Prejudice and Pit Bulls

By on July 30, 2014 with 7 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Dogs have a great capacity to forgive and forget. It’s a characteristic on display in so many cases where dogs have been dealt a terrible blow or bad hand from callous people. Despite their experiences, animals who’ve known only hardship so often come to trust again in the presence of people who really care. That’s why I was so struck by an article in the latest issue of Esquire magazine where the writer, Tom Junod, writes about his own experience with his adopted pit bull-type dogs.


There is no credible evidence that shows pit bulls are overrepresented among classes or breeds of dogs who bite.
Photo: Meredith Lee/The HSUS

The pit bull “has become less a type of dog than a strain of dog that still makes many Americans deeply uncomfortable,” Junod writes. “We might accept pit bulls personally, but America still doesn't accept them institutionally, where it counts; indeed, apartment complexes and insurance companies are arrayed in force against them.”

Here at The HSUS we believe that dogs called “pit bulls” are just dogs, and we fight against misperceptions and prejudices. One of our most recent legislative fights, in Maryland, corrected a legal problem that declared all pit bulls as dangerous, despite their individual personalities or their record of gentle behavior in the home. Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a bill removing the declaration of “inherently dangerous” from any­­ breeds or types of dog. He, and state lawmakers, corrected a policy grounded on unfamiliarity and, one might also say, ignorance.

While any pit bull type dog can do damage when they bite, because many of them are strong and agile, there is no credible evidence that shows pit bulls are overrepresented among classes or breeds of dogs who bite. Professional animal expert organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, concur that bad behavior among dogs relates more to improper socializing of the animals, and not to the inherent characteristics of the breeds or types. In 2014, reflecting the increasing acceptance of that principle, three more states added themselves to the list of those which prohibit breed-specific restrictions in their borders – now 17 in total. Pit bull-type dogs are among the most popular pets in America, and they are perhaps the most persecuted of dogs, too.  Many sheltering and adoption organizations are doing tremendous work in their communities finding new homes for dogs by keeping their focus on making great matches between dogs and people that will last a lifetime, and that includes pit bull-type dogs.

I am heartened by the stories like one that came out of Alabama this week, as the latest chapter in our anti-dogfighting work and our attempt to rehabilitate and adopt dogs wrongly conscripted into the world of dogfighting. The Montgomery Advertiser reported that most of the dogs rescued from a dogfighting operation, which The HSUS assisted Alabama law enforcement officials with in November last year, had found new homes. It took a lot of effort on the part of our animal care team, and both expertise and faith among local animal welfare groups and potential adopters. These dogs teach us a lesson about both forgiveness and resiliency and the power of good influences in their lives.

The HSUS is committed to advancing companion animal welfare by providing access and information to communities, keeping pets in their homes and leading a paradigm shift in animal welfare philosophy. Pit bulls are special not because of their breed, but because they are dogs. And like any other dog, they deserve to be kept safe with loving families.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals

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  1. Derrick Nelson says:

    Lovely, I have so much love for all animals and already know I want to work at the Humane Society, and I am only 12. Plus I recently got my pitbull taken from us because it is illegal.😢 Love you guys hope to get a reply!

  2. Coral says:

    We should believe in adoption then and in buying pure breed , street dogs also deserve the same love and caring .

  3. Jane Anderson says:

    Really enjoyed reading this article and it’s so true that any put bull-type dog can do damage, I feel their name carries a bad reputation which isn’t always deserved! I will share with my readers, so thank you –

  4. Frank Velasquez says:

    For factual information see, i.e., the result of almost eight (8) years of research of information and scientific studies dating back to as early as 1209 A.D.. It is free, you don’t have to register, there is no advertising and I don’t accept any thing of value. It is strictly for educational purposes and to try to get the real facts to the public and stop the unwarranted negative attention to so-called “Pit Bulls”. The home page identifies over thirty (30) real breeds of dogs that are frequently and incorrectly identified as so-called “Pit Bulls”. The website contains excerpts from the scientific studies with links to the entire studies. The quoted studies represent the consensus of all studies and NOT the exceptions on the particular subjects.

    Research of documents and mostly scientific studies from 1209 A.D. through the present establishes that there has never been a breed of dogs called “Pit Bulls”.

    Scientific studies establish the fact that correct breed identification by bystanders, pet owners, police, medical and animal control personnel and the public, in general, is unreliable. Even the “experts” were successful in correctly identifying at least one breed in a dog only twenty-five percent (25%) of the time, at best.

    The term “Pit Bulls” was used to describe mostly mixed breed dogs or “mutts” developed, trained and used for dog fighting in England in the 1800s. So, in the 1800s, if you put your Chihuahua in the ring to fight another dog, both dogs would be called “Pit Bulls”.

    The term “Pit Bull” continues to exist because “back-yard breeders”, actually “propagators”, trying to sell a “mutt”, which will be impossible, are more likely to make the sale if they call it a “Pit Bull.

    There are many who make money from “Pit Bulls”, like fake media, anti-“Pit Bull” websites, lawyers, politicians, including judges, animal control and shelter workers, law enforcement, etc. who claim they are “protecting the public when in fact they are only interested in getting re-elected and/or keeping their jobs and are not interested in and/or are ignorant of the truth,

    Pet owners are major contributors to the problem by calling their dogs “Pit Bulls” when the dogs are actually real breeds of other dogs or mixed breeds. We have been rescuing all kinds of animals for over 35 years, and there is noting wrong with so-called “Pit Bulls” and mixed breeds or “mutts”, and they are all great dogs.

    If you want more factual information (if you are really interested in the truth), feel free to contact me.

    • Heather carter says:

      Thank you, I will locate the website and read the information. I am currently dealing with harassment by my mothers neighbor who is a sheriff. He is trying to destroy my dog for no reason other than being prejudice against my dogs breed. The Sheriff filed false reports claiming that my dog bit someone. He sends his deputies to harass me. My dog hasn’t bitten anyone. I’ve had him since birth and he is 10 yrs old Nov 22,2020. His name is Bro and I love him

    • Kathleen hoyt says:

      I’m a board member at a shelter. Retired k9 handler/cop. The shelter “rules” are ridiculous. I’m going to fight the shelter board hard on this but I need help. The pres. just doesn’t like them. I can’t even take pics with the community for Facebookwith a pit even if its a staffy or Am bully. But a corso is fine. We can only adopt out of county. Which means the dogs are stuck in the kennel. I can’t even get her to let me show her how great these dogs are. And the way they classify a Pit is just stupid. Am. Bully, Staffies, mastiff mix all dangerous pit bulls. I tend to get a little animated about it so if you could show me where to find the correct research I would greatly appreciate it. There is a lot opinion based info. I would like actual data not opinions. Thank you for all your years of dedication.

      • Frank Velasquez says:

        Check out for information based on real scientific studies and NOT on personal opinions/bias and/or misinformation.

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