While many may know about the subject of dog fighting and breed discrimination today and the impact it has on society's laws, policies, etc., not a lot of people are knowledgeable of the history of it, nor how it came to be.
Dog fighting actually originated in England, where people crossbred bulldogs and terriers, forcing them to fight bulls and bears. Following the prohibition, it turned into dog-on-dog fighting and didn't reach the US till the 1840's. It was used as a form of entertainment until public demand decreased as society began to see it as an ethical issue in the 1930's. To this day, many will go as far as to say the breed should be exterminated entirely for good because of its "violent and barbaric nature". It's almost like the humans who bred them trained them to act that way… huh.
As any educated person can tell, the behavior of any dog breed, not just the pit-bull terrier, is a result of its owner's methods of upbringing it. For decades a breed has been penalized and continues to be penalized for the fault of no one else other than the same humans penalizing them for their behavior. Thousands of pit-bulls have fallen victim to the "sport" and end up being the one who has to pay in the end. I understand that at some point after a long period of time in the field of dog fighting, some dogs' psychological states have gone beyond irreparable and they can be a danger to society once released, whether accidentally or with intent through adoption methods. However, more cases have proved dogs with a past from a life of abuse, torture; beatings and barbarism are capable of recovering and starting a new life.
Not only is dog fighting still extremely prevalent all over the world, and in itself an act of horrific animal cruelty, but the politics that have followed their victimization make them out to be the issue. Over 900 US cities have implemented some kind of breed-specific legislation against bully breeds and 43 states hold those cities. In other words, the majority ideology is that pit-bulls are enough of a detriment to society that a ban has to be placed on them. Let's take Miami, Florida for example. Home to many animal shelters acknowledging a serious breeding and dog-fighting problem, shelters are constantly overcrowded and faced with the challenge of housing pit-bull terriers. Anyone from South Florida knows that it's a common breed and having one in the Dade-County district can result in serious penalties- including having your dog taken away and euthanized. I have family members whose neighbors snitched on them for having a pit-bull terrier and had them taken away and put down. Pit-bull terriers have to be listed as "terrier-mixes" at shelters in order for the legalities of those shelters to be covered. However, it's an obvious trend that people don't want to adopt that breed and it's all that is left at the end of the day after people come in and adopt on the daily. Compared to other breeds at the shelters, pit-bull terriers are the first to be put down just because of their breed.
Read that out loud. Isn't it sad?
People would rather not have to deal with the breed and its possible past. I'll say something right now, and anyone with an adopted pit-bull can agree- with the way dog's brains are built, it is very possible to rewire them and start anew. Dogs have short attention spans and have no concept of time. Therefore, with repetition and much time to learn/recover, you will have rehabilitated the tortured mind and soul of what any dog may have gone through. The same goes for any pit-bull raised from birth in a healthy home. No dog is born vicious or violent, and no dog is born with some freakish genetic dysfunction that makes them practice rabid behavior. As with any kid being raised, it starts at home.
I'm not saying this is the case with every dog, but with every dog that this isn't the case, I don't believe people have the patience required to help rebuild the life of a dog. People fail to realize that having and raising a dog alone takes great patience, so imagine with one that you've adopted and you don't know what they've been through. I follow many animal shelters on social media and it pains me to see posts about owners returning their dogs within weeks. If you don't know what it takes to raise one, and if you don't have the patience as a human, period, don't get their hopes up when you walk into a shelter. Get a fish.
When I went to adopt my current dog, Odin, at a shelter in Miami, I went through aisles of helpless eyes and cries begging for my attention. While I gave it to satisfy their need for human comfort, I didn't feel the connection I was looking for. I saw many German Sheppard's, labs, retrievers, and the list goes on. When I found Odin, a pit-bull terrier, he was sitting in the back corner of his cage hunched over shaking. His head and legs were full of scars- even today I still don't know where or what they're from. What I do know is that playing with him through the kennel, many people passed behind me saying "oh, that's a terrier. You don't want that", or "damn, that's a nice dog but he's a terrier. That's a no go". I was shocked by how many people managed to make comments within the 5 minutes I stood there playing with him. It took exactly 15 minutes for me to request him, play with him in a designated area, and have him reserved to be neutered. In 3 days I had brought him home, and I will say it took about a whole month before he began getting comfortable around my family and me. Any cables, brooms, mops, or minor sounds startled him away, seeking shelter behind some kind of chair or table. He stayed trembling for a couple of weeks, his tail stayed in between his legs, and getting too close to him made him uncomfortable and resistant. While I was concerned with his behavior, I was more concerned about what it is he was subjected to prior to me adopting him, rather than him eventually coming out of his shell. Accepting his possible past hurt, but the dog he eventually came to be made it all worth it, and the impact he's had on my life is indescribable.
Now, Odin loves cuddles and is a bit too spoiled when it comes to joining me for bed, is weak for kisses to the snout, allows me to hold and hug him at any time of day, can't contain his tail wags for he knocks things down all over the house too often, and his biggest fear remains to be vacuums. Oh, and he's very fond of car rides with the windows down.
No dog, human or animal should be alienated based on their past or breed (ethnicity), especially when they had no control over it and it wasn't their fault. As a country we need to focus more on animal rights and where the true problem lies when it comes to dog-fighting and breed discrimination. The true culprits should be sought out and more time/patience needs to go into rehabilitation from a troubled life for these animals. I know enough people care, so I know enough people can create the sources. With this, we can create more jobs, more opportunities, and the list of potential benefits go on. If you're making an excuse, you don't care enough.