While we might not have any expertise with detective work or access to testing facilities, the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia team considers ourselves more than qualified when it comes to busting the myths about one of our favorite types of dogs: Pit bulls! Being that October 22 is “National Pit Bull Awareness Day,” we figured it’s the perfect time to debunk any harmful rumors surrounding our pibble friends.
Did you know that “Pit bull” is not actually a breed name? Instead, the term is used to represent a larger group of terriers known as the “bully breeds.” Members of this category include the American Pit bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. But don’t let their rough-n-tough nickname fool you; these pups are every bit as loving and friendly as any other breed of dog! In fact, they test as some of the most tolerant dogs in temperament tests by the American Humane Association (ASPCA).
To better understand the nature of Pit Bulls, it’s important to recognize their origins. Created in 19th-century England, the bully breeds were often used as entertainment pieces in public bull-and-bear baiting shows. Due to their tenacious temperaments and strong builds, they were a preferred choice for the ring; however, after such spectacle sports were deemed too inhumane and declared illegal, dog fighting took their place.
Because they were so widely-used for violence in these fights, Pit Bulls began to be known for the trait of aggression. Pit Bulls needed to be hardy and combative for dog-fighting but, despite how they acted out in the ring, they were also inbred with a genetic unwillingness to bite humans as the handlers in these fights did not want to be bitten. In actuality, Pits can make wonderful and loyal companion dogs due to their gentleness and family-oriented nature towards humans.
Along with a winning personality comes an intelligence to match! Pit bulls are incredibly bright dogs, so teaching them tricks is as simple as a little bit of practice. Overall, pibbles are people-pleasers and really enjoy attention as well as pretending that they’re lap dogs, which can be quite a lapful in some cases!
If you’re the proud owner of one of these magnificent dogs, it’s probably easier than not for you to see the perks of your pooch, although, as untrue as they might be, it’s a good idea to know the stigmas surrounding bully breeds and that you work actively to prove these stigmas wrong. Pit bulls have an abundance of energy which can be highly suitable for families with children or active lifestyles, but they can also become unruly if this energy is pent up. Giving your pit bull a sturdy toy to chew on and supplying him/her with daily walks will keep your pit on their best behavior!
If anyone knows the bully group best it’s Johanna Falber, a local advocate against BSL (breed specific legislation) and founder of a group called “Stubby’s Heroes.” Stubby’s Heroes, operating out of Atlanta, was founded by Johanna in order to create an organized and professional union of like-minded people to attend municipal meetings regarding animal safety. BSL, or “breed specific legislation,” is often an ordeal when it comes to those dogs that fall under the umbrella of the “pit bull” name.
“I was attending the meetings on my own, and witnessed good, caring people become emotional when speaking before councilmen and commissioners about their beloved pets,” Falber says., “I knew I could use my business skills to organize pit bull owners into a cohesive unit. We did that, I think, and more.”
Since startup, Stubby’s Heroes has seen great success and has expanded past simply attending city council and commissioner meetings. Now, their efforts also include assisting with supporting local spay/neuter initiatives, dog food distribution, adoption efforts, and outreach in nearby communities.
“An exercised dog is a well-behaved dog,” Johanna says, when asked about good advice for either current pit owners or hopeful potentials. “I also highly recommend you have your dog tested to become a canine good citizen because it looks good if you try to live somewhere that would normally hassle you about your dog, such as an apartment home.” She also advises owners to socialize their pibbles early on if possible and to do their homework about the breed!
Johanna has her own pit bull, Honey (amongst others), who she adopted from an animal shelter. Honey – or ‘Lola,’ in the shelter – was a victim of animal cruelty, despite being only a few months old. When Johanna saw a picture of Honey online, she knew she had to go visit the shelter that housed her. Of course, she immediately fell in love when the little pup ran directly up to her and put her tiny head upon her lap. Johanna adopted Honey that day, and the rest was history! Now, Honey lives with several other doggie siblings and, despite being the sweetest of the pack, she’s also the ‘ringleader.’
“Honey kisses the other dogs hello every morning,” Johanna says, laughing.
Together, Johanna and her crew work together to redeem the pit bull name and honor the bully mix that the organization was named after… Sgt. Stubby, a WWI veteran and hero that started out as a stray dog.
So, on this Saturday, be sure to keep pit bull terriers in your mind and kindness in your heart. Who knows? Maybe soon enough you’ll be welcoming one into your home!
Information for this post was compiled from the following sites:
Written by Kelly Kucera, HSNEGA Marketing Communications Intern