"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

Monday, June 27, 2011

In the Wake of a Horror Story About Pit Bulls, a Love Story

“They should get rid of every pit bull,” an old tennis friend was telling me at the Rec, La Jolla’s public courts on Draper Avenue.

Then he caught himself and smiled.

“Except for Petey,” he said.

In the aftermath of a grisly mauling in Paradise Hills, indictments against the notorious breed can get pretty rabid.

The big horror stories grab and don’t let go. Unreported go the little love stories that nuzzle the affections.

In the interest of balance, don’t forget Petey and the responsible owner who gave this hard-luck puppy a long, happy life.

It was January 1997. Her right side was dragging on the ground as she followed her master along Draper, a rope around her neck.

She’d been hit by a car, the homeless man said. I don’t want her. You want her? Take her. She’s yours.

Dennis McConnell, a retired business executive who lives in a townhouse across the street from the Rec, had no clue what breed the emaciated pup was — he assumed she was a mix — but he knew fate had determined that it was up to him to give her a home.

When the vet told Dennis the dog was a pit bull, he was blown back.

“I thought what everyone thinks: a vicious animal that’s going to turn on me.” The first night the pit bull slept at his home, “I wasn’t sure if I should close the bedroom door.”

But Dennis, who had grown up with a wide assortment of dogs in Pennsylvania, quickly realized that this 9-month-old puppy — his ex-wife dubbed her Petey after the Little Rascals canine character — was special. Intelligent, loving and, when healthy, remarkably athletic.

He nursed the tan dog back to a normal weight and then paid $2,500 for hip surgery, carrying her up and down the stairs until she recovered.

As they do, the years rolled on by. Most every morning, the two went to the beach, and Petey would take a swim and then nap. Several times a day, they’d walk across the street to the Rec, where Petey was a familiar member of the loose-knit family of tennis players.

Today, Petey is an old lady, a centenarian in dog years. She’s white around the muzzle, slowed by arthritis, hard of hearing.

Dennis and I sat last week in the red Adirondack chairs in front of his house and watched Petey as she limped around the front yard.

“I didn’t know a pit bull from a collie,” he recalled of that first vet visit.

Since then, he’s read widely about pit bulls. He knows the history, good, bad and horrific.

With rare exceptions, “pit bulls are not born aggressive,” he said. Tragically in many cases, “they’re taught to be aggressive.”

I asked Dennis what he’ll do when it’s time to put Petey down.

He’ll take a break, he said. Maybe do some traveling abroad.

And then?

“No question,” he said. “I’ll get another pit bull. And it will be from the pound.”

By Logan Jenkins

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pit Bulls: Saving America's Dog in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t want you or your dog in our neighborhood,” a neighbor told Kirstyn Northrop-Cobb, while walking her then newly adopted Pit Bull companion, Gus. Kirstyn vividly remembers the double prejudicial, cutting remark. It was winter; she had crocheted a cute, red sweater and hat to keep Gus warm from the Chesapeake Bay chill.

Oddly, several blocks from her Calvert County home is Prince George’s County, MD where Breed Specific Legislation bans Pit Bull ownership; illegal ownership results in Pit Bull impoundment and fines up to $1,000 or a sentence of up to six months imprisonment for Pit Bull owners.

It is only natural that Kirstyn, a former Veterinary Technician, experienced Pit Bull Foster, volunteer and Board Member of the Humane Society of Calvert County, plays a major role in Best Friends Animal Society National Campaign, Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dog, in the Nation’s Capital. As the Best Friends Animal Society Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Local Coordinator, Kirstyn leads the Washington D.C. Pit Crew in partnership with the Washington Humane Society.

Wahington D.C. is one of five cities in the Shelter Partners program, chosen for its Pit Bull overpopulation to reduce Pit Bull and Pit Bull Mix euthanasia in shelters. “Overpopulation is a problem easily controlled,” Kirstyn says. To increase responsible ownership, “we are providing free Spay/Neuter services to D.C. Pit Bulls.” Furthermore, the health benefits of Spay/Neuter include reduction of cancer and aggression, improving overall behavior.

“It's all about education.” To increase Pit Bull adoptions, Kirstyn organizes in-shelter and off-site Pit Bull events. “Holding more off site events with a focus on Pit Bulls, educates the public, lets them know what wonderful dogs Pit Bulls are and improves the image of Pit Bulls.”

Several times a week, Kirstyn walks an adoptable Pit Bull on the National Mall. Coined, “Mutts on the Mall,” Kirstyn introduces Pit Bulls to the local, national, and international public. “Allowing people to interact with Pit Bulls shows them that Pit Bulls are dogs, like any other dog. Some minds will never change, but most people are very receptive and pleased to interact with the Pit Bulls.”

“It's wonderful to work with an organization who shares my passion for improving the tarnished image of Pit Bulls.” With the help of Best Friends attorneys, many U.S. cities are repealing Breed Specific Legislation. “Lawmakers everywhere are realizing that Pit Bulls aren't the problem.” With time, we can improve laws nationwide, protecting Pit Bulls and the public; Kirstyn says, “We're moving in the right direction.”

Meet the Washington Humane Society Pit Bulls of Georgia Avenue and WHS Pit Bulls of New York Avenue.

Friend the Washington D.C. Pit Crew on Facebook and stay up-to-date on Pit Bull events.

Article and photos by: Jeannette Smith

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Making ‘Pit Stops’

StubbyDog talks to author Michelle Sathe about her road trips with adoptable pit bulls

When journalist and animal welfare advocate Michelle Sathe turned 40, she hit the road with adoptable pit bull Loren to explore 29 states and examine the sad reality facing beleaguered “bully” breeds in America’s shelters. The resulting book, “Pit Stops,” is on sale now and Michelle is setting off on her second road trip with another adoptable pit bull. Here, StubbyDog chats with Michelle about her journeys.

What made you take this trip? And why did you bring Loren?

I took this trip for several reasons. First, I was turning 40 and always wanted to take the Great American Road Trip. Second, I wanted to bring attention to the plight of pit bull and homeless pets.

Originally, I was going to take my Staffie mix Buster on the road, but after volunteering at The Brittany Foundation, a no-kill rescue in Agua Dulce, Calif., I realized that one of its dogs needed a vacation way more than he did. I had fallen in love with Loren, who was just the most affectionate dog on the planet. Instinctively, I knew she would make a fantastic companion for me and a great ambassador for bully breeds.

My hope was that once people had a positive, hands-on interaction with a pit bull that they wouldn’t be able to buy into the misconception they are not good dogs because, of course, they are fantastic.

Did you encounter prejudice against Loren being a pit bull? How did you deal with it?

