"A breed of satin and steel. Pit bulls are a mixture of softness and strength, an uncanny canine combination of fun, foolishness, and serious business, all wrapped up in love."

-D. Caroline Coile

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pit Bull Owners Take a Stand for Their Dogs

We've all heard the stereotypes: only criminals own pit bulls, people only want these dogs to fight them, pit bull owners don't care about their dogs.

And we all know where these stereotypes lead: to pit bull-type dogs facing unfair restrictions and bans, innocent dogs not getting a fair shot at adoption, and thousands of animals killed by shelters just because they look a certain way.

The best way to break stereotypes is to shatter them with reality. Everyone who lives with a pit bull knows this; we've all converted friends and family who abandoned their media-generated fears once they spent a little time up close and personal with our dogs. Many of them went on to adopt their own pit bulls.

And that's why Pit Bull Rescue Central created the "I Own a Pit Bull" campaign. It's time for pit bull owners to stand proud and dispel all those myths about pit bulls and the people who share their lives with them.

When cities, like Denver, pass breed specific legislation, they think they're targeting the drug dealers and other criminals in their town; people too busy breaking the law to go to the polls. Because it's proven again and again that knee-jerk policies targeting dogs based on breed don't reduce dog bites or reach irresponsible pet owners.

City officials don't imagine that they're profiling the small business owners, doctors, nurses, veterinarians, artists, computer programmers, teachers, waitresses, neighborhood watch coordinators, community volunteers ... but that's who's impacted whenever laws are passed that judge a dog based on his appearance, and not his individual actions and the irresponsibility of his owner.

So, now through tomorrow, October 23, use your Facebook status to stand up for your dog and show that you're not a stereotype. The formula is easy, and PBRC gives a few handy examples: I own a pit bull and I vote Green Party; I own a pit bull and I am a cancer survivor; I own a pit bull and I need coffee to get going in the morning. PBRC also provides a template for "I Own a Pit Bull" business cards that you can hand out. If you don't have a pit bull, use your status to show that people who love pit bulls and support their owners come from all walks of life, too.

Why now? Saturday, October 23, is National Pit Bull Awareness Day. At events across the country, pit bull owners, rescuers and advocates will be setting the record straight, promoting responsible pit bull ownership and showing their communities how fantastic these dogs are. I encourage everyone to check out the events in your community, and do your part to start changing minds.

Breed profiling is nothing new. Bloodhounds, Dobermans, German shepherds, and Rottweilers have all that their day. But the prejudice against pit bulls is unprecedented. The constant, widespread access to media reports of "pit bull attacks" (regardless of whether the dog was actually a pit bull or whether there was actually an attack) has kept the fear alive, and every day, responsible pit bull owners face new threats of breed specific legislation.

The only way out of this cycle is education, not only about the misconceptions about these dogs and the failings of breed specific legislation, but also about who we are.

by Stephanie Feldstein


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