Why Bad Rep; How Did It Change for Previous Breeds?
"In last decades the bad reputation was for Dobermans or Rottweilers and now the bad reputation is for Pit Bulls; do you know how this bad reputation was changed to a positive reputation? Or do we need to wait some years or decades for people change to other breed? I know that we need to educate them and they need to take their time to know, to share time and learn more about this loyalty, friendly, lovely and gorgeous breed, but I would like to know how people changed about other breeds in last decades."
When we first received this question, my initial reaction was to respond that it really wasn't what our "Why? Wednesday" segment is about - we created it to be more along the lines of why do we, as a rescue, etc., do or not do certain things. However, after consideration, we (obviously) decided to give it a whirl.
There is a book entitled, "The Pit Bull Placebo: The Media, Myths & Politics of Canine Aggression" written by Karen Delise with extensive research about this very subject. We have a link to it on our website at shawpbr.org - scroll down to the OF INTEREST tab; and then select "The Pit Bull Placebo." This is imperative reading to educate yourselves about this very subject.
However, the short answer is that we, as a society, rely too heavily on media (news and social) instead of actual experience. All dogs bite. All dogs. And cats - cats bite, too.
Dobermans - German Shepherds - Rottweilers - Pit Bulls.
All of these breeds have been discriminated against for various reasons over the last 40-50 years. I don't even know all of the myths surrounding each breed as to why - ie. Doberman's brains are too big for their skulls, etc. But, for whatever reason, the Dobie, GSD, Rottie - all came through the fire and are no longer in the limelight.
One of the things those dogs have in common is they are very easily identifiable. You can't mistake any other breed for a Doberman or a Rottweiler - and even tho some shepherds do look similar, it isn't very hard to ID a German Shepherd based on looks, alone. Now, the 'pit bull' on the other hand.....
Of course, the popularity of a breed should be taken into consideration, as well. Back when the others were being vilified in the media, there was an increase in popularity. When 101 Dalmatians aired, the Dalmatian was the most popular dog (which also resulted in an increase of unstable Dalmatian dogs).
We won't get in to all the dirty details, but in the past several decades, the 'pit bull' became the breed of choice for unsavory characters - either those wanting to make money on dog fights, breeding, or whatever reason they thought would help them make a profit. This goes without saying - but these are the lowest of the low; and even if society was successful in destroying the 'pit bull', these jerks would simply move on to the next breed, and the next, destroying them all until there were none left.
So - take popularity, greed, lack of discipline or training (for both people and dogs), and the fact that 98% of any dog that growls, bites, or moves is labeled a 'pit bull' these days.... the only solution is education.
It has only been in the past 5-10 years that the media and everyone is saying that the 'pit bull' isn't a breed, but a mass generalization encompassing any number of breeds that remotely 'look' like a 'pit bull'. The fact is that the true Pit Bull (the American Pit Bull Terrier) was one of the purest of breeds you could find. This is no longer true - as, ironically, there aren't many true American Pit Bull Terriers in existence any more. Most of what you see now is, in fact, what we call the media 'pit bull' and most couldn't be farther away from the original APBT if they were GSD's.
This is really an entirely different subject - but somewhere along the line, people decided they could breed a better 'pit bull', and have simply succeeded in creating sub-par, unhealthy, and often unstable dogs - which only leads to even more horror stories about the dogs.
EDUCATION & RESPONSIBILITY - are the main keys to this. Educate people on how to interact with dogs (of all breeds); to discipline (themselves, their kids, their animals); to educate themselves on breeding (of course - NOT to, but if it is necessary, to educate themselves on proper procedure, genetics, etc.); educate themselves and others about spaying/neutering; learn proper breed identification protocol; responsibility.....
And as for media - you rarely see a breed identification in a 'horror' story, unless it can be labeled a 'pit bull'; or unless it's a positive story. Everyone thinks they know what a 'pit bull' looks like - but they don't. I bet even you don't... Let's see: Can YOU Spot the Pit Bull?
March 30, 2016