Almost without fail every time I take my dogs for a walk someone (if not multiple people) say something like, “Wow, is that a pit bull?” or “Oh, that’s a pit bull, isn’t it?!” referring to Maggie and ignoring the other two dogs. I always respond with something like, “They’re my rescues, aren’t they great!?” Remember this post about just calling them “rescues” or something like that? I still love it and am pleased when I am able to politely dodge their question and reply with something cute instead. But then I’ll get home from that walk and check my google alerts. For every one alert I have set up to flag a variety of different topics, I get literally ten about pit bulls. (I have it set to give me ten per day per topic, I only wish I was exaggerating this since they are almost always negative!) So then I post a cute picture of Maggie on Instagram with something like #mypitbullisalover #notafighter but guess what? #I’mFeedingIntoTheProblem!
I recognized once before that my good intentions were in fact adding to the problem and I talked about it here. It’s a good read for anyone that means well by saying, “It’s all in how they’re raised!” and I would recommend taking a peek at it. I also recently read a fantastic article about a former “pit bull” rescue that realized their community was beginning to view pit bulls in a positive light so they dropped “pit bull” entirely from their mission and now just focus on rescuing all dogs and educating the public on responsible pet ownership. It occurred to them that if they continued to focus on just pit bulls, all the attention could undo what they had accomplished. Check it out here. But then I read this article by And Foster Makes Five and literally hung my head in shame. Uh oh, guilty as charged! If you stop reading this post right now and head over to read AFM5’s piece I would be happy as a clam, because she says it perfectly, and much better than I will. Go on, I’ll wait.
It was great, right? And makes SO much sense, right? I fear that we have almost made pit bulls too popular. “But that should be a great thing!” you say. Well yes and no. The reason it is concerning to me is directly linked to the incredible number of pit bull stories in the news, which I am fully aware of because of those google alerts I was talking about earlier. Did you know there is no standard definition of what a “pit bull” is? Click here for an absolutely fantastic article that illustrates beautifully how varied the definition of a “pit bull” can be. Imagine this scenario: a dog bite occurs. The first reporter on the scene asks around about the type of dog involved and no one could give them a definitive answer. A couple of people mention it had a “big head” and was “muscular”. The reporter doesn’t know much about breeds. They think back to all the other stories they’ve heard about dog fighting and pit bull attacks and decide that this must have been a pit bull, too. And there you have it, another negative “pit bull” story makes it to the news. The dog very well could have any other breed but it doesn’t matter. The damage is done.
So what’s my point in all this? Basically exactly what Stephanie was saying in her post. Let’s stop victimizing pit bulls and coming off as coo-coo pit bull fanatics which is just pushing away those that aren’t sure yet how they feel about the breed. I don’t know about you, but the quickest way to get me to either tune out or disregard what someone with an opposing view point has to say, is for them to be loud, obnoxious, or worst of all, come off as uneducated or pushy. Am I saying we should all go into hiding with our pit bulls so that they are never seen? Never share a picture on Facebook or Instagram? Never write a positive pit bull story on our blogs? Of course not! But I for one am going to stop using things like #lovernotfighter and instead do my best to always focus on being passively positive. That’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? “Passively Positive”. I’m not going to scream and shout to anyone within a 10 mile radius that pit bulls are the greatest thing since sliced bread. I am just going to continue writing pieces and sharing pictures of all the wonderful dogs I encounter, pit bull and everything else alike.