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Once America's most dangerous dog, pit bulls benefit from softening attitudes, advocacy groups

Pit Bulls Rethinking Bans.JPEG

Cameron Younglove plays with a pit bull terrier named Sooke at his kennels near Eudora, Kan., Sunday, March 9, 2014. For much of the past three decades, pit bulls have been widely regarded as America’s most dangerous dog _ but attitudes have softened considerably since then as animal activists and even television shows cast the dogs in a more positive light. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) (The Associated Press)

For much of the past three decades, pit bulls have been widely regarded as America's most dangerous dog — the favorite breed of thugs, drug dealers and dog-fighting rings, with a fearsome reputation for unprovoked, sometimes deadly attacks.

Hostility toward "pits" grew so intense that some cities began treating them as the canine equivalent of assault rifles and prohibited residents from owning them.

But attitudes have softened considerably since then as animal activists and even television shows cast the dogs in a more positive light.

Eighteen states now have laws that prohibit communities from adopting breed-specific bans. Lawmakers in six more states are considering similar measures.

The dogs' foes complain that their message is being drowned out by a well-funded, well-organized lobbying effort by pit bull advocates.

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