In response to the recent mauling of mailman Jeff Glen, a DogsBite.org commenter has left a beautifully articulated response. Commenter Doug draws on the parallel example of the equine world to discuss the genetic heritage of pit bulls. Both animals underwent performance selection over many years to produce an unmatched breed: the ultimate canine warrior and the fastest horse on earth. Neither animal was selected on the basis of "human friendliness."
Pit Bulls Were Selected to "Win"
"In the beginning, human aggressive dogs were slaughtered or abandoned, they didn't develop within the fold of domesticates. Human friendliness was a necessary trait for all dogs, regardless of type. This wasn’t hard because early canines were pack animals, they had to work and get along with others. Humans were a simple adaptation for this social trait; broadening the definition of a pack member or leader was not a colossal leap.
Pit bulls never benefited from special selection for human friendliness; this potential characteristic already existed and was passed to them from their genetic predecessors. The only feature of their character that needed to be maintained was a modicum of pack loyalty and subservience to a pack leader (owner/handler.)
The myth of any special human friendliness by pit bulls is merely that – a myth. As in all animals bred and developed for competition, many faults are acceptable… so long as they can win. Winning is job one.
A parallel example of performance selection exists in the equine world. Anybody familiar with the race world knows that Thoroughbred horses rule the track. There is no other breed in contention beyond 2 furlongs. So you would think, if you subscribe to the so called “logic” within the mythology put forth by pit bull advocates, Thoroughbred horses must be the most tractable, gentle saddle horses ever created. After all, their purpose is to carry a rider; they don’t run these races by themselves! And Thoroughbreds have been in development for over 300 years – surely they are the most rider friendly of all horse breeds, aren’t they?
No one in the horse world would ever make such a claim about Thoroughbreds! The original stallions from the Mediterranean and Middle East were crossed with native horses to make them more manageable, but speed under saddle was and continues to be paramount. Many character faults are forgiven, so long as the horse can run!
And so it is in the TRUE history of pit bulls. Winning pit bulls that could be managed, even marginally, were always – ALWAYS – bred. No dogfighters ever forsake a winning lineage because of manageable human aggression. A winning pit dog need not be a family dog, anymore than a Thoroughbred needs the gentleness and versatility required for Junior 4-H horse shows.
The pit bull advocates have attempted to rewrite the history of pit dog selection. Their version is a fairy tale – a complete lie. Pit dogs were selected for strength, stamina, and aggression. If they happened to be tractable for their handlers, it was a fortunate happenstance carried over from their predecessor canines – definitely NOT a primary consideration in the development of winning pit dogs.
This pit advocate lie is a failed absurdity. The frequency and severity of attacks on humans make the truth self evident, regardless of how many times the lie is repeated."
05/02/09: Mailman Suffers Severed Artery, Fractured Arm in Pit Bull Attack
08/28/08: Comment: Pro-Pit Mantra, "Cocker Spaniels Bite More Than Pit Bulls"