Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pooches: The Positive Pit Bull Bubble

 When I first adopted Miss M four years ago, I was very aware of the negative attention she received. People gave her evil looks. They would snatch their dogs and children out of our way. And, some people would even say mean things.
 Thinking about this now, I feel a lot has changed. Even with our 2 dogs, we don't seem to have as many negative experiences. More often we've had curious people approaching us asking about the dogs. They bring their children and dogs to meet us instead of moving out of our way. And on nearly every walk people will tell us we have beautiful dogs.
 I  don't know whether we're getting this reinforcement because we do live in a pit-friendly neighborhood with a lot of responsible pit bull owners. Or maybe I'm not noticing the negativity as much because we get so much support from this online community.
Am I just in a protective "positive pit bull bubble" where I'm not noticing negative statements about pit bulls? Or do you think that overall sentiment has changed? How are pitbulls viewed in your community?

33 comments:

Two Crazy Coaches said...

I think people's attitudes are beginning to change. There are more and more responsible pit bull owners now then even a couple of years ago. And, of course it doesn't hurt that you do have 2 beautiful dogs!

Lola said...

I don't really know, but I do know that in NYC and surrounds there are lots of people like you - responsible owners with one or two beautiful pitties who make a great impression on everyone they come across. After a while that has to sink in a bit. Of course, there's still BSL and things like that. Those are lagging indicators, though. There are always people who like to get hysterical about all sorts of things. We Pei are not as well known, but we do get some of the same stereotyping among those who think they know something about the breed.

lotsa licks, Lola

iheartsnark said...

I am hoping it is a change in attitude, as well as the media reporting more on how pit bulls are misinterpred, and LESS on the sensational dog attack stories.

I always make it a point to go up to any pit bull I see and give them a pat and talk to the owners to tell them their dog is beautiful. I am also HOPEFULLY showing by example to others in the street that they are NOT dangerous and are actually very very friendly and happy doggies!

jen said...

In most communities in our area pit bulls are still deemed dangerous and unexceptable. When we get them in at the vet they are always classified as a boxer mix or some type of mix breed,when clearly they are a pit, but can not be labeled as one because the city will not allow them. It really is a shame and it angers me.
I personally am a huge fan of the breed.
IMO the community where I live has a lot of growing up to do.

jet said...

Nah things are bad for pitties here. I just watched a TV show called 'bondi vet' which was almost pittie themed. There was a dog with injuries from an attack that was allegedly a 'pitbull'. Then there was a pup from the pound and it's potential adopter got it genetically tested because she didn't want it if it had any pit in it because of them being 'too dangerous around children'. The dog turned out to be a Staffy X Whippet! Staffies and Pits are not very different, lady! It was an adorable dog and she was going to send it back to death row if it had any pit in it's genetic code. For shame!

Levi Mac said...

I know how you feel- People cross the street when they see me coming and all I want to do is give them licks! I try to look sweet and don't even bark but people still walk away. There is even a couple that turns and walks in the other direction- how rude! When my mom tells people that I am a Rotti mix they say oh no and have lots of worries, until they meets me that is! Mom was gonna get a Pit Bull before she found me (lucky mom that she is) and everyone was telling her not to. She didn't get Jersey (the pitty) cuz her foster mommy didn't want to give her up. So we love reading all the good press about pit bulls and hope that all this bad rep we breeds gets goes away soon! Unfortunately around me it's not great yet...but we are working on it!
Feel the Love people :)

H Ski said...

I think it is great that people's attitudes towards your dogs are overall positive. I think a big part of it has to do with responsible owners like yourself.

EmilyandLulu said...

give yourselves a lot of the credit.

Shawnee the Shepherd said...

As despicable as Micheal Vick is, if anything positive came of that it would have been showing pit bulls as the victim, not the enemy. I think that has made some people feel a little differently about them. But I, as a German shepherd, get the same negative reaction sometimes and I would not put the bitey on anyone, unless, of course, they tried to hurt my mom. Then all bets are off but I think any dog would say that.

Corbin said...

My mom works with me a lot and is often bringing me to new situations where I get to meet other dogs and people. I'm her first pitbullish dog and really her first experience with the breed. She was shocked at the negative words and looks she'd gotten. It all just makes us work harder to make sure I remain well behaved. I'm going for my CGC this fall and then hopefully to training to become a therapy dog! We'll change their minds... one pitty at a time :o)
-Corbin

brooke said...

Mazzy and Bruno! Love their names!

The Whitfields said...

Thank you for your sweet comment! I think that people's perceptions are changing but most people are just so scared of them unfortunately even though they are sweethearts...

