There are so many myths out there about pit bulls, it’s enough to make one’s stomach churn.
Here’s the problem. You have a type of dog that is large, strong, and to some may have an intimidating look about them. People who have never been around a pit bull will turn around and run the other way. People who are always around pit bulls will approach a stranger’s pit bull with arms out, hearts literally pouring out of their eyes, rainbows spewing out of their mouths. They see through the “scary” and admire the tail wag that could wipe your skin right off it’s bone.
Shelters are flooded with pit bulls. Since they are currently the dog right now that the media likes to negatively portray, only a certain type of person will go for this certain type of dog.
As most people (if not everyone) knows, I am around pit bulls a lot. A. LOT. Heck, I have a pit bull mix that sleeps on my couch, or in-between my husband and I (under the covers), whose biggest threat is her capability and drive to lick you to death. Her best friend is my 14 month old son and her biggest enemy are SQUIRRELS.
I am heavily involved in the pit bull community. I volunteer every week at the shelter where I train to rehabilitate homeless pit bulls. I’d estimate that 90% of the dogs at our shelter are pit mixes. I follow groups, I advocate every day. When I take my dog out in public, I am advocating for her and her fellow pittie mixes just by having a conversation with someone that’s never been around any type of pit mix.
One thing that really bothers me sometimes about both being in the pit bull world, and being involved in rescue is a certain little phrase that most people mean well saying, but it’s so far from the truth. It really hurts the pit bull type dog rather than helps them.
“It’s all about how they are raised”.
Nope, it’s not. Sorry!
Most dogs down at the shelter come from EXTREME, extreme abuse cases. Most are neglected. Most are so emaciated you don’t know how they are standing on two feet. Some of them come in as strays. Little to nothing is known about this dogs past or “how they are raised”.
Take the Michael Vick dog fighting dogs for example. 51 dogs. These 51 dogs were deemed “the most dangerous, vicious dogs in America”. They were “raised” in terrible conditions. Most dogs that end up in shelters are. They are neglected. They are left for dead. They are fought until the death. They are used as bait dogs. All of their teeth are removed so they cannot stand up for themselves in order to train another dog to fight harder.
Some were caught on fire while alive. Some witnessed other dogs being hung because they didn’t fight good enough. They were whipped. They were abused. They bit, they were bitten.
47 of the 51 dogs went to live in sanctuaries. The majority of them were able to be fully rehabilitated and placed in loving homes with families and children. Many of them spent their lives becoming therapy dogs.. THERAPY DOGS(!!). They are a true ambassador for their breed; for their resilience and ability to overcome the negative and not dwell on the past but look forward to the future.
“Dogs from these situations never knew love or kindness. They were for fighting or used as bait. If this myth were true, these dogs would never have been able to be deemed worthy of adoption. Yet all over the US neglected dogs are rehabilitated and given second chances.”
Saying “it’s all how they are raised” is a huge injustice to the pit bull type dog. It’s taking the vast majority of these dogs and putting the idea in people’s heads that if they didn’t raise them from a puppy, they will never be a good dog. This is so far from the truth. I have met a couple senior dogs who have been severely abused and neglected most of their lives, who bounced around from abusive home to abusive home and ultimately (luckily) landed themselves at the shelter. Once they finally got their hands on a good home, they are immediately the happiest and most loving dogs on earth.
We have to realize that dogs live IN THE PRESENT. They don’t dwell on the past. They don’t have the thought process humans have, and they can’t think about what happened to them in the past. They don’t and can’t dwell on the past. They live in the present.
Dogs are a direct reflection of the present moment they are in. They either like things or don’t like things. Dogs either get along with other dogs or they don’t. Dogs either like being around kids or they don’t. They don’t make decisions based on something that happened to them years ago.
So, when you or someone you know are in the market to add another dog to your family, remember this. Rescue dogs are so thankful to just be given the bare necessities of shelter, food, and water. When talking to potential adopters about adding a pit bull to their family, choose your words wisely.
Saying “it’s all how they’re raised” is more likely to hurt pit bulls rather than help them.