Attack. Bite. Fight. Kill, perhaps? All violent, negative images, and you can be forgiven for feeling that way. They’ve been portrayed in the media as such for so long it’s hard for people to discern where the hype ends and the truth begins.
How about some of these words: Loving. Caring. Safe. One of the goals of the nonprofit group Bully Moms United for a PITastic Cause is to help educate the public that pit bulls are just like every other dog.
“It’s the people who train these dogs to fight that give them a bad rap,” said Jessie Velazquez-Rosa, founder of Bully Moms United. “What they do to these dogs is horrific. They starve them, they abuse them, they force them to fight, and when they’ve outlived their usefulness, they kill them.
“They’re victims,” she added. “Yet all people see are negative things. All you see are ‘pit bull attacks’ or ‘pit bull fights,’ but you don’t see the loving part of them, the household part. We want to educate people about that part.”
Bully Moms United held an event this past weekend at the Forest Park Dog Run on 85th Street and Park Lane South, which was well-attended by owners and pit bulls alike.
I have to be honest; heading to the event, my wife and I were a little nervous. But what we encountered at this event not only dispelled any nervous feelings, it dispelled a number of misconceptions we’d harbored. We pet the pups and they licked our hands in return. Their noses were cold; their tails wagged.
Just like every other good dog we ever met, proving the old adage that there is no such thing as a bad dog, only bad owners. And it is those bad owners that Bully Moms United believes we should be more afraid of.
“The people who do this to dogs often end up doing similar things to humans,” Velazquez-Rosa said. “Once you’ve desensitized yourself to the point where you can torture an animal, the next step is to hurt people.”
As for the pups that are abused, Bully Moms United helps to try and find homes for the grateful pups.
“I’ve heard stories where people have rescued a dog and in the moment of picking them up these dogs – dogs that are in horrific condition, no ears, bloody scars all over – yet that same dog is wagging its tail and licking them as a thank you for saving them.”
Recovery from abuse is difficult, but very possible with loving owners. “They bounce right back, that’s the spirit of the pit bull,” Velazquez-Rosa said. “That’s the true meaning of what they are.”
Many of us grew up loving a pit bull that frolicked with children and never gave it a second thought. That dog was Pete the Pup, the dog with the ring around his eye in The Little Rascals. Another pit bull loved by children was Spuds Mackenzie, the beer-loving mascot of Budweiser back in the 1980s.
Yet somehow, we’ve allowed these dogs to be abused and tortured and blamed them – the victims – instead of the criminals that do this to them. We’re a nation that loves animals but, collectively, we’ve dropped the ball on this one.
Bully Moms United’s event last weekend was part of a larger effort that they hope will eventually lead to tougher laws against people who mistreat not only pit bulls, but all animals. We went to the event a little nervous and intimidated and we left charmed by the pups we encountered.
“They just want to be loved,” Velazquez-Rosa said. “Just like everyone else.”