For the most part, people were open-minded to meeting Loren. Many of the people we met on the road were already pit bull owners or lovers and loved that we were trying to help the breed’s image.

It was when Loren and I were in big cities that I was really surprised. We’d come across some pretty tough-looking characters that would actually cross the street to get away from us. They were scared, which was strange to me, because Loren and I are about the most non-threatening pair on the planet.

Sadly, while in Virginia, a woman took one look at Loren and ran the other way, saying, “Oooh … .” It breaks my heart that someone can discriminate against a dog with one look.

Did you have any problems finding lodging because of Loren?

We didn’t have any problems with lodging. I had researched dog-friendly hotels on dogfriendly.com that didn’t have any breed or weight restrictions. For the most part, we stayed at Motel 6, La Quinta Inns and Suites, Red Roof Inn and Super 8. Only once was I asked to fill out a form on Loren and it wasn’t because the staff was prejudiced, it was hotel policy. Loren was in the car, so they had no idea what kind of dog she was.

Did you avoid BSL states, and did you research which ones where BSL states before your journey?

I was a little na├»ve about BSL prior to this trip and didn’t really know to research areas where Loren may not be welcome. After we stayed at Animal Farm Foundation in New York, the staff there advised me not to go through Ohio, so I rerouted through Kentucky.

Planning for my trip with Kara, I have been much more alert to BSL. Originally, we were going to go to Arvada, but I ultimately decided against it because I didn’t want to go anywhere near Denver. That is not a good place for pit bulls. Several people told me that Arkansas has BSL, so I decided not to chance that, either.

You stopped at various shelters along the way? What was your mission in doing that?

Yes, we stopped at several shelters, from Alabama to New York. This was to research and understand the issues facing pit bulls all across the country, not just in California, where Loren and I are from. I wanted to grasp why bully breeds are so prevalent in shelters and found out all the disturbing reasons firsthand: backyard breeding, abuse, neglect, dog fighting, etc. It varies from area to area, but for the most part, I saw that at least 50 percent, often more like 80 percent, of the dogs in shelters are bully breeds.

This was very challenging for me. I volunteer at a no-kill rescue because I can’t handle being so close to the reality that adoptable animals are killed. However, I don’t blame the shelter workers whatsoever, at least not the ones I met on the trip, who were doing their best to help these animals under impossibly difficult circumstances.

Can you tell me of a wonderful story concerning pit bulls that came about because of your trip with Loren?

Honestly, the most rewarding thing about the trip and the subsequent book has been educating people outside the rescue circle about pit bulls and homeless pets. I have rescue friends that have passed on a copy of “Pit Stops” to someone who had no idea what was going on with these dogs. Now they’re like, “I get it.” If everyone got it, perhaps the senseless killings and abuse of pit bulls will stop.

Loren’s story has a happy ending. Can you tell us about that?

Yes. The last chapter is called “Third Time’s a Charm” because that’s what it took for Loren to find her truly forever person. Honestly, I couldn’t have dreamed of a better ending for Loren. She waited a long time and went through a lot, but finally, her prince did come.

What is your fondest memory of your trip?

Seeing the New York skyline took my breath away. It seemed like we would never get there, but we did, one mile at a time. Loren trying frozen custard in Pittsburgh was a highlight. She was like a little kid, lapping it up. That image still makes me laugh. Just spending quality time with Loren was a gift, seeing the amazing landscapes this country has to offer with her.

The faces I saw at shelters continue to haunt me. I wanted to take all those animals home, especially when I realized how many wouldn’t make it out alive. It was a tremendous wake-up call for me. Though my heart was heavy, I felt it was my duty to try and tell their truth in “Pit Stops.” To give the voiceless a voice.

On the flip side, meeting the incredible animal welfare volunteers across America continues to inspire me two years later. I’ve made many friendships from that trip that continue to this day. Whenever I need a shoulder to cry on and it gets too hard, I turn to them. They give me hope and strength.

You are starting another journey with Kara in May. Please tell us about that.

Kara’s story is fairly typical for bully breeds. She was used as a breeder, then dumped at a high-kill shelter, pregnant. Once her pups were adopted, Kara was slated to be killed until a wonderful shelter volunteer/foster named Kyle Harris took her in. Kara currently lives in Kyle’s well-equipped garage kennel. It’s quite nice by rescue standards, but it’s not the same as being a family pet.

Despite all she’s been through, Kara is a sweetheart who loves people and other dogs, too. For all those reasons, I chose Kara to be the “Pit Stops” book tour bully breed ambassador. I’m also hoping Kara will find a home by the end of our trip because of the exposure.

In between signings, Kara and I will meet with rescuers and go on adventures, which will make up “Pit Stops 2: Adventures with Kara,” due for release in spring or summer of 2012.

Will you continue to take trips with adoptable pit bulls?

It seems to be becoming a tradition with me. LOL. There are no plans for a trip after this, but don’t count it out. I still need to explore the New England states and maybe even Canada. Who better to take along than an awesome adoptable pit bull?

You can also follow Michelle and Kara’s journey on her blog.
Buy the book HERE.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Video du Jour

Pit Bulls’ Surprising Past: Nanny Dogs

Try to quickly summon an image of good-with-small-children dog, and chances are you'll picture something adorably Benji-shaggy. Or maybe a sweetie-pie golden retriever, or a loveball of a lab. It's not likely, at least not in today's perception of the breed, that an American pit bull terrier leaps to mind.

But not so long ago, pit bulls were brought in as "nanny dogs," the trusted caretaker pups to watch over kids.

Vintage photographs recently posted on a personal blog show off the breed as babysitter.
(More vintage photos of pit bulls with children.)

It's striking--and quite sad--to see such documentation of how beloved the now-maligned dog once was. The very same American pit bull is now more often associated with Michael Vick's dogfights, and stories of household pets gone bad, sometimes tragically involving kids.

In the case of Vick, who was convicted of running a dogfighting ring, 47 of the pit bulls from his kennel were taken to animal sanctuaries or adopted. One rehabilitated dog named Mel, who moved to Dallas with a new owner, even received an edible key to the city.

But back to the breed's history as a family dog: Helen Keller had a pit bull. Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote "Little House on the Prairie," owned one, too. And Petey, the mascot pup with the black eye patch in "The Little Rascals?" Pit bull.

Over time, the breed, which was also bred to battle bulls and fight other dogs, picked up a reputation for a nasty nature. Cesar Millan, the "dog whisperer" who is around the breed every day, says it's people who should be blamed, not the breed. He writes on his website, "Pit bulls get a bad rap because of irresponsible owners."

Responsible owners include Jon Stewart, Alicia Silverstone, Jamie Foxx, Jessica Biel, and Jessica Alba.

