Thursday, August 03, 2006

We Haven't Won Yet...

Have we won our fight against the Dog Haters? No, not yet.

Have we convinced the public that pit bulls are not inherently vicious? No, not yet…

But, a hint of sanity has appeared in the mainstream media (LA Times) today…

No one is suggesting that pit bulls have replaced the Chihuahua as the new "it" dog — at least not until Paris Hilton gets one. And county statistics show that the biggest concentrations of licensed pit bulls are in Compton and Lancaster, not Malibu or Beverly Hills. But trainers and animal shelter staffers and rescuers see a trend: increasing adoptions by families, professionals and others willing to attempt to raise a civilized pit bull.

Many who own or rescue pit bulls want to rehabilitate the image of a breed they believe has been unfairly maligned.

"I would say we're trying to restore the image," said Donna Reynolds, 44, who lives in Oakland. She and her husband rescue pit bulls and run a website, , that seeks to dispel the belief that pit bulls are vicious and unmanageable. Reynolds says a pit bull is "an exceptional family pet…. People who tend to believe they're scary have been educated by the media.

"I say, 'Have you hung out or met a dog you consider to be a true American pit bull?' 'No, I haven't, but my neighbor has one chained out in the backyard.' Well, any dog chained in the backyard is going to be mean."

Cesar Millan, the famed "Dog Whisperer" who has his own show on the National Geographic cable channel, says pit bulls, like all the power breeds, can be trained through exercise and discipline.

He keeps pit bulls in his resident pack at his South L.A.-based Dog Psychology Center, which is part dog camp, part rehab center.

"My kids are around pit bulls every day," said Millan, who believes the dogs have been unfairly stigmatized. "In the '70s they blame Dobermans, in the '80s they blame German shepherds, in the '90s they blame the Rottweiler, now they blame the pit bull."

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