October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month. The one month out of the year that everyone should take the time to better understand this misunderstood breed. The term “Pit Bull” by any standardized definition is not a breed but rather a type. Nevertheless, when someone hears the term, the reaction is generally negative.
National Pit Bull Awareness Month is About Awareness and Understanding
The mere fact that such a month exists is a direct indicator that there is a problem. One that is polarizing. There was a time when Pit Bulls were a proud and respected breed. Many still consider them an American icon. To some, Pit Bulls are still war heroes, movie stars, and police dogs. You can also see them being therapy and service dogs to many of our deserving veterans and civilians alike.
Most will say that they are loyal to a fault and the best companion you will ever find in a dog.
How Some Have Used the Breeds Strength and Made it a Weakness
Over time, a select few individuals have taken all of the breeds noble qualities and exploited them. Pit Bulls’ intense nature to be loyal also made them the perfect candidate to train to do whatever their owner wanted of them. The owners I speak of are not the responsible Pit Bull owners that make up the majority, but rather the ones who would exploit these magnificent animals for monetary gain.
The Pit Bull is also known for their eagerness to please their owners and that quality too has been exploited time and time again.
It is qualities like loyalty, strength, and an eagerness to please their family that make these dogs such awesome companions. However, it’s also these very same qualities, when being exploited, that have made these dogs an easy target for criticism. It only takes a few incidents to bring about complete disdain for the entire breed.
The Spark for Change Starts With Awareness
There is an overwhelming need for change in regards to the perceived persona of the Pit Bull. Even though misidentification of the breed and type happens often, it is still the breed that takes the negative backlash.
Which brings this full circle, the reason for National Pit Bull Awareness month. This all started in 2007 as a single day to bring about awareness and educate the public. It was started by Jodi Preis of Bless the Bullys, a pit bull rescue and education group in Middle Tennessee.
What started out as a single day in 2011 blossomed into a full month dedicated to awareness and education on all things Pit Bull.
How a Single Day Sparked a Movement Dedicated to Awareness and Education
When Bless the Bullys introduced the idea of a nationwide Pit Bull awareness day, the response was overwhelming. It was immediately recognized as an opportunity to educate, change minds, and bring about positive media attention to Pit Bulls across the country all on one day. This one day turned into a month-long affair whose main goal is to promote truth and awareness.
There is a need for this type of promoting now more than ever. With more and more cities, counties, and states implementing BSL, there is a need to head this off. There are videos, campaigns, and movements that even support the extermination of the entire breed.
I still believe that bringing about awareness, can and will make a positive difference in the perception of the Pit Bull.
Awareness Can Only be Effective if There is a Willingness to Accept Known Truths
National Pit Bull Awareness Month is a month of appreciation and education designed to change perceptions and stereotypes about Bully breed dogs. This also includes any dog that may be referred to as a “Pit Bull” and their responsible owners. As a whole, this month was established to educate and foster positive communications and experiences in the communities in where Pit Bulls and their owners lived.
However, on a broader scope, it is an initiative dedicated to restoring the image of the American Pit Bull Terrier.
The Ultimate Goal of Awareness is the Exposure of the Truth
Ultimately the goal of National Pit Bull Awareness Month is to promote the truth about pit bulls. It is widely known that knowledge is power. The cornerstone of awareness is a combination of knowledge, education, and advocacy.
The truth, in this case, can and will save lives in terms of negating the fear and bias generated by the media. It can also end knee-jerk reactions such as BSL that ultimately fail due to ineffectiveness and improper implementation.
Awareness and the truth will also result in fewer Pit Bulls ending up in animal shelters or homeless.
Celebrating a Month of Awareness and Advocacy
The message is clear as to what this month is all about. National Pit Bull Awareness Month is about bringing supporters and non-supporters together where common ground is possible.
This month needs everyone to just do a little to help spread the truth about the breed and type. Even if it is just using your social media platform to promote positive Pit Bull images, that would still be a help.
You can make this month the month in which you finally volunteer at your local shelter. A shelters long-term residents are most likely Pit Bulls regardless of where you live.
You Should Not Wait for October to Start Celebrating
If there is a petition that you haven’t signed in support of Pit Bulls, it’s time to do so. I know the Awareness Month is months away, but you shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to get a head start. Maybe get in contact with your local or state politician and voice your concerns about the ineffectiveness of BSL in your area. There are so many ways to help celebrate and contribute. It does not matter how you do either, just do something to promote the cause.
So, if you are still unsure how you can do your part to celebrate this awesome month, the founder of the original day offers this advice:
“While we can’t all be on television educating about our dogs, we all can make a difference in our own way. We all can and should play a part in correcting false information and changing the perception of these incredible dogs. We are their voice, and they are depending on us to educate the public (not only about the breed in general, but with respect to responsible ownership practices), to dispel the false information out there, and to restore their reputation as a great American icon. Leading by example is a great place to start.”