And what are pit bull advocates?
by Beth Clifton
Photos, memes and videos posted to social media and the Internet by pit bull advocates continually share and amplify the message that pit bulls are not monsters, despite the rapidly rising body count associated with them.
We are urged to believe instead the myth that pit bulls are gentle giants who would not hurt anyone or anything.
But consider what the pro-pit bull imagery evokes. The iconic visuals include babies with pit bulls, small innocent animals nestled close by their sides, and photos of beautiful young women affectionately posed with their pit bulls, plus videos combining all of the above.
Staked out for sacrifice
Consistently these depictions promote the theme that “The lion shall lie down with the lamb,” simultaneously reminding us that a pit bull is in truth a large, dangerous animal with the huge jaws and musculature of a dragon, and seeking to reverse the viewer’s initial perception that a child, small animal, or damsel in such proximity to the beast has been staked out to be sacrificed.
Ironically, many of the children, animals, and young women posed in such visuals have in truth been killed or disfigured by pit bulls on later occasions. ANIMALS 24-7 has documented many such instances, including the tragic deaths––some would say self-martyrdoms––of BADRAP volunteer Darlene Napora, Best Friends Network photographer Rebecca Carey, vegan blogger Tracy Patterson Cornelius, and ardently pro-pit Facebook warrior Bethany Lynn Stephens, the latter pair killed within 15 days of each other in November and December 2017.
(See What pit bull advocates don’t learn from their own maulings, Virginia pit bull fancier, 22, sets new record for pit bull deaths in one year, “Second chance” pit bull mauls pit advocate groomer at PetSmart.)
This begs the simple questions which must be asked about the true nature of pit bulls, as well as the nature of those who promote and defend them.
Why are we so conflicted?
Are pit bulls indeed monsters, as the often violent imagery that pit bull breeders use in their advertisements encourages us to believe, or are they just dogs, as pit bull advocates insist to the public?
Why are pit bull owners and advocates so determined to reinvent the very image that breeders work so hard to advance?
Why does the pit bull image need re-inventing, or need an increasingly well-funded and mobilized political lobby to defend?
And why has the concern for the sentience and compassion for the suffering of ALL living beings espoused by much of the humane community fallen dead before the altar of the pit bull?
Why do so many humane movement leaders believe it is acceptable to sacrifice the lives of tens of thousands of other animals, and dozens of humans, each and every year, just to save pit bulls who have typically been surrendered to shelters, or impounded, after already demonstrating violent proclivities?
I believe the answer to this is not nearly as complex as pit bull advocates would have us believe.
There are huge contradictions in some of the behavior we see in pit bulls, who often veer back and forth from affectionately “sweet” and “goofy” to inflicting mayhem, and yet these contradictions occur consistently in practically all pit bulls. We see in these dogs a lack of impulse control, hyper reactivity, fearfulness and anxiety, among their most basic and universal traits.
I can attest to this myself, having been exposed to a great many pit bulls in my former capacities as animal control officer, veterinary technician, former pit bull owner and rescuer, and now outspoken advocate for public safety, including effective breed-specific legislation.
Speak the words “pit bull” to others and you will trigger a myriad of responses from people running the entire spectrum of human emotions, from “poor babies!” meaning the dogs, to “poor babies” meaning children such as Jase Fohs of Lusby, Maryland; Kamiko Dao Tsuda-Saelee of Las Vegas, Nevada; Susannah Jean Murray of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Barrett Hagans, of Knox County, Ohio. All were killed by pit bulls in 2017 before reaching the age of one year old.
The “poor babies!” response from pit bull advocates unfortunately tends to reflect not genuine empathy for an animal whose very nature most deny, but rather self-centered projection of personal identity issues. Such advocates identify with pit bulls and express sympathy for them by perceiving pit bulls as mirrors of their own difficult life experiences and personal dilemmas.
Pit bull advocates do not extend their sympathy to all sentient beings, and indeed typically deny the sufferings of others. Not only do they tend to refuse to recognize the damage that pit bulls have inflicted upon humans and other animals, but tend as well to blame the victims for having allegedly done something to bring about their own suffering and often death––even if the victims never knew the pit bulls existed until they were under attack.
Are pit bulls monsters? Consider these two definitions of “monster” from Merriam-Webster:
a : an animal or plant of abnormal form or structure
a mythical monster
a sea monster
b : one who deviates from normal or acceptable behavior or character
an immoral monster
Both definitions seem applicable.
Monsters & immoral monsters
Reality is that pit bulls have been bred methodically for centuries by immoral monsters (definition b) to fight and kill or be killed in dog fighting pits, whilst other immoral monsters wager money on the dogs and watch them tear each other apart.
Through such breeding, pit bulls had already become monsters (definition a) by the time Queen Elizabeth I preferred watching dogfights at the Paris Gardens while much of her court attended premiers of William Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe Theatre right next door.
Five centuries later, disfiguring and fatal attacks committed by pit bulls on both humans and animals increase in number each year, eclipsing the estimated volume of mayhem in Elizabethan times more than a decade ago.
Yet pit bull owners, advocates, and humane organizations continue to gloss over and reinvent the true nature of the pit bull, thereby becoming immoral monsters (definition b) every bit as much as pit bull breeders.
Pit bull advocacy has superseded concern for preventing human and animal suffering and protecting public safety to the extent that you and I and our animals have all in effect been staked out for sacrifice.
No matter who is disfigured or killed, the Pit Bull God or Goddess must be appeased at any cost.
In that light, the stocky, muscular, block-headed dogs in tutus and pearls much resemble the bejeweled priesthood of a sacrificial cult.
They are coming to a neighborhood near you. Will you, your family, your friends, or your pets be the next victims?