What is a Pit Bull, exactly? It seems the definition changes depending on who you ask. A Pit Bull is in the eye of the beholder. The media certainly seems to use it to mean “dangerous dog”, regardless of the dog’s genetics and often regardless of appearance.
According to Wikipedia, the term is most often used to reference to a number of breeds of dog – most often, the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and crosses between the two. In writing, the law usually agrees with this estimation. In practice, we see something much different.
Of course, it’s impossible to know heritage just by looking at a dog. Most dogs look alike, after all. Most short-haired, floppy-eared, mixed-breed dogs look even more similar to one another. I don’t know how many times people have told me they are positive Shiva is a Boxer, no a Border Collie, no… A Pointer. Definitely a Pointer.
Many have also told me she looks like a Pit Bull.
This is fine by me. I adopted her from a shelter not having a clue about her past and not really caring. Given how common they are, it’s quite likely she does have a little American Staffordshire Terrier mixed in with everything else. Honestly, I wish she had a little more. Maybe then she would be friendlier with strangers.
But it makes me cautious. I know I have to be more careful with her than I would if I had a golden retriever or a poodle. Owning a dog that could be a pit bull comes with extra responsibility. When out on the street she doesn’t just represent herself and her own foibles, she represents an entire spectrum of dogs with strong shoulder muscles and wide jaws.
That’s why when I saw Animal Farm Foundation’s casting call, I had to sign up. No, Shiva isn’t a Pit Bull, not really, but for some people she is close enough and that’s all that matters. So we join the others in solidarity. The owners who worry about BSL and the dogs with large heads, stocky bodies, and wiggly bums. It’s not about being proud of a certain breed, it’s about letting these dogs speak for themselves.
Pit bull type dogs are ultimately just dogs. They eat, breathe, play, and poop. Some of them are lazy; some of them are a little rough; some are just downright goofy. They are the majority.
Pit bull type dog owners are ultimately just dog owners. We are mothers, uncles, bosses, and teachers. We live next door; we sit next to you on the bus. We struggle to get our dogs to pose with us on the couch. We are the majority.