Pit Bull myths and puppy kisses: Pit Bulls have had worse PR than United airlines but it is time to meet the loving breed and erase those assumptions

Oksana Picca, Contributing Writer

     Pit Bulls. The name itself causes a range of emotions depending on the individual. More often than not, the things that come to mind are very negative: aggressive, locking jaws, most likely to turn on their owners, untrainable. Thanks to terrible people like Michael Vick and those involved in the Auburn, Alabama Raid (367 dogs, mostly pits, recovered), Pit Bulls are saddled with one of the worst PR cases in history. But it wasn’t always like this: they used to be just normal, loved dogs.

     For starters, “Pit Bull” isn’t even technically a breed. Rather, it’s more like a category. There are multiple breeds with similar characteristics that are all lumped under the label Pit Bull, such as the American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Bulldog, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. These dogs, just like German Shepherds and Labradors today, used to be entrusted with children and soldiers. In fact, they were considered “Nanny Dogs” by many, used in Popular children’s shows like “Our Gang”, and one Pit named Stubby was awarded a Medal of Honor for “bravery of the highest caliber”.

     So how did Pit Bulls go from “America’s Dog” to the most feared dog breeds in the country? The biggest change started with a July 1987 Issue of Sports Illustrated which featured a front page image a chained, snarling Staffie. The article warned people of their “unpredictability”, and spread the myths of their “locking jaws” and “imperviousness to pain”. This sparked the current nationwide fear that now surrounds this beautiful, loveable breed.
So, what are some of these myths and what is the truth?

     Locking Jaws: There is absolutely no evidence, anatomically or behavioral, that would suggest Pit Bulls can lock their jaws. They have the same general jaw structure has most other breeds of dogs.

     1600PSI Jaw Pressure: In a 2005 National Geographic study, it was found that the average dog’s bite pressure was 320PSI. During the same study, a Rottweiler, German Shepherd and Pit Bull’s jaw pressure were tested with a sleeve bite test and the Pit Bull registered the weakest out of the group. In addition, a Great White Shark’s bite pressure registered at 600 PSI.

     All Pit Bulls are Dog Aggressive: While it’s true, any dog can become dog aggressive, it’s a myth that every single Pit Bull would be dog aggressive. In fact, many Pit Bulls, even those rescued from fighting rings, can be rehabilitated and homed with other dogs.

     Dog Attacks are Mostly by Pit Bulls: Pit Bulls are not even on the top 10 list of dog breeds with the most dog-on-human bites. In fact, the list they do make is the Top ten dog breeds least likely to bite a human.

     Don’t believe these? Come see for yourself! On Wednesday, May 3, from 12-4 Students Saving Shelter Animals will be holding their annual Pit Bull Appreciation Day on the SSC patio. There will be T-shirts, bracelets, Puppy Chow, henna, a Pooch Smooch Booth and other goodies! And of course, the guest of honor, their very own Pit Bull Ambassador! Come on out to meet one of the most misunderstood dog breeds in the country, and decide for yourself if those kisses are worth the love of a nation.