"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, November 14, 2011

Titans Free Safety Michael Griffin Joins Effort to Embrace Pit Bulls

Michael Griffin of the Titans says he enjoys traveling to shows with his American Bullies, spending time with people who really know the breed and want to educate those who don't.
Tennessee Titans free safety Michael Griffin is known for his drive to win in football stadiums.

But he is also competitive in the dog show arena.

Out of the four dogs Griffin owns, three happen to be pit bulls. If the image of dog fighting comes to mind, this is the farthest thing from it.

“In my offseason, I travel around to different shows with my American Bullies,” he said. “It’s something that I enjoy doing — spending time with people like myself who really know this breed and want to educate people.”

The Brentwood resident is also throwing his support behind Nashville PITTIE, which stands for Pit Bull Initiative to Transform Image and Educate. The advocacy group is sponsoring a pit bull awareness day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 107 S. 11th St. in Nashville, the lot beside Bongo Java. There will be music, a parade, contests, training tips and opportunities to adopt pit bulls. If he gets out of practice in time, Griffin plans to be there with one of his dogs.

Pit bulls have a reputation as an aggressive breed. It didn’t help matters when NFL quarterback Michael Vick served time in jail for his role in a dog fighting ring.

“I don’t really know a lot about that case, so I really can’t say anything about it, except to say that everybody makes mistakes. And people have to pay for their mistakes,” Griffin said.

Part of the problem with the public image of the pit bull is that many people focus on only what they hear about the breed. Some neighborhood homeowner associations and municipalities have banned pit bull ownership.

As a kid, Griffin always wanted a Rottweiler, but he never was able to convince his parents to take one in. When he was in college, he pulled a fast one on his folks when he returned home with a dog he said was a blue Lab. It wasn’t until after his parents fell in love with the dog that they realized their son had a pit bull. Now, his parents own two pit bulls, Shack and Honey.

“All dogs have teeth. It’s all in how you raise them,” Griffin said.

Written by Bonnie Burch

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