AMONG THE ANIMALS: Agency works to prove pit bulls don’t deserve their bad rep

Ducati the pit bull for adoption through Bullseye Dog Rescue

Originally printed in City Living
Copyright (c) Pacific Publishing Company
By Christie Lagally

As the recipient of a Canine Good Citizen award, Ducati has proven herself to be a wonderful dog. This tan-and-white beauty is great with kids and loves everyone she meets as if they are her new best friend.

But after seven years as the beloved family dog, Ducati’s family was forced to give her up because the rental housing they moved to would not allow dogs of the pit bull breed.

Sadly, the family’s landlord may never know the tragedy that he or she caused his new tenants with a blanket prejudice against the pit bull terriers. Ducati’s loving and even temperament is a typical example of pit bull personality.

Ducati now resides with a foster family working with BullsEye Dog Rescue.

Media stigmatization

Unfortunately, Ducati’s story is not uncommon. Pit bulls and their owners bear the burden of a social stigma that labels pit bulls as inherently aggressive or dangerous.

Ducati kissing a young friend

“It’s a prejudice brought on by sensationalized media coverage of dog-bite incidents involving a pit bull, and the tendency of the media to largely ignore aggressive incidents caused by dogs of any other breed,” explained Lorrie Kalmbach-Ehlers, president and co-founder of BullsEye Dog Rescue.

Unfortunately, that stigma may be one reason that pit bulls make up as much as 30 percent of the dogs at the Seattle Animal Shelter as potential adopters overlook such dogs despite their great temperament.

“Pit bull and pit bull-crosses pass our dog-temperament testing at the same rate as all other breeds,” said Kara Main-Hester, spokesperson for the Seattle Animal Shelter. Main-Hester said that, while pit bulls aren’t more difficult to place, they usually take longer to adopt out than other breeds.

“If people are nervous or scared of pit bulls, they should educate themselves about the breed,” Kalmbach-Ehlers said. In fact, according to the American Temperament Testing Society, pit bulls rate higher on temperament tests than even golden retrievers.

Changing perceptions

So to brighten the future of so many pit bulls residing with rescue groups and shelters, BullsEye Dog Rescue aims to challenge public misconceptions by making it obvious pit bulls can be wonderful dogs.

BullsEye works with shelters to provide education on the breed and holds events like Pit Bulls on Parade in Issaquah to give the public a chance to see friendly, well-adjusted pit bulls in our community. On Aug. 20, the public is invited to come see the parade and meet dogs like Ducati with the typical pit bull temperament: friendly, patient and full of heart.

But education isn’t always enough to combat societal views. That’s why BullsEye also offers support to pit bull’s owners, including workshops on responsible pet ownership and obedience classes for low-income families through the Responsi-Bull Project.

So while fear and scary stories of aggressive pit bulls may drive the media frenzy that typically happens when dogs of almost any breed cause harm, BullsEye confronts this issue with solid evidence of the typical pit bull nature exhibited in the dogs they adopt out, train and nurture.

To learn more about the pit bull breed, Bullseye Dog Rescue, the Pit Bulls on Parade event and Ducati, visit www.bullseyerescue.org.

copyright (c) Pacific Publishing Company

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