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« 5 day old infant killed by dog in Conyers, GA | Main | Putting a wrap on Pet Dental Health Month »

February 26, 2010

Comments

Ellen

Another great blog, Brent. My story, too. Knew little about pibbles, but loved medium-large dogs, esp. labbies & GSDs. Went to help at Best Friends' camp in MS with the Katrina animals. Found self surrounded by pitbulls. Found self deeply in love. Now sleep with a pitbull every night! In the case of pitbulls, familiarity tends to breed love, love, love! And lots of smooches, too.

Jacqueline

Gosh this was very lovely and very thoughtful. When I was in high school, my dad and I decided we wanted to bring a pit bull into our home. My mother was petrified. My little sister was just 9 and the time, and my mom was positive she would be eaten by the viscous beast. Six years and 78lbs of pit bull love later, my mom adores Jade (and pitties in general!) as much as anyone. My dad and I are crazier about pits than ever, and my sister is an educated advocate for the breed throughout her high school. I personally am now the director of the End Dogfighting in Milwaukee program after falling head over heels for the breed. In short, "Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn."

Excellent post. Thanks!

Barb

You've hit the nail on the head (again) :-)
And "most people who think they are afraid of 'pit bulls' have limited, or zero, experience being around these types of dogs" is not only true, but can be generalized to apply to people who want to ban or overly legislate other types of pets, or animal keeping.
In other words, it seems that the less direct experience a person has with something, the more likely they are to form a strong opinion AGAINST it.
Whether it's pitbulls, or farm animal husbandry methods, or hunting, or breeding dogs, or almost anything else you can think of.
It's just a shame that our legislators - who obviously cannot be expert on everything and must rely on the opinions of others to direct their voting - tend to listen to the passionate-but-uninformed even more than the true experts.

Pibble

Over the summer, an older gentleman and his lady friend were in our shelter to adopt a cat. As she was completing the paperwork, he and I were chatting in the hallway. He peeked in one of the rooms and said "that's a good looking dog; some kind of hound?" and I said "oh, that's our sweet Melody. She's a Pit Bull." He immediately blanched. Melody was licking his hand and he pulled his arm out of the room as if his hand had been dipped in acid. I told him it was okay, she's a really sweet dog who lived with children, another dog, and a cat. The owners had to give her up because they were moving to an apartment which doesn't allow dogs.

"Oh, no, those dogs are vicious. They kill. They attack for no reason."

I calmly asked him where he learned this information and if he's ever met any other Pit Bulls before. He admitted to only knowing what he'd read in the newspaper or heard on the news.

I invited him into the room, and he spent more time with Melody, who is a perfect breed ambassador. I told him a few stories about Pits, what they could be like, how they're not for everyone, and how every story has two sides, particularly the story of Pit Bulls... I don't know if I converted him, but I think I gave him food for thought.

Sometimes, that's the best part of my volunteer work.

Becky

I was looking for a companion for my dog when I met a foster parent w/ an adoptable puppy at the dog park. I had no reaction or opinion, positive or negative, when she told me the pup was a pit mix. (and I didn't think she was very 'cute').

I'd heard of pit bull bans, but never thought much about it. I don't think I'd ever heard all the horror stories some of you had heard.

It seems that at the time, St Bernards were about the only dog I might fear, or possibly mastiffs which I had believed killed the lady at that apartment building. (turns out they were Presas)

Anyway, I decided to adopt this puppy because she was so affectionate and was a good match w/ my active, rough housing mutt.

It was not until I decided to adopt this particular puppy that the negative feedback started coming in. And the first was from the shelter itself.

Because I was denied the adoption by the shelter, because of a ban in my city, at first I just went home sad and began looking for other dogs.

As it turns out, I eventually decided I WAS, in fact, going to adopt the pup BECAUSE of the feedback I got from the shelter. I realized she needed a home without little children to maul, where she would never be chained or tied up, or could not be stolen as 'bait', which the shelter told me was a risk.

Fortunately, when I adopted her, I don't think my family or anyone that I knew had any preconceptions or prejudices about this breed.

I think my next statement is probably the most important:

I think this proves that one has to be purposely propagandized to reach all those negative beliefs.

As Brent said, people w/ these stereotyped opinions have had no experience w/ this breed. Luckily, neither my family nor I had had been fully propagandized before the adoption or it probably wouldn't have happened.

Because of the stories I started reading and hearing AFTER the adoption, when she slept with me, I often wondered if I might wake up w/ a monster mauling me. I wondered if I would see any signs of her 'turning'. I also worried about her attacking my other dog and for a long time, wondering what I would do if she did.

Now, my greatest fear is that she will decide to sleep somewhere other than against my back. (she's almost hot)

So far, the worst thing that has happened because of her is that my family gets annoyed at her constant greed for attention and affection. She steals all of it from my other dog. She will not stop kissing and will not give up on getting onto their laps when they are here.

She'd need a much calmer owner than I to be a real ambassador, plus much better training. But all those who know her (family and folks at the park) love her and already know to be aware that at any moment, whe will jump up to their face w/ that ever eager tongue out to steal a kiss.

Valerie

Several years ago, I was working at an offsite adoption at a shopping mall. A local photographer had made notecards with pictures of dogs and cats for us to sell as a fundraiser at these events. One featured a cute white and tan short-haired dog with an ear-to-ear grin and tongue lolling out. A teenage girl picked up that card and said "what a cute dog! what breed is it?". I replied 'pit bull', at which point, she looked horrified and recoiled from the picture as if she expected it to suddenly attack! Talk about fear-mongering getting totally out of hand!

Nichole

Absolutely agree with you Brent. That's been my experience as well. Folks who are terrified of pitties usually have zero experience with them.

That's one reason why Indy Pit Crew makes such an effort to get our pitties out in the public eye. Some of our volunteers host monthly walks in public places. We have an annual "Bully March" and we organize a big team for the Humane Society of Indianapolis's "Mutt Strut".

I love taking my pittie places and having him win over every person he meets. I encourage all people with well socialized pit bulls to do the same.

Until people get to meet these dogs in public, enjoying their friends and owners like any normal dog, they will continue to be perceived as some mythical monster breed.

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