So Save your Pit Bull Defenses. They Aren’t New, Clever or Even Sound.
Guest author, The Old Timer, discusses how "We've heard it all before." The worn out, tired tropes repeated by pit bull advocates ad nauseam for over a decade.
The day that would launch my advocacy for the victims of pit bull attacks all began more than a decade ago when I logged onto one of my favorite blogs. It was a daily ritual, checking in with my favorites to get the latest news and insight.
But on this particular morning, the news wasn’t good. The blogger’s cat, not only the mascot of his blog but of the local shelter, had been killed most savagely by a 2-year old foster pit bull. The specifics were gruesome and the blogger was sick with grief and anger. He lashed out at pit bulls, a breed he had never trusted.
The entire blog community grieved with him. The comment section was full of messages of sympathy and pain at such a senseless death of a cat they felt belonged to all of them. Yet, among the condolences were sprinkled defenses of the breed the blogger had just publicly trashed.
“It was how the dog was raised,” one commenter claimed. “He must have been abused,” another commenter asserted with zero evidence. And of course, there was the obligatory, “not all pit bulls are bad. Any dog can bite or attack.”
I suppose that should have been the end of it for me. I should have grieved along with the community and moved on. But I wondered: Was this incident rare? Did this happen a lot or had I witnessed something completely outside the normal?
I opened up a new browser and typed in the phrase “pit bull attack” and my eyes were opened. I spent hours that day reading article after article about pit bulls killing not only animals, but human beings. My emotions were raw. I sobbed when I read the story of a father whose baby was killed by his babysitter’s pit bull. The description of the event was vivid. How, I wondered, could the victim's families move on from such a senseless tragedy and how did more people not know about these mauling deaths?
That was the beginning of my journey into the world of victim advocacy. I began to actively seek out recent articles about pit bull fatalities. I devoured the comment sections, noting both sides of the arguments that were represented. On one side were people claiming that pit bulls were no different than any other dog. Many of them insisted that it was how they were raised while simultaneously claiming that a small dog they raised was meaner than any pit bull they’d ever encountered.
It was that defense that most likely prompted my first reply on a news comment section. If that was the case, I would ask them, if dogs are simply a product of their environment, then why did you raise your dog to be aggressive and bite people? I never expected a reply from my question and rest assured I never received one.
It wasn't long before I was regularly commenting on news site comment sections. I joined what appeared to be a well-established group of men and women attempting to educate the public on the danger of owning a pit bull. Many of their names became familiar to me. I began to think of them as my comrades-in-arms. We were battling against those who felt that the deaths of innocent children and senior citizens were simply the cost of doing business for the right to own a fighting breed.
I also began to see a startling trend that after several months, I began to call out publicly in the comment thread. While there were people attempting to educate the populace on the dangers of pit bulls, there were also pit bull advocates, the same ones, who repeatedly flocked to those comment sections to defend the breed.
For years, fatalities caused by pit bulls were occurring quite frequently in this country -- coming one death every week to 10 days. And like clockwork, every week to 10 days, those same pit bull advocates would show up in the comment section defending the breed, even on a news article about the heartbreaking death of another child. It didn’t seem to matter to them. And they would regurgitate the same weak defenses, hoping everyone would simply forget that just a few days before that, they were making the same defenses after the fighting breed had mauled another innocent victim.
And so it went for almost a decade. The never-ending, soul-crushing deaths continued to occur. And battle worn and weary victims advocates would take to the internet in an attempt to educate the public.
Of course, by now, another generation of fresh soldiers have taken up the battle, but the information war still rages. There are people who continue to educate in order to end the senseless deaths of humans mauled by pit bull-type dogs and they continue to beat back the notions that these dogs are safe, loyal family dogs that “would more likely lick you to death” than ever bite anyone.
That’s the thing of it, really. All of the defenses and excuses about the breed -- we’ve heard them all before. Any argument some pit bull rookie-fanatic or “Johnny Come Lately” can bring to the issue isn’t new and fresh. They are worn-out, tired tropes that have been tried and repeated ad nauseam for years. And it’s stopped nothing. Pit bulls continue to kill innocent people. (Since I began my advocacy 10 years ago, pit bulls have killed around 335 Americans.) Chihuahuas bite. We get it. But they don’t kill.
So save your pat phrases and your propaganda and rhetoric. You aren’t the next pit bull savior and you’re not the one warrior who will impart such an original argument that the entire world will see the wisdom in it. It’s not going to happen, and before long, a pit bull, who never showed any signs of aggression, will kill someone, leaving the seasoned-veterans of this fight to wonder if more time and energy should be spent by pit bull advocates figuring out how to stop these deaths rather than defending the breed after the deaths occur.
11/27/20: The Propaganda is All the Same: Pit Bull Lobby and Tobacco Institute by Lucy Muir
11/17/20: My Take on Pit Bulls by Carol Miller - Perspectives of Advocates