The Misrepresentation of Pit Bulls in the Media

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The misrepresentation of Pit Bull breeds in the media has been reflected in American culture. As these dogs were incorporated into World War I propaganda, they were perceived as symbols of courage and strength, the archetype of American dog breeds5. When, in the 1920s and 1930s, American Staffordshire Terrier “Pete the Pup” starred in the comedy Our Gang, later known as The Little Rascals, Pit Bulls were considered “nanny dogs” and family-friendly pets7. When the media focused heavily on illegal dog fighting rings and gang culture in the 1970s and 1980s, Pit Bulls were called demonic and unpredictable. Through their many roles, they have shown versatility and resilience, and lately they have suffered greatly. Pit Bulls in the Press: Misrepresentation, Culture and Society According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there is a “great deal of confusion associated with the label ‘Pit Bull,’” as it does not refer to a single breed of dog, but rather to a group of breeds with similar characteristics1. These characteristics include short hair, a wide skull and shoulders, muscle definition, stocky build and a deep jawline, the combination of which create a dog that manages to strike fear into a perfect stranger. The term ‘Pit Bull’ is derived from the bulldog, which was originally bred as a hunting dog for large game, but has since developed into a “loyal companion rather than a working dog.”1 Their history as “gripping dogs” for hunters follows them into modern society, as many of these dogs have been inhumanely pitted against one another as well as other animals for sport and for human entertainment1. It is because of these illegal fighting rings that ‘Pit Bull’ type breeds have become the subje... ... middle of paper ... ...d-Specific Legislation (BSL) FAQ." The National Canine Research Council. National Canine Research Council, LLC., 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. 10. National Canine Research Council. Denver's Breed-Specific Legislation: Brutal, Costly, and Ineffective. National Canine Research Council. N.p., 2012. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. 11. American Humane Association. "Breed-Specific Legislation." Fact Sheets. American Humane Association, 2013. Web. 16 Mar. 2014. 12. Lutz, Jaime. "Family Chooses Homelessness Over Abandoning Pit Bull." ABC News. ABC News Network, 19 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. 13. Deborah L. Duffy, Yuying Hsu, James A. Serpell ,Applied Animal Behavior Science - 1 December 2008 (Vol. 114, Issue 3, Pages 441-460, DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2008.04.006) 14. Draper, Bill. "Attitudes and Laws against Pit Bulls Soften." Boston.com. The New York Times, 11 Mar. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.

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