Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Historical News, Editorials, Letters to the Editor about the Pit Bulldog Problem

Here are a collection of editorials, letters to the editor, opinion pieces and news stories in which the reporter shares an opinion about the pit bulldog problem from the 19th century and the early 20th century.  What these accounts very clearly show is that pit bulls were not then generally accepted by the public as a pet dog.  Whenever people begin to get the idea to make fighting dogs into pets, maulings ensue, followed by calls for bans.

The first two accounts seem to indicate that reporters felt the need to inform the public about pit bulldogs as a new phenomenon, and that the fashion of keeping fighting dogs as pets developed between the 1840s and 1890s.

Please follow the link on the 1892 account to read that the "blood hound" the writer is speaking about is the Cuban bloodhound that is no relation to the genuine English bloodhound, but a bulldog mastiff mix that was bred to attack people.

Thanks go out to at least 5 different dedicated researchers who have dug up these old accounts!  Thank you for bringing the truth to light!

1844 - NY The Globe and Commercial Advertiser
...and Mr. John A. Dubernard, who was so badly bitten by the dog of Mr. Roszell, on Saturday last, now lies dead...The bull terrier, and this dog was one of that species, is perhaps the very worst description of dog with which we are beset in our community.  They are always fierce, and it is a rare circumstance that even their masters have control over them–when they once take hold, death has been frequently found necessary to make them loosen their grasp.  Such animals should never be kept in the yards of private dwellings. November 18, 1844

1855 - NY - Schenectady Cabinet
The Bull Dog is the most brutal and the least intelligent of its species; its depressed forehead, its under-hanging jaws and blood-shot eyes, unite in forming the personification of the savage -- Although capable of some attachment, it cannot be relied upon as a friend.  So utterly without intelect (sic) is the courage of the bull dog, that it will attack anything that gives offence (sic).  This dog has never been a pet in the U.S…
1892 PA - Lebanon Daily News
Bulldogs Unsafe Pets - It is a singular fact that some people will insist in making a pet of so dangerous and ferocious a beast as a blood hound or bull dog.  There are species of dogs that are kind and intelligent, faithful to their master, and such are a pleasure to have about one's self.  But of all the mean, vicious and savage dogs there is none that will equal the bull dog or the blood hound.
1894 - CA - Sacramento Record-Union
The Bulldog Nuisance - It is a common thing these days to hear of persons being bitten by bulldogs which breed appears to be rapidly increasing about town.
Last evening a little girl named Russell was sent to a store at Fourth and P streets, and while on the way she was set upon and badly bitten by a vicious bulldog.
1897 - KS - The Globe-republican
A boy of 13 was attacked by a vicious bulldog in Topeka and one of his eyelids was torn so that it laid out on his cheek.  The attack was unprovoked and this, as well as other bulldog attacks, has created a strong feeling against that breed of bloodthirsty brutes.
1906 - PA Philadelphia Record
"Pet Bulldog Turns Savage...a pet bulldog (pit bull), named Booze, has given an illustration of the treacherous nature of his breed..."
1909 - CA - Los Angeles Herald
…why a peaceful city like Los Angeles should have several thousand vicious bulldogs is more than I can see. The average man has no more use for a vicious bulldog than he has for a tiger…" "I should offer as a suggestion that if we levy a license of $15 per annum on bull bitches, $10 on other large varieties and $5 on little ones, there would soon be a dearth of bull pups to annoy us."
1909 NY - New York Times
"When I was a boy I had a brindle bull terrier, and he was used to catch semi-wild cattle.  He would catch a steer by the nose and throw him and hold him while we tied the steer.  Then we loosened the dog's grip by choking and prying his mouth open - a dangerous process unless conducted by a good friend of the dog who is very, very careful.
If a brindle bull terrier hates you, either go far away or kill the dog.  These dogs are useful in their own work and place, which is far from a city.
1911 Washington DC - The Washington Herald
BANISH BULLDOGS SAYS MR. GORDON ~ Criminal Negligence to foster the breed ~ Demand that Authorities protect the children from Beasts (that) are more dangerous than the lion or tiger."
Stating that it is nothing less than criminal negligence on the part of the District government to permit bulldogs to remain in the city, muzzled or otherwise, Fulton R. Gordon, real estate operator, has sent a letter to the commissioners requesting that action be taken to rid the Capital of this specific breed.
1911  Washington DC - The Washington Herald
"Gentlemen: I observe by The Washington Herald that the nine-year-old daughter of Thomas Hayes, of 2200 H street northwest, was seriously injured yesterday by a bulldog owned by Dr Norval Herbert, of 2145 H street northwest. It seems to me that this is becoming such a frequent occurrence that our government should take immediate steps to rid the city of this particular breed of dog. If you will remember, it was only a few months ago that a child was almost torn to pieces by one of these dogs on Columbia road, and in that case it was the pet dog of the household."
Related Posts - 18th, 19th, and early 20th century discussions of bulldogs and BSL
Historical BSL: Laws Regulating Pit Bulls (BSL) as Uniquely Dangerous from the 18th C to the early 20th C
Nineteenth Century Experts on Gripping Bulldogs
Late 19th Century Calls for Pit Bulldog Regulation in Chicago
All posts tagged "Historic Breed-Specific Ordinance" on the Fatal Pit Bull Attacks Blog.