A Letter to Pit Bull Owners
Dear Owners of Pit Bulls,
I own a Pit Bull too.
Just like our dogs, we all come in different shapes and sizes. We come from different walks of life and cultures, but we all have one thing in common. We own one of the most controversial pets in the world.
If you're like me, you adopted a Pit Bull because it was a sweet, family-oriented dog that needed a home and you fell in love. However, you didn't really understand that becoming a Pit Bull parent puts you in a new world - one of advocacy, but also very strong debate. You were not aware of all the road blocks that were to come like the government or public opinion.
If you are unlike me, you adopted a Pit Bull because you wanted a tough-looking dog or you wanted to participate in fighting sports for pleasure and/or money.
I was renting in Nashville, Tennessee when I adopted my girl, Cami. I didn't realize that you couldn't rent with Pit Bulls so it fast-tracked my plans of buying a home. Which I, very fortunately, was able to do at the time. And like many bully breed owners, I began a journey of educating myself on where these dogs came from and why Pit Bull owners own them for such dramatically different ends of a "why I want this type of dog" spectrum. I, personally, have never heard of a domesticated animal that stirs so much controversy, legislation and media hype than our Pit Bulls.
It's been 5 years since I adopted my dog and I have done so much research and had so many different conversations with other owners and skeptics about this dog we all own. And I have come to the conclusion that Pit Bulls are not the reason for this diversity, but it's the owners.
We are to blame for the controversy of this dog.
Our dogs are super loyal and are so people-focused that they will do anything to please their owners. They are truly a reflection of us. And let's be honest, we really do own this dog for very different reasons. I thought long and hard about how I shouldn't write this because it's so controversial, but it needs to be said because....
Pit Bull owners are ultimately responsible for representing and educating others about our dogs.
A PLEA TO PIT BULL OWNERS
I think it's unlikely that anything I write on a public blog post about pets is going to reach an audience that is involved with fighting Pit Bulls. And although I want to convince all of those owners to stop dog fighting, this plea is not tailored to you.
I've lost count to how many times I have met and immediately bonded with people at parks where we both have our dogs with us. We talk about how much we love the dogs, and then it happens. These people I meet start saying false things about Pit Bulls.
At first it was frustrating. After it a few years, I felt defensive, but now I just want to stay positive. Because, positivity, above all else, is what this controversy needs.
My plea to Pit Bull owners is best outlined in a list. (I love lists).
- Understand and communicate that 'Pit Bull' is a broad term and it's not a bad term. This post sums this up perfectly: So What is a Pit Bull Exactly?
- Don't let "fear the owner, not the breed" be an actual thing. I used to get really defensive when people would bash our dogs. It's really unproductive. Especially online.
- Educate yourself on the dog that you own!
- Wisdom Panels (Dog DNA tests) are a great way to understand the true lineage of your dog. The shelter is not always right and, again, Pit Bull is a broad term.
- Understand that the statistics around our dogs are actually really hard to find. So many dogs are wrongly categorized as Pit Bulls that true data is arguably non-existent. However, I do have recommendations on where to learn the latest and greatest...
- Facts about Pit Bulls are really hard to find, but these resources and non-profits are doing a great job talking about this controversy.
- Share, share, share those lighthearted moments and pictures of how great Pit Bulls are. A classic "show me, don't tell me" approach of influencing public opinion is to simply show everyone. I can't tell you how many times people have said they didn't understand how sweet Pit Bulls actually were until they met one.
- Share online
- Take your dog out in public! (Depending on your cities legislation, of course).
- Most importantly, do all of this POSITIVELY. One way that people are going to have a positive association with Pit Bulls is to have a positive association with their owners.
Overall, I like to think that we all have good intentions for our dogs. We love them so, so much. However, I often fantasize about a day where my dog is treated like most other dogs and there are no more signs at dog parks that say, "No Pit Bulls Allowed." There's a lot that Pit Bull parents have to worry about and I would love for this unnecessary worry to go away. The best way to influence this is with numbers and popular opinion. I think the foundation of reaching this point is championing for our pets positively and accurately.
With love from,
Another Pit Bull parent.