Kelly Ripa asked what I’m sure was an honest question on her part while interviewing Christopher Walken about his new movie, “Seven Psychopaths.” What she didn’t realize at the time was how inflammatory and ignorant her question was to pit bull and bully breed owners watching her show. October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month with October 27 set aside as National Pit Bull Awareness Day. Both were started to educate people and the media about a group of dogs that have been misrepresented for years, and promote the positive image bully breed owners know and love.
Right or wrong, human nature can find what’s bad in people and animals far too often. If a neighborhood home is broken into, the usual suspect is someone who spent time in jail for petty theft. Wolves are accused of stealing a calf if a rancher discovers one missing, and a neighborhood pit bull is always in the middle of dog attacks, according to media hype. Accusations are always louder than the facts, once the truth is discovered. However, the damage has already been done because most people never see the story of an acquittal of a person or animal. In the minds of pit bull critics, the dog is as evil as the wolf. Their goal is to continue to spread unfounded rumors and misinformation to keep fear in the hearts of the uninformed. National Pit Bull Awareness Month brings attention to a specific group of dogs that are loved and cherished by dog owners who know them well, despite the biased and ignorant chatter of critics.
When news of Michael Vick’s horrible abuse of his dogs began to hit the airwaves and newspaper headlines, dog lovers were stunned by his lack of compassion and acts of violence towards his dogs he so viciously killed. We were introduced to the world of dog fighting in a way that took our breath away. Critics of pit bulls, however, delighted in pointing out the aggressiveness of pits as proof of why these dogs are so dangerous. In reality, pit bulls have never been bred to be aggressive towards people and that’s one reason why these dogs are used in a dog fighting ring. Even unconscionable people understand the positive characteristics of the pit bull works to their advantage.
Unfortunately, whenever the media reports on dog attacks, the actions of a dog, which is usually a pit bull according to their reporting, is sensationalized because that’s what grabs people’s attention. Reporters aren’t nearly as quick to do a story about a friendly pit bull visiting a local hospital in her role as a therapy dog. We don’t see nearly as many pictures of kids in a hospital undergoing cancer treatment hugging a bully type dog sitting on their bed or a senior in a nursing home reaching out their hand to pet a bully type dog sitting at their feet.
The image of pit bulls has never been tarnished by the dog. It’s people like Michael Vick who have exploited and abused these dogs for profit and their own amusement. It’s irresponsible owners who won’t or can’t properly train and control their dogs, and it’s a media bias against the pit bull who only want to report on dog attacks if a witness can say the dog was a pit bull, even if it wasn’t. Most of the time, not even dog experts can correctly identify a pit bull.
National Pit Bull Awareness Day was started in 2007 by Jodi Preis of Bless the Bullys, a pit bull rescue and education group in the middle Tennessee area. It’s one day to put out positive media attention about pit bulls and bully breeds in an effort to educate and hopefully change perceptions about bully breeds. A day for pit bull owners to cry out for justice for their dogs who have done nothing to earn the bad rap pinned on them by uneducated people who defend their actions with fear rather than facts.
Because pit bulls belong to a group of dogs and is not a dog breed, you won’t find the American Pit Bull Terrier listed on an AKC list of most popular dog breeds. However, pit bulls are popular and sit in the top three spot in 28 states. Responsible owners who do everything right should not be punished because of someone else’s fear and bias towards an innocent dog. Pit bulls and bully breeds should not be taken from their families and killed because someone, like Michael Vick, enjoyed torturing his dogs in a dog fighting ring. A child’s dog should never be ripped from her heart because a city didn’t have the courage to pass sensible laws to deal with bad owners and instead opted for breed specific legislation that doesn’t work and is costly to enforce.
Michael Vick’s dogs were well trained fighting dogs, he made sure of that. However, most of his dogs were rehabilitated and 10 of them have received Canine Good Citizenship awards, which is a testament to the true temperament of the pit bull and bully breeds.
Celebrate National Pit Bull Awareness Month and day with positive images of pit bulls. Speak out and give a voice to a group of dogs that have been unfairly demonized for far too long.
Unintended Consequences of Breed Specific Laws
Pit Bulls Were Once America’s Babysitter
An Ancient Group of Dog Breeds-The Molosser Dogs