To be sure, some lines of pit bulls, whatever their official breed status with whatever classification scheme you prefer, were bred for fighting other dogs. But because they were bred to be dog aggressive, they were also bred to be docile with people. That's because their owners had to be able to break up dog fights and handle injured animals. Even the gentlest dog of any breed will usually snap at and bite their owner if they try to handle him when they're injured, but pit bulls were bred for contrary behavior. For this reason, most veterinarians don't mind pit bulls as patients at all - they usually give them far less trouble than most other breeds. The stories you hear of pit bulls attacking people or children are almost always because they were mistreated or trained to be vicious, which is essentially the same thing. Any dog can be mistreated into viciousness.
Dog aggression is another thing, though. Because it can be a characteristic of the breed, it, like all breed characteristics and all naturally occurring phenomena, varies in strength along a Bell curve. On the left side of the curve are those 15 percent or so of pit bulls that are completely dog social. On the far right of the curve are those dogs that are always aggressive with other dogs. The majority of pit bulls are somewhere in between. For that reason, responsible pit bull owners are always vigilant when their dog is interacting with other dogs. They should know how to break up a fight, and they should never leave their pit bull alone with other dogs unsupervised. With that caution - and that responsibility - pit bulls make superb pets for the right person. They are uniformly sweet and loving with their owners and their families, and they are very good with children. Roy, it turns out, is from the left side of the curve. He is completely dog-social and has never shown aggression to anything - including the chipmunk he caught and brought to us unharmed.
After their treatment and processing in Louisiana, the adoptable dogs were eventually shipped out to various humane societies and pet shelters across the country. The New Balance shoe company provided an air conditioned tractor-trailer to transport forty of the orphaned dogs to Massachusetts (the only athletic shoes I buy now are New Balance), and nine of them wound up at the Pioneer Valley Humane Society in Greenfield, Massachusetts. We volunteered to foster one until a home could be found for it. Having recently lost our German Shepherd with which I did protective training and bite work, we volunteered to take in a "protective breed", knowing that many people were uncomfortable with dogs like German Shepherds, Rotweillers, and Dobermans. The reply came back, "So you are oaky with a pit bull?" Actually, that wasn't what we had in mind. We still had Nala, our border collie mix with us, and a dog-aggressive dog, even for a few weeks, wasn't what we’d bargained for. Also, a dog-aggressive pit had nearly killed my first dog many years ago. On the other hand, we realized that pit bulls suffered from an undeserved bad rap, and so we agreed to foster one providing that it got along well with Nala.
When we drove into the Humane Society lot, we could see a gangly white dog, with a joyful face and the biggest smile across it that you can imagine, frolicking with a beagle. When Nala was introduced into the fenced area with Bullet, they got along immediately and played together for an hour as we and the shelter manager watched for any signs of aggression. When we got Bullet home, we figured that his current name wouldn't help get him adopted, so I suggested the good southern name of Roy. We agreed that it suited him; Roy he was.
We started taking the newly-christened Roy for our daily two-mile walk with Nala. The several hundred-acre wooded area where we walk is essentially the town dog park where dogs can run free and play together. I carried a break stick with me for the first couple weeks as we watched Roy fastidiously for any signs of aggression with the multitude of dogs he met. A break stick is a short stick shaped to open a pit bulls mouth when it has hold of another dog. But there was no need - Roy was friendly with and submissive to every dog he met, and played with them all enthusiastically. He loved people and children, too.
As our weeks of fostering were coming to an end, the Humane Society started to direct the serious calls about adopting Roy to us. I found myself talking prospective owners out of him, always finding a reason that he wouldn't be a suitable dog for them. Mostly these reasons were sound, and grounded in the fact that Roy had megatons of energy and needed lots of exercise every day. But when I started wanting to run background checks and criminal histories on these nice people who were calling, we realized that we'd made our decision. Roy was ours. He would stay.