There’s the woman who told me in broken English that she doesn’t feel comfortable telling people how sweet pit bulls are, so instead she comes to the shelter and walks them, hoping people will see her with the pit bulls and realize they are wonderful dogs.
There’s the shy teenage boy who explained to me that he’s been training his deaf pit bull with a form of sign language.
And the middle-aged mother and her two pre-teen sons who want to “man” the pit bull education table at one of the local pet supply stores.
So, what is it about pit bulls that can bring people from differing socio-economic, geographical, and cultural backgrounds into a community of camaraderie?
At first, I thought it might be the fact that most people have felt the sting of discrimination, just like the pit bull. Then I wondered if it was the aesthetic quality of these dogs with their large bully heads and big smiles. Or perhaps the need so many of us have to see the underdog succeed.
Any of these reasons would be enough to bring a group of people together, but none are really strong enough to forge the unique bond that exists among pit bull advocates. I mulled this question over and over for several days. Then, out of nowhere, the answer came to me: LOVE. What holds us all together is our undeniable, unyielding love for pit bulls.
This may not sound like much of a revelation, but the love of a pit bull advocate is a very strong force. I’ve witnessed the sacrifice this love demands from its members:
These are all examples of love in action.The volunteer who sacrifices every Saturday afternoon to walk shelter pit bulls who need stress relief from their kennels,
The foster parent who opens his home and heart to a pit bull,
The pit bull guardian who encounters discrimination and hostility from family, friends and strangers,
Or the member of a pit bull rescue group who spends month after month rehabilitating dogs who are the victims of horrendous neglect and abuse.
That’s why we rejoice together when laws are passed with stronger penalties against dog fighting. We swell with pride while reading stories about the success of pit bulls in sporting events, as working dogs or as helper dogs. We post on Facebook all the media coverage that portrays pit bulls in a positive light. When any one of these dogs overcomes and succeeds, we are all happy because, in a way, we have all succeeded.
We continue to educate the world about pit bulls and the love we have for these dogs, and if that means joining one more e-mail list to help end one more ignorant attempt at BSL, we join. If it means giving up one more Saturday afternoon to hand out pit bull information flyers, we give up one more Saturday. And if it means spending the extra 20 dollars we saved for ourselves on dog toys for shelter pit bulls, we spend it.
But we are not alone. There is an entire community that stands together, shoulder to shoulder, overcoming daily obstacles of discrimination, ignorance and bigotry, held together by love and striving to educate and create a world where pit bulls are understood and wanted.
I guess the Beatles had it right after all when they sang “Love is all you need."
By Mary Wallick
Photo by Melody McFarland