I was recently asked an interesting question:
What affect the internet and social media have had on the debate over pit bulls.
…. And to be honest, it’s a complex question that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. Let’s rewind time before the wonderful world wide web became available to the average Joe.
Our source of news was the TV, the newspaper and magazine publications which didn’t offer up the opportunity to instantly debate, correct, comment or share as we do now. Articles could and would repeat misinformation always with the slanted and obviously hyped heading ready with the purpose of selling. One view, one sided and usually unchallenged.
In the old days…
Brian C. Anderson’s article written for City Journal in 1999 is a great example of just that. Headline screaming, “Scared of Pit Bulls? You Better Be!”, filled with the usual cry for a breed ban and paragraphs of just how horrible the dogs and their owners are.
Who could forget the July 1987 cover on Sports Illustrated? The Pit Bull Friend and Killer” in bold letters, followed by the opening statement: ” America has a four legged problem called the American Pit bull terrier…”
Fast forward 20 years and it’s a whole new world. Of course, some of the media still runs the same misinformation, articles slanted with the purpose to garner clicks and subscribers ::::coughcough thetimesherald coughcouch::: that are filled with limited fact checking and nonsense, but unlike 20 years ago, the public can chime in as soon as the articles are published. Owners, veterinarians, trainers and experts can speak up and respond.
Building a Nationwide Community
The internet and social media has done wonders for the pit bull community. It creates places for millions of owners to talk, vent, ask questions, advocate, rescue, change laws, change minds and work cohesively to build a safer community for humans and their pets together.
Social Media has given non-profits like Stubby’s Heroes’ a platform to reach more people not just in their community but nationwide.
Launching their “This is Your Neighbors Pet”, Stubby Heroes’ slays the misconception and unfair stigma placed on millions of innocent dogs and shattering the unfair stereotype of millions of dog owners.
Thanks to social media, it gives owners a voice in sharing the lives of their pets and families. From pages like Rafa, The Not so Baby Pibble and Juno Z dog to the rescued and rehabilitated Vicks dogs, like the amazing Ray the Vicktory Dog that shared his training and rehabilitation with the world. Social media has also exposed the fear mongering that PETA and other BSL fear mongering groups attempting to call for the destruction of these amazing dogs.
(Ray the Vicktory Dog)
Thanks to the internet and social media, communities can pull together to organize anti BSL efforts while helping each other in sharing resources, tips and stories.
The Double Edged Sword
For as good as the internet and social media is for our dogs, it also opens the door for BSL advocate groups like Dogsbite.org, Daxton’s Friends and the Pit bull Propaganda Machine Reveled to spread their own message and create an online community. It allows those intent on banning these dogs and isolating their owners a view into the lives of the people they have every intention of destroying. From cyber stalking, threatening and even taking images of children to mock and ridicule on their hate pages, the internet and social media has become just as valuable to them as it has their opposition.
It’s incredibly easy to point out all of the bad and place it justly on the shoulders of BSL advocates when it comes to damaging the image of the pit bulls and their owners, but it wouldn’t be accurate. As with any debate that stirs such emotion, extremists will always lift their ugly heads and extremists can be found on both sides of this argument. It became painfully obvious during the case of Mickey (the dog) and Kevin ( young boy from Phoenix) just how extremists from the pro pit bull advocacy was doing just as much damage as the BSL advocates.
It’s become obvious that the fight has been moving off the dogs and have become a human issue and the reason is a no brainer. Dogs have no clue about BSL. They have no clue that there are people bent on their destruction, nor do they always get to pick their owners. There are millions and millions of fantastic and amazing owners, yet many times, we hear about the small selective few who are absolute morons that should never have been allowed to take care of any living thing and have caused such a horrific tragedy that the news have plastered the story all over the internet.
Thanks to the internet, you can google anything. Not only can you find positive pit bull videos but you can find the worst videos ever known to man that include pit bulls. Unlike BSL advocates, I refuse to post them. Honestly, I refuse to even google them. There is no denying the brutality that these dogs can commit when placed in the wrong hands and sadly, the wrong hands can sometimes be from the people who had good intentions in the first place.
To Kill a Myth
Repeat after me… There is no such thing as a Nanny Dog. There is no such thing as a Nanny Dog. There is no such thing as a Nanny dog.
There is no such thing as a Nanny Dog. We do not live in a Disney cartoon where our dogs wander around with a bonnet and have the ability to babysit our children. Are our dogs amazing? Yes. Do they “love” their family members? Of course. Will they try to protect their family? Absolutely, but will your dog babysit or take care of your child all by themselves? Hell no.
It makes my eye cross when I read “Pit bulls were bread to be Nanny Dogs!” because it logically makes absolutely no sense to me and nor should it make any sense to any pit bull owner. Our dogs are powerful animals. The strength and stamina they have is amazing and yet, they can be gentle, lazy dogs but the key word is: they are just that… dogs. Animals. Carnivores. They don’t process things like humans, nor will they react the same way as humans and it’s obvious by certain videos circulating the internet, there are many humans who are not even capable of reading their dogs body language.
Parents who find this cute and funny….
None of that makes sense to me but if any of those dogs bite those children, the parents will stand around and wonder “But I don’t know what happpppennned!” I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s true: The Nanny dog myth kills and it needs to stop, with us. Our community needs to keep correcting it EVERY DAMN TIME WE HEAR IT. A great advocate said something that I think is essential because it is 100% true :
“The fact that these dogs are good family dogs has been twisted by our own community and is causing our dogs to fail, and for kids to get hurt.”
The greatest thing about the internet and social media when it comes do our dogs and our advocacy is that it gives all of us the chance to speak up and squash the misconceptions and myths that started a long time ago. The internet and social media is our tool and it can help us do amazing things. It can help us find homes for dogs, help our community with services, fund raise, share, laugh, make amazing friends across the nation. It gives us an opportunity to pull together and be the voice for our pets and our families. Just like any tool, it comes with great responsibility because for as good as it can do, it can just as much harm with the simplest of ease… by just pressing enter.
With Great Power comes Great Responsibility
- Spiderman or Voltaire
- (Your choice…)