A Newfound Passion for Pit Bulls (and Other Bully Breeds)

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The BaxterBoo staff has signed up for the Furry Scurry, which is the nations largest pet dog walk that benefits the Denver Dumb Friends League, a shelter that has been serving our community for over 100 years! As the team lead, I was encouraging our staff to bring their dogs, dress them up, and just make it a super-fun day to benefit a great organization.

One of our fabulous warehouse guys, Jack, mentioned that he couldnt bring his dog because she is a pit bull, and they arent allowed in Denver. I had heard about this law, but never before had I personally felt its impact. While I have yet to meet his dog Emma, I know that Jack is quite smitten with her, even running home on lunch breaks to check on her well being. He gets all mushy, even as a tough guy, when he talks about his sweet dog.

This conversation inspired me to do a little research on the so called bully breeds to figure out what they are, and how they came to have such a bad rap, which has even inspired legislative bans against them.

The Bully Breeds:

You may be surprised as I was to learn that some of Americas most popular dogs fall into this category. Bully breeds are descended from an ancient Greek breed called the Molossers which were large, big-boned, muscular dogs with short muzzles. These Molossers were bred with other breeds such as the English bulldog and Mastiffs. Modern descendants include the American bulldog, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, the bull terrier, the boxer, the Boston terrier, the bulldog, the bullmastiff, the French bulldog, and the Staffordshire bull terrier. This list is not exhaustive, but it gives an idea of the scope of dogs under this bully designation.

Are They Really Bullies?

In addition to a history of these dogs being used for bull baiting, there has been a ton of media attention given towards many dogs generically identified as pit bulls that have been involved in illegal fight rings, gang intimidation tactics, mauling incidents, and even death. Myths and stereotypes have risen along with these sensationalized negative stories. Overzealous lawmakers have consequently painted many of these animals with a broad brush in a dog version of racial profiling with thousands of dogs losing their lives in Denver alone over the twenty years of its pit bull ban.

Turning the Tide: From Zero to Hero

To get a more realistic picture of what these dogs are like, we dont have to look very far. For example, boxers are listed as being in the top ten favored dog breeds currently, and one can see that they have similar genetics to the vilified pit bulls with their strong bodies and powerful jaws. But they have somehow escaped this fervent scrutiny.

In fact, for the first half of the 20thcentury, pit bulls were considered to be the ideal all-American dog, featured as decorated war heroes in the news, in pamphlets and posters from yesteryear. Helen Kellers guide dog was also a pit bull. Petey, the ever-loved pit bull from "Our Gang" and The Little Rascals was considered the smartest dog in Hollywood, and worked daily with children.

Today, pit bulls are often used for law enforcement as gifted narcotics detectors, with their strong sense of loyalty, intelligence, and strength. Additionally, many studies have been done that debunk the urban myths of locking jaws, swelling brains, imperviousness to pain, and bite strength.  In fact, bullies had less aggression than breeds like the beagle and collies in the in widespread tests conducted by the American Temperament Society in 2009.

Make a Difference

This little blog is just a tiny drop in an ocean of information out there about these amazing animals. I hope this has challenged you to learn more for yourself about the so-called bully breeds, and to research if adopting one could be a fit for you and your family. Like any dog, they require dedication from their owners to train and socialize them properly to be good dog citizens. If nothing else, educate yourself and those around you about the truth of these loyal, intelligent, agile friends, and support their owners by getting past the stereotypes.

Im looking forward to meeting Jacks pit bull Emma and hope to post pictures of them on our site soon. I have newfound respect and understanding for their plight and hope you will too. Eventually, together we can turn the tide and repeal these breed-specific bans. Maybe then youll see Jack and Emma participating in our local humane societys annual fundraiser walk for homeless animals. After all, no one needs a loving home more than the maligned pit bull!

Wed love to hear about your experiences with these breeds! And while youre at it, why not send us some fun photos of your pup dressed up in friendly outfits to counteract the negative images out there?

Featured photo by maplegirlie.

For more information, log on to dontbullymybreed.org.

As promised, here is a photo of Jack and Emma! (Posted 04/07/12)

This entry was posted by .
mountainlesli on April 5 at 12:14 PM said:

I too, am saddenned by the overwhelming "bad rap" that the bully breeds endure, and am constantly finding myself "educating" the public about them. It is so frustrating that people can be so certain about something, when they have no personal experience to draw from. An example of this, happened recently to me, when I was walking one of my shelter pitties, and a woman with her 2 children was walking toward me. When she saw us, she screamed to her daughter to "get in the car! get in the car!" Her daughter was so confused (she was probably 5), that she hesitated, and after her Mom screamed again, ran back around the car, and was sobbing without knowing what she had done, or why her Mother was screaming. This amazed me, and I wanted to shake this woman, knowing all too well, that her daughter would now remember this experience for years to come, and be afraid of "bully breeds". I can give so many examples like this, and can only continue to strive to show the public how wonderful and loving this breed can be, however, this week set us back many years, when a local woman went outside her yard to retrieve her garbage can, and was attacked by three pit bulls. She is still in the hospital, three days later, with horrific bites on her head, face, neck and all extremities, and had to undergo surgical procedures. We can only imagine what this will do to our already maligned reputation, and I can only wonder how and where we will go from here. I feel horrible that this woman had to endure this trauma, and can only imagine the nightmares she will most probably have for many years to come, and wonder to myself, how were these dogs raised? What in the world happened to them, that they would attack this woman, who was minding her own business in her own yard? Our shelters are full of "bully breed mixes", because so many people don't spay and neuter their dogs, and don't know the first thing about training, love, and boundaries with strong breeds, and this has only strengthened the argument against them. It is so frustrating. I foster these breeds for our local shelter, so that I can train and socialize them to what is acceptable in a normal household, but can only pray that the right person adopts them. So many young and tough men want these dogs,and keep them on heavy chains with padlocks around their necks, etc., that these dogs may have no chance of "normalcy". Maybe these dogs that attacked that woman, were just like those, but we may never know. All we can do is continue to educate, but our fight has only just begun in my community.
Gwen Catton on April 5 at 1:14 PM said:

