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Breed Discrimination: Dont Judge a Bully By its Cover

Discrimination. That is a word that seems to be brought up in society regularly.


Many people have very strong oppositional opinions on racial discrimination, gender
discrimination, and discrimination based on metal ability, what we dont hear about as
often is breed discrimination. I believe that breed discrimination is important because it
harms, families, dogs, and to the economy. How? I think that most can see how it would
harm families and the dog themselves but as far as harming the economy? Breed
discrimination causes our shelters to be over populated with a specific type of dog that
then we are forced to use unnecessary resources to decrease the population of
unwanted animals.
Many people are aware of the stigma that surround Pit Bull type dogs. In fact, go
back and think about the word stigma, what is the first thing that comes to your mind
regarding pit bull type dogs? I believe that for most it would include issues that involve
some type of behavioral aggression. I have never been able to understand how people
can dismiss this type of discrimination so easily. One of the main goals of the Best
Friends Animal Society is to end Breed discrimination.

According to the Best Friends Animal Society Pit bull terrier dogs and puppies
are the most frequently and unjustly targeted by breed discriminatory legislation as
inherently vicious, aggressive and dangerous, though this is not the case. There is not
any one specific breed that is more prone to aggression than others. As a society we
need to take a step back and look at this logically, there are zero differences between
pit-type dogs and non-pit-type dogs. This misconception can be applied to humans as
well. Is there any one race who is more prone to violence? The answer is no.
Behavioral characteristics are influenced more by external factors. I believe that every
dog or human has the potential to act upon aggression. A great example that backs up
this concept comes from the successful rehabilitation of the dogs rescued from Michael
Vicks dogfighting operation.
Olivia Torres writes that what many people are unaware of is that pit bulls are not
a BREED, but a TYPE of dog. You cant determine the actual breed without a genetic
test. The most common breeds cited as pit bulls are the American pit bull terrier and
the American Staffordshire terrier, with the uncommon variations being the American
bull terrier and the Staffordshire terrier. Many pits are mixed breeds of unknown
ancestry, so it is important to view them as the individuals that they are. So what
actually classifies a dog as a pit bull? A blocky, boxy head, muscular body and short
coat.
The Article entitled Pit Bull Ambassadors written by Lisa Hanks states that during
the initial assessments done on the rescued dogs that were owned and made to fight by
Michael Vick it was reported that one dog constantly coward and hid in its kennel under
a towel, another would get so anxious and nervous it would vomit unless it was in its
kennel. The poor dogs were terrified of everything. Can you imagine living your life in
absolute terror? I am someone who suffers from extreme anxiety and have had bouts of
vomiting as a result, but I cannot even imagine not being able to leave my house
without vomiting. The fore-mentioned information came from an article in Dog World
magazine. The article followed the success of rehabilitation of a small number of Vicks
dogs.
The first dog mentioned by
Hanks is Jonny, also referred to as
gentle Jonny or Jonny Justice, has
been certified as a companion animal.
He lit up around children and
frequently helps children at the San
Francisco Public Library read by
being a nonjudgmental audience. It
was said that when he first arrived at
his foster home after being rescued
he didnt even know his own name.
The biggest challenge that he had
was becoming accustomed to
becoming a companion dog. He had
been confined to a kennel for so long he wanted to indulge in it all at once. The man
fostering Jonny compared his behavior to being raised in a closet and suddenly being
thrown in to Jr. High.
Another dog mentioned is Leo.
He was 3 years old when he was
rescued according to the article Pit Bull
Ambassadors. His biggest struggles
stemmed from the effects of isolation,
which included boredom and a lack of
experience with everyday things. When
he first arrived at his foster home it was
said that he paced and paced and was
not able to relax. After only 10 days and
being introduced to a soothing
environment and calming exercises he
began acting like a normal dog. Leo is
also a certified as a therapy dog.
While both dogs demonstrated some behavioral issues in the beginning neither
one of them demonstrated aggressive behavior. I have heard that pit bull terriers were
once called nanny dogs because of their gentle nature with children and were a widely
popular breed among families. If the misconceptions about these types of dogs are
incorrect, which I believe they are what needs to be done to change how people see
these dogs? Hanks ends her article discussing how the Best Friends Animal Society
has developed a multilayered strategy, including a model anti-dog fighting legislation,
both national and regional education, many resources and how-to manuals for
assessing and rehabilitation of dogs formerly used for fighting. They believe that if
theres a protocol in place to follow, people will be more willing to accept these dogs for
who and what they are and give them the chance they deserve. Unfortunately, the
negative media attention and the fact that certain breeds of dogs are being used for
fighting are giving them a bad reputation, but all fur babies deserve to be loved.
Works Cited
Best Friends Animal Society. Ending Breed Discrimination. Bestfriends.org, 2017
https://bestfriends.org/our-work/best-friends-advocacy/ending-breed-
discrimination

Hanks, Lisa A. Pit-Bull Ambassadors. Dog World, June 2009, Vol. 94 issue 6 pg38-43
6p.
Torres, Oliva. Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Albuquerque: The Magazine. Feb 2016,
Vol. 12 Issue 9, p 264-265. 2p.