Farewell Post

This blog was a project for my online journalism class and my semester has come to an end. I do not plan on continuing this blog in the immediate future. However, in a few years when I am not busy with college, I might consider writing about this topic again.

Writing and learning about pit bulls is something that I really enjoyed doing. Personally, I loved breaking down a lot of the stereotypes that have annoyed me since my family adopted a pit bull. I also enjoyed learning about this wonderful breed.

Although I don’t plan on writing about this topic in the near future, I do plan on continuing to learn about pit bulls.  This is really a topic that I have grown more passionate about and I am very eager to continue to learn about.

I had a lot of fun with this blog and had the pleasure of speaking to a lot of interesting people. I really appreciate anyone who took the time to talk to me or read a post. Hearing many different experiences with the pit bull breed and getting to talk to a handful of different people was one of my favorite parts about this blog.

Here are some of my favorite posts that I’ve written:

  1. The Five Misconceptions about Pit Bulls– This was one of my first posts and possibly my favorite. I really enjoyed debunking a lot of these myths that have annoyed me. I also thought that this post did a fairly decent job of avoiding bias and presented factual evidence. That’s something that has been a little tricky to maintain with a topic I’m this passionate about, but presenting facts over opinion is something that I really tried to do.
  2. Visit to Camden County Animal Shelter– I liked this interview a lot. I really enjoyed talking to the head of shelter operations there and thought it was a good interview. I was also pleased because I didn’t run into any audio or camera issues.
  3. Lilo’s Promise Photo Gallery– Any time you get to meet awesome dogs, it makes for a very enjoyable experience. I was very happy to have the opportunity to go to the same shelter where my dog came from and meet some of their pits. Also they have a giant dog named Lucky and he was awesome!
  4. Vilification of Pit Bulls–  Learning the history of pit bulls and discovering why they became so vilified was a very interesting experience. I thought this turned out to be a solid post. I also liked this because I really enjoy researching facts and history.
  5. All Dogs are Dogs: This was my last post and I think it was one of my favorites. My dog Hope was really my inspiration for choosing this blog topic and it was cool to tell a little of her story and make a video about her. I also liked this post because I got to interview one of the co-founders of Lilo’s and she told me about her early experiences with Hope. The interview was a lot of fun for me and I think it was my favorite interview I’ve done.
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All Dogs are Dogs: My Experience Raising a Special Needs Pit Bull

 

With all the negative stereotypes and publicity that surrounds the pit bull breed, it’s not hard to buy into the sensationalism. However, when you get to know them, you may find that pit bulls are just like any other dog.

Before my family adopted a pit bull I knew very little about the breed. The extent of what I thought that I knew was what I had heard from the media. However, for some reason I just assumed that pit bulls were different from other dogs.

I’m not sure why I had this belief. Maybe I just accepted the belief as fact, because it was a popular belief. Maybe I bought into the media’s sensationalism. However, no matter the reason, all of my prior beliefs quickly disappeared when my family adopted our deaf pit Hope.

My family decided to adopt Hope about two weeks after our black lab passed away. At first I was a little hesitant about adopting a pit bull, but after meeting her, she changed my mind.

She is just such an awesome dog. Before my family adopted her, Hope had a pretty rough life. She lived under a deck, her previous owners beat and burned her, and she had severe damage to her hips. However, even after all those terrible things, she was such a happy girl. None of that mattered to her. She didn’t care that she was deaf or that she had scars all over her or that her hips didn’t work properly. Honestly, she just wanted to be a dog. She wanted to have a family and wanted to be loved.

The reason why I bring up this short anecdote is for two reasons:

  1. It is very easy to buy into negative pit bull stereotypes and propaganda 

In an interview I did with the Shelter Director of the Animal Adoption Center, Chris Harris, I thought he brought up a very good point about the sensationalism of pit bulls.

“When you hear about a dog attack 9 times out of 10 your are going to hear about a pit bull  attacking a little girl or boy,” said Harris. “Those are the types of stories that will be sensationalized. You will never hear about the golden retrievers or chihuahuas that bite kids because it’s not as vicious looking.”

When you only hear about pit bulls biting people and when any large dog who bites someone is identified as a pit bull, it’s not hard to buy into the anti-pit propaganda.

According to poll results posted on Huffington Post last year, “40 percent of Americans consider pit bulls to be too dangerous to live in residential neighborhoods, while 39 percent consider them to be safe.”

I think that the main reason for the negative reputation surrounding pit bulls is just people’s ignorance about the breed.

Pit bulls test very high in temperament tests nationwide, but I don’t think this is a statistic that anyone really knows. When people hear about pit bulls, they hear about bite statistics (which are often flawed) and horror stories told by the media.

