There can be little argument that the Pit Bull is the world’s most maligned, misrepresented and misunderstand dog.

There is a hardcore of so-called Pit Bull haters who will all gladly tell you about their ability to ‘just turn at any moment’ or how their ‘locking jaw’ is ‘not like other dogs’.

Pit Bulls, it’s fair to say, get a bad rap.

One of the more common myths, one that it is often perpetuated by people who should know better, is that Pit Bulls rescued from those involved in illegal dog fighting can ‘never be rehabilitated’. The standard course of action, certainly in the UK, is to euathanise these dogs. They’ve had a life of misery, being forced to fight, then they are ‘rescued’ and routinely killed. Some rescue, eh?

image: Best Friends

The dog you see above is known to her new family as Little Red.

She’s a Pit Bull.

For five years of her life she was used as a bait dog in the illegal dog fighting activities of US pro footballer Mike Vick.

If you don’t know what a bait dog is, it’s a dog who’s sole purpose in life is to help train other dogs to attack. It is, very much, what it sounds like it is. Bait.

Bait dogs often die or at the very least get seriously injured.

Little Red now lives a serene life, surrounded by 6 acres of doggie heaven on earth where she lives with her new owner, Susan. She’s been given time to adjust to her new life, she is an adored pet who enjoys her treats and, one would assume, the joy of a life that no longer includes being the brunt of attacks by dogs set on her by a bloodthirsty sicko. Rehabilitation is a luxury not afforded to many victims of illegal dog fighting rings. That’s all the more sad when you see how happy Little Red is.

Once celebrated as a great all-American pet, pit bull type dogs started getting a bad rap in the 1980s, largely due to misinformation, which spawned prejudice. Fast forward to today, and pit bulls are now the most abused, most maligned and most abandoned type of dog in the United States, with approximately 1,000,000 put to sleep in shelters yearly.

Some Facts & Myths About Pit Bulls

* Pit bulls are just dogs (a type of dog, not a breed).
* They do not have locking jaws.
* They do not bite differently than other large breeds.
* They are not more aggressive than other breeds (source: American Temperament Test Society).

Like all dogs, they feel pain, love, fear and joy. The media has played a large role in spreading erroneous information and creating hysteria about pit bulls: National Pit Bull Awareness Day is a chance to for the media to help set the record straight.

National Pit Bull Awareness Day is the perfect opportunity to tell a positive story about America’s dog Pit bulls are the most abused, most euthanised, most maligned and most misunderstood type of dog in America and across much of the world today.

The media has been a big part of this problem—sensationalizing negative pit bull stories, spreading myths and inciting hysteria. Now, you can also be part of the solution. October 22, 2011, is National Pit Bull Awareness Day.

The organisers (and K9 Magazine is happy to join in) are asking you to take this opportunity to focus on the positive attributes of this all-American dog. Here are some story suggestions:

Facts About Pit Bulls

1. Pit bulls are therapy dogs, service dogs, search and rescue dogs and, most famously, loving family pets (including pets to many celebrities). Tell the story of one such everyday hero in your community. We’ll be happy to help provide contacts and leads.

2. Highlight a National Pit Bull Awareness Day event going on in your community.

3. Take the opportunity to dispel many of the common myths: Pit bulls do not have locking jaws, do night bite differently than other large breeds, do not “suddenly snap,” are not “bred to fight” (the vast majority are bred as pets, like any other dog), and they do feel pain. Like all prejudicial thinking, judging a dog simply by how it looks only leads to negative actions and reactions.

Understanding that certain myths created about particular breeds can lead to innocent dogs losing their lives is something that, happily, many thousands of people have been able to grasp since the Worldwide web has been able to educate. However, there are still politicians who need to learn. Hopefully National Pit Bull Awareness day will have a positive impact on the minds of those who are happy to see certain dogs lose their lives having never done a single thing wrong.

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