When Lacy and I would run before her heartworm diagnosis, there would be times that people would say nasty things or move across the street. Some people are just rude and ignorant!

Life with 5 dogs said...

I just wanted to let you know that we voted for them both. Both of your dogs are beautiful.

houndstooth said...

I think attitudes are beginning to change, but possibly your attention is more drawn to the positive experiences that you have, too. Since we brought Morgan home, I've noticed that sometimes we now get fearful glances and wide berths as we walk in certain places. Then again, we also have a lot of people tell us what a beautiful dog she is, and of course I agree with them!

AC said...

Love the pictures of Miss M and Mr. B! What faces!!

Pitties are pretty commonplace around here but we also have a pittie problem in our city. They're the #1 breed in shelters, they're fought (and fights are often associated with gangs/drug dealing etc) and because of both of these things, they're put down in large numbers.

I'd say there's probably a good split of folks who adore pits and those who fear them. Unfortunately, I think that some sick people have let pits "earn" their reputation and I can understand the fear reaction. (I make wide steps around german shepherds after one attacked my brother. Rational? No, but fears are rarely rational). Lets face it, a pit that becomes fearful/reactive to other dogs or people can be very dangerous. They're one heck of a powerful breed.

It seems like education plays a big role to help undue the bad rap but so long as there's money to be had in fighting, bully breeds are going to need help from multiple directions.

Here's to more Happy Miss M's and Mr. B's in our world!!

bitt said...

I get mixed reactions about my pittie. Some people don't realize she is pittie and then fall in love and there she has gone and changed their mind about a breed. Love that. Some people are fearful of her. We recently got a foster dog who is not a pit bull and I did realize some people look at me differently when I am not with a pit bull. Breedism still exists even in friendly areas.

Mr. Pip said...

I don't know, I think there are still lots of negative stereotypes - even within the shelter world. From what I have heard from people in the know, most pits and rotties are still put down at ACS and ACC and thousands are surrendered to these shelters each year. Hopefully, change will come, but I don't think we are there yet ...

Your pal, Pip

Wyatt said...

We think things are changing for Pitties, for the better, thanks to people like you! Keep up the good work!!

Wyatt and Stanzie

ForPetsSake said...

I think perceptions about Pitties are changing, but there are still those who just won't budge despite evidence to the contrary. For the most part, I believe ignorance stops people from understanding the nature of dogs and they look to find some perception to cling to. Something to predict and generalize with. Maybe get control over something they don't understand?

I work in a vet clinic with 2 Dr's and sadly, 1 out of 2 of them has negative views on Pitties and succumbs to their ugly stereotypes. The other, however, embraces them with open arms.

I've taught my daughter to love and respect all breeds and she will argue with anyone who speaks ill of a dog due to their breed. She's 12. Hopefully over time, general positive opinion will reign supreme.

Having a German Shepherd, I understand the negative connotations that a breed can have. Sadly, many people are biased against the same breed they'll allow to take a bullet for them or search for and find them when they're lost. None of it makes much sense at all.

Congratulations on finding a welcoming and positive neighborhood - that says alot for where you've chosen to live. And BAD RAP is an awesome organization. Brave, tough and full of heart!

Those Elgin Pugs said...

My previous vet has Pit Bulls, and they frequent the office. He would refer to them as American Staffordshire terrier when people would question their breed.

I recently fell upon a blog that made mention of this and why people feel the need to change the name.

It's a stigma that hopefully will fade out...less negativity will be associated with Pit bulls.

We live in a diverse neighborhood in the historic side of Elgin.
So it's not just a neighborhood with kids. It's more a neighborhood with dogs!!
Most all of our neighbors have dogs.
We live next door to a single man and he has big mutt named Bud...nicest dog. Other side of us our neighbors have a German Shepard.
Across the street was a Min pin, just passed :(
We got Chihuahua’s, basset hounds,
Pugs (ha... they don't blog) it’s endless really... and yes,
We do have Pit bulls.

The family just moved in back in Spring. I met their daughter while I was in the park with my pugs and I also see her dad walking their dogs. He waves. They live on the other corner and seem very nice.

The neighbors I am closer too all say that the dogs are the friendliest and well behaved.

It's really rather unfortunate that they get such a bad reputation.

If anything... My IzZY.. My goodness, if you meet her...well, soon hopefully!! Is Nutty!!
(hee hee.. yes, I laugh like Josie)

Rob and I thought Miss M and Mr. B
(Which I will be off to inquire their real names when I'm finished here)
Are the Sweetest doggies ever!!!

Sugar the Golden Retriever said...

Woof! Woof! I think living in the city, most people have a different perspective. I hope that positive perspective vibes carry on the suburbs. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

Traci said...

