October is Pit Bull Awareness Month & Here Are Some Things You Should Know
This October is Pit Bull Awareness Month for the third year in a row, and to celebrate, I wanted to share some things with you that you may not know about this often misunderstood breed.
Origins of National Pit Bull Awareness Month
Back in 2007, a woman named Jodi Preis started National Pit Bull Awareness Day (October 26th). A member of a Tennessee based rescue, Bless the Bullys, Jodi's National Pit Bull Awareness Day was so widely accepted and popular, that four years later, it was extended to encompass the entire month of October!
The Bad Reputation
During WWI Pit Bulls were used on military recruitment posters. Remember "The Little Rascals?" Petey was a Pit Bull. The dog with the Gramophone that represented RCS from the early years? Also a Pit Bull. So what happened? Somewhere in the mid-80s, Pit Bulls started to get a bad reputation. Dog fighting became popular in the 80s and the Pitties were the dog of choice for the humans responsible for these fights. The Pit Bull also became a popular breed for Drug Dealers to use as "guard dogs." Again, the humans involved are responsible for the image of these dogs. Modern media has been accused of sensationalizing Pit Bull stories because they garner more attention than stories about a Shih tzu who bites someone.
Dog bite statistics
- An estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year
- Nearly 800,000 dog bites require medical care
- Approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered
- Approximately 25% of fatal dog attacks involved chained dogs
- At least 25 different breeds of dogs have been involved in the 238 dog-bite-related fatalities in the U.S.
- Approximately 24% of human deaths involved unrestrained dogs off of their owners’ property
- Approximately 58% of human deaths involved unrestrained dogs on their owners’ property
- 82% of dog bites treated in the emergency room involved children under 15 years old
- Bite rates are dramatically higher among children who are 5 to 9 years old
- Boys under the age of 15 years old are bitten more often than girls of the same age
Notice that these are statistics on dog bites - not Pit Bull bites. The point being, all dogs are capable of biting, and the majority are due to irresponsible owners, not bad dogs.
BSL - Breed Specific Legislation
There is a growing trend in communities across the country that Pit Bull advocates far and wide are constantly battling - BSL. Breed Specific Legislation quite literally targets individual breeds - primarily bully breeds - making it illegal to own a Pit Bull. BSL punishes responsible pet owners and good pets. You've likely heard the expression, "Punish the deed, not the breed." This is a popular rally cry for those, myself included, who oppose BSL.
Just to illustrate the good that Pit Bulls are capable of doing.
TaterTot: Just days after being rescued from the euthanasia list at a shelter, TaterTot saved the life of a 4-year-old boy in Minneapolis.
Onyx: He saved his family from a burning home in Florida. He is now healing from burns over 30% of his body.
Do Your Part
So what can you do to help? If you don't have a Pit Bull of your own, educate yourself. Teach your children how to be respectful of not just Pit Bulls, but of all dogs. Make a donation to your local shelter or rescue. If you are the human of a Pit Bull, spay or neuter your pet so you are not contributing to the growing number of Pit & Pit mixes in the shelters. Responsible Pit Bull owners should show others why their beloved breed is just as worthy of love as the next dog. Work with your dog, training him to be well mannered and well behaved so he can be an ambassador for the breed.