Changing the Image of Pit Bulls

By Michele C. Hollow

Changing the Image of Pit Bulls

From the first day Emmett -- a pit bull and Plott Hound mix -- came to live with Maggie Marton, she searched for a therapy-dog training program. “Most facilities that did training weren’t insured for Pit Bulls,” she says.

Maggie finally found a program at the Monroe County Humane Association in Indiana. Since graduating, Emmett visits children at libraries, schools and a mental health facility for children. “He performs wonderfully in all three situations,” says Maggie, “but he really shines at the mental health facility.”

The first day there, Maggie noticed a quiet little boy sitting with his arms wrapped around his knees, peering out at her suspiciously. “While most of the kids elbow to be the first one to play with Emmett, he sat quietly in his spot,” says Maggie. “After a few visits, he still hadn’t asked for a turn. So as we went around the circle I asked, ‘Would you like a turn walking Emmett?’ He smiled and said ‘Yes, please’ so softly that I barely heard him.”

“We’ve been visiting for several months, and a few weeks ago we had to miss our visit while Emmett had surgery,” she says. “The next time we came in, this quiet little boy dashed over and said, ‘I missed you, Emmett!’ He wrapped his arms around him and Emmett gave him a big kiss.”

Despite Emmett’s winning personality, he encounters a lot of people who have negative ideas about pit bulls and pit bull mixes. “When people ask me if he’s a pit bull,” says Maggie, “I tell them that pit bull is actually a generic term, and that Emmett is an American Staffordshire terrier mix. I always add that he’s a very friendly therapy dog.”

Michele C. Hollow is a journalist and author who specializes in writing about animal welfare. Her blog, Pet News and Views, covers pet care, wildlife, and people who work with and on the behalf of animals.

Tags: dog breeds

Posted on September 8, 2011

James Creamer says: That is really awesome to hear. I have 2 Pitt-Bulls and they are by far the best dogs I have ever had, not to mention the smartest. They get a bad rap from people. You can make any dog mean if you want to. There are actually more bites from other dogs per year than Pitt-BullsMy dogs are the best and protective if they have to be, but the most fun-loving, and gentle as well. I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Posted on January 14, 2011

Pam says: I love this story! 2 of my daughters have Pitts, one has 2 of them, and they are wonderful dogs, great with the kids...I let them lick my face everyday!!

Posted on January 18, 2011

Nina says: I too know a woman whose 3 year old granddaughter was killed by the family pitbull

Posted on January 14, 2011

Christy says: Funny how I ran across this article days after my friends 5 year old neice was slaughtered by such dogs.

Posted on January 10, 2011

connie says: we rescued a pitty x and she is the best dog ever.

Posted on January 11, 2011

markie says: you go girl !! i have always loved pitt bulls n i always will n i feel like they are one of the most misunderstood breeds n i really wish that people could understand how great of they are.

Posted on February 7, 2012

Rain says: I have 2 pitt bulls myself, have been around them my whole life. It's the owner that makes or breaks the dog, not the dog. Mine are very socialized and wonderful with children. I had a 12lb Morkie that was more aggresive than my pitts. No matter what the breed....small children have no business being around dogs without adult supervision anyway.

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