Pit Bulls Still Need Work on Awareness

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pit Bulls Still Need Work on Awareness

If you were watching Live with Kelly and Michael on Tuesday morning and you’re a pit bull lover, you probably caught Kelly Ripa’s off-hand remark about pitties while interviewing Christopher Walken about his new movie, “Seven Psychopaths,” a movie about the theft of a Shih Tzu.  

Here is what Kelly said, “But the gangster’s dog is uh, I mean if it’s a gangster it would have to be a dangerous, uh, pit bull kind of dog, right?”

Like so many people, Kelly let the words “dangerous” and “pit bull” flow off of her tongue like her assumptions are based in fact.

October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month. As I contemplated this, I wondered who in the world still could not be educated about this loving, loyal, cuddly, wiggly, kissy breed.

There are the recent books including Jim Gorant’s follow up to “The Lost Dogs,” the book that showed us that dogs rescued from even the most horrifying abusive situations can not only become trustworthy family pets, but many also earned Canine Good Citizen status and eventually became certified therapy dogs, working in hospitals and schools to bring peace to the ill, help children learn to read and be ambassadors for the breed.  

Gorant’s second book highlights Wallace, the first pit bull to win a national flying disc title. The book is entitled “Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls – One Flying Disc at a Time.”

Wallace’s people, Roo and Clara Yori, also have Hector, one of the survivors of Michael Vick’s house of horrors.

“I’m a Good Dog,” by Ken Foster is also being released this month, heralding pitties in our society, past and present.  

Yet, many people still associate pit bulls with danger. The myth of their power and temperament will not seem to die. People associate them with drug dealers and gangsters, who sometimes get these dogs as protection, even though as Foster points out in his book, they mostly make lousy guard dogs because they are naturally friendly and are easily stolen themselves.

I like Kelly Ripa. As a fan of the long running, now canceled soap opera, “All my Children,” where Kelly got her start, I watched her grow up on television.  I still remember reading the first interview she gave to a soap magazine.

However, Kelly needs to take some lessons from her talk show counterpart, Rachel Ray, who has a pittie and has been an advocate for the breed.

Kelly needs to know that off the cuff remarks such as hers perpetuates the myth that is the pit bull and that it is causing hundreds of thousands of them to be unfairly discriminated against in Breed Specific Bans, which is resulting in the deaths of thousands of them in shelters every single day.

She needs to learn that we proud pittie parents do not see our 4-legged family members as mean, vicious, dangerous or a “gangster” dog.

Dogs are what we humans make them. Responsible pit parents – and I would argue that we are the majority – simply see them as part of our family.

Perhaps “Live with Kelly and Michael” needs to invite the Yori’s on their show, along with Wallace and Hector, so they can see what a true pittie is like and that millions of them live in loving family settings, not at the end of a chain with “gangsters.”  

If you care to share your thoughts with Kelly about pit bulls, you can send a message to the show’s Facebook page, send a message on Twitter to @KellyRipa or contact ABC.

What do you think of celebrities who make such comments about a particular breed?