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Awareness campaign seeks to reverse negative pit bull stereotypes

Published January 29, 2014 at 8:25 am

In popular media, pit bulls are often shown as burly warriors, specially bred denizens of a canine warrior class far removed from the sorts of dogs that friendly individuals or families would ever own. In some ways, this depiction makes sense: they are undoubtedly a powerful breed, a fact which leads some unscrupulous folks to raise them poorly.

However, any misdeeds thereby committed are solely the fault of the poor owners — the dogs themselves are as naturally eager, sweet and lovable as any other breed.

A new marketing campaign sponsored by a Memphis animal rescue hopes to better communicate that.

The ads, entitled “We’re Pit Bull People” hopes to use depictions of friendly and happy pooches to reverse prevailing conceptions about the breeds. By counteracting the more violent popular images with ones featuring pit bulls that are docile and lovable, Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County hopes not only to alter negative opinions, but also to save some of the dogs from violent ends.

The issue isn’t simply one of perception. Many landlords are hesitant to rent to residents who own a pit bull, and they are considerably more difficult for families to adopt . Katie Pemberton, who works at the shelter, believes that her campaign will help effect some change.

“The biggest thing we want people to understand is that pit bulls are just dogs. The way I always respond to people who say they don’t like or are fearful of pit bulls is to invite them to come see us and meet some of our pit bulls, or go to any local shelter or rescue organization and spend time with adoptable pit bulls. I guarantee you will leave with a different opinion,” Pemberton says.

For these pups, a changed mind could mean a lot.

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