One reason for the bad rap is that many people do not know what a Pit Bull looks like, and they are often misidentified. It is really sad, since they seem like really great companions. The only way to help is to educate the public (and the press).
The reader then points to this page of 25 photos of various dog breeds, only one of which is the American Pit Bull Terrier. See if you can find it. (Many of the choices are excerpted above.) Another reader:
My wife has two gentle giants. Cane Corso is the breed. Everyone who visits does a double take and stammers "are those Pit Bulls?" I've seen Presa Canario, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs, Catahoulas, Bull Terriers, Bandogge Mastiffs, Alano Espanols, Ca De Bou, Boxers(!), Dogo Argentinos, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and various mutts described fearfully as "Pit Bulls".
A dog aficionado might have a hard time distinguishing them, let alone a traumatized attack victim. That emergency room worker can't tell by the bite marks what kind of dog it was, and has to take the word of the victim that it was a "pit bull".
I would just like to point out that people frequently misidentify dogs as pit bulls. I have a four-year-old hound/boxer mix. A genetic test turned up no pit bull in her. And yet, people often stop me to ask if she's a pit. When I say no, they express incredulity. One guy – a slightly sketchy looking fellow who claimed to be an expert on pits – said that there was "no freaking way" she was anything but pure pit. However, I met both her parents and her siblings (she was the result of an accident when a nice family adopted a hound they believed had been spayed). They weren't pit bulls.
I've heard from friends who have mixed breed dogs that people often assume that their dogs are pits or pit mixes. It seems if you have a dog with some boxer or mastiff in her (thus, the blocky head and muscular body), people automatically assume pit. So, I'm wondering how many of those "pit bull attacks" are actually attacks by dogs that just kind of look like pits but may not actually share any DNA.