By Claudine Zap

Dog Fancy Magazine

Look who made the cover!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hector Takes Pittsburgh!

Hector, one of the pit-bull terriers rescued from Michael Vick’s dogfighting compound, becomes an ambassador and visits Pittsburgh to promote awareness of the breed.

When 49 dogs were seized from Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring in 2007, many people didn’t want to give the dogs a second chance. Luckily for Hector and many others, they were.

Places like BAD RAP and Best Friends Animal Society took in many of the dogs, mostly pit-bull terriers, and evaluated each one on an individual basis. Hector was one of those lucky dogs.

Hector was fortunate enough to later be adopted by Roo and Clara Yori, who were already the proud guardians of another famous pit-bull terrier, Wallace, national K9 flying disc champion. When the opportunity presented itself to adopt another pit-bull terrier, Roo wanted to see if Hector would fit in with his family, which consisted of Wallace and their four other dogs. Fortunately for all involved, he did, and that became the start of a wonderful new life for this once misunderstood dog.

Visiting Pittsburgh
Recently, the family was in the process of moving from New York to Minnesota and made a stop along the way in Pittsburgh, where Hello Bully and the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society staff and volunteers successfully organized a full day of fun events for Hector.

“The goal with Hector’s visit was to promote positive pit bull perceptions, instead of the negative ones that are so commonly portrayed in the media,” says Nicole Garritano Meloy, spokesperson for Hello Bully, says of the event. “Too often I talk with people who tell me that they afraid of pit bulls. I can talk until I’m blue in the face about what wonderful dogs pit-bull terriers are, but I think for most people seeing is believing. Hector is a great example of what a pit bull in the hands of a loving owner who treats the dog as a cherished family pet really is.”

Hector’s person, Andrew “Roo” Yori, said on KDKA radio station that morning, “These dogs are getting the chance to show everybody that they deserve the chance that they got.

As far as pit bulls go, there are a lot of misperceptions. Hector didn’t have a choice where he was. As soon as he got out of that situation, and given the chance to be a dog, he’s a great dog regardless. He really loves people and he gets along with our other dogs at home. Once he was given that choice, this is actually who he is.”

Hector is now a certified therapy dog who has also passed his Canine Good Citizen test on a number of occasions.

Gretchen Fieser of the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society said of pit-bull terriers on KDKA, “One of the great things about having Hector and Roo here is to educate people about pit bulls. There are so many misconceptions about pit bulls — that they are dangerous or that they will turn on you or they have lock jaws. I laugh because pit bulls can’t lock their jaws anymore than my Pomeranian can. They’re dogs. And any dog can be taught to be mean. It’s unfortunate that these stereotypes have happened. One of the things that we like to do is work with rescue groups and provide education about the breed.”

Pittsburghers show hospitality
That evening Emiliano’s Restaurant in Pittsburgh offered to host the event. Anyone who ate dinner at Emiliano’s that evening could have 10 percent of their check donated to Hello Bully and the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.

The night was filled with raffles, items for purchase, and dinner, but the real treat was having pictures taken with Hector and Roo. Over three hundred people came out to meet Hector and have their picture taken with him. People of all ages — even young children got to pose and even give Hector a hug and in some cases, a kiss.

Karyn Huggins, Pittsburgh resident, was touched emotionally by the experience and wanted to give Hector a kiss on the forehead.

“Meeting Hector was such an honor,” Karyn says. “Knowing the life and terrors he once faced and seeing his present and future is astonishing. He generated an energy in the room that I found very inspirational and moving. It was as if he knew all those people were there doing good by him and he was doing his best to set a good example for the breed. For one of God’s creatures to be treated as he once was and to see him now is to know that love and good people do make all the difference."

Hector and Roo posed for over 200 pictures that evening over a three hour span. When finished, they stayed and enjoyed dinner with several Hello Bully and Western Pennsylvania Humane Society staff and volunteers. The next day it was back on the road to their next stop in Illinois, before reaching their final destination in Minnesota. There, the Yoris will continue doing rescue work and education about the breed.

“Hector has perfect pit bull temperament — he is great with people of all ages and he is also very good with other dogs,” says Nicole after meeting Hector. “We were truly honored to have him and his family spend the day with us in Pittsburgh to help promote the positivity of pit bulls. Hector is a true bully breed ambassador and a survivor.”

  • Check out the Pit Bull United website to learn more about Hector and Wallace’s inspirational work representing dogs as individuals, dispelling misconceptions and opening hearts and minds to pit-bull terriers.

  • Best Friends Animal Society is working throughout the country to help pit-bull terriers, who are battling everything from a media-driven bad reputation to ineffective and expensive breed-discriminatory legislation. Best Friends hopes to end discrimination against all dogs. Dogs are individuals and should be treated as such. Find out how you can help by visiting and becoming a fan of Best Friends' pit bull terrier initiatives.

By Lynn Ready, Best Friends Network volunteer
Photos by Lynn Ready

Video du Jour

                                  Happy first day of Summer!

Monday, June 20, 2011

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Vick Dog Finds New Life in Bethlehem

Kathleen Price with her pit bull, Jhumpa Jones, who was rescued from
Michael Vick's dog fighting ring in Virginia.

A stranger enters the room and the thick black pit bull slumps to the floor and lets out a faint growl from behind the gate to the kitchen.

Kathleen Pierce tells her dog, Jhumpa Jones, that it's OK. The gate opens. Jhumpa slowly stands up, trots toward the unfamiliar face, looks up with her soft, dark eyes and follows Pierce and her visitor to the kitchen table.

"Here," Pierce says, handing the stranger a package of string cheese.

Jhumpa leaps at the stranger's lap before she sits. Her tongue is dangling out of the side of her mouth as she bows at the stranger's hand. Jhumpa licks a small piece of mozzarella out of the stranger's fingertips, smiles, and sits down for more.

"That's it," Pierce says. "You guys are good now."

Pierce says Jhumpa has gained about 25 pounds since the day she was seized from the backyard of the home owned by NFL quarterback Michael Vick in Smithfield, Va.

"I spoil her rotten," Pierce says. "I can't help it."

Pierce estimates Jhumpa is six years old. Likely born on Vick's property, there is no record of her birth. No one knows what Jhumpa saw or what she went through at Bad Newz Kennels, the clandestine dog fighting ring financed by the football superstar.

One of 47 pit bulls formerly owned by Vick that were released to animal sanctuaries or adopted by foster homes, Jhumpa has been living with four other dogs and four cats at Pierce's Slingerlands home for three years.

"Once she saw the other dogs, she relaxed and started acting like any old dog," said Pierce, who said Jhumpa was timid around other humans at first. "She had never been around other people before."

