Pit bulls have long been demonized as vitriol creatures unfit for the title of “man’s best friend”. The media has painted a picture of a vicious breed of dog hell-bent on mauling and maiming humans, certainly not the kind of animal you want in your home. But this only tells half the story: the multitudes of families madly in love with their pit bull companions go widely unnoticed. That is why pit bulls are far and away the most common to find at animal shelters or abandoned on the streets. The perspective with which society views these sweet and caring creatures is drastically limited, and has led to persecution of the breed. Dozens of municipalities across Michigan have outlawed the ownership of pit bulls, forcing many to give up their dogs. These actions are incredibly misguided.

Roughly 30 Americans are attacked fatally by dogs every year, and a majority of those deaths are at the teeth of pit bulls, but their violent tendencies are not simply natural instinct. In the early 19th century, bulldogs, which were trained to bite and hold large animals, were bred with agile terriers. The result was the perfect fighting dog: an animal with the ability to efficiently kill its opponent. The real problem with pit bulls is not that they are more prone to turn on humans, but when they do it is far more dangerous. Poor treatment of pit bulls also leads them to violence. Studies show that a vast majority of dogs involved in fatal attacks are un-neutered males and yard or guard dogs. Pit bulls are much more likely to fall into these categories due to poor human care propelled by a lack of effort.     

Further perpetuating hatred of the breed are common and dangerous myths that have no factual standing. Many believe that pit bulls have “locking” jaws that allow them to latch on with extreme force. This claim is completely baseless: pit bulls have no special mechanism different from other breeds. Furthermore, pit bulls do not have an especially strong bite; a study found that their bite pressure is significantly lower than that of a rottweiler and just below that of a German shepherd. Abuse of pit bulls is augmented by the misconception that the breed does not feel pain. In reality, pit bulls are so loyal and desperate to please their owners that they go to extreme lengths to mask their suffering.

In the end, pit bulls are no different from any other breed of dog. They crave the same things from humans that any poodle or chihuahua does: love and affection. It’s about time we learn to reciprocate those feelings.