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Pit Bulls, People, and Prejudice

My Experience With Pit Bulls and People's Reactions to Them


Pit Bulls... Dare I say, the most controversial breed of dog today. But, why? I, personally, will never understand the immense hatred people have of this breed. Is it from fear based on misinformation? Probably. 

I've now had two purebred (rescue) pit bulls and one mix in my short adult lifetime. The mix and the first pitty I adopted were in Florida and when I relocated to Colorado, my mom was going to just watch them for a couple weeks while I got settled. Then I was going to drive back up with them. But my mom begged and begged to let them stay with her. I agreed reluctantly simply because it made more sense. They loved my baby sisters, my mom has a giant backyard, and they'd be a lot less happy in my apartment after only knowing house-life. Anyway, I was always hesitant to bring these two to dog parks, not because they weren't good with other dogs or people, only because of the reactions random people had when they laid eyes on my little babies. I got terrible comments, rude looks, been asked to leave, etc. Let me just say, fuck those people. Their purpose-bred, untrained poodles were way more aggressive and poorly behaved than my "terrifying" pits. In the beginning, I tried to converse with those ignorant people; try to educate them a little about the breed and how most of the things they thought about pit bulls were completely false. But there is no budging most people like that. I ended up just ignoring them and letting my dogs run around and play. Most of the time, those people would end up angrily rounding up their dogs and leaving, which I honestly preferred. But I should have never had to have an unpleasant experience because of my extremely trained and well-behaved dogs. I should never have had to take a different route walking them in my neighborhood to avoid getting into an argument with an older woman and her two yappy yorkies. 

Fast forward to Colorado life, I got settled and felt really incomplete without a four-legged baby by my side. My boyfriend and I did a lot of talking and decided we would take a look at the local shelter. We both fell in love with the same dog, a small, blue-nosed pit bull that was about a year old with his poor little ears hacked off with what looks like were scissors, terrible mange, and many scars. This little man clearly experienced many, many horrors in such a short lifetime. We got him home and showered him in toys, treats, bones, memory foam doggie beds, and everything else he's probably never had. If we moved too quickly or were above his head, he would jump and run a few feet away. He cowered at loud noises, brooms, and most handheld objects. He didn't know what to do with his bones or toys, and would barely eat and never accept treats. But he did seem to enjoy napping on his new beds. After a couple weeks of this, he finally started to get more comfortable with us. He started coming to us for attention, started eating his meals, chewed on his bones, played with his toys, and tried to greet and make friends with strangers that we'd pass on walks. And here we go again, these people gave this adorable little man that has been through more in his short life than they hopefully ever will rude comments, glares, and avoidance. 

After my past experiences, I ignored the ignorance and just carried on and did regular things with him. We frequent coffee shops, restaurants with dog-friendly patios, breweries, and parks. People around town began to recognize him and ones that used to avoid him started walking past him or sat at a table next to us instead of asking to be at the furthest table. People shout his name in excitement when we walk by and many people have very kindly asked me questions about pitties that they've always believed but just couldn't see it being true after interacting with little Vinnie. "Do their jaws really lock down?" "Does he do that thing where pit bulls just SNAP and become insanely aggressive?" "Has he ever attacked you or another dog and are you scared?" While I am so happy to help people understand how pit bulls actually are and that they are seeing how loving, affectionate, and playful Vinnie is, I'm always in such shock at how people can go so long hating a breed of dog based on completely false information. I always tell these people about my experiences working in a very expensive, "luxury" dog hotel in Palm Beach, FL. I had been attacked by countless dogs just as the receptionist at that establishment, most of those dogs being toy breeds (mostly pugs, chihuahuas, and toy poodles) and various designer dogs. I've never once been harmed by a pit bull nor have I witnessed anyone or any dog there be harmed by one, either. "Any dog and any breed can be aggressive. Whether it's because they're scared, feel like their property, pack, or selves are threatened, or even if it's what their owner wants of them. If a dog is trained, socialized, and cared for, they'll be good dogs. Dogs behave poorly when they've had certain experiences or when people have failed them." People around town truly started to accept him as just another dog and completely ignore his breed and appearance. 

I finally started feeling fully comfortable taking him out, confident that I wouldn't have to deal with an unpleasant interaction with an ignorant stranger over the type of dog I have. But of course, I give myself an even bigger bump in the road. A cross-country move. My boyfriend and I decided to finally fulfill my dream of living in New York City. We just got back from a week trip in the City to scope out which borough would best fit our needs, and in this search I realized finding housing that would approve of Vinnie will be hard to find. I spoke to a few of the pit bull moms we passed in the local parks and asked how they found a place and their answers were always along the lines of lots of looking and super high rent. The cheapest place I have found in a neighborhood I loved was over 3,000 dollars a month, which, unfortunately, is quite out of budget. I feel lost, even though I know it's possible and will happen. I just have to continue the search. But why? Why is my behaved dog denied from certain properties because of his bloodline? Why is a snarly, loud sheepdog allowed to live there, but my quiet, small pittie isn't given a chance? I wish I could slowly make the entire city fall in love with my dog the way I did in this small town of Colorado. I guess I'll have to start one walk through the city at a time. Until then, I will continue to search for pit bull inclusive rentals while cuddling my sweet, sweet boy. 

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Pit Bulls, People, and Prejudice
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