Hello everyone! It’s National Pitbull Awareness Day–woot! Now, I know this has nothing to do with my usual blog subjects (reading, writing, publishing, etc.), but I could not let such an important occasion go unmarked.
The reason is that pitbulls suffer a great deal of negative attention in the media. This leads to the absorption of stereotypes, misinformation, and plain ol’ prejudice. As a result, thousands of wonderful dogs are killed, beaten, maimed, tortured (yes, sorry I had to go there), and put to sleep every year. Thousands more languish in shelters, never to be taken to the “forever homes” they so richly deserve.
The truth about pitbulls
My first experience with pitbulls was as a volunteer for The Jersey Animal Coalition (JAC). The JAC sees a lot of pitbulls come into the shelter because of its proximity to the cities of Newark and East Orange. Unfortunately, these locales boast a lot of dogfights. But as a volunteer, I immediately fell in love with the pitbull’s power, beauty, and . . . silliness! Perhaps no breed better personifies the joie de vivre of dogs more than the pitbull.
Some say that they are naturally aggressive dogs, which is why they’re used for fighting. This is patently untrue. Any dog, from the tiniest Chihuahua to the largest Great Dane, can be trained to be aggressive. Pitbulls are really used for fighting because they are strong, energetic, and (ironically) very loyal to their owners. People-loving is definitely ingrained in this breed. Therefore, if an owner trains their pitbull to attack, the pitbull will do so. But the fault lies with the owner, not the dog. The dog doesn’t know any better.
By the way, it would actually be really hard to find an aggressive Great Dane. They’re not called “the gentle giants” for nothing! Seriously, folks–they’re like sloths on stilts.
But negative rumors about pitbulls persist, leading to breed-specific laws that bar ownership. This keeps these animals out of neighborhoods to which they never posed threats. Families are torn apart by the loss of dogs wrongly deemed “dangerous.” Hearing such stories just breaks my heart.
What can YOU do to help pitbulls?
So for National Pitbull Awareness Day, learn all you can about pitbulls and their supporters. Before you say a bad word about either, get the facts. Don’t cave in to ignorant, knee-jerk reactions that do more harm than good.
Want to know more about these gorgeous, loveable, and highly-intelligent animals? Maybe make a donation for a stray dog’s vet care, or for outreach programs? If so, visit these sites:
- BadRap.org (this is my favorite pitbull site. VERY well put-together, informative, and fun!)
Already have a pitbull and want to help build a better breed reputation? Make sure your dog is a glambassador! Enroll them in training classes so they’ll have outstanding dog manners wherever they go. There’s no better way to win over the public than by having your dog behave perfectly in public.
What about you, readers? What have your experiences been with these marvelous and oft-maligned dogs? Tell me in the comments!
(Top image by Pretty Poo Eater. Hey, don’t blame me–that’s the name!)
P.S. I was actually going to include a scene on the horrors of dogfighting in my middle-grade fantasy novel, The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt. Unfortunately, I had to remove it for space considerations. But you can see the original outtake here (don’t worry–it’s mostly dialogue, and not at all graphic).