On March 25th the One Health Intellectual Exchange welcomed Browen Dickey, a contributing editor of The Oxford American to discuss “’Demon dogs’ or panicked public? A history of breed scares through the ages.”
Ms. Dickey states that through her research she found breed scares are often cyclic, relative to current society, and often not necessarily about the breeds themselves but potential tension between different social groups. Breed scares/bans began as early as 1066 with the Mastiff. This was when royalty did not want those of lower social cast owning these dogs due to the potential of hunting on land owned by the king. Through her research she found that often breed scares could be pin pointed to certain events, such as the St. Bernard and the release of the movie Cujo or guard dog breeds with the increase of crime rates.
The current breed scare? The Pit Bull. This “bully” breeds is beginning to be banned by apartment complexes and making it into certain state legislations. Starting in 1974 when dog fighting in certain rings became a popular topic. A media blitz came to bring the breed into the forefront, with reporters and journalists relying on the general public and dog fighters for information on this breed. Ms. Dickey has carried out an effort to interview owners nationwide to gain a better understanding of the Pit Bull breed. She found that that these dogs are often like any other breed, have a bad rap. They are often sweet, kind, and loyal to the owner.
Ms. Dickey made two points about breed panic that stuck out the most: it can lead to exacerbating the problem and letting human’s off the hook. So what will be the next breed to cause panic? Only time will tell.
Authored by Jessica Vasquez