I'd like you to meet some friends of mine, on line friends, but none the less ... friends :) First meet Rilind Reborn, this is a link to his Fb page. His page is very active, so clicking on "about" would be the best way to see his story. https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Rilind-Reborn/323392057681786 Next I'd like to introduce you to the Sisters .... the Pit Sisters :) Two of the most amazing people I've ever known. Again "about" probably the best way to learn more about them ... I realize they are not local for you .. nor are they for me ... but they have stolen my heart, and inspired me to stop crying about it, and get out there a do something about ! These ladies don't just "talk the talk" ... they "walk the walk" ! https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=283911768350730&id=178302632244978&ref=notif&notif_t=feed_comment#!/pages/Pit-Sisters/178302632244978
Jo-Ann on April 5 at 8:29 PM said:

there should be much better system when people want to buy pitbulls or any other dog,they need to screen them do what ever in takes to make these animals safe ,everyone must be aware if you see something speak up.omg as i am writng this the news just said anmals as pets just thrown out like trash.watch 11 oclock news i am.
Shari Ryan on April 6 at 10:20 AM said:

Your letter was so touching on so many different levels. You are clearly well educated about the breed and the associated biases that are present in today's society. It troubles me greatly to see how prejudiced general society has become against these wonderful dogs. They are no longer classified as "dogs" but instead as "pit bulls" with each incident being highly publicized as a "vicious pit bull attack". I agree, there have been instances where a pit bull has attacked a person without provocation and those instances are as regrettable as any animal-on-human attack always is. I was attacked by a Pure Bred Labrador recently and the owners were able to get off without paying my hefty medical bills. They were able to do this because the only other witness to this attack did not see the dog in her care (she was the dog walker for this particular dog's owner) actually bite me. It all came down to my word against hers and she was an employee of the dog owner. About a week ago, a pair of rather dirty "Labradoodles" came into my own front yard and were terrorizing me ... charging at me and barking wildly and trying to bite me because I was standing between them and my own dogs who were thankfully behind a fence, safe from possible attack at that time. In conclusion, people need to get a grip and take dog incidents on a case-by-case basis instead of condemning an entire breed because of the insensitivity and irresponsibility of a minority of dog owners out there. After my experience with the Lab who bit my hand and might have possibly left me with permanent nerve damage, I could say that "all Labs are vicious." That would be my OPINION and also my right but I would be doing a great injustice to a great many wonderful dogs who don't deserve it.
mountainlesli on April 6 at 11:13 AM said:

I couldn't have said it better...
Sarah Dita on April 9 at 7:43 AM said:

Hi my name is Sarah I was looking at your site and noticed the blog about the bully breeds . I couldn't agree more , I live in south Carolina and I breed pit bulls and Donerman's as I speak I have 3 male and four female pitbulls that ov had synce they were puppy's an they all have been raised around both of my sons and Im yet to have a problem! I've had German shepherds , golden retrievers , and Alaskan huskys and I've sold them all because not one of them had the loyalty or intelligence that a pit bull has and to be honest you couldn't give me another type of dog
Jessica Palmer on April 10 at 12:47 PM said:

Thank God there are people like all of you out there to remind us all to check facts before we judge! I recently adopted an 8 week old full pit bull. I, too, was a little hesitant because of all of the hype. But I did my research and found the most lovable dog I have ever had! Pixie sleeps on my head at night and adores my young children. She's incredibly smart and loving and wouldn't hurt a fly... or a cat as we have three. Thank you for trying to educate the ignorant people of the world!
Chef David Edelstein on April 12 at 8:39 AM said:

Wanna know more about the brutality that is Denver, Co's Municipal Code Section 8-55 "Pit Bulls Prohibited"??? A simple click away- http://www.TeamPitAFull.org/Breed_Specific_Legislation.html As lousy as that is... In 2008, I adopted the very first two Pit Bulls to survive Denver's Pit Bull Death Row. "Forrest" and "Mr. Kane" are the backbone of TeamPitAFull.org and the fuel to keep fighting the city of Denver over this politically motivated legislation. For you youtuber's... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrxLuKodCEE We are also saddened that we can not attend the furry scurry as its an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to the community what the breed is ALL ABOUT.
Mary on April 12 at 9:22 AM said:

Thank you David. I read your story and encourage all of our readers to check out your website. Very touching, real-life stories! Thanks for being another strong yet tender advocate.
Chef David Edelstein on April 12 at 10:00 AM said:

No, THANK YOU Mary for putting yet another positive, informative, and real life experience with pit bulls on the internet. Unfortunately, the front runner for Pit Bull info is still our slanted mass media. As long as new positive and factual accounts with pit bulls keep appearing online... we slowly gain a strong hold so the gen public now has two opinions to consider when it comes to our breed. Denver and their dark-age legislation wont go quietly into the night, So my life's work is all about bringing as much negative attention to central Colorado as I can muster. Fall 2012- Pedal For Paws: Breed Discrimination STOPS With ME! (A 1650 mile bicycle tour from Denver to Toronoto Canada) Yours truly is supplying the peddle power. If the stars and planets align, mass media will want to know why this guy is towing his pit bull across America and into Canada, and what our message is. Watch for us.
pauleyjames1 on April 12 at 12:20 PM said:

Pitties are full of L-O-V-E :)
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