Hi. I am not a dog owner (have a cat) and know very little about pit bulls and their owners. Yesterday, however, I read a 'letter' sent to my local newspaper (The Intelligencer Journal/ Lancaster New Era of Lancaster, PA) that bothered me. This letter was entitled 'Pit bulls flourish in loving homes' and agreed with a previous editorial that aggression displayed by a pit bull "is not the breed, it is the owner." The letter says that pit bulls make wonderful pets and gives some history of the breed. The writer explained how during the early twentieth century pit bulls were very popular, then went 'out of style' only to resume their popularity in the late 1970s when they got a bad reputation for violence due to the propensity of (some) pit bull owners to own such a breed for its aggressive characteristics.
Here is the paragraph* of the letter that is still bothering me (the bolding/italics are added by me):
"About 35 years ago, pit bulls started coming back into style. But this time it was only a certain segment of society that was especially interested. I will not name these people. However, your description of their motivations for owning the breed was, I fear, exactly right."
The reason that I am upset is that this statement appears stereotypical (at best), classist/ elitist, or racist (at worse) or all of the above and I am bothered that the newspaper would even print something so prejudicial. The author seems to be suggesting that all pit bull owners in this unspecified 'segment of society' have chosen the breed for wrong (and potentially dangerous) motivations.
After reading this letter, I wanted to know exactly who "these people" are, so I did some research about pit bulls and their owners, seeing if there was a distinct 'segment of society' that could be blamed for aggressive pit bull behavior. I found nothing of the sort. Instead, I learned that because of the history of the breed, pit bull owners need to be cognizant of their pets' potential for aggression - especially around other dogs (just as ALL dog owners must), take some extra effort to 'socialize' their dogs, and maintain vigilance discourage aggressive behavior (ie avoiding 'tug games,' spay/neuter, don't leave dog alone). I learned that a well trained pit bull is a loyal, people friendly (this surprised me), energetic, loving dog.
I did not, however, find any information cluing me in to this potentially dangerous - and unnamed - "segment of society" that is responsible for aggresive pit bull behavior. While I initially thought (giving the author too much credit perhaps), that "these people" were just irresponsible owners in general. This, however, cannot be the case because she has already mentioned that some owners' dogs "are poorly taken care of or deliberately encouraged to be mean." In other words, irresponsible owners are already "named" and thus I am still at a blank concerning which "segment of society" "these people" occupy.
I read a thread on this site entitled "IQ and Income of Pitbull owners" (from March of 2011) where I found out that all sorts of people in many of society's 'segments' not only own pit bulls but are also responsible owners!
Yet, unfortunately, this letter implies that there are certain demographic segments of society ("these people") that make poor pit bull owners. I cannot see how this could be true, and would like to write a letter to the editor saying that there is not a specific "certain segment of society" (i.e. men/women; black/white/Hispanic/Asian, rich/poor/middle class, strait/LGBTU, etc) in which pit bulls are universally chosen for the wrong reasons. I would like to say that it doesn't matter which 'segment of society' one comes from, that how a person chooses and trains their pet(s) is an individual rather than socially/demographically determined and that people from all demographic groups have an EQUAL potential to be 'good owners.'
Would I be right in saying this? Please tell me that raising a well trained, safe, loyal, and 'non-vicious' pit bull is NOT dependent on which 'segment of society' an owner comes from!
I know that this is probably a weird post, but I just hate the idea that there are people out there who think that the color of your skin, your language, or your income determine the personality of your pet, especially when such racism/elitism is delivered in such a way that even the newspapers editors did not deem it inappropriate and have communicated such opinions to the larger public!
* This paragraph is copied from:
Ibold, Regine. "Pit bulls flourish in loving homes." The Intelligencer Journal/ Lancaster New Era. April 24 2012. pg A7
and the letter can be found at: