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Arts & Culture

Pit Bulls, Not Such Dangerous Dogs

photo from 'The Little Rascals'
Photo Courtesy Bronwen Dickey
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In the early 20th century pit bulls had a much better reputation, and were in many way’s considered ‘America’s dog.’ Here’s Petey, a famous pit bull from the film ‘Little Rascals.’";s:3:"uri";s:

Note: this segment originally aired June 1, 2016.

Writer Bronwen Dickey grew up with the impression of pit bulls that dominates popular discourse: they are mean, aggressive, and dangerous dogs. But after a freelance writing piece put her in an environment with a sweet and gentle pit bull, she began to wonder whether there was more to the stereotype.

She embarked on a seven-year research investigation into the scientific and social history of dogs in America. She spoke to more than 350 people including vets, animal behaviorists, breeders, and trainers, and discovered that everything she thought she knew turned out to be untrue.

Host Frank Stasio talks to writer Bronwen Dickey about her new book "Pit Bull: The Battle Over The American Icon" (Knopf/2016). Bronwen reads from her book at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham tomorrow night at 7 p.m. and at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh Friday at 7 p.m.

Pit Bulls and their relationship with Americans throughout history:

Portrait of a working bulldog by Philip Reinagle, 1803
Credit Photo Courtesy of Bronwen Dickey
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Portrait of a working bulldog by Philip Reinagle, 1803

Stubby in uniform for an animal parade, 1921
Credit Photo Courtesy of Bronwen Dickey
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Stubby in uniform for an animal parade, 1921

Police dog training to apprehend bootleggers, 1923
Credit Photo Courtesy of Bronwen Dickey
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Police dog training to apprehend bootleggers, 1923

A Pets for Life client and her dogs, Philadelphia
Credit Photo Courtesy of Bronwen Dickey
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A Pets for Life client and her dogs, Philadelphia

Pit bulls euthanized in Denver, 2006
Credit Photo Courtesy of Bronwen Dickey
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Pit bulls euthanized in Denver, 2006

Devell Brookins and Ace
Credit Photo Courtesy of Bronwen Dickey
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Devell Brookins and Ace

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