It's so sad that the breed overall has gotten such a bad reputation all because humans do horrible things such as forcing them to fight and training them as attack dogs. So most people now seem to believe that pit bulls are somehow genetically programmed to be aggressive. It's so ridiculous. Unfortunately, we still see weekly stories in the news about pit bulls attacking children, etc. I'm sorry, but ANY dog may attack a child or adult if trained to do so or provoked in some way. I don't understand why it's usually only the stories about pit bulls that specifically make the news.

I think it's great that you guys and so many others in Chicago are working to give them a better name. I'm sure that everyone who meets Ms. M and Mr. B. changes their entire perception of the breed.

Rescued Pittie Family said...

Mazzy is a lovely name - love it.
But Bruno? You know that's funny right?
Fitting for his looks and personality but still funny.

I think people come around after they see for themselves that pitties are good dogs.

I myself was afraid of them at one time because I didn't know one. All I knew was what I heard from the media. And since I didn't know one personally I had no other information to base an opinion or feeling about them.

But they are amazing dogs and as soon as I met one - well, it was more like 200 at one time- we were in love.
There is something about them that just makes them so instantly lovable. I think people just have to see them in person.

Mary said...

I love that picture you submitted! Good luck to Mr. B. and Ms. M.!

Either I'm less sensitive, more oblivious, or people are more accepting, but I find less people react negatively to Levi than in the past. There are still the people who cross the street or make comments, but I feel like it's less and less. We definitely get more compliments than sneers. He's so calm when he walks and does not care about people, so it amazes me when people are afraid of him when he's just crawling along and sniffing grass.

Kari in WeHo said...

Baily and Mesa are also submitted in the contest :) I find that since we moved to the city there are many more positive interactions with our pooches :)


-Kari
http://dogisgodinreverse.com/

Kate@TwentySixToLife said...

I love their names :) And I think I live in a little pro-pittie bubble too. I know that I get a lot of mixed reactions about the "scary" dogs that I own, but I work really hard to promote how wonderful they are. I know I've won over more people than I haven't!

Sue said...

Last year our community passed breed specific legislation aimed mainly at Pit Bulls. As far as I can see, It has been universally ignored and we're seeing more Pitties out and about with their proud owners. I hope attitudes are changing, but there still are too many hateful pople around and they're loud in voicing their ideas.

Liz said...

Bogart is an Olde English Bulldogge which is really a Bulldog, Pit Bull, American Bulldog mix. I usually just affectionately refer to him as my bully mutt. Anyway, I do try to keep informed about this stuff because any pit bull ban would affect Bogart.

Sometimes I think attitudes are changing, but when there's an article about a pit bull attack or something and you read the public comments left by people, I'm always left feeling disheartened. Unfortunately, I think there are still quite a few ignorant people out there.

We just have to keep showing the world that our pibbles are friendly breeds and that not all pit bull owners are thugs.

road-dog-tales said...

Love those "wicked" sweaters! We think the attitude toward pitties is getting better from what we can see and hear. There's the whole campaign in Denver to End BSL-so we think that says something good! Now, if we could just get people to change their attitudes about ankle-biting chihuahuas! ;)
The Road Dogs

road-dog-tales said...

We voted! Hope you win!
The Road Dogs

road-dog-tales said...

After posting here, we just read a post over at Oh My Dog who is heading up the End BSL Campaign and she had this post (not related to the the BSL Campaign). We weren't sure whether to send it and not sure if you want to read it, but it made us really mad. You may have already seen it anyway - so I guess not everyone has had an attitude change :( If you hear any more about this, let us know. We want to protest!
http://ohmydogblog.com/2010/09/another-tragedy-for-bullies/comment-page-1/#comment-1492

T2 - My life with pit bulls said...

I think there's a little of both.

In just the 2+ years we've had Toni, we've seen a huge jump in responsible owners with well-cared for pit bulls. This was true when we lived in the swanky (and sometimes snotty) West Loop where the tendency is toward small, ill-mannered dogs, and it's even more true now that we're in a more diverse neighborhood. I think the pro-pit organizations are making huge strides with public perception issues and I also think that mainstream shelters (which have been very anti-pit in the past) are doing their best to get over their own misconceptions.

But like you, I also think that I'm more immune to the negatives because I'm surrounded by people who support our choices and love our dogs. It helps!

Lindsay said...

I walk a lot of different dogs every day, so many different breeds. One thing I notice is that when I'm walking a pitbull, people will go out of their way to tell me what a cute dog I have or what a sweet dog I have. This doesn't happen as much with the other kinds of dogs. There are a lot of pitbull lovers in my area of Fargo, N.D. Our community is very supportive of the dog rescue groups.

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