The Pitbull Controversy


Ah, the Pitbull. There is undoubtedly more controversy about this breed of dog than any other. Supporters say that Pitbulls are among the most loyal and loving of all dogs, that if you get a Pitbull you’d better like getting your face washed by their kisses, and that if you raise them with kindness, they are no threat at all.

My experience with a Pitbull proved this to be true, sort of…

When my youngest son was a baby, nearly 30 years ago. a dog-loving friend was going to babysit him while I worked. I was happy about that, except that she had a Pitbull. I was a little apprehensive. But she assured me that it’s all about the way you raise them, and knowing that she and her family would never be mean to any animal, I decided to be ok with it.

The dog took over for my friend as my son’s sitter. He would lay beside the playpen that my son napped in, and when my son had slept for about an hour, the dog would lick his toes (they were sticking out of the playpen) until he woke up. My friend, Joey, would lift my son out of the playpen and change his diaper, but as soon as she laid him down on his blanket, the Pitbull would be right there, sitting at the edge of the blanket, watching over “his” baby. It was quite cute.

My son wasn’t the only child there. Joey watched several other kids, plus had two of her own. And the dog was good with all of them.

Then one day, as every day, the mailman opened the gate to walk up to the house and deposit the mail in the mailbox, which was attached to the house. The dog suddenly went into attack mode, and charged right through the front-door screen, and the mailman barely made it out the gate in time.

It could have been ugly.

Yes, Joey’s Pitbull was a very gentle and loyal dog with his family and the kids that were there, and he was a licker, but the mailman was obviously seen as a threat, and he was going to protect everyone from him. While this is perfectly normal behavior for any dog, it brings me to my next, more recent, “experience” with Pitbulls.

My home insurance agent called me recently and said that the insurance adjuster had visited my house for their yearly inspection, and had heard a fierce-sounding dog barking inside the house. She needed to know what breed the dog was.


If it was a Pitbull or other “mean” dog, but especially if it was a Pitbull, they would cancel my policy. They said Pitbulls don’t attack that often, but when they do, they do a lot of damage. This makes sense, given their strong jaws. I have seen some pictures of the damage a Pitbull can do to a person, and it is something you don’t really want to see. And then there are the many stories about Pitbulls attacking and even killing someone. Like the nice, sweet family-loving Pitbull, who had a little girl who used him as a pillow, and that was so cute, until the day he killed her. She was 2 years old.

Back to Joey’s Pitbull. He was definitely a sweetheart, until he felt that his family was being threatened. Then, he was going to protect them, like you would expect of most any dog. But if he had gotten hold of the mailman, how bad would the damage have been?

So now I have two questions for you.

One, do you think it is discriminatory for an insurance company to refuse to insure someone who has a Pitbull? And two, what do you think about the Pitbull controversy? Is their reputation of being a dangerous dog unfair, or deserved?

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  1. Reply

    I’m such a dog lover, and I was totally on the pit bulls’ side for the longest time, having met so many loving and friendly ones.

    But then I took a really honest, objective look at the statistics (

    38 U.S. fatal dog attacks occurred in 2012.2 Pit bulls contributed to 61% (23) of these deaths. Pit bulls make up less than 5% of the total U.S. dog population.
    Together, pit bulls (23) and rottweilers (3), the second most lethal dog breed, accounted for 68% of all fatal attacks in 2012. In the 8-year period from 2005 to 2012, this combination accounted for 73% (183) of the total recorded deaths (251).
    The breakdown between pit bulls and rottweilers is substantial over this 8-year period. From 2005 to 2012, pit bulls killed 151 Americans, about one citizen every 19 days, versus rottweilers, which killed 32, about one citizen every 91 days.
    Only 13% were by rescue dogs. 58% were family dogs, i.e., attacked their owners or a family member.

    I know statistics can be manipulated and interpreted and distorted, but there’s just no getting around those kind of numbers.

    • Bo's Mom
    • May 22, 2013

    Those are some sobering statistics, Scott. And it looks like many of those deaths were to the very young and the very old – the most defenseless among us.

    • Kp
    • July 17, 2019

    I am. Groomer and have been bit by more Chihuahua and than Pit Bulls! Shove your statistics!!

    • Lynda
    • June 8, 2020

    I currently have 2 pits and I had 1 before them. I didn’t get the first one intentionally but was blessed to have her. I am almost 70 years old so clearly would be in trouble if they were bad. They are very loving, loyal, and protective, just like any other dog. Yes,they are very strong so can do a lot of damage if they choose to, like any rottie,dobie,or a multitude of other dogs. Small dog’s bite more but don’t have the muscle behind it. Its a personal decision. I also worked for an insurance company for 30 years and understand why they won’t cover these breeds. It’s a business risk pure and simple. Both my dogs are rescue dogs, nearly dead when I got them. People are far meaner than any animal.

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