Pit Bull

Pit Bull

The Battle Over An American Icon

Book - 2016
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When Bronwen Dickey brought her new dog home, she saw no traces of the infamous viciousness in her affectionate, timid pit bull. Which made her wonder: how had the breed--beloved by Teddy Roosevelt, Helen Keller, TV's "Little Rascals"--come to be known as a brutal fighter. Her search for answers takes her from nineteenth-century New York City dogfighting pits--the cruelty of which helped spark the founding of the ASPCA--to early twentieth-century movie sets where pit bulls cavorted with Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton; from the battlefields of Gettysburg and the Marne, where pit bulls earned presidential medals, to desolate urban neighborhoods where the dogs were brutalized. Whether through love or fear, hatred or devotion, humans are bound to the history of the pit bull. With unfailing thoughtfulness, compassion, and a firm grasp of scientific fact, Dickey offers us a clear-eyed portrait of this extraordinary breed, and an insightful view of Americans' relationship with their dogs. --Publisher
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2016.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780345803115
Branch Call Number: 636.7559 Dickey 05/2016
Characteristics: xvi, 330 pages :,illustrations ;,25 cm


From Library Staff

List - Reading Rover
JCLEmilyD Feb 11, 2017

Everything you need to know about Pit Bulls in America

March 7th book discussion!

March 6th discussion!

JCLHelenH Jun 03, 2016

This book is about so much more than dogs. "Animals in deprived areas can easily be affected by the same cycles of desperation, poverty, and violence that plague their human caretakers."
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201606/pit-bulls-the-psychology-breedism-fear-... Read More »

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Mar 06, 2018

As an avowed dog-lover with few preconceived notions about pit bulls, I read PIT BULL and found it to be an enlightening and thoroughly researched work of non-fiction. Author Bronwen Dickey offers a balanced approach to her subject including a fascinating history of the pit bull, a label which surprisingly contains not only 4 pedigree breeds but also mixed breed dogs with blocky heads and short coats. Dickey explores the myths and facts surrounding the “pit bull” in painstaking detail. She also presents various policies and laws that have been developed and enacted over the years to deal with this often misunderstood and vilified group of dogs. But ultimately my major takeaway from this book is that animal and human welfare are inextricably linked, and to be effective, any effort or program to help animals must also address the needs of their owners and the communities where they live.

Feb 18, 2018

Dickey never really confronts any of the hard evidence against pit bulls her this book. She draws upon mostly historical information on the phenotype, and her remaining sources are primarily the pit bull advocacy movement. She interviews very few victims.

I do have to give her some credit for refuting the "Nanny Dog" myth, as well as the myth that pit bulls perform so phenomenally well on the ATTS test, acknowledging that the average pit bull owner does not take their dog for shutzhund training.

Dickey avoids any discussion of the voluminous data available in such public health databases like Pubmed. She's a resourceful author to be sure, so I can only wonder she was unable to locate and refute the following evidence-based studies that suggest that a majority of dog bite hospitalizations are attributed to pit bull phenotypes, often after analyses of decades worth of data:

"Effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in decreasing the incidence of dog-bite injury hospitalisations in people in the Canadian province of Manitoba"

"Ocular Trauma From Dog Bites: Characterization, Associations, and Treatment Patterns at a Regional Level I Trauma Center Over 11 Years"

"Morbidity of pediatric dog bites: A case series at a level one pediatric trauma center"

"Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998"

"Fatal dog attacks, 1989-1994"

"Dog bite-related fatalities: a 15 year review of Kentucky Medical Examiner cases"

"Fatal dog attacks in Canada, 1990 – 2007 (Includes references to bite incidents that immediately preceded the implementation of BSL in Ontario)"

"Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs"

"Dog Bites in Urban Children"

"Dog Bites of the Head and Neck"

"Effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in decreasing the incidence of dog bite injury"

"Periorbital trauma from pit bull terrier attacks"

"Characteristics of 1616 Consecutive Dog Bite Injuries at a Single Institution"

"Pit Bull attack causing limb threatening vascular trauma -A case series"

"Relationship Between Scarring and Dog Aggression in Pit Bull-Type Dogs Involved in Organized Dogfighting"

"Dog bites in a US county: age, body part, and breed in pediatric dog bites"

Oct 28, 2016

Really enjoyed reading this book! Even as a long-time animal shelter volunteer and pit bull-type dog lover, I learned many things about this breed and the dog welfare movement in general. Fascinating.

JCLHelenH Jun 03, 2016

This book is about so much more than dogs. "Animals in deprived areas can easily be affected by the same cycles of desperation, poverty, and violence that plague their human caretakers."


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JCLHelenH Jun 28, 2016

“The people they claim to be advocating for, they deserve better than that,” Dickey said. “They deserve somebody hanging out at city hall, not in the comments section.”


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