Pit Bulls and the Angel Demon Complex
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

From The National Humane Education Society (NHES)
October 2013

The human brain drives us to categorize everything in our world. This helps us make sense of our world and is a valuable survival tool when encountering new things. Unfortunately, we can easily over-generalize and fall into a very black and white world. For the animals we are categorizing, this can have serious consequences. As the dangerous dog du jour, the pit bull may suffer from these judgments more than most other animals.

Those who are afraid of the dogs label them dangerous. As a result of this demonization, family dogs are given away because landlords and insurance companies won’t allow “dangerous dogs.” Friendly dogs with large heads or brindle coloring or cropped ears are passed over and languish in shelters. And people who want a dog for all the wrong reasons, such as dogfighting or intimidation, seek out pit bull types for their reputation.

The dangers of labeling a dog as dangerous based on looks are easy to see, but there are also dangers at the other end. Some pit bull defenders work overtime to portray the dogs as harmless, but this has unintended consequences.

The fact is, few dogs are harmless. Most are normal dogs with teeth and opinions who should be treated with respect. When adopters aren’t reminded of this fact, many dogs, regardless of breed characteristics, are put into unhealthy situations with children, strangers, or other animals.

When the “harmless” but overstressed dog finally lashes out, everyone suffers. The individual dog may be euthanized. The people involved may turn away from dogs altogether. If the dog is a pit bull, the entire incident, which could have been avoided with care and training, feeds back into the demonization of pit bulls and similar dogs.

To help pit bulls, we need to be honest about what they are. They are dogs. Usually they are strong dogs. None have locking jaws or are any more unpredictable than another dog. They deserve a family who loves them, will socialize them, will meet all healthcare needs, and will pursue positive training methods.

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