Pit Bulls: Are They Too Wild or Do We Bully Them?

Perhaps more than any other breed, pit bulls have gotten a bad reputation. Is it a fair one?

Nicki Puza of Stamford fell in love with pit bulls while volunteering in veterinary clinics during college. She got her first pit bull at the start of 2009 and her second in April 2010. While in veterinary school, she is also fostering a pure-bred adult male pit bull.

“I found that pit bulls had the most personality, were extremely intelligent, and had the most love to give,” Puza said. “I meet people with my dogs in tow who remark on how wonderful a breed pit bulls are, and how they are so unfortunately misunderstood.”

But when Puza went to in Stamford earlier this summer, she was surprised to learn that they do not allow pit bulls. Until recently, the breed policy at Camp Bow Wow was laid out by the corporate headquarters, today, corporate gives each franchise the option of whether or not they will accept pit bulls.

“Owners of pit bulls were disappointed, so we tried to change the policy, we interviewed them and took a six-month-old female pit bull, a sweet, sweet dog with people. She did fine in the interview process, fine with just two or three other dogs,” said John Caro, owner of Stamford’s Camp Bow Wow.

“The second day, her temperament changed, to the point that she bit another dog," he said. "When the counselor who was in there tried to control the situation, she bit the person on the arm. I don’t know what might have happened, maybe she thought she was playing rough.”

Since then, Camp Bow Wow has not accepted any pure bred pit bulls, but they do have three or four mixed breed pit bulls.

“I have, unfortunately, very commonly heard of apartment complexes not allowing pit bulls or German Shepherds, Boxers, Dobermans, or a handful of other breeds," Puza said. "It is easier for me to ignore these restrictions and pass them off as ridiculous because the people making the rules don't know anything about dogs and aren't expected to, unlike the people at a dog boarding facility.”

Reputation from organized dog fighting

The use of pit bulls in dog fighting is one of the driving forces behind the reputation. It’s easy for people to listen to the news and see dog fighting rings being broken up and draw their own conclusions about the nature of pit bulls. This leaves some boarders up against the wall in deciding whether or not to allow them in their facility.

“I’m sure in many clients' minds, they hear stories of Michael Vick and have it in their mind that they’re bred to fight...they’re afraid. I think if I accepted pit bulls at camp, we would lose clients,” Caro said.

The reputation pit bulls have gained from dog fighting has led to a disastrous chain reaction, dogs being abused, neglected, and developing traits that serve to propel the reputation into the future.

“It makes them a target breed to be adopted as a "status symbol pet." These dogs are trained to be aggressive, protective, and to bite usually by being beaten, abused, and neglected," Puza said. “If they get loose, as they often do thanks to irresponsible owners, the results can be disastrous. What most people don't realize though, is that any breed treated this way may develop the same aggressions.”

“I don’t know what it is, whether it’s in their nature or the way that they were raised,” said Caro of Camp Bow Wow. “It’s a reputation that’s been coming for a long time.”

For people who love pit bulls, it’s also a reputation they’re fighting hard to change. October 22, 2011 will mark the fifth annual National Pit Bull Awareness Day, a day that advocates across the US plan to join together to bring some positive attention to their misunderstood best friends.

Editor's note: This article originally was published by .

Sharon Cooper September 07, 2011 at 07:37 PM
Did it occur to the gentleman at Camp Bow Wow that perhaps the evaluator might have been the problem the second day that pitbull puppy was tested?
Nancy S. Racnelks September 07, 2011 at 07:42 PM
What articles and people of ALL types that are anti-pit bull-type dog forget is that there are millions of these types of dogs everywhere living out their lives just like every other family dog. They're just not the stories we read about. No one wants to hear a story about a white-collared, professional couple with two adopted, shelter bully-mix dogs. They don't want to know that we take excellent care of our dogs. They're neutered, microchipped, registered with the Township and are on leash at all times except when in the house or 6-foot, privacy-fenced yard. And even then, they are never alone in the yard. People don't care about a story of these dogs who are contributing members of society and who get the proper care, exercise, discipline and training. Why isn't that on the 6:00 news? Of course not. My husband and I are not in the minority. There are SO many of these dogs everywhere just being themselves without any trouble. The "attacks" that you hear about in the media are the aberrations. Where are all the paparazzi and news cameras when we are walking our dogs peacefully through my upper middle class neighborhood? Where are the stories about all the other bull-mixes that have families to which they belong who are THRILLED to have them? Let's hear about some of them for a change, hmmm?
Joe Resident September 08, 2011 at 03:07 AM
Did you see the news coverage of that Lab that bit my neoghbors kid severly? No, because it wasnt covered because it was a Lab.
Michael August 08, 2012 at 09:19 AM
It all depends on a mixture of the lineage and up bringing, for example many domestic dogs perceive face petting as an aggressive act, especially if you surprise them. Always let them come to you first, never stare them down, or in the eye, and make yourself less intimidating(I.E. body posture), If your afraid of the dog it may sense the fear or uncertainty and perceive it as a threat, in that case you shouldn't be petting it. There are always ways to avoid these situations if you understand and respect these animals. Many pit's aren't properly socialized because of the social stigma that follows them. I have interacted with many a pit, I have never had a bad experience. If you want to get to know a pit, you have to be slowly introduced into it's life as a new person, so it can get used to your scent, and be comfortable with you. They are also a very protective,and loyal breed. If you don't trust the owner, or don't know them, don't ask to pet the dog.


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