Everyone loves dogs. I mean, what’s not to love about these furry little bundles of joy! Dogs are called a person’s best friend and rightfully so. There’s nothing that you’d deny them when they turn those huge pleading eyes to you. Caring for a pet is one of the most exhaustive yet rewarding experiences of your life. And it breaks my heart when I see how people discriminate against breeds. People believe that some breeds are more aggressive than others because of their appearance and behaviour. Pit bulls and bulldogs are discriminated on this basis.
Families with young children usually don’t adopt pit bulls and other “aggressive volatile” breeds. And media has only added fuel to the fire, highlighting cases where these breeds have attacked kids. Because of this bias, pit bulls often end up being abandoned in shelters or worse, euthanised. It is a fate that no animal deserves, irrespective of their breed. So, here I am going to address a crucial question- are pit bulls dangerous for children?
Looking at the pit bull attack cases
First, let’s tackle the general stigma that people have against pit bulls. We generally categorise this breed as dynamic, violent and volatile. Pet dogs are usually well-trained, docile and friendly. However, dogs, like humans, have their personalities. Sure, their cognitive abilities are not as developed. But one cannot merely invalidate their moods, their emotions and behaviour.
You cannot expect your dogs to be always happy and playful. These creatures are capable of feeling a more extensive range of emotions. Scientific studies have revealed how dogs are also susceptible to depression, anxiety and sadness.
What does science have to say?
The recent case about the 3-year old child being denied entry in a KFC because of her disfigured face has made the headlines. The toddler, mauled by her pit bull, ended up losing an eye. It was a horrific attack that reinstated the discussion around pit bulls being aggressive and unsafe around children. Studies show that even though pit bulls comprise 5% of the canine population, they contribute to 68% of dog attacks.
This controversial breed has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Police shootouts, attacking children, aggressive behaviour are but some of the things that mar its reputation. However, are pit bulls fatal? Or have they just been misunderstood creatures? Baring a few exceptions, dogs don’t usually turn volatile unless provoked.
There are no confirmed studies or stats that prove all pit bulls to be dangerous for kids. Aggressive behaviour hence cannot be generalised or used to stereotype against a particular breed. We should evaluate each case in its merit and try to look at the holistic picture before making any decision.
Reasons why pit bulls turn aggressive
One of the fundamental reasons why dogs might become aggressive is because of prior abuse or mental trauma. The life of a canine isn’t easy. Most pit bulls usually have a robust experience. Born and raised in shelters or by breeders, the dogs grow up without love or affection. The small, easy-going and dear ones often get adopted. However, because of the stigma surrounding pit bulls, families rarely pick these animals to bring home. As a result, they are abandoned, ill-treated and euthanised. Don’t let your bias destroy the life of an innocent creature. Be alert, be sensitive, teach empathy and be responsive to their suffering.
Exploring dog behaviour
Studies have revealed that even abused dogs if treated with patience, are easy to handle. Treat your pets with sensitivity. Also, teach your kids to respect their personal space. Don’t encourage behaviour that irritates the dog. As their owners, we have to be the more responsible one in this dynamic. Always be vigilant and never let the dogs interact with the kids without supervision. Monitor their behavioural patterns. Understand their moods and what ticks them off?
You can even consult a professional in case things get out of control. Hire specialised doctors and professionals to handle these cases. In the worst-case scenario, you can also send your pet to a rehabilitation centre.
How to safeguard your family?
Talk to the breeder or the animal rescue shelter before you get on with the adoption process. Ensure that you have all the information about medical issues and behavioural problems beforehand. This would help you prepare for any emergencies well in advance. Is it always best be safe than sorry right? Check if the dog is spayed, neutered and quarantined. If not, ensure that you get them vaccinated before bringing them home.
Male dogs are usually considered the more aggressive of the two. The female ones, on the other hand, get volatile when in heat. Getting them neutered helps you curb these issues effectively. You can also install puppy cams, toys and other gadgets around the house to keep an eye on their everyday activities.
Educate your child
Next, you need to educate your child on how to treat the pit bull. Dogs are usually amiable and playful creatures. Yet, there may be times when they are not in a good mood. Learn to read their attitudes, body language and other signs. Dogs tend to attack when they feel threatened or vulnerable to attack. If they are growling, alert or look intently at the child, take them away from the room. Never leave the kid alone in the company of the canine. You need to set some ground rules before inviting your furry friend over.
In case your child is bitten by the pit bull, take them to a doctor immediately. Also, as a first-aid measure, you need to sanitise the wound and clean it. This prevents the infection from spreading. Giving your dog’s regular vaccine shots and rabies injections reduce the risk of severe damage.
The bottom line
A pet is not just an object to play with and snuggle. It is an extension of your family and deserves attention and care. Get a dog only if you are aware of an accept the responsibilities that come with it. Don’t let your prejudices get in the way of loving a creature in need. Pit bulls, like other dogs, have the potential of becoming adorable, affectionate animals. You need to give them that chance. Trust your instincts; be alert. The accidents and slips of control are preventable with a little bit of patience and prudence.