“I don’t know if you’ve ever walked a pit bull. You owe it to your life to walk a pit bull down the street, I’m telling you. It’s like a gun you can pet, it’s the only way to describe it, it’s awesome.” Comedian Bill Burr.
It’s a stereotypical image: a gang member strolls the streets walking his big, scary dog. And it’s assumed that the dog is there for protection and as a status symbol. But now a British study reveals that, for young gang members anyway, the primary reasons for having a dog are not those related to gang activities. The research is in the journal Crime, Law and Social Change. [Jennifer Maher and Harriet Pierpoint, Friends, Status Symbols and Weapons: The Use of Dogs by Youth Groups and Youth Gangs]
Researchers went along with professionals who work with gang members to interview 25 young people in South Wales. They also spoke with animal welfare workers and gang outreach pros. Most gang members owned a dog and most of the dogs were bull breeds. Sadly, some dogs were indeed used as weapons, for fighting other dogs or were simply neglected. But the reasons that the owners themselves discussed for wanting a dog in the first place were mostly something to socialize with friends over and simple companionship.
—Steve Mirsky reports
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]