A. Dogs in the media – particularly pit bulls are becoming an extremely popular subject from the rescued dogs of Vick to Rachel Ray’s beloved rescued pit bull. Other famous activists for pit bulls include actress Jessica Biel and her pit bull, "Tina", singer Alicia Silverstone, Dr. Phil, Dog Whisperer – Cesar Milan and the late "Daddy", actress Jessica Alba, former President – Teddy Roosevelt, the late Helen Keller as well as Academy Award Winning Actor Jamie Foxx.
B. Everyone has heard the phrase, ‘dog is a man’s best friend.’ But only a select few people know that once you invite a dog to be a part of the family, the immediately become part of the "pack" – and pit bulls especially, are no exception.
A. Negativity in the media
1. In this state of technology, people tend to – more often than not, believe everything they see, hear or read about. Especially if it’s a hot topic – and it into the American culture in some way or another. "Be aware that much of what fuels public perceptions is driven by what is offered in media outlets. Before presumptions are made – before fears are established – take care to ensure that judgments and ideals are based in fact rather than influenced by shock journalism."
2. When the story of pro-football player, Michael Vick’s dogs surfaced and became well known, America was glued to the television and gossip magazines. "Some breeds suffer from great popularity. A motion picture, a television show, a product commercial – all influence the public to seek out a particular breed of dog." This particular story, of the pit bulls that were affected, those that survived and went on to good family homes, and those that didn’t touched the lives of millions of viewers – from around the country. "If somebody is too stupid to understand the fundamental immortality of dog fighting, you’re never going to be able to explain it to him."
3. As America fell in love with the remaining pit bulls, formerly owned by Vick, cases and reports of other animals subjected to the same cruelty were beginning to surface.
4. Through the hype in the media, America became more aware of pit bulls in general, as well as their dispositions. At one point in time, it seemed as if the big question was ‘what can we do to help?’ Because of the circumstances and the questions that began to arise, the American population could no longer deny what had been going on behind our backs for centuries – illegal dog fighting.
B. Many ‘bully breeds’ – pit bulls included make great therapy dogs. Some people believe that a visit to a children’s hospital – or nursing home from a dog, particularly a pit bull can have an extremely positive effect on the people being visited by these dogs. Both parties involved, have nothing to lose, but everything to gain, especially in the eyes of the beholder. The soft side of this particular breed shows up in their affection for humans – a desirable trait that has been very important to the original breeders of this animal and remains so today. For this reason, there are many Certified Therapy Dogs in the United States which are pit bulls. It is not uncommon to see a Therapy Dog – a pit bull visiting hospitals and nursing homes. "When I heard that a ‘therapy’ dog was going to pay a visit to me, I didn’t know what to expect. When the handler and the dog arrived, the dog resembled a pit bull. Not knowing much about dogs, I inquired about the breed. It was, in fact a pit bull. Never in my life would I expect a pit bull to bring me this much joy and happiness. While I was tentative and reluctant at first, the dog approached me, tongue hanging out, almost as if he was smiling, looking up at me."
1. For centuries now, dogs – especially ‘bully breeds’ have become an integral part of our lives, as well as history. These dogs have not only made excellent therapy dogs, as well as outstanding family pack members. In 1917, Private J. Robert Conroy came across a puppy with a ‘bully breed’ background. This particular dog, who was named Stubby, and later went on to become Sgt. Stubby, was the mascot of the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division. Stubby served in the trenches in France for 18 months and participated in four offensives and 17 battles. The canine Stubby did many great things in addition to serving in the battles in France. In addition to detecting and locating wounded men between the trenches of opposing armies; Stubby detected and recognized gas bombs and would run through trenches, encouraging the soldiers to sound the gas alarm, thus saving many from injury and even death. Not only did Stubby help out in battle – on the front lines, he had a positive effect of the morale of the men whom he came into contact with. Stubby would even go to hospitals, visiting with wounded soldiers, acting similarly to a ‘therapy’ dog. Later, Stubby went on to capture an enemy spy. Stubby was then put in for promotion to the rank of Sergeant per commander of the 102nd Infantry. Sergeant Stubby became the first dog to be given rank in the United States Armed Forces. After the war, in 1921, Sergeant Stubby accompanied his owner, Conroy to the Georgetown University Law Center and went on to become the Georgetown Hoyas’ team mascot. In 1926, Stubby passed away of natural causes in Conroy’s arms. Stubby was awarded many medals for his heroism and for being a loyal and brave defender of America’s freedom. Sergeant Stubby was made a life member of the American Legion, the Red Cross, and the YMCA. Also, in 1921, the Humane Education Society awarded Stubby with a gold medal for service to his country. The gold medal was presented by none other than General John Pershing, the Commanding General of the United States Armies.
2. As cities many different cities began to emerge and develop, pit bulls remained a prominent part of the American culture. Not only are pit-bulls used as therapy dos, many are used for bomb-sniffing with a Police Department. Take, for instance, Neville the pit bull who works the ferry lines at Seattle’s Coleman Dock. Prior to the job at the Dock, Neville the pit bull was on death row in Canada until an escape worthy of a spy novel got him across the border and into the K-9 work force. Today, he now protects the same people who almost failed him. "He’s the kind of dog who would take a bullet for you" said Neville’s handler, Trooper David Dixon. "And there are people like me who had a bad idea of pit bulls in the past that may change their mind and love them because they’re great." Dianna Cameron, who works at the espresso stand on the dock, had this to say about Neville the pit bull: "He’s super sweet. I love it when you pet him and he just smashes up against you. You feel the love." Neville has done a great job and has brought many attributable qualities to this K-9 work force. Neville was the first pit bull on explosives patrol for the Washington State Patrol, and he’s helped pave the way for four others to follow in his footsteps. The Washington State Patrol currently have five pit bulls working narcotics or explosives. However, Trooper Dixon says it’s not so much about the breed as it is the sniffer and the disposition. Neville has a nose that knows and the courage of a dedicated officer. Not to mention his success has helped booster the reputation of his breed – the pit bull. After five years and 21 actual finds of weapons and/or explosives, Neville prepares to hang up his badge for good and retire.
3. "Pit bull owners must accept their roles as ambassadors for the breed, and remain constantly aware of the fact that their actions and the actions of their dogs are having an impact on the breed’s future. Let’s make sure that the impact we all have is always a positive one."