Purebreds, mixes or dogs with “block heads” get labeled as pit bulls, and media stories have sensationalized the supposed dangers of these dogs. Their owners have been fighting back for years and continue to advocate for them.
Despite these reportedly “dangerous” dogs, there are many of them contradicting the hype by being ambassadors of the breed through their work. Here we look at some of the pit bulls giving the breed a good name.
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The 6-year-old pittie with a fruit-related moniker was adopted from the Milton Animal League and works as a therapy dog in Massachusetts. Blueberry, affectionately called “Booberry” by her owner, visits rehab hospitals, nursing homes, humane societies, hospice patients, universities, and homes for the deaf and blind. When this dog is not working, Blueberry’s favorite activity is rolling in the grass.
Patients confined to a facility, some temporary or permanent, look forward to Blueberry’s visits to ease the loneliness or remind them of life at home. One of Blueberry’s regular visits is to a patient named Dottie, who said the visits make her happy. “I am so lonely here. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to feel a dog — her ears and body and soft fur. It is so … perfect.”
When Blueberry isn’t spreading cheer with patients, she attends BSL awareness walks with her owner and continues to change people’s minds “one pit bull at a time.”
The dog that made headlines when she moved her unconscious owner off train tracks and took the hit of a freight train continues to be an ambassador for the breed. The 8-year-old pit bull named Lilly was adopted by David Lanteigne from the Animal Rescue League in Boston a few years before the event, and he and his family were by her side continuously during her recovery.
Despite losing a limb and having regular therapy appointments, Lilly bounced back and has been a familiar face in the fight against BSL. She attends BSL awareness walks with Lanteigne, makes public appearances and even has her own kissing booth. Lanteigne and his family set up a charity in her name to help other pitties in need.
The Lilly the Hero Dog Fund tries to help place homeless pitties by regularly listing dogs up for adoption or in need of fostering in addition to donating time, money and supplies to shelters and rescues. The fund regularly advocates against BSL, spreads awareness, holds events and fundraisers, and provides financial assistance to dogs in need. Lilly’s so busy with her fans (and meeting new ones) that she has a schedule!
The male pit bull that hails from the Villalobos Rescue Center in New Orleans, also the location of Animal Planet’s show Pit Bulls and Parolees, has been featured on the television show. He’s also making headlines recently for being chosen as the celebrity mascot of the New Orleans VooDoo arena football team. His jersey number is K9, and he makes public appearances during the games and halftime shows.
Villalobos moved to Louisiana from California about a year ago and continues to film the popular show at its new location. The staff cares for, adopts out and receives an astonishing number of dogs. Rhino is just one of many pit bulls that have been helped by the rescue, and he looks quite happy to represent them.
Life on the streets had a happy ending when Murphy, still nursing on his homeless mother, was found and later adopted.
Amanda Clase adopted Murphy and had him certified as a therapy dog. Murphy visits hospitals, retirement homes and universities to offer comfort and spread awareness for the breed. Murphy carries forward the therapy dog legacy that began with Clase’s dogs, Samantha and Sydney, who were lost in 2010 because of health problems.
Murphy has been recognized for his therapy work by CharlieDog and Friends in the form of a plush dog named after him. He was the first pit bill therapy dog made into plush by the company after learning about him from StubbyDog and Pit Bull Rescue Central. The plush Murphy has a replica of his trademark socks that he wears to provide traction on freshly cleaned hospital floors.
Rescued from a shelter outside New York City, this male 2-year-old pittie is also part bulldog and Scottie. Kane visits nursing homes and acts as an ambassador for Kane’s Krusade, a nonprofit in Springfield, Massachusetts, founded by Kim George. George’s inspiration for the organization came after her dog, Tess, was diagnosed with cancer.
In addition to therapy visits and appearances by Kane, the organization helps spread awareness of BSL, offers assistance to families in unfortunate situations so they can keep their pets, holds workshops such as safe dog handling and organizes fundraisers. Kane’s Krusade goes into homes and works directly with dog owners who need assistance. The organization also hands out care kits, which include pet food, toys, leashes and collars, and offers assistance with microchipping, spay and neuter, vaccinations and behavior training.
Lennox’s Memory Lives On
Discussion of this topic deserves a mention of the BSL-loss felt around the world. Lennox, a mixed-breed therapy dog in Northern Ireland, was euthanized for nothing more than his appearance. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide signed a petition in support of his release to no avail, and his owners lost their years-long legal battle because of the very legislation we discuss here. Dog owners took and posted photos of their own dogs with the sign “I Am Lennox” in support of repealing the legislation that caused this tragedy. His memory lives on through efforts to change the law and spread awareness of the damage it causes.
There are many more examples of pit bull heroes that are great representations of the breed, and there will continue to be support against breed-specific legislation until all dogs are judged on their actions — not their appearances.