Dogs categorized under the label “Pit Bull” — a term used to describe American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and mixes — face an unbelievable amount of discrimination. They’ve been unfairly stereotyped as dangerous or aggressive, are banned by landlords and even entire cities through breed-specific laws, and have been subjected to horrific abuse at the hands of those who exploit them for the dog fighting industry.
In shelters, dogs labeled as Pit Bulls or Pit Bull mixes can be overlooked simply because of their breed, without people even taking time to meet the dogs or learn about their personalities. Dogs are often labeled as Pit Bulls simply based on looks alone, but one study of 120 dogs at four different shelters found that less than half of the dogs given that label didn’t even carry the DNA of breeds that fall under the Pit Bull label. It’s why some shelters are choosing to remove breed labels altogether, in hopes that people will focus on personality instead.
All dogs are individuals, but because of the stereotypes attached to these loving and loyal dogs, both they and their guardians are forced to face challenges no family should have to endure. Thankfully, there are advocates working to break stereotypes, promote change through programs and advocacy efforts, and provide resources that help keep Pit Bulls and their families together.
1. The American Pit Bull Foundation
Between stories about dog fighting and dog bites, the negative publicity Pit Bulls receive in mainstream media give all dogs classified as “pits” a bad rap. Because of this, the American Pit Bull Foundation is working to help change public perception, give people the tools they need to be responsible pet guardians and advocate against discriminatory breed-specific legislation.
In addition to their efforts in the community, the organization’s Positive Pit Care School Program uses therapy-certified Pit Bulls from their Pit Crew to teach children about compassion towards animals and how to be a responsible pet guardian. They cover topics such as dog safety, pet overpopulation, and breed identification. They also work to help save the estimated 4,000 Pit Bulls euthanized every day by training rescued dogs to be service dogs for veterans.
2. Animal Farm Foundation
Animal Farm Foundation/Facebook
As an organization dedicated to rescuing, re-homing through the shelter, and advocating for Pit Bull-type dogs, Animal Farm Foundation works to break stereotypes by helping people see dogs as individuals, instead of defining them by breed. Their recent #ItsBullAwareness campaign used a spokes-dog named Stanley to show that dogs see themselves as just dogs and that it’s humans who put the labels on them.
The organization also helps others advocating for Pit Bulls by providing grants and educational materials to help aid in their efforts. Another program, Detection Dogs, works to place dogs from Austin Pets Alive! shelters through special Universal K9 training to help the dogs become certified in detection work. The canine graduates have gone on to work in schools for drug detection and to serve as official police dogs.
The plight of Pit Bulls in the San Francisco Bay Area inspired the founders of BADRAP to help save Pit Bull-type dogs and provide valuable resources for their guardians. To help the number of dogs dying in shelters, they work with rescue organizations across the U.S. to provide educational resources that can help with training and behavior, both of which are an important part of dogs finding adoptive homes.
To help dogs once they’re adopted, the organization’s owner support programs help provide free behavioral advice and medical care for Pit Bull guardians. And when families are in times of crisis, their Keep’em Home Project provides pet guardians with resources for housing challenges, financial help for veterinary care, and temporary animal sheltering while they look for Pit Bull-friendly housing.
4. My Pit Bull Is Family
My Pit Bull is Family/Facebook
For families who already have Pit Bulls or are hoping to adopt one, finding housing can be a challenge. Not only do rental properties have breed restrictions, but homeowners struggle to find insurance coverage. Families are also pushed out of their communities when breed-specific legislation is passed. Knowing that a lack of housing can sometimes force families to have to part with their beloved companions, My Pit Bull is Family created a nationwide housing database of non-discriminatory housing so families can stay together.
The organization is also working to end breed discrimination in the community and provide resources to help keep all family pets safe. Their newest program focuses on canine interaction training to teach police officers about canine behavior and body language. Since Pit Bulls are often perceived as a threat simply based on their looks, teaching officers how to handle canine interactions can help prevent situations where unnecessary force is used against animals, and help keep both dogs and humans safe.
Learn more about Pit Bull advocacy by checking out these other articles from One Green Planet:
- Invented Fear and Justice We Wrongly Place on Pit Bulls
- 5 Common Myths That Fuel Wrongful Stigmas Against Pit Bulls
Lead image source: pixabay