People know and hear about the handful of pit bulls who are on the news for attacking people, but they don’t know about pit bulls as a whole.

2. Pit bulls are just like any other dog 

Raising a deaf pit bull isn’t different from raising any other dog. If you train and raise your dog properly, then they have the potential to be a good dog. Whether or not a dog is well behaved is more dependent on the owner than it is the breed.

Even if a dog is deaf, it’s still very similar to raising a dog that can hear. In fact, Jennifer Conners of Lilo’s Promise believes that it might even be easier to train a deaf dog.

“I actually find it easier to train deaf dogs and enjoy doing it when I have the time to commit to it,” said Conners. “I think it’s easier because they don’t hear the distractions that are going on around them. If you are training your deaf dog, it’s much easier to get them to focus and concentrate on you.”

At first when I heard her say this, I was kind of surprised. Normally having a deaf dog would be seen as an obstacle to overcome while training. However, once I thought about what she had said, I realized that it was very true.

If I think back to my family’s black lab and compare it to raising Hope, I believe that overall our deaf pit was much easier to train and as a result better behaved.

It’s all about having the knowledge to train the dog and knowing how to communicate with it. Whether the dog can hear or not, communication is essential. When my family was training our black lab, we knew a lot less about dog training. However, 10 years later we knew much more communication and training techniques. Just knowing those techniques made it easier to train our pit and resulted in a much more obedient dog.

All dogs are dogs. No matter the breed, appearance, or disability, all dogs have the potential to be loving companions and family members.

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Video Profile: An Inside Look at Camden County Animal Shelter

This week I visited the Camden County Animal Shelter and talked to the head of shelter operations, Mike Bricker.

The Camden County Animal shelter, located in Blackwood, NJ, houses both cats and dogs of all breeds. Annually the shelter takes in approximately 4,500 animals. Of those 4,500 animals, about 2,000 of them are dogs and approximately 75-85 percent of those dogs are identified as pit bulls.

Although my GPS got me terribly lost, it was well worth the trip. It was a pleasure to meet some of Camden County Animal Shelter’s extremely friendly staff and their awesome dogs.

One of the dogs that I met at the shelter was named Mercedes (the white pit bull with brown spots seen in the video below.) She was just such an awesome, friendly, and happy pit. If people took the time to get to know the true side of pit bulls, I really think that a lot of the negative stereotypes that surround this breed would begin to disappear.

In the video below, I speak with Mike about pit bulls, the importance of spaying/neutering animals, and the shelter’s long term goals.

 

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Blogger Profile: Lindsay Stordahl, The Blogger Behind ThatMutt.com

Lindsay Stordahl and her black lab mix, Ace (Photo credit to Lindsay Stordahl)

Lindsay Stordahl and her black lab mix, Ace (Photo credit to Lindsay Stordahl)

ThatMutt.com is a blog for dog lovers who wish to share their experiences as dog owners and learn from the experiences of others. While some blogs tend to lecture readers on which methods are wrong and which are right, ThatMutt.com encourages readers to be open minded and learn from each other. Raising a dog can be a difficult process and it’s impossible for a single person to hold all the answers.

Lindsay Stordahl, owner of ThatMutt.com, started blogging while working as an editor and page designer for a newspaper. Lindsay found her job at the newspaper to be unfulfilling and wished to pursue blogging as a full-time career.

Although it was a risk, Lindsay quit her job at the newspaper, started a dog walking business, and further pursued her goal of making a successful living off her blog. Now for seven years Lindsay has made a living off her two loves: dogs and writing.

“Mostly I just love dogs and writing so it made sense to start a dog blog. There weren’t as many dog blogs at that time and I thought it would be easy to become the best dog blogger. Mostly I just wanted a place where I could write and share information and hopefully make a little money. I always wanted my blog to be my source of income. I just wasn’t sure how to get there.”

For Lindsay, communicating with her audience and sharing ideas has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of running a blog. On a daily basis, she gets to converse with numerous readers who share similar interests and passions.

“[My favorite aspect of running a blog is] connecting with other people who love dogs and share the same views as me on training, raising dogs, rescuing dogs, etc. At the same time, I also love that I’ve created a place where people are not afraid to disagree and have meaningful discussions without being hurtful. We all have a lot to learn from each other.”

While being self-employed and making a living off something you love can be an extremely fulfilling experience,  it also has its challenges. For self-employed bloggers, there is a lot of pressure to show self-discipline and keep producing interesting content.

“It’s hard to keep writing content that is interesting to me but also interesting and helpful to other people. Each post takes me a long time to write so it’s hard to get everything done.”

