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Thank you so much for the outpour of support and good energy we received yesterday regarding our open letter to Denver Mayor, Michael Hancock. This community is beyond amazing and we appreciate so much the feedback you provided in addition to all the letters and e-mails sent to Denver representatives on our behalf, and all the Instagram and Facebook shares as well. The bill to reverse the breed specific ban goes back to the city council on February 25th and we hope our efforts were enough to garner the attention of all of the council members. We are just a small piece in a very big band of advocates and together we’ll beat BSL one day.
Everything that has happened in Denver this past week got me thinking that maybe we’d turn this into our very own Pit Bull Awareness Week. I stumbled upon a comment on social media yesterday that proved to me just how hateful and divisive the “pit bull conversation” has become. In response to someone defending pit bulls on Facebook, someone else called them “trash dogs.” For someone who has worked in dog rescue in a variety of capacities over the last decade, having worked primarily with pit bull-type dogs.. It’s difficult to wrap my head around such hatred over innocent creatures.
I’m reminded of a situation I found myself in with my own bully breed. About a year ago I was walking my Staffordshire Terrier-mix when a man on a bicycle stopped about 10 feet in front of us and shouted at me to please cross the street to avoid crossing paths with my dog. I did not cross the street, but I did move him to my other side so the man on his bike would pass next to me, instead of my dog. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of anything so I kept things polite. As he passed he shouted back at me…. “You’d better be careful. I know the damage those dogs can do and he’ll eventually turn on you.” I’ll be honest, it took me weeks to shake the heavy sadness I felt. I have to work twice as hard to ensure my bully breed is always on his best behavior, only for people to see what they want to see. To many they’ll always be mean, dangerous and aggressive bullies. The best we can do is continue to advocate and educate in hopes that people will see the truth.
We often hear what a tragedy it is that pit bull-type dogs are referred to as bullies and the change in perception needs to start there. But the truth is, it is a misconception among society that they’re referred to as bullies because of their temperaments. It has nothing to do with personality or temperament. While the term “bully breed” is often used as an informal phrase to describe a number of dog breeds that share a range of physical traits, they’re actually called bullies because of their historical lineage of being working dogs for bull-baiting in the 19th century.
Bully breeds descended from a now extinct breed called the Molosser, which was a large and powerful dog used for protection and guarding in ancient Greece. Today, the various bully breed we know and love are among several other dog breeds that are all believed to be descendants from the same root stock. They all display physical and character similarities to the original Molosser and were typically used for guarding livestock.
The word “bully” carries weight in our society and the general definition known by the masses is a negative one. Ironically enough, it is also defined as an expression of admiration or approval when used as an adjective. The point however is that referring to dogs as “bully breeds” is not a bad thing. That’s what they are.
The change in perception has to start with knowledge. There is a lot of bad information that circulates the internet and it is very easy to get caught up in the hysteria. Pit bull-type dogs are not bullies in the most general sense of the word, and they’re certainly not “trash dogs.”