Jolly, a pit bull, enjoys a snack with Nick the cat at the county animal shelter during a "Pittie Party."

Throwing a ‘Pittie Party’

Basement Beat
By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

I’m not a dog person, so I didn’t until recently know much about pit bulls except what I feel like I most commonly hear about them: they don’t deserve their violent reputation.

Which makes sense to me. People train their animals—even a lack of training is still technically training them (in bad behavior). So, if a dog is vicious, it’s because it was trained that way.

I also know people hold onto prejudices long after they’ve been factually dispelled, so I guess it’s not surprising that the Allegan County Animal Shelter felt the need to organize a “Pittie Party” last Thursday (April 3), just to help raise awareness that pits aren’t so bad and that there are a bunch of great pets there to adopt that people shouldn’t discount solely because of their breed.

One link I found useful in learning more about the breed’s history is at www.badrap.org.

From that site: “A dog (Olde English Bulldog) that looked much like today’s pit bull was originally used in the 1800s in the British Isles to ‘bait’ bulls. These matches were held for the entertainment of the struggling classes; a source of relief from the tedium of hardship.

“In 1835, bull baiting was deemed inhumane and became illegal, and dog fighting became a popular replacement.

“Soon, a new bulldog was created by crossing the Olde English Bulldog with terriers to create smaller, more agile dogs. The best fighters were celebrated and held up as heroes for their courage and fortitude during battle.

“At the same time, bite inhibition towards humans was encouraged through selective breeding so gamblers could handle their dogs during staged fights. Partially because of these early breeding efforts which frowned on ‘man biters,’ pit bulls gained a reputation for their trustworthy nature with humans.”

Nifty! So, look for more pictures from the Pittie Party next week online and for my brief interview in the paper with the kind folks at Wishbone Pet Rescue who manage the county shelter.

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