America Is Warming Up to the Pit Bull
Municipalities overturning bans, but some still say the dogs are dangerous
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2014 2:17 PM CST
In this Oct. 14, 2014, photo, a 2-year-old pit bull named Buddy waits to play at a dog park in the south Denver suburb of Englewood, Colo.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(Newser) – Once the scourge of the dog population, pit bulls are being slowly welcomed back, with communities across the country loosening their leashes and overturning bans on what USA Today says was once "America's most vilified pet." Since June alone, nine Midwest communities have struck down mixed-breed restrictions spurred in the '80s by an uptick in fatal dog bites. Others are considering nixing the bans, considering the arguments of those who say "breed-specific legislation," or BSL, doesn't cut down on dog bites and has killed millions of dogs—some of them not even pit bulls—that may have acted aggressively because of their upbringing, not their genes. Those who don't support BSL include the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Humane Society, the National Canine Research Council, and even the Obama administration.

That's not to say everyone is ready to welcome these dogs back with open arms: Colorado residents in Aurora voted to keep their ban, the Aurora Sentinel reported earlier this month; Miami-Dade County upheld its ban in 2012, per USA Today. Even some branches of the US armed forces have banned "dangerous dogs"—including pit bulls and rottweilers—from base because of "unreasonable risk," the founder of DogBites.org told the AP earlier this year. Perhaps no one feels as strongly about keeping the bans in place as Wisconsin's Jeff Borchardt, whose 14-month-old son was mauled to death by pit bulls last year. "There's this pro-pit-bull movement that tries to paint these dogs as nanny dogs and sweet, lovely, and kind," he tells USA Today. "It's dangerous and it's irresponsible." (Fifty pit bulls were recently rescued in a dogfighting raid.)