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Remembering the Foundation

In the dog world, the term “pit bull problem” seems to surface a lot. As advocates we ask ourselves “how do we solve the pit bull problem?”, “what are the solutions?” or even “is there a solution?”. There are times when it seems overwhelming - like pit bulls will always go against the grain in our society and both dogs and owners will suffer.

I heard a story from a friend the other day that broke this problem down. The story doesn’t provide a miracle solution, but I think it focuses on a concept that is sometimes underestimated.

Deb and her husband Bob were running errands outside of Philadelphia with Ned, their pit bull they adopted from the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Team in March of 2012. After running their errands, Deb and Bob decided to stop at a small restaurant for dinner. They left Ned in their truck and grabbed a seat inside the restaurant so they could keep an eye on him.

During their meal, the daughter of the restaurant’s owner spotted Ned in the truck and asked if she could meet him. Since Ned always enjoys meeting new people, Deb and Bob happily took the little girl outside to meet Ned. Inside the restaurant, little kids watched as Ned happily greeted the owner’s daughter with a wagging tail and kisses. Soon enough there was a line of little kids in the parking lot waiting to meet Ned. He met them all with kisses and a big grin. In Deb’s words the little kids “made Ned’s day”.

In a few minutes, a shelter pit bull made a positive impression on a handful of kids and most likely a handful of parents as well. Ned was the center of attention for all the right reasons.

The point is, nothing changes peoples’ minds like a positive meeting with a pit bull. As an advocate, sometimes I struggle to give an argument to an anti-pit bull person that can do the dogs justice. Often times, I just want to show them. And this is exactly what Ned did and although it’s hard to know for sure, he probably changed a few minds that night.

Deb, Bob and Ned have made a habit out of changing minds. Ned is famous in his neighborhood for his knitted coats and his love for meeting new people. A neighbor who was moving came to the George’s house specifically to say bye to Ned. Every time he leaves the house Ned spreads a positive pit bull image.

This is the power of the individual dog. He or she can do far more with a tail wag and good manners than a person can with words. There is simply no comparison. There are many components to the solution, but the foundation is at the end of our leashes.

Alistair Thompson
ACPB Volunteer