The name "Pit Bull" is ending up in the names of organizations that aren't APBT-focused. It is being used interchangeably with the term "bully breeds" (which is an unofficial, ever-changing category of breeds and mixes). One "educational" site told me "Pit Bull" is a derogatory term that essentially means "vicious dog". And another "Pit Bull" site actually included mastiff breeds in its statement of purpose.
Oftentimes, under the guise of "Pit Bull education", APBT temperament and history is being appropriated for the use of educating on a number of related (but separate) breeds and even breeds that have completely different histories and temperaments.
There is much confusion about what a real, sound, temperament-correct APBT is. If the guarding-prone American Bulldog, or the human-sensitive Dogo Argentino are "Pit Bulls", does that mean that guarding behavior and human sensitivity are acceptable behaviors in the APBT as well? When we talk about Pit Bulls being love bugs with humans, and uber-sound around friends and strangers alike, we cannot simultaneously be talking about a variety of breeds that might have very different temperaments. Calling that Dogo mix in your rescue program a "Pit Bull" when it has a very different temperament than an APBT, is harmful to the APBT breed as a whole.
Responsible Rescue means proper breed-ID along with appropriate education:
When New Hope Pit Bull Rescue brought Jasper (ABOVE) into their program, they went out of their way to make sure he got appropriately labeled. As he matured both physically and temperamentally, it became clear that he was not a purebred Pit Bull, and was most likely an American Bulldog or AB mix. Jasper is the perfect example of a dog that would have been mislabeled a "pit bull" by many people, but just happened to end up in a rescue group that knew what they were doing, and hence got a more accurate ID.
RPB works very hard at educating on proper breed names, identification, and appropriate labeling. Misapplication of the name "Pit Bull" (which RPB uses as shorthand for "APBT") is something we are constantly fighting against. The APBT is THE ONLY BREED that has the words PIT BULL in its official name, and it is really aggravating that so many other breeds and mixes are inappropriately being called "Pit Bulls", too. Because what happens when those mislabeled breeds end up in the newspaper labeled as "Pit Bulls"? The American PIT BULL Terrier breed as a whole ends up being the fall guy. Just look at any piece of BSL across the globe - the first (and oftentimes only) breed mentioned is the APBT.
Instead of leading the media and law makers, advocates have allowed the media and law makers to define "Pit Bull" for them. In the 90s, when Pit Bull Hysteria reached a fever-pitch, reporters were quick to use the label "Pit Bull" - even when the dog in question wasn't actually an APBT. Legislators followed suit with the whole "label based on looks" thing. For some reason, instead of insisting on proper breed identification, many advocates fell in line with the media and law makers and began using the term PIT BULL in just as broad a way. The pattern I've noticed is this: if a breed looks like an APBT, is a breed that might have been targeted somewhere in BSL, is a bull or mastiff breed, or has vaguely similar history to the APBT - call it a "Pit Bull".
The "Pit Bull" that attacks someone and ends up a headline might not actually be an APBT. But the breed that is actually officially known as the (American) PIT BULL (Terrier) will get the blame. The actual dog could be an American Bulldog, a Boxer mix, a dog that looks similar to an APBT but has no papers proving it is such, or any number of breeds/mixes. But thanks to the insistence of many that "Pit Bull" really IS just a label to be slapped on a bunch of breeds and dogs that merely look a certain way, there really is no way to argue with the media. "Pit Bull" is being used in whatever way the user deems appropriate.
It is wonderful that there are ever-increasing numbers of people willing to stand up for what is right, to fight against BSL and try to help save the lives of dogs. It is just a shame that the term "Pit Bull" is being misused to such a wide extent, as this is confusing, misleading, and even detrimental to the work we are all trying to do as educators and advocates.
We here at RPB are PROUD of our breed's nickname, PIT BULL. We use the name PIT BULL *only* when referencing the American Pit Bull Terrier. We do NOT support the use of "Pit Bull" as a catch-all term, and we demand that the media use proper breed names when identifying dogs involved in attacks - and when a dog's breed cannot definitively be identified, reporters shouldn't guess! "Pit Bull" should not be the default! We encourage rescues to properly identify the dogs they bring into their programs. An American Bulldog is NOT a Pit Bull - it is a different breed, with a different temperament. The same goes for Pit Bull mixes, Staffy Bulls, 'American Bullys', Bull Terriers, the mastiff breeds, and so on. And education on the unique histories and temperaments of each of those breeds must go along with proper labeling and identification.
We can't educate on "Pit Bulls" when we are actually talking about a wide variety of different breeds. "Pit Bull" should be used to refer to ONE specific breed. It is not a catch-all, not a category.