“There is so much more to blogging than just writing. I have to manage my editorial calendar, schedule interviews, work with my partners on product reviews & sponsored content, take photos, market my ebooks, manage my email list, run social media campaigns, organize affiliate links and ads, send invoices, format my posts so they actually look good, keep SEO in mind, etc.”

As a blogger and a journalist by trade, Lindsay believes that blogging is the future of journalism. As the newspapers continue to struggle, she believes that readers will turn to individuals for their news and content.

“Blogging is the new journalism. People don’t trust the media. They trust individuals.”

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Interview with Chris Harris, Shelter Director of the Animal Adoption Center

Chris Harris, Shelter Director of the Animal Adoption Center, with his dog Utley (Photo/Matt Mizanin)

Chris Harris, Shelter Director of the Animal Adoption Center, with his dog Utley (Photo/Matt Mizanin)

This weekend I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Harris, shelter director of the Animal Adoption Center. The Animal Adoption Center, or AAC, is a non-profit animal shelter in Lindenwold, NJ that rescues both dogs and cats. The AAC prides its self in being a no-kill shelter.

Working at the AAC is a dream job for Chris, who has had a strong love and passion for animals since he was a kid. After years of working for Fortune 500 companies, Chris quit his cozy corporate gig and decided to pursue his love of rescuing animals. After quitting his job, he began to work part time at a local animal shelter in Phoenix, AZ. Chris then made his way to New Jersey and joined the AAC family in February, 2015.

Chris loves animals of all kind, but he especially has a strong love for bully breeds. Although the breed has often been misunderstood, Chris has found them to be a sweet and lovable breed.

During my interview with Chris, he discusses many things such as his personal journey, the challenges of running an animal rescue, and his experience with pit bulls.

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Breed Specific Legislation: Ineffective, Costly, and Unjust

Most people can agree that it is unjust to make generalizations about someone, punish them, or discard them based on their appearance alone. You can’t just kick someone out of your community because they look a certain way. Yet, this is exactly what breed-specific legislation does to certain breeds of dogs.

Breed-specific legislation or BSL labels certain breeds as dangerous and forbids them from living in certain communities. Even if a particular dog has never been known to show any signs of aggression, under BSL the dog will not be able to live in the community if they are labeled as a member of a banned breed. The dog and it’s family will either be forced to move or the dog will likely be killed.

The goal of BSL is to limit the amount of dog attacks and bites in a community, however as a whole the legislation has been ineffective.

One example of the ineffectiveness of BSL, was a 2003 study conducted by a task force in Prince George County, MD. According to the study, the county spent $250,000 annually to enforce a strict pit bull ban, however it was concluded that the ban failed to improve public safety. Yet, for some reason Prince George County still forbids pit bulls from living in their community to this day.

Prince George County isn’t the only place where breed-specific legislation has been ruled ineffective. According to a newsletter from the American Bar Association, extensive research done in Spain and Great Britain also concluded that BSL has had “no effect at all on stopping dog attacks.”

These numerous studies have caused many organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Bar Association, and the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention to speak out against this legislation.

Even President Obama has spoken out about the ineffectiveness of BSL and has taken an official stance against it. In an official statement from the White House, the president stated the following:

“We don’t support breed-specific legislation — research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources.”

So why does breed-specific legislation still exist? Other than promoting a false sense of security within communities, the legislation hasn’t accomplished much.

BSL punishes responsible owners and their beloved dogs. Communities that enforce this law create an ultimatum which forces many responsible owners to either give up their dogs or move to a different community. Instead, the law should focus on eliminating bad owners rather than condemning an entire breed for the actions of a small percentage of dogs.

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Photo Gallery: Meet Two of Lilo’s Promise’s Sweetest Rescue Pit Bulls

Last week I went to Lilo’s Promise Rescue and took pictures of two of their rescue pit bulls, Madison and Lucky.  Both dogs were a little camera shy, but they were extremely sweet and fun to be around. It was such a fun experience to go down to Lilo’s and meet two of their sweetest pit bulls.

Meet Madison

Madison was with a family for six years, but was returned when her family had a baby. Maddie is seven years-old, super smart, and very well trained. She is very athletic, enjoys playing ball, and loves to swim.

Overall Maddie is such a low maintenance and fun-loving girl. Any family that adopts Madison will be getting a great dog.

Meet Lucky

As someone who is a rather large individual, I absolutely loved Lucky. Lucky is about 130 pounds and is one of the coolest dogs I’ve ever met. Lucky was previously with a family, but returned because he needs to be an only dog. He is crate trained, house trained, and might be the world’s biggest lap dog.

Lucky is about 2-3 years-old. Some people might be a little intimidated by his size, but he is 130 pound teddy bear. He is not great around other animals, but would be excellent as an only dog.

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