We often hear dog advocates and lovers say, “It’s all about how they are raised,” especially when talking about “pit bull” dogs.
To those who utter these words, PLEASE STOP! While we understand you have nothing but the best intentions, you are doing harm…it can be argued you are doing serious harm, the kind that results in innocent dogs dying. Not to mention the statement is a complete under estimation of the resilience and spirit that is a dog.
For people who have little to no first-hand experience with “pit bull” dogs, you could be scaring them off. What if those people or someone in their circle was considering adopting a medium sized dog from the shelter? If your shelter is anything like most around the country, it is filled with dogs labeled as pit bulls, most of them adolescents and adults. Now all of the sudden the “it’s all about how they are raised” comments begin swirling in the adopters head as they look at lots of dogs who no one has any knowledge about how they were raised or how they ended up in the shelter to begin with. This uncertainty may be too much for the adopter and push them into another direction and eliminating the possibility of a perfectly good “pit bull” dog getting into a home.
And then there are those dogs who come from a well-documented background of cruelty and abuse who you are completely writing off. What if Best Friends Animal Society and Bad Rap had taken the “it’s all how they are raised” position in regards to the dogs seized from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels and allowed them to be destroyed without even giving them an opportunity? Dogs who in large majority have gone on to show the world, that the way they were raised has little to do with who they really are. The scars on Hector the Pit Bull’s body tell us that he had a time or two in the ring, but what he tells us is that he is a well mannered boy who is peaceful and gentle around humans and dogs, earning him the title of a certified therapy dog. Or Audie who has gone on to become an agility champion, and Oscar who likes the simple things in life like curling up for a nap in his mom’s closet. Even dogs like our friend Capone who was never part of a high profile case, but was seized from a suspected fighting operation. Out of a cruel, exploitative environment, without training or prompting, Capone began signaling changes in blood sugar levels and predicting seizures of his owner who suffers from diabetes and seizures. Capone was raised to be a fighter, some would say a killer, but when allowed to be who he is, he is a life saver, a now certified service dog who has opened up a world of independence and joy to the mom he so nobly serves.
Words are very powerful tools. Tools that can be used to build and rebuild or tools that can be used to tear down and destroy. How are you using your tools?