We had a pit for almost 7 years, until he was killed in a hit and run right before Christmas, while I was deployed. He was the best dog I have ever owned, and would like to get another, but my wife is against it because of how much she misses Elwood(the pit). She is still at the point that if she sees a picture that resembles him, she gets teary-eyed.
As far as the breed, socialize the dog early and often. We took him out with us as often as possible to be around as many different people as possible, and also took him around other animals. He grew up from puppyhood with another dog(mutt) and a couple different cats at different times. As far as aggression and being dangerous, we have pictures of Elwood sleeping with two different cats, one of which used to clean his ears and chase him around the house when they were playing(if you haven’t seen a 65lb pit being chased around the house by a 12lb cat, your really missing out). He played well with the cats, but not as well with the ferrets we had for a while. He was very gentle with the cats when they were kittens, and then was only as rough as they could stand(he didn’t do that with the ferrets for some reason). He was very protective of my family, but not to the point of being a problem. My wife actually said after he died that she didn’t feel as safe when I wasn’t home…and that’s with two loaded guns in the house which she is well-trained with(Blackwater 3-day pistol graduate).
You will always have to deal with negative media representations, as well as possible problems with local authorities. In Peru, IN, where some of my extended family lives, if the police find an unattended pitbull outdoors(whether tied out or not), they can legally shoot the dog on sight.
Long story short, pitbulls are stubborn dogs, but if you socialize and train them properly, you won’t find a better and more loyal dog. They are usually very people friendly, and because of this aren’t the best watchdogs. Because of their reputation, you will be accepting more responsibility than your typical Lab or whatever, also due to their heightened ability to inflict damage should something happen.
As far as pits with children, Elwood was there for the birth of both of my children, and I never feared for a second that he would ‘turn’ on myself or the kids. In fact, he responded to them in true pack mentality, taking on some of the protective responsibilities for them himself. He proved that one night when I was out of town for training, and my wife had a friend and her fiancee over. The two women were playing roughly with my daughter(they were shoving my daughter back forth), which Elwood was cool with, but when the guy(who Elwood didn’t know very well) reached in to join the game, Elwood came up instantly, and the guy felt teeth barely scrape his hand as he drew back. Elwood then stood ready before him, hackles up(which is funny to see, since pits only have a thin line that runs the length of their back), and every muscle tensed to go. My wife told him to lie down it was okay, and he obeyed, but he watched that dude like a hawk for the rest of the night.
RIP Elwood. I miss you, bud.