What does Seattle think of America’s Most Misunderstood Breed of Dog?
Seattle is truly a city that has gone to the dogs. Seattle is home to 45 dog-friendly hotels, 150 dog-friendly restaurants and Kenmore Air even allows canine passengers to sit next to their owners. Seattle-based companies such as Amazon and Jones Soda allow their employees to bring their dogs to work. However, even in American’s 3rd dog-friendliest city, certain breeds continue to be framed by stereotypes and misinformation. Although I am a dog lover, I have realized that some breeds need more than love and admiration— they need advocates. This is why I have decided become a volunteer, supporter, and advocate for America’s most misunderstood breed of dog- The Pit Bull. The best way to educate others about Pit Bulls is to differentiate facts from fiction and learn more about what other Seattleites are doing to embrace this breed.
Pitbull is a breed of dog- FICTION: The first thing many people do not realize is that the breed “Pit Bull” does not exist. According to the American Kennel Club, “Pit Bull” is actually a generic term similar to the canine terms “Hound” or “Terrier. The AKC does not recognize Pit Bull as a breed but acknowledges the term is often used in reference to breeds such as: American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Dogo Argentinos and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
Pit Bulls are more aggressive than other dogs – FICTION: During the annual study by the American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS), Pit Bulls receive a passing rate of 83.9% which is above the average passing rate of 82%. This also places Pit Bulls as having better temperaments that golden Retrievers and Poodles. This places Pit Bulls in the top five most stable breeds of dogs with the most unstable breeds including Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Jack Russell Terriers.
Pit Bulls are responsible for most fatal dog attacks- FACT and FICTION: Since 1965, there have been 36 different breeds of dogs that have been involved in fatal attacks. Pit Bulls have the highest reported number of attacks; HOWEVER, when comparing the percentage of attack-rate against the breed as a whole, Pit Bulls come in at the bottom (see example chart below):
# of Reported Attacks
% vs. Population
|Approx. 128,000||18||Great Dane||.01416%|
|Approx. 72,000||10||St. Bernard||.0139%|
|Approx. 240,000||12||Chow Chow||.005%|
|Approx. 5,000,000||60||Pit Bulls||.0012%|
Dog abuse and neglectful owners contribute to the bad rap of Pit Bulls- FACT: The biggest reason that Pit Bulls have such a bad reputation is due to bad owners. There is no denying that Pit Bulls are large and powerful dogs however, they are not naturally aggressive. Up until the 1980’s there were little to no reports of Pit Bull attacks in the United States. However, despite being illegal in all fifty states, dog fighting made a comeback in the early 80s, and the Pit Bull was the dog of choice for this illegal activity which caused the reputation of the dog to spin out of control. It is because of the irresponsibility of Pit Bull owners that dog advocates have coined the phrase: “Punish the Deed not the Breed” which means individual dogs and people should be held accountable for their actions; however, those actions should not be reflective of the breed as a whole. Another phrase used to describe this controversy is “breed racism”.
Does Seattle love Pit Bulls? I would argue… FACT
Although it can be difficult to find apartment/home rentals that is Pit Bull friendly, many Seattlites are giving their time to create a community that is welcoming to ALL breeds of dogs. There are 5 Pit Bull specific rescue organizations in Seattle with dozen more shelters/rescues that take-in Pit Bulls. There are Meet-Up groups designed for “Pit Bull only” and “Pit Bull friendly” dog-walking exertions, Seattle/Pit Bull specific websites & Blogs and Issaquah, WA holds an annual parade honoring and celebrating Pit Bulls. Not to mention… just try stepping outside! It doesn’t take long to spot a Pit Bull and owner walking downtown or in a local park. The best way to begin understanding this misunderstood breed is by talking with Pit Bull owners. As with all breeds, always remember to ask an owner before patting their dog (and if it’s a Pit Bull, brace yourself for lots of licks and a fiercely wagging tail).