Pierce didn't tell anyone outside of her family about Jhumpa's background until a year after she adopted her.

"When I went down to see her for the first time, in my head I thought she was going to be just this massive, massive dog," said Pierce. "But, I looked into her crate and all I saw was this winsome, wise beyond her years, innocent dog. There was spirit oozing out of her eyes."

The dogs recovered from Vick's property were the first group of pit bulls recovered from a dog-fighting ring that were not euthanized.

Vick's pit bulls were held as evidence at six different animal control sites in Virginia from the day they were seized to the end of his trial -- he ended up serving behind bars -- in October 2007. Dogs were kept in individual cages for six months, never let out. Cages were hosed down with the dogs inside and they were never handled by humans.

Intense media coverage of the case stirred such a response to save the dogs that they were each individually tested by experts to see if and where they could be placed into adoption.

"In a strange way, because Michael Vick was who he was and the case got so much attention, the dogs were able to be saved in the end," said Cydney Cross, the co-founder and president of Out of the Pits, a non-profit organization based in Albany that rescues pit bulls and places them into foster homes.

Out of the Pits was one of the dozens of animal rescue organizations that applied for adoption rights for the pit bulls. Cross was allowed to bring in two dogs, both of which had to be eased into domestication at veterinary clinics for six months before they could be placed into homes.

Cross said Jhumpa stood upright in her crate for the entire eight-hour ride from Virginia to upstate New York in October of 2007.

"She just stared straight ahead. She was frozen," said Cross. "There was no life in her eyes. They were flat"

Jhumpa was slowly rehabilitated at Troy Veterinary Hospital.

"She wouldn't walk at first," said Pierce, who was contacted by Cross to possibly adopt Jhumpa in March of 2008. "The girls at the vet would call her 'Pancake,' because she'd just freeze and lie on the ground when they tried to take her outside."

Pierce and Cross think Jhumpa may have been used exclusively for breeding and not for fighting. Jhumpa had a few scars, but not as many as a pit bull used for fighting would have typically. However, her uterus is stretched more than normal.

Hazel, the other pit bull seized from Bad Newz Kennelz and placed into adoption by Cross, nearly died because her uterus was so severely damaged and infected. Hazel lives in Vermont with a woman who only wanted to be identified as Sally, fearing Hazel may be stolen or harmed if people knew she was a "Vick dog." Sally and Cross believe Hazel, who moves with a limp from a previously broken leg and has a sleek black coat, may be Jhumpa's mother but there is no way to tell.

Jhumpa and Hazel have never bitten another dog or person since being seized. Neither has Hector, a pit bull rescued from Vick's property by the California rescue group Bad Rap and placed into the care of Andrew Yori in Amenia, N.Y. Hector, who's is believed to be six years old and has a caramel-colored coat, scars up and down his stomach and legs, and several missing teeth.

"Honestly, I was a little hesitant and a concerned at first because of all the scars," Yori said about adopting the dog. "I know they killed the dogs that didn't win. He had to do something to stay alive."

Yori said Hector wrestles, sleeps and plays with his five other dogs without incident.

"They're great teachers for us," Pierce said. "All of these dogs come from neglectful, abusive situations. But, somehow, they just don't lose their love of life."

By Bryan Fitzgerald
Photos by Michael P. Farrell/Times Union

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Video du Jour

Pit Bulls Score Better Than 121 Other Breeds in Temperament

Pit Bulls have once again scored BETTER than many dog breeds. Temperament evaluations by the American Temperament Test Society have given pit bull terriers a very high passing rate of 86.4 percent. The average passing rate for the other 121 breeds of dogs in the tests was only a low 77 percent.

These temperament tests consist of putting a dog through a series of unexpected situations, some involving strangers.

Pit bulls have gotten a bad rap due to superstitions and organized crime. They are not attackers and they are not baby killers. In fact, they have been known to make a better family dog than many breeds, including the Dalmatian.

The facts:

Pit bulls are family-oriented dogs, loving, gentle and blessed with a tremendous sense of loyalty.

Pit bulls have been proven to not be naturally aggressive. Almost any dog can be taught to be aggressive, and, there are many other breeds that are dangerous and can cause real injuries. However, the evidence shows clearly that this is not a dog problem, but a people problem. In the case of Pit bulls, tests show time and time again that this breed has a very bad rap and that they make one of the best dog breed options for families.

The needless, senseless, killing of pit bulls solely based on looks and breed at animal shelters can only be compared to Hitler-esque Holocaust. This comes at an enormous economic and moral cost. Public and private agencies spend $2.5 billion each year caring for killing homeless pit bulls simply based on their breed and the superstitions surrounding the them.

Pit bulls represent three in four of all animals taken into shelters. More than 90 percent of pit bulls in kill shelters are immediately euthanized if they are not adopted within 3 days, and sometimes they are immediately killed in a breed-specific holocaust without proper evaluation or even an attempt to adopt them out.

Even Pit Bulls that have been victims of terrible fighting rings and bred to fight can be rehabilitated and should not be written off as vicious killers.

(EVEN former fighting ring dogs are now agility dogs, therapy dogs and spoiled family pets. Check out this VIDEO on the “Vicktory Dogs” at Best Friends.)

Pit Bulls can live happily with other pets even if left unattended. In fact, there are many stories available on the internet of pit bulls playing peacefully with young children and videos on Youtube of pit bulls lovingly licking the faces of babies, cuddling with toddlers, and snuggling with the elderly.

The truth is that pit bulls were once nicknamed “nanny dogs” because they are so great with children.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries pit bulls were popular family dogs. Helen Keller (who was blind and deaf), Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt all owned pit bulls, as did many other famous people of that time.

Pit bulls were also featured in popular media of the day. Petey, the dog from Little Rascals was a pit bull and it is well documented that Petey was a loving dog and played regularly with the child actors/actresses of the popular. The famous RCA Victrola ads also featured a pit bull because of their popularity at that time as loving “nanny dogs” for small children.

Sadly, they are portrayed in the media as vicious killers that cannot be trusted. More times than not, the media is basing stories of “Pit Bull Attacks” on dogs that aren’t even pit bulls in the first place. The media, as many have realized here in America, loves to report and propagandize the news in order to get ratings. The news reports that are often featured DO NOT display pit bulls, they display other breeds looking similar to the breed.

Below are five of the most common pit bull myths.

1. They have locking jaws.

This is probably the most common myth. The anatomy of a pit bull is no different than that of any other dog. They do NOT have locking jaws.

2. They fail temperament testing more than any other dog.

This is not true. Pit bulls pass temperament testing 81.7% of the time. Beagles only pass 78.7% of the time, and Golden Retrievers 81.1% of the time. The American Pit Bull Terrier scored just above the Golden Retriever and just below the Labrador Retriever.

