National Pit Bull Awareness Day was established in 2007 as a nationwide effort to bring positive awareness and attention to the American Pit Bull Terrier and their responsible owners, established by Bless the Bullys, a non-profit rescue and education effort in Tennessee. This idea took off like wildfire, and in 2011 the entire month of October was designated as National Pit Bull Awareness Month.
Today, I live with a friendly, adorable, shelter-rescued Pitty, so every day is Pit Bull Awareness Day at my house! Her name is Bailey, and she’s a big 77lb, happy girl whose tail never stops wagging! She is always smiling and believes she’s a lapdog. Whether you love Pit Bulls or not, I hope you’ll take a moment to reflect on what they mean and why they matter.
Pit Bulls were once a proud American icon, known to be war heroes, movie stars, police dogs, therapy dogs, service dogs, and nannies. While Pits are amazingly loyal companions, over time the actions of a few that have taken the qualities like loyalty, strength, and an eagerness to please, and used them in a negative way. This has caused the entire breed to be criticized across the world.
The Pit Bull is more than a dog, they are a symbol. One hundred years ago they stood for American pride and patriotism, appearing in World War I propaganda posters as the embodiment of fearless canine courage. They were well-cared-for family dogs and a trusted friends of children.
What a difference a century makes! Today, the Pit Bull is the most abused, exploited, and misunderstood dog in the world! Since they are misunderstood, they have also become feared and loathed. Many people’s first reaction when they see a Pit Bull is to walk away. The Pit’s reversal of fortune could befall any dog (and, if you look at the history of the German Shepherd and Doberman, it already has)
In a tragic twist of irony, it’s the dog’s extreme loyalty that gets them in trouble. A Pit Bull will do anything for it’s owner; so, if a Pit belongs to a kind, compassionate person, he will enjoy a happy life as a sweet family dog. But if a Pit has the misfortune of belonging to an “evil” individual, they will suffer any number of terrible fates in the nightmare world of dogfighting. I think the world may have finally understood when the horrific evil doings at Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels were exposed for all to see.
Truth is that even severely mistreated Pit Bulls can be rehabbed with lots of TLC. Several of the former Vick dogs got a new lease on life as beloved family pets, and some work as therapy animals, spreading love, smiles, and cheer wherever they go. Smiles happens to be a Pit Bull specialty, it’s almost impossible to resist this dog’s happy, infectious grin.
Sadly, the media loves sensationalism and stories about “dogs who attack” and they make headlines. Too many people automatically assume that if something goes wrong that the Pit Bull is the one to blame, this needs to change right now!
Sadly, shelters are full with Pit Bulls. At some shelters, as many as 90 percent of the residents are Pits. In urban areas like New York City, municipal shelters like Animal Care and Control, are so overcrowded that Pit Bulls often get no more than 24 to 48 hours to live. For the short time these dogs are available, it seems potential adopters bypass their cages, afraid to give these sweet dogs a second chance because of the negative stereotypes they’ve seen and heard.
My Bailey was rescued from this same shelter back when she was a puppy. She was very sick with the parvovirus and would have been euthanized if not for the immediate rescue intervention of Rescue Dogs Rock NYC.
This is an extreme tragedy and a disgrace! and it will only end when enlightened dog lovers take positive action by adopting and fostering without delay. We are their voices, we must continue to stand up and speak up for these beautiful souls who cannot speak for themselves.
The fight to save Pit Bulls from dogfighting has only just begun. I hope you’ll join me and the millions of Pit Bull advocates out there in helping to raise awareness this month. Please consider adopting or fostering a Pit Bull from your local animal shelter/rescue. Believe me, the life you change will be your own!
Have you had an experience with a Pit Bull that’s made you loyal to this much-maligned dog? How will you be observing Pit Bull Awareness Month? Please share in the comments, I would love to hear from you!