Five myths about pitbulls

Delta Airlines recently ruled that they will not allow pitbulls on their flights, even as registered and trained service animals. is certainly not the first, nor will it be the last, to point out the abuse inherent in this policy. So it seems like a good time to look at the five top myths about pitbulls.

Myth one: Pitbulls are the worst biters.

Actually, there are two metrics here: the number of bites and the damage typically done by the bite. Luckily, Canine Journal has compiled lists of the top biter in both categories.

At the top of the list of most frequent biters is the adorable chihuahua.

And, surprisingly, the pitbull is ninth on the list of biters who can really do a lot of damage for their size. The doberman, the German shepherd, and the seemingly harmless English mastiff are all more likely to require a hospital visit.

Myth two: Pitbulls were all bred by dog fighters and drug lords to be aggressive.

Unfortunately, there is some of that DNA in the mix of many, though not all, pitbulls. The breed was not originally cultivated for either fighting or guarding, however. The pitbull terrier was designed as a hunting dog. Specifically, hunters needed someone to latch onto their kills and hold them in one place until the hunter could get to the site and bag the prey.

In fact, NO pitbulls were ever bred to be hostile to people. Even a drug lord needs to control his dog, so he needs an obedient dog. We can assume that any drug lord or dog fighter who got bitten immediately discontinued the line of that dog.

Myth three: Any amateur can easily tell whether a dog is a pitbull.

Okay, you might think you know a pitbull when you see one, but, in fact, that dog is more likely to be a mix of different dog breeds. And the only way to really, really know the ancestry of that pooch is with a DNA test.

That’s why cities with anti-pitbull laws are so infuriating. They empower police men, with no veterinary qualifications, to make snap judgments about whether a dog is a pit.

That’s why you read, from time to time, about a registered dog being sent to the gas chamber, even though his owners have blue chip documents to prove that he’s not a pitbull. What the vet or a dog expert says your dog is will not save your dog. An unqualified police officer will decide whether your dog is a pit or another dog.

It is also worth noting that the Staffordshire terrier, a separate breed of dog, according to the American Kennel Club, looks identical to the pitbull.

Myth four: Pitbulls have become cool enough

It’s true that pitbulls have more advocates and saviors than ever before. That said, they are also about the only abandoned dogs that routinely get gassed in animal control facilities. About the only other dogs that still get euthanized, for no good reason, are old, sick, and disabled animals. Pitbulls are still the most unpopular pooch at the prom.

Myth five: Pitbulls don’t have the temperament to be good service dogs.

A quick search for “pitbull service dogs” on Google images yields literally thousands of pictures of pitbulls in service vests.

Pitbulls are particularly good at soothing and providing skilled companionship to disabled veterans and veterans suffering from PTSD.

“Pits for patriots” is but one of the many organizations that matches pitbulls to the veterans who need them. The pitbull is the undisputed champion in this arena of service.

In discriminating against pitbull service dogs, Delta is introducing one more hardship into the lives of veterans.

It is true that service animals are carefully chosen, raised, and screened for service. Only a small percentage of puppies evaluated meet the criteria for service dogs.

Even so, many of those puppies do not pass the rigorous training that requires them to demonstrate, definitively, that they will sacrifice their own lives to save humans.

Many beagles, Labrador retrievers, and poodles will fail to become service dogs. And many pitbulls will fail also. But, at the end of the day, all dogs are individuals. And their individual character, not their breed, predicts whether they have the loyalty and bravery to be service dogs.

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