3. They have been bred to be human aggressive.

Pit bulls are not aggressive toward people. They can be taught to be vicious; just as any other dog, but this is not a trait that is inherent in pit bull dogs.

4. Only drug dealers own pit bulls.

This silly myth exists thanks to movies and music videos that feature drug dealers and other criminals as pit bull owners. In the 1970’s Doberman Pinschers were considered the most vicious dog, and were popular with criminals. In the 1980’s it was the Rottweiler. Today it is the Pit Bull. This is a sad, self-fulfilling prophecy that can only change if the American propagandized media accurately portrays pit bulls as the gentle, loyal and loving breed that they are. Facts and temperament tests have proven that pit bulls are some of the greatest choices for a family pet.

All of these myths are pure propaganda. Why? Because ratings create ad revenue for media outlets. And the popular lies about pit bulls grab the public’s attention.

By Joshua-Paul Angell  

Monday, June 13, 2011

“PITSburgh’s” Got the Pits! Pit Bull Terriers, That is!

Pit-bull terrier service and therapy dogs making a difference in their community.

There are many service dogs and certified therapy dogs throughout the country doing great work for individuals and groups in places like schools, nursing homes, and hospitals. These dogs provide a great service to their communities and to their guardians.

Not surprisingly because of their typical outgoing and people-pleasing personalities, pit-bull terriers fit this role very nicely in cities just about everywhere. Pittsburgh is no exception.

Michele and Nola
Nola is an experienced therapy dog, having done many visits at various organizations, including kissing booths to raise money for charity. Nola’s guardian, Michele Carso, had Nola certified about two years ago and the pair have been doing events and visits ever since.

One of their regular visits is to Crafton Library just outside of Pittsburgh. The first year they went one day a month. During their time at the library, children of all ages could spend time reading to Nola. Nola would sit patiently “listening” to each of the children. This provides a wonderful service to children who might otherwise be intimidated by reading to an adult or in front of their classmates. It also helps children to become fluent and to enjoy reading while having Nola’s companionship.

There was such a great response from the community that she was asked to come back more frequently the following year. They now visit twice a month. Shortly thereafter, they were asked to stay for a longer period of time during each visit due to the high amount of parent requests. Nola has become known as a great resource to help children in the community.

One of Nola’s favorite places to visit is Allegheny General Hospital. She comforts not only patients, but their families as well. They spend most of their time in the waiting areas outside of the ICU and trauma areas. Although they cannot visit the rooms on these floors, providing Nola’s services to the families in the waiting areas is extremely helpful.

Michele recalls one specific instance where a police officer had been injured in a police chase. He was having many surgeries done while his wife waited in the waiting area. Michele says, “Nola helps take their mind off of things even if just for a few minutes. It provides a great comfort to them.”

On one special occasion, Michel and Nola had a special request for Nola’s presence.

“This patient had specifically requested that a therapy dog come to visit him,” Michele says. “He was in an ICU room which dogs are not normally allowed into, but this man had been in the hospital for several months and it was his birthday wish to have a visit from a therapy dog. Nola couldn’t go into his room so they brought the man out for his visit with Nola. He was so excited to have Nola’s companionship even if only for a short time.”

In addition, each summer Nola is invited to the Pittsburgh School for the Blind for family day where about 20 other therapy dogs also come to visit.

Michele recalls, “We were walking in and a little boy came over and asked if he could pet Nola. He said she was beautiful and commented that he loves pit bulls, but he said that his father did not, and would be very upset if he knew he was petting one. Later on that day we were sitting there when a man came over and pet many other dogs that were near us, including a 200 pound mastiff right next to us, a gigantic Lab, and other large breed dogs. He said to me ‘I’m sorry but I can’t pet your dog, I’m afraid of it.’ This man was the little boy’s father.

“I asked the man for five minutes of his time. I told him that he didn’t have to pet her if he didn’t want to. We went and sat on the ground and he slowly started to pet her. Within five minutes Nola was on his lap smothering him with kisses. The little boy said that he couldn’t wait to show his friends and family a picture of his dad with a pit bull.”

In addition to all of these experiences, Nola has also visited Manor Care Nursing Home on several occasions. She’s gone to see those who had gone through major surgeries and were now staying at the nursing home.

Nola has also gone to the University of Pittsburgh on a few instances to help ease students’ anxiety. She has also participated in two kissing booths-one to raise money for Relay for Life for cancer patients and research, and one for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.

Clearly Nola is a busy therapy dog! Michele says that they will continue to do whatever they can to assist those in distress, to help children, and to help those who need comforting. Nola is certainly providing her community with a great service.

Heather and BoBo
Heather Long’s pit-bull terrier, BoBo, has a different role than that of therapy dog. BoBo is a service dog. Service dogs accompany individuals in different aspects of their lives. It could be assisting a person who is blind, a person who is in a wheelchair or even someone who has anxiety.

Heather has always had an enormous fear of flying, yet she’s required to travel fairly regularly. Heather says, “I have always had a stronger than average fear of flying. Unfortunately, my current obligations require me to fly quite often. When this need arose, I thought that more frequent exposure to my fear of flying would allow me to overcome it; unfortunately though, the more frequent exposure only made things worse.”

Once while traveling, Heather brought her Jack Russell terrier in a carrier to fly under her seat. “Being focused on keeping her situated during the flight, I realized afterwards that I was so focused on her that I didn't have time to focus on my fear,” says Heather.

It was at this time that Heather’s doctor recommended that she always fly with a canine companion to ease her anxiety. Only Heather had a better flying buddy in mind, who she knew would tolerate the airports, public, and airplanes better than her Jack Russell. That’s where BoBo came in.

BoBo is a 6-year-old pit-bull terrier, one of four that Heather has who enjoys working. Heather says that she and BoBo share a special, unique bond. When she first rescued him, he nearly died and Heather was there for him every step of the way to help him through his sickness. He is now a healthy, sweet dog who accompanies Heather on all of her flights.

“The first time I flew with him, his behavior put a smile on my face from ear to ear, and in my heart,” Heather says of the experience. “He made me so proud. He generally walks well on leash, but pulls on occasion when he smells something irresistible. But in the airport, he walked right by my side, without me ever having to correct him. He stayed fully focused on me, maintaining eye contact. When I stopped walking, in the stop-and-go fashion that one must move through a crowded airport, he automatically sat, without me asking. Rolling suitcases and crowds of people coming from every which direction did not faze him.

