Anyone who has met a well-trained pit bull can attest to its loving nature, strong desire to please, and even temperament. These dogs and their owners are responsible members of the community who pose no threat to their neighbours. Unfortunately, sensationalistic and biased media reporting has created a vocal minority of pit bull detractors who insist the breed is “vicious” and call for breed bans. HugABull Advocacy & Rescue Society is committed to spreading the truth.

MYTH: Pit Bulls were bred to fight, and will turn on an innocent human

The same breeders that created “fighting breeds” also ensured a high level of human tolerance. Dog handlers were constantly in the ring to direct the fighting or to care for injuries, and they needed to be sure their dogs wouldn’t redirect their aggression once adrenaline was pumping. Any dog that bit a handler was immediately put down and this became part of the breed standard.

Due to overbreeding, abuse and irresponsible owners, we do occasionally see pit bulls with human aggression. Human attacks by any breed of dog should be dealt with seriously, involving a thorough investigation of its upbringing, punitive measures to irresponsible owners, and euthanasia in extreme cases.

MYTH: Pit Bulls are a “vicious breed”

This is a recent concept, and one perpetuated by a media culture where a “pit bull attack” is headline news but the “dog attacks” that happen across our province every day aren’t made public.

Because of their even temperament and reliable demeanour towards children, pit bulls were used as “nanny dogs” in England, acting as a second set of eyes for children’s caregivers. Pit Bulls like Petey from the Little Rascals played with toddlers and during the early part of this century were considered one of the most desirable family dogs.

Today, pit bulls work as search and rescue dogs, drug and bomb detection dogs, and service dogs for people with disabilities. They compete successfully in sporting activities, holding a wide variety of titles. And of course, the majority live  as treasured family members across our country.

MYTH: Pit Bulls are unpredictable

The American Temperament Test (ATT) has been a gold standard in canine temperament testing for over 30 years. Over 28,000 dogs have been exposed to a standard set of challenges and assessed for traits like shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness. Pit bull breeds have a higher pass rate than Border Collies, English Sheepdogs, and Boxers.

MYTH: If we ban pit bulls, we won’t see any more dog attacks

Breed bans are logistically problematic, expensive, and inhumane. Organizations like the Canadian and American Kennel Clubs, the BC and Canadian Veterinary Associations, Human Societies, and SPCAs have spoken publicly against breed bans.

Where breed bans are implemented, they generally have a short life span because they don’t work – we can look to Italy and the Netherlands for examples. The irresponsible breeders and owners who have their pit bulls taken away simply gravitate toward another breed. In the process, innocent dogs are exterminated and beloved family pets are removed from their homes.

There are no current statistics on dog attacks for BC or its municipalities, but consider the following:

  • Kitchener-Waterloo banned pit bulls after 18 bites were reported in a year. During that same period, 85 bites were attributed to German Shepherds.
    • Of the nearly 900 reports of bite incidents in Ottawa in a three-year period only five were attributable to pit bulls. The largest number of bite incidents involved Black Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers.
    • A study by the Canadian hospitals injury reporting and prevention program examined the dog breeds involved in attacks that were serious enough to warrant medical intervention. The study revealed that 50 different types of purebreds and 33 types of crossbreeds had been involved in the attacks, the most common breeds being German shepherds, cocker spaniels, Rottweilers and golden retrievers.
    • A 2007 study by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association identified 28 human fatalities in Canada due to dog attacks since 1990. Only one of these was caused by a pit bull breed. Rottweilers, huskies and “unidentified breeds” were represented in larger numbers.

HugABull supports Dangerous Dog Legislation for irresponsible owners and specific animals that are a threat to our community. With humans, we punish dangerous individuals, not classes of people. When we treat “types” of people differently, we call that racial profiling and discrimination. Why should our standards be any different for our canine companions?