‘Bullies’ need love too: Show your support on Pit Bull Awareness Day
Whether you blame Michael Vick, gangs or your nightly news, pit bulls often get a bad rap. The negative image of these animals is so bad that many cities and counties have imposed bans on, or large fines for, pit bull ownership.
A once beloved dog
There was a time, however, when pit bulls (and related breeds) weren’t feared and were even, dare we say, loved by the population. Fans of the TV show “Little Rascals,” for example, will recall the show’s beloved mascot Pete. Other famous pit bulls in history include General Patton’s dog Willie; Nipper, who became immortalized in the RCA logo; and Helen Keller’s pit bull, Sir Thomas.
Irresponsible breeding leads to negative reputation
So how did the pit bull, a dog so beloved throughout history, become associated with back-alley dog fights, gangs and other criminal activity? History of the breed shows us that the choice of pit pull as the ultimate fighting dog is no accident. The dogs are descendants of the original bull-baiting dogs, which were bred to bite and hold bulls and other large animals. The idea was for these dogs to hold onto the other animal until it tired out or lost too much blood. The sport of baiting large animals was banned in the 1800s, prompting owners to start fighting their dogs against each other instead.
With dog fighting growing in popularity, enthusiasts bred a lighter, more athletic animal, which eventually made its way to North America and became the pit bull we know today. However, not all pit bulls were used for fighting and were even considered ideal family pets. Unfortunately, as some owners began looking for tougher dogs, irresponsible breeders started producing puppies that were highly aggressive to both animals and people.
Awareness and activism offer new hope for troubled breed
Hoping to restore pit bulls to a more sterling reputation, Bless the Bullys, a pit bull rescue and education group in Middle Tennessee, launched National Pit Bull Awareness Day on Oct. 27, 2007. According to the organization’s website, the goal of the day is to educate the public about pit bulls, prevent breed bans and keep more of them out of animal shelters.
With caring and responsible ownership, pit bulls can make great pets. So visit your local animal shelter and consider adopting one today.