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Fanciful myths about the breed abound, and some public officials have compared their bites to those of sharks and tigers.Since the 1980s, the media have falsely portrayed the pitbull as a bloodthirsty monster, inherently more dangerous than other strong breeds of dog. There is absolutely no factual basis for that narrative, but it's led to a vicious cycle in which people who want a badass dog to fight, or to guard property, or to intimidate rival gangs tend to choose pitbulls (or Rottweilers, another much-maligned breed). It is because pitbulls are disproportionately favored by these kinds of owners that they're responsible for a statistically outsized share of serious attacks on humans. The dogs are tested for skittishness, aggression and their ability to differentiate between threatening and non-threatening humans. According to the United Kennel Club, sometime in the 19th century European breeders began crossing various terriers with bulldogs in search of a breed that had the former's enthusiasm and the latter's stamina and strength.


And we know what makes dogs of any breed more likely to be aggressive.Karen Delise, research director for the National Canine Research Council and author of The Pitbull Placebo, has investigated hundreds of serious dogbite incidents in depth. The media seem to feed off the idea of monster dogs -- it makes great copy.As Karen Delise details in her book, in the 19th century, bloodhounds were believed to be inherently vicious, having a taste for human blood. Additionally, many reports of dog attacks conveyed the understanding that aggression was a natural and expected behavior of dogs in certain circumstances. When an Arizona woman was killed by one or more dogs identified as Labrador retrievers, one local newspaper reported the story. The CDC cited, among other problems, the inaccuracy of dog bite data and the difficulty in identifying dog breeds (especially true of mixed-breed dogs).


The dog court can order truly dangerous animals to be euthanized, but frequently the sentences include things like mandating that owners fix a fence or muzzle their dogs in public.The Good NewsFortunately, attitudes are beginning to change as good humans rally around these wonderful, loyal dogs' defense. Actor Linda Blair is best known for her role in the The Exorcist, but she now devotes her time to rescuing pitbulls and other unwanted dogs. It's a term for a variety of breeds, including the American pitbull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier and mixes of those dogs.



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