When you think of dogs, you probably think of the various different kinds of breeds there are. Among one of the most well-known breeds are pit bulls, which have been given a connotative and debatable reputation for being vicious.
Pit bull owners always come out with the argument that ‘it’s all in how you train them,’ but it’s not making potential dog adopters pick up pit bulls at their local dog shelters any faster. For some reason, the connotation continues to stick to the breed.
A recent study performed by Arizona State University suggests that dogs incorrectly labeled as “Pit Bull” are less likely to be adopted than dogs that are correctly labeled as non-pit bulls. The study, which has been published in the journal PLOS ONE involved dogs of differing breeds that looked just like the pit bulls, but were inaccurately labeled, and still, adopters seemed more likely to choose the non-pit bull labaed breed of dog.
It would seem that just having the label of “Pit Bull” tied around these dogs’ necks is enough to make adopters turn their heads the other way for another option, and it leaves plenty of perfectly-adoptable animals with a lower quality of life as they spend longer times in the shelters rather than with loving owners.
The study also found that there are plenty of non-pit bull dog breeds that look similar to pit bulls that are inadvertently labeled as pit bulls, and as a result, these animals also suffer the same fate as pit bulls because potential adopters often avoid the breed out of fear of aggressive behavior.
Lisa Gunter, the author of the study, says “We were surprised how very similar looking dogs sometimes get labelled "pit bull" and other times as something completely different. These dogs may look and act the same, but the pit bull label damns them to a much longer wait to adoption.”
Some shelters have even thought about the possibility of removing breed labels altogether, in the hopes that adopters would simply fall in love with the animals at first sight, instead of judging a book by its cover. Of course, such an action could anger potential adopters.
It would seem that the pit bull’s unfortunate connotation for being aggressive is sticky. I’ve personally never run into an issue with the breed and I’ve dealt with plenty of them. How unfortunate...
Sources: EurekAlert, PLOS ONE, Phys.org