“But the most amazing and endearing part came during that first take-off. Take off and landings are the most troubling times for me. When we boarded the plane, he settled in on the floor like a good boy. But he seemed to sense my anxiousness during take-off, because he didn't skip a beat: he arose from his resting position on the floor, and softly but intently placed his paws in my lap, gently looked me in the eye, and gave me loving licks on my face. Once we were leveled up in the air, he went back on the floor and settled back down. We both drifted to sleep, something I could never do before as I spent the entire flight quietly gripping my seat! Then, as we began our descent, BoBo repeated the same intuitive gestures that he had during take-off.”

At home, BoBo is free to be “just a dog,” stealing food from the counter, chasing squirrels, and other typical dog behaviors. But when it’s time to work, it’s all business for BoBo.

Amy and Porter
Porter is an 11-year-old rescued pit-bull terrier/Lab mix. He earned both his Canine Good Citizen award and Therapy Dog International title when he was 4 years old. Porter’s guardian Amy Dengler, who is also a trainer and Hello Bully volunteer, says, “Porter is a gentle, loving dog, who is naturally good with the people he encounters.”

Some of Porter’s visits have included nursing homes where he did hospice visits, a women's shelter, and events for the nonprofit organization Hello Bully. Amy points out, “A therapy dog must have a solid temperament because visits can be stressful and emotionally challenging to many dogs.”

Porter has spent time visiting hospice patients where some patients left behind their family pet. Receiving attention from Porter during this time seems to offer comfort to the patient and their family. Porter gets stopped by the patients in the hall and the staff, who always had time to give him attention.

Amy talked about one place in particular where she felt their presence really made a difference.

“Visiting the women's shelter left a lasting impact on us,” Amy recalls. “These women and their children left their homes and family pets to escape abuse. Studies show that domestic abuse typically does not stop with the humans involved. When the families get to spend time with a visiting dog, it can create a very emotional response. Many of the children have so much experience with physical and mental abuse.

“Part of Porter's visits included demonstrations using positive reinforcement, instead of punishment. Porter's demonstration included picking up markers on the floor and putting them away in the toy box. Doing this task without using force or yelling showed the children that using praise and rewards, instead of punishment, helps build relationships out of trust, not fear.”

Interacting with Porter not only helped demonstrate this, but it also allowed them to spend time with a dog, something many of them missed. “Just spending time with Porter seemed to brighten their day, and gave them a momentary break from the stress they were experiencing,” Amy says.

“One mother had tears in her eyes and she stated, ‘We miss our pit bull so much. Porter's visit was such a pleasure!’ "

  • Best Friends Animal Society is working throughout the country to help pit-bull terriers, who are battling everything from a media-driven bad reputation to ineffective and expensive breed-discriminatory legislation. Best Friends hopes to end discrimination against all dogs. Dogs are individuals and should be treated as such. Find out how you can help by visiting and becoming a fan of Best Friends' pit bull terrier initiatives.

By Lynn Ready, Best Friends Network volunteer
Photos courtesy of Michele Carso, Heather Long and Amy Dengler

Thursday, June 9, 2011

10 Common Misconceptions About Pit Bulls

No other dog has had so much media coverage in the last 15 years as the Pit Bull. It's tough not to be emotional one way or the other about these canines, especially if you've owned one or two or three, or if you or a loved one has been involved in a bad incident involving a Pit Bull. One side says Pits are dangerous and should be banned. The other side says they are loving, safe dogs and it's the owners who are to blame for any "bad" Pits. What is the truth? Somewhere in between.

"Pit Bull" can refer to either the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) breed or a type of dog who has Pit Bull traits. It's all muddled at this point with Breed Specific Legislation, which bans or restricts some breeds, lumping Boxers and Dalmatians in with pits and other bully breeds (such as the American Staffordshire Terrier. Most Pit Bulls on the street are mixes though there is still breeding of the APBT. Responsible breeding produces a stable, talented dog while breeding for dog fighting must, of course, be stopped.

It gets more confusing when trying to identify just how many Pit Bulls are responsible for dog or human attacks. When you see the term "Pit Bull" in the press, it can refer to any type of dog. More often than you'd think, a dog who attacked someone and is labeled Pit Bull, is actually a mutt or a different breed altogether. Even if a picture is attached and it looks like a Pitbull, it could be any number of mixes which produce similar characteristics. Really, when you think about it, condemning a dog based on his physical traits is declaring his guilt based purely on his appearance - this is what BSL is about.

But there are the sensible people who honestly feel that Pitbulls, and any dog that resembles one, are a danger to society. Often, these folks don't know much about dogs and certainly not much about Pits. But they are being bombarded with almost all bad press about these dogs. It is evident that the media fuels misconceptions about Pits and stirs up the public. And the statistics behind the fury are less than accurate. Even the Center for Disease Control, which puts out many of the stats, states that dog bite and dog attack data cannot be gathered accurately. But, still, the section of society that does not feel safe with Pit Bulls has a right to be heard. And, considering the bull they are fed about Pits, it's no wonder they don't believe the Pit Bull supporters.

Below are 10 common misconceptions about Pit Bulls which both support and contradict the general views of either "Pit Bulls are dangerous" or "Pit Bulls are just like Golden Retrievers." Just as it's tough to be unemotional about these dogs, it's also tough to be unbiased (especially when the author of this article owns three of them) but a valiant effort has been made.

10 Misconceptions About Pit Bulls

1. All Pit Bulls Are Bad - Dogs do not have a conscience; they cannot be "bad." Pit Bulls react to their world based on their breeding and training. You can't breed a dog to fight other dogs for almost 200 years and expect those instincts to vanish.

2. All Pit Bulls Are Good - No dog is not innately "good." They simply act as their instincts and owners tell them to. To try to sell the Pit Bull to the public as a fluffy bunny does a disservice to the public, to potential Pit Bull owners and to Pits themselves.

3. Pit Bulls Are Human Aggressive - Since Pits were bred to fight dogs in a ring, the owners had to make certain they would not turn on them when they went in to stop the fight. Imagine a dog, so riled up from fighting and very aggressive, who was able to then turn it off when his human appeared in the pit. When a Pit Bull attacks a person, there are always other factors involved, such as protection of food. Any dog may bite if provoked.

4. Pit Bulls Can Cause More Damage Than Other Dogs - Sorry, Pit Bull lovers but this is sometimes sadly true. Myths such as the locked jaw have been disproved but a Pit Bull's traits make him naturally more driven. Consider these: tenacity (they often fought til death in rings), gameness, prey drive, a compact, strong, muscular body (pits can pull up to 7,000 pounds) and centuries of fighting instinct. But, there are too many factors involved in dog bites, such as the size of the animal and where the bite occurred, to make a blanket statement. In their favor, a Pit Bull will likely listen and obey better than other dogs if properly trained.

