5 Pit Bulls Who Are Giving the Breed a Good Name

There are many pit bulls and their owners working tirelessly to improve the reputation of the breed. Meet some of the canine heroes in our article.

Many dogs have been victims of breed-specific legislation (BSL) in the past, and no breed knows this better than the Staffordshire bull terrier breed.

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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1. Blueberry

Blueberry loves to visit with people as a therapy dog. By: Blueberry the Pit Bull Therapy Dog
Blueberry loves to visit with people as a therapy dog. By: Blueberry the Pit Bull Therapy Dog

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.”

2. Lilly

Lilly is a symbol of canine bravery and loyalty. By: Lilly the Hero Pit Bull
Lilly is a symbol of canine bravery and loyalty. By: Lilly the Hero Pit Bull

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!

3. Rhino

Rhino sports his K9 jersey at VooDoo events. By: Villalobos Rescue Center
Rhino sports his K9 jersey at VooDoo events. By: Villalobos Rescue Center

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.

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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.

4. Murphy

Murphy has a plush dog named after him. By: Change.org
Murphy has a plush dog named after him. By: Change.org

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.

5. Kane

Kane (right) is the face of Kane's Krusade.
Kane (right) is pictured here with Tess. By: Kane’s Krusade.

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.

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, has been researching dog and cat breeds for nearly a decade and has observed the animals up close at dog shows in both the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of the book One Unforgettable Journey, which was nominated for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. Kristine has researched and written about pet behaviors and care for many years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, another bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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7 Comments

  1. Patch O' Pits Therapy Dogs
    March 28, 2013

    Hi there! Thank you for doing this positive story; heroes come in al shapes and sizes. My pit bulls have been doing therapy work for over 14 years; it is so nice to see so many newbies to the breed now getting involved. Way to go everyone!!! If you have questions about therapy dog work feel free to visit my fb page it is called Patch O’ Pits Therapy Dogs. I’ve attached a picture of my BODACIOUS with a troop of Brownies she was teaching about how to greet a dog, proper pet care and responsible ownership so they could earn a patch.

    Reply
    1. David Deleon Baker
      March 28, 2013

      Aww, Bodacious seems awesome. We might have to update this post at some point with a few more canine heroes!

      Reply
      1. Jennifer Gill
        March 29, 2013

        yes…that would be awesome! There are definitely a few more that are also very deserving of this recognition!

        Reply
  2. Frankie I'm a LoverNotAFighter
    May 19, 2013

    Yes, thank you for doing this story about RESCUED pit bulls! There are many RESCUED pit bulls doing the very same work. It’s important to share over and over again the importance of adopting and not sharing. There is absolutely NO VALID reason to breed this type of dog at this day and time since it’s the number one type of dog in almost every shelter across the US. My Frankie was seized in a drug raid and is now a therapy dog. This is a quality he was born with, and not something that can be bred into a dog. Thinking one can breed a “therapy disposition” into a dog is just as dangerous and ignorant as those who think they can breed aggression into them as well. Dogs are born who they are, and you can help mold and shape them to be well behaved and loving dogs. Thank you for spreading the good news, and hopefully those who breed pit bulls will get with the program.

    Reply
  3. Dan Frontworth
    Thanks
    May 20, 2013

    Yes, thank you for doing this story about RESCUED pit bulls! There are many RESCUED pit bulls doing the very same work. It’s important to share over and over again the importance of adopting and not sharing. There is absolutely NO VALID reason to breed this type of dog at this day and time since it’s the number one type of dog in almost every shelter across the US. My Frankie was seized in a drug raid and is now a therapy dog. This is a quality he was born with, and not something that can be bred into a dog. Thinking one can breed a “therapy disposition” into a dog is just as dangerous and ignorant as those who think they can breed aggression into them as well. Dogs are born who they are, and you can help mold and shape them to be well behaved and loving dogs. Thank you for spreading the good news, and hopefully those who breed pit bulls will get with the program.

    Reply
  4. brad jones
    November 4, 2017

    I love to hear good stories about pit bulls! Murphy is one of my favorite stories! I love when dogs get a fairy tale ending of sorts. Its so sad how many pit bulls end up killed on the streets and in shelters. Murphy has really touched a lot of lives in such a short period of time. I think the world needs more therapy dogs like Murphy. These dogs bring such hope to children and adults. Its really crazy how powerful a dogs energy can be, they really gods gift to man and our best friends. I wouldn’t know what to do without my pit bulls. They help my so much without ever realizing they are doing anything at all. I don’t know what I would do without them. They are my joy. I love my pit bulls more than anything, I hope more pit bulls will become therapy dogs like Murphy!

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      November 4, 2017

      They truly are a great breed of dog – so much of their behavior is dictated by their pet parents. Like any large breed, they need to be raised and trained appropriately.

      Reply

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