Huffpost Arts

Photographer's #NotABully Campaign Shows Pit Bulls As The Sweet, Loving Dogs They Are

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Douglas Sonders/Not A Bully
Douglas Sonders/Not A Bully

Emma the dog has gotten a lot of "extra pets and scratches from folks on the street" these last few days, says her owner Douglas Sonders.

Emma is something of a canine media personality now. She recently appeared in Cesar Millan's "Love My Pit Bull" special for Nat Geo Wild alongside Sonders, who created the incredibly cute and quite persuasively pro-pit bull photo series, "Not A Bully."

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Emma with Cesar Millan's dog Junior. Photo credit: Douglas Sonders/Not A Bully

Sonders -- who is primarily a commercial photographer, not a pet portraitist -- started Not A Bully in 2012. He was living in Washington, D.C., had just rescued Emma from a high-kill shelter and was surprised when he "saw the challenges that my new adopted pit rescue and other pit bulls faced in the public eye," he says. "Neighbors and people on the street would scowl and cross the street at the very presence of my perfectly behaved Emma."

Things have gotten somewhat better in the years since, he says, with President Obama having come out against laws that restrict ownership by breed, and shows like "Love My Pit Bull" making people "more open to welcoming these dogs into their homes."

not a bully

Porter the pit bull was found with two broken femurs and other serious injuries, after being abused by his former owner, a D.C. man named Charles Palmer. Palmer was sentenced to 25 months in jail for animal abuse earlier this month. Photo credit: Douglas Sonders/Not A Bully

Sonders, who now lives in New York, says he gets "hundreds of emails every week" from fans of these beleaguered dogs, who are eager to share their pups' (often heartbreaking) stories and (always) good looks in his photo series.

But with pit bulls and pit bull type dogs -- those whose exact genetic makeup is unknown, though they've got the blocky head and other physical characteristics of a pit -- still filling shelters, there's a long way to go.

"I hope we can promote more of these pups to be adopted into forever homes," says Sonders. "The whole goal of my campaign is to show that despite the hardships and abuse a pit bull may face, dogs that have every reason to hate and fear humans still serve our communities and families in a positive manner."

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London Freckles "was rescued from the streets of Baltimore in rough shape," says Sonders. "Good samaritans at Good Doggie Daycare nursed her back