But when it came time to take her out in public, people reliably cringed and scooted away from Nola. I tried to offer up to wary strangers all the counterintuitive factoids I had come across from veterinarians and behaviorists—like the fact that pits are some of the most social dogs around, that they rank right up there with Labs and golden retrievers in terms of how much they seek out human attention. Or that the American Temperament Test Society, which has tested nearly a thousand pit bulls, gives them a passing score of 86 percent, higher than that of beagles and border collies.
Some of the best dogs I've ever known are pit bulls, including my brother Mark's dog Tank, who is certainly the snuggliest member of the entire extned. As Dickey says, the shelters are absolutely full of them, particularly in Texas. They're hard to adopt, because the breed is so stigmatized; some apartments won't even allow them on the lease.
The reason pits have a bad rap is that they're often used for fighting. They are incredibly strong, which is something to be aware of, particularly if you have small children. But they're hardly vicious by nature. As Dickey points out, one of the reasons they're such good fighters is that they're incredibly loyal to their people--devoted enough to shred themselves to ribbons, which is really a much greater indictment of the people than the dogs. Conversely, pit bulls raised with the normal amount of care, and the training that any responsible dog owner should provide to any dog, are incredibly good companion animals.