Sicking Sensationalism on the Dogs


Reading the news this morning I came across a story that made me sad and curious at the same time. An 80-year-old man in South Carolina, a double amputee, had been killed by roaming dogs. Aside from the sorrow I felt for the man and his loved ones I also found myself wondering what breed was responsible. Early reports did not mention any, so I thought there was a good chance that it was not pit bulls. Later updates confirmed that they were the breed responsible. Which just compounds the damage of this event.

It compounds it because we can count on another round of sensationalist attacks on the breed. We can count on the media, always hungry for a story to distract us from the real horrors and crimes perpetrated on all of us by their corporate masters to trot out the same old handful of stories to demonize this breed. We will be reminded of the poor child last year killed by pit bulls. We will not hear of any of the attacks by other breeds. In the middle of this category 5 media storm we will suffer the rantings of crusaders who want to see pit bulls outlawed.

The simple truth is pits score higher on temperament tests than most breeds. They are good family dogs, if trained right, like any other dog. Like any other dog, if abused or neglected, they will revert to their animal instincts. For some reason pits are singled out, despite the fact that other breeds have killed in the last year or so as well. Somehow I doubt we will see memes calling for the banning of golden retrievers, or Facebook posts cautioning us of the dangers of owning one. We have been well-trained to be afraid of pit bulls, and like any training we receive from the media, we have a hard time letting it go.

I work as a canvasser, my job involves knocking on doors and people answering them, often with a dog right there. I have encountered dozens of almost every imaginable breed. The breed that has been the most worrisome, for me, has been the poodle (the full-sized, perfectly capable of harm variety, not the toy poodles.) With the exception of one door, every pit I have come across on my job has been an affectionate attention seeker. The problem is not the breed.

The problem, with any of these animals, are the owners. The problem is people neglecting and abusing their pets. The problem is people deliberately training their dogs to be mean, either as a means of security or as a means to feel tough. Domesticated dogs have been bred for centuries now for a variety of purposes but they’ve all been bred specifically to interact safely with us. That is why we call them domesticated.

So let’s stop blaming pit bulls as a whole for the behavior of a few bad owners. Let’s stop giving in to irrational fear and sensationalism. It is a cruel thing to do to the animals and it is a failure to be a responsible consumer of news media. There are so many much more appropriate wind mills to tilt at, leave this one alone.


2 thoughts on “Sicking Sensationalism on the Dogs

  1. I don’t have a beef with Pit Bulls. I have a beef with the people who get pit bulls. I know, some owners are great people. But some people get the dogs because of their reputation, and don’t provide proper care for the dog. You put a pack of dogs together, don’t socialize ’em, then let ’em run loose, you’re just asking for trouble, no matter what the breed. Larger dogs can just do more damage a lot faster is all.

    • Absolutely. The owner in this instance was criminally irresponsible. Again, every pit I have ever known save one has been a complete cuddle bug. I think the dumb, macho owners give the rest a bad name.

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