This is Desil, a two-year old Pit
Bull. His favorite things were ice-cream, really big bones, baths and car rides to the local dog park in Hartford, VT. He loved going to the dog park so much that he would begin crying miles away with excitement, covering the windows with puddles of drool.
Sadly, during Desil's last visit to that very dog park, he was shot by an off duty police officer during an alleged scuffle with the officer's Huskies.
Just to be clear, this isn't about gun control. This isn't about the shooter being a police officer. This isn't even about Desil's tragic murder. I don't want to make it about that. This is about the negative stigma that surrounds Pit Bulls.
I share Desil's story for a few reasons. Pit Bull discrimination and animal rights are a passion of mine. Being the crazy "dog-mom" that I am and having been raised in the area this occurred in literally hit me close to home. My Facebook page was suddenly filled with an array of opinions and emotions. Many assumed the worst about Desil, always noting his breed, despite the fact that Desil very well could have been nothing but a victim to the Husky and a victim to the gun. It didn't matter to many. Then there were the others who were posting statuses expressing shock, remorse and anger. Everyone kept asking; "If Desil did not attack the Huskies, then why was he shot?" and "Would he have been shot if he wasn't a Pit Bull?"
These questions are asked everyday as Pit Bulls are constantly the victims of hate crimes and discrimination resulting in horrific abuse and murders. Owners and lovers of Pit Bulls are always asking: "Why?" It just doesn't make sense to them that so many could hate such a gentle, loyal, beautiful breed. One nickname for Pit Bulls having been "the Nanny dog"; they were literally named after one who takes care of children due to their gentle nature toward children. Pit Bulls were also known as "America's dog" in the years before dog fighting became popular. It wasn't even until the 1980's that dog fighting began to ruin the Pit Bull name. Dog fighters sought out Pit Bulls as they were popular, strong and powerful dogs. With the right training, they could be lethal- like literally any other dog, animal or-yes- even human.
Anti Pit Bull organizations often try to use statistics of dog attacks to back up their claims that Pit Bull's are more dangerous than other breeds. I can debunk those statistics right here and right now. The more Pit Bulls there are, the more likely the Pit Bull attack statistics will go up simply because there are more of them. Pit Bulls are overpopulated in the United States and have been for decades. Dog attacks will happen. They are animals and as we all know, animals can be unpredictable, especially when antagonized, treated poorly, or raised in an abusive environment. Any dog is prone to this. In fact, any person is prone to this. We, as humans, are not innocent of the same thing that these Pit Bulls are being abused and murdered for every single day.
The American Temperament Testing society tested 870 Pit Bulls in a temperament test simulating a casual walk in the park where they are encountered with real-life situations; loud noises, other dogs, strangers, "threatening" situations. They had an 86 percent pass rate, higher than an extensive list of dog breeds including the Golden Retriever.
Pit Bulls are victims of exploitation and over-breeding. They are constantly put into environments that are dangerous or overcrowded with other dogs who are not fixed or neutered, contributing to the overpopulation of Pit Bulls. Humane Societies and dog shelters receive Pit Bulls more than any other breed of dog. I am a frequent of shelters and humane societies and as an animal lover. I can tell you that I have never, ever been to a shelter and not seen at least one Pit Bull. They are constantly being stereotyped as vicious animals causing them to be constantly abused or left behind at a shelter because so many "dog-friendly" landlords won't allow them to live with their families, or left on the streets because they are just so overpopulated. Heartbreaking: there are no other words for it.
I hope you are finishing this article thinking: "What can I do to help?" Here is what you can do; Educate others on what you know about Pit Bulls. Treat your Pit Bulls, or any Pit Bulls, with love, respect and care as every dog deserves. I guarantee if you do this, the worst they will do is attack you with the best slobbery kisses you will ever get.
Rest in Peace, Desil. I hope they have endless bones, baths, ice cream and car rides in doggie Heaven.