5. An Aggressive Pit Bull Cannot Be Rehabilitated - This was disproved by the Michael Vick case where some 50 pit bulls were rescued from a fighting ring. Of those, 49 dogs were rehabilitated. Some went to shelters such as Best Friends and many are well-loved family members today. The testing used to determine these dogs' ability to fit into society was exhaustive and excellent and successful.

6. Anyone Can Own a Pit Bull - Pit Bulls are different from other dogs and their owners need to be told the facts before rescuing or purchasing one. A dog lover who has had Bichons all her life will be sorely surprised unless she does her homework and understands the bully breeds. Pits need a lot of structure, a very pronounced human alpha, training, exercise and lots of attention. The owner needs consistency, time, energy and maybe some muscle.

7. Pit Bulls Will Always Fight Other Dogs - Some Pits are so dog aggressive that they should be the only dog in the house. They also should not go to dog parks or areas where dogs run off-leash. Any Pit Bull could get into a fight with another dog. Any dog could. But breaking up a Pit Bull fight is much harder than a tiff between a Shiba Inu and a Sharpei Inu. If you have a Pit Bull, learn about his body language and the signs that he is getting ready to fight. This will prevent many incidents.

8. Pit Bulls Are Lovers Not Fighters - Since it's been established that they can be fighters, what about lovers? Absolutely! Pit Bulls give more kisses than any other type of dog (it's proven!). They love humans and human interactions. They feed off positive attention. These dogs are loving, friendly creatures. And they are the kings of clowning.

9. Pit Bulls Are Badly Behaved - Any dog who has this much energy and motivation coded into his DNA can cause problems if he doesn't get enough attention and exercise. Pit Bulls put their whole hearts into destruction - of couches, beds, pillows, or your $200 boots. But all they need is to have that energy redirected. Pit Bulls are highly trainable but they do need to be trained. Their intelligence, focus, gameness, loyalty and desire to please makes them one of the most teachable dogs.

10. Compromise is Unthinkable - Unfortunately, both sides of the Pit Bull debate are often stubborn about their views and solutions. For those who think BSL is wrong, they need to be realistic about how to end it. For those that think Pit Bulls are dangerous, they need to recognize that banning Pits tears loved pets away from their families and what they propose will not stop all dangerous dogs. Giving in a bit on both sides, such as allowing muzzling of Pit Bulls in public places in exchange for no BSL, may prove the only hope.

Pitbulls are like other dogs yet they're also unique. Their gameness, focus, desire to please and boundless energy can be seen as either productive or unproductive traits. The trick is to utilize these characteristics in focused play and work, such as agility, weight pulling, rescue work or nose work.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Boy and His Pit Bull

My name is Justy Carney. I am 9 years old. I’d like to tell you a story of the two best dogs in the world – my pups Rocket and Pixie. Both are rescue dogs (there was a story about both of them last month on StubbyDog – you should read it!). Pixie is a Boston Terrier- pit bull or Staffordshire mix – we’re not really sure. Pixie is the most lovable, silly little butterball that you could ever meet! We decide to call her Pixie because we could tell when we got her that she was bit impish, and a “pixie” is a mischievous German elf. She and I have made a great team in 4-H obedience.

I got into 4-H obedience work with Pixie after watching my Mom take Rocket to obedience classes and helped him earn his CGC (Canine Good Citizen). Once in a while, I would go to class with them and watch. I really wished that I could do it too. When we got Pixie (to help Rocket with his separation anxiety) my dream came true. I finally had my own dog to train and do obedience work with!

At my first class, I was sort of nervous and didn’t know what to do. The small room was filled with about 20 kids and all different breeds of dogs. I was the only one with a pit bull mix. Even though I was so excited to have my first class, there were a few kids who I thought were too tough on their dogs. I didn’t like the way that they were speaking to their dogs. I really believe that to train a dog properly you must be kind, but firm and yelling only scares them. With this approach, I have been able to train Pixie and Rocket to do some great tricks. I started out with some easier tricks (with my Mom’s help), like “sit,” “stay,” and “down.” Rocket was amazing on the command “down” – he falls at Mach speed! Pixie, on the other hand, would take her time, give a loud snort and give you her “baby eyes” – you couldn’t help but laugh! After a lot of work, she has finally learned a pretty quick “down” but sometimes she still gives a loud snort!

Last summer, Pixie and I were lucky to go to a special 4H week-long dog obedience training camp. At this point, we were a pretty good team, but I didn’t really know all of the ropes. The class was held outside at a local fairgrounds and run by a long time dog trainer, Mrs. LaPoint. During the week, we learned many things, including “recall.” “stand” and “around.” We also worked on long “sit” (around 3 minutes) and long “down” (around 5 minutes).

Training was fun because I got to work with Pixie and meet other kids who like to train dogs. At the end of the camp week, there was a dog show to see who had improved the most. It was sort of a long shot for me, as Pixie and I had never been in a show. Most of the other kids and dogs had competed before. On the day of our obedience trial, I was nervous but I tried my best. Rocket was on the sidelines for moral support! Pixie did an almost perfect job – we had to work on “recall” a little bit. After we went through our all of the exercises, the awards were given out. When they called our names for FIRST PRIZE, I could barely move because I was so shocked. I had never been in an obedience show before and I had won – it was a miracle! To celebrate, we went out for ice cream and the dogs had “pup cups” – ice cream in a cup with a dog bone on it. They were very happy with their treat and it was great day!

Training Pixie has been a blast and I will continue to add new tricks – she just learned “high five.” I will continue to train and love her. These are wonderful dogs that many people really don’t understand and often abuse, neglect or judge, because of bad information and very bad owners. We have always had bully-type dogs and think of them as divine and very misunderstood. I grew up with a very funny Staffordshire terrier named Tallulah (and her beloved, noisy little pal, a beautiful tortoiseshell cat named Hedy) that were like a nanny S.W.A.T. team for me – one of them was always by my side! They are really sweet, silly and very loyal dogs. If you treat them well, they will do you no harm and be the best pal you could EVER ask for. I am very lucky to have two wonderful dogs like Pixie and Rocket!!

By Justy Carney

Monday, June 6, 2011

Video du Jour

                  Too cute. Make sure your volume is on!

Knowing Them is Loving Them

How our unconscious associations drive discrimination toward dogs

When Wil Willis arrived for lunch at the home of his new friends, Jasmine and Cory Grimm, and they opened the front door, he shrank back in fear.

“I was greeted by the biggest pit bull I had ever seen in my life,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘There’s no way I’m going into that house.’ ”

Seeing that their guest was nervous, Cory had his dog, Moose, sit down and get used to the visitor. Midway through lunch, Willis was feeding Moose tidbits and petting him.

