you can simply share the truth about pit bulls with those around you to help spread the word.
The sad truth is that there are many pets that are not loved. Every bit of time or money you give to rescue groups such as ARF, Sarges and Friends or Carolina Animal Rescue & Adoption brings us one step closer to a world that is free of animal cruelty. Pit bulls do not deserve to be treated with such cruelty. Nobody does.
P.S. You may be wondering, "What difference could my small donation really make?" A huge difference! as little to any of those local NC rescue groups can help dogs and cats get adopted by loving families. Any dollars will help keep their Field teams equipped and ready to rescue animals in need. No donation is too small - every little bit counts.