Apparently a whole lot. This is not groundbreaking news in the ‘pitbull’ world. If your reading this, I’m guessing that the majority of you all know about the name situation. But what really IS in a name? There is all this hype and stigma behind The Pitbull. The word. Pitbull. What are we even referring to?!
I went to this great seminar (though I did have to duck out early, unfortunately), brought to us here in Baltimore by the lovely Kim Wolf who came all the way down from Animal Farm Foundation from upstate New York, to help us out with this whole court ruling thing. I touched on it about a month ago, but for those of you who are not in Maryland…it’s all that we’ve been thinking about.
So anyway, back to the seminar. Kim said to us, if you take one thing away from this seminar, I want it to be this: you cannot judge a dog based on its appearance. The appearance of a dog tells you nothing. Yet that’s what we do, right? “Oh that’s a rottie, you can tell by its coloring”. Or, “That dog sure does have some lab in it, you can tell by the coat”. Or, “that pit is a staffie”. I’m totally guilty of it. Remember I joked (kind of) that our little Lolabug looked liked a pitbull-french bulldog-bunny rabbit-mix?! Kim showed us pictures of all these different dogs and let me tell you, what their DNA tests came back with, told us something totally different then what the average person would have guessed.
Now I don’t have her pictures, but as you know, I foster through a ‘pit bull rescue’. Yet take a look at the dogs that have come through my home.
What do they all have in common? Little Lola rang in at a whopping 38lbs, soaking wet. Knox was a trim 68lbs, and Ariel was a chunky girl (with a big frame) tipping the scale at almost 80lbs. Though there are no DNA tests, I’m guessing they are a heinz 57 mix. Yet, they were all considered “pitbull mix” at the shelter they were pulled from. Do you know any other ‘BREED’ (I say that loosely, because the point of this post is that these are not American Pit Bull Terriers…or any other ‘breed’) that has such a variety in colors, frame/build, size, etc.? I didn’t think so.
So the point? Well there are lots. But a huge point is that Animal Farm’s mission statement started out about 3 decades ago trying to change the image and secure equal treatment of the APBT. That has since evolved to the ‘pitbull’. This change was due to the realization that there were a ton of other dogs that were being labeled ‘pitbull’ and discriminated against as well, many of which were just you average, mis-labeled shelter dogs, many of which were not APBT’s at all.
The shocking statistic for me? A dog’s appearance is 2-10% of his DNA. That’s it! Two to ten percent! That small percentage makes up how large the dog is, how stock/slender, the color of the coat, the markings, the fur, how it’s ears are…etc. That was very shocking for me. How do you think the intake worker at the shelter labels the dogs that come in every day? Do you think they have DNA kits they run on every dog? Yet pet point (the software many shelters use) requires them to enter in a ‘breed’. There is no “mutt”, “mix” or other go to label. So what does the typical American Shelter dog get labeled? Pitbull. (or Pit bull mix, or terrier mix, etc).
So, food for thought. What we typically label a ‘pitbull’ many be a good ‘ol Heinz 57 mix.
For us, here at Pittieful Love, we’ll continue to use the word Pitbull, very well knowing that this is not a ‘breed’ but most often, a grouping of dogs who are quickly labeled based on 2-10% of their DNA. The ‘mission’ of this blog has always been ‘Fostering and loving America’s Dog…’and that’s exactly what we’ll continue to do.
Oh, and if anyone reading this works at a shelter, you can do something by contacting Pet Point and letting them know the labeling system is not working out for you.