Back at home that evening, Willis, an African American, was still going over what had happened at lunch. He realized he’d reacted to Moose in exactly the same way a police officer had reacted to him a few years earlier.

“I’d just moved to Newport Beach in California, and I was driving slowly in the right lane because I didn’t yet know my way around,” he said. In the lane to the left, a Porsche and a Mercedes had just whipped by at around 80 mph. But in his rearview mirror Willis saw the lights of a police car and it was he, not the people in the speeding Porsche or the Mercedes, who was being pulled over. He was “driving suspiciously,” and when the officer saw his name, he was abruptly handcuffed and taken to the station. A few hours later, he was released. They had the wrong “Willis.”

“The police officer had pulled me over for no real reason,” Willis said. “He judged me on his impression of how I looked and what I was driving. He profiled me. And at lunch today, when I met Moose, I did the exact same thing. I took one look and saw he was a pit bull, and I said, ‘No thank you.’”

All about implicit associations

The police officer who stopped Willis might not have thought of himself as being prejudiced. Neither did Willis when he met Moose. But we all make what psychologists call implicit associations, and we make these snap judgments unconsciously in a fraction of a second.

“It’s now well established that these things happen automatically and influence people’s behavior without thinking,” said Tony Greenwald, professor of social psychology at the University of Washington. “Many of these associations are established early in life in relation to race, ethnicity, gender, and so on. So even if we’ve changed our explicit views (the ones we’re conscious of), we pick up these implicit associations within half a second or so of looking at a person.”

It’s the same when you look at a dog. “You pick up the breed association very rapidly if you’re at all familiar with the type of dog,” Greenwald said. “If you see a pit bull or something that looks like a pit bull, you’re going to have those associations triggered.”

The good news: nothing lasts forever

Dr. Lee Jussim, a professor at Rutgers University, has some optimistic news for those who have pit bulls and are looking for ways to diminish and ultimately dismantle the prejudice they have to contend with.

His studies show that when you get to know a particular person – and Jussim sees no reason why this wouldn’t apply to a dog, too – you tend to base your assessment of them not on any generalized stereotype, but on the real-time information you have about that individual.

And that’s good news for people with pit bulls who feel they’re up against a tidal wave of discrimination that’s impossible to undo.

“There’s plenty of research that suggests that extended, positive contact with a person from a group to whom you harbor implicit prejudice can even reduce implicit prejudice toward that group,” Jussim said.

In other words, the more you can give someone a positive experience with a pit bull, even just briefly, the more of a dent you’re making in the overall stereotype.

“Stereotypes can change quite quickly,” Jussim said. “In the 1930s, Americans had a positive image of the Japanese as good, hard-working people – like the Puritan ethic they could identify with. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, that changed immediately. Americans thought of the Japanese as being sneaky, sly and malevolent. After the war, the stereotype changed again: it became more about the Japanese being the manufacturers of cheap goods. After that, they were seen as a strong ally but also a commercial threat. Overall, as relationships between groups change, so do the stereotypes.”

Greenwald agrees that stereotypes can change quite dramatically. He cited the example of how American attitudes toward Arabs, and Muslims in general, transformed in the wake of 9/11.

As regards pit bulls, we already know that the stereotype has undergone several transformations – most recently from “America’s family pet” in the 1940s and 50s to how they’re perceived today.

There are numerous stories that draw positive associations with pit bulls as heroes, therapy dogs, prize-winning athletes and more. “If pit bulls were to become the dog of choice for fire departments [or similar],” Jussim said, “that would almost certainly produce a change in people’s views of them.”

Meet a pit bull

The most impactful way to affect people’s implicit, unconscious attitudes toward any particular group of dogs or other humans is to give them a positive personal experience.

“People need to see kind, gentle, fun-loving pit bulls,” Jussim said. “That can make a big difference.”

That doesn’t mean that a single positive experience with one dog is going to undo years of fear about an entire population. But it all works toward correcting misperceptions and overcoming discrimination.

After all, that’s exactly the experience that Willis had when he met Moose.

“It turned out he was such a cool dog and honestly now, he’s my friend,” Willis said. “I love that big pit bull, and because of him I’ve changed my mind on how I look at dogs – pit bulls specifically. You can’t judge people by their exterior and you certainly can’t pass judgment on dogs based on how they look.”

By Michael Mountain
Top photo by Beth Cardwell Photography
Photos of three pit bulls by Melissa Lipani

Friday, June 3, 2011

Video du Jour

                                          LOVE this!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Video du Jour

"On July 12, we will walk... 100 Miles for Pit Bulls. Starting in the North/Western part of the Denver Metro Area, we will circumnavigate the city to promote Pit Bulls as a breed, to debunk the urban legend of what a pit bull is and what it is not, to promote responsible ownership of Pit Bulls and all animals, and to bring awareness to the community of Denver's 22 year ban/ slaughter of Pit Bulls... in the name of support in over-turning this illogical and ineffective law."

Pitbulls Deserve Just As Much Love As Other Dogs

Bad reputations a reflection of the owners, not the breed.

Mention Pit Bulls or Pit Bull mixes and many people cringe.

These dogs get the worst raps, yet 99 percent of them are sweet, loving, smart and so loyal.

“It’s the owner, not the dog” applies to this dog more than any other breed when they are maligned and feared. Their fierce loyalty and bright nature is a flaw when the wrong person teaches them to fight and hate.

Pity the Pit Bull for being the perfect target for many angry young men who fight them and use them as fear mongers. These dogs are lovers, not fighters!

In the past five years, a groundswell of support has swept over this country as pit bulls are being rescued, rehabbed and even turned into therapy dogs. The hit TV show, "The Dog Whisperer", features many pit bulls, including Daddy, the huge sweet Pittie who helps Caesar Milan train all sort of dogs.

Rachel Ray’s dog, Isaboo, is the inspiration for her line of dog food. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah (www.bestfriends.org) rescues dozens of pit bulls, including half of Michael Vick’s dogs. Pit rescues are springing up all across the country.

Watch the YouTube video from a rescue called Big Hearts for Big Dogs. If this doesn’t change your mind about the temperament of Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes, nothing will. What you will witness is the astonishing ability of this breed to forgive, trust and still love after horrendous abuse.

Interested in pit bulls a little now? Almost every shelter has some, while there are also breed rescues that specialize in pits if you Google Pit Bull rescues.

Do not be afraid of Pit Bulls! You are denying yourself the true pleasure of knowing an incredible breed if you automatically walk away from them at a shelter or rescue group. I worked with many of them at Save-a-Pet as a volunteer animal massage therapist, and they are amazingly sweet!

Information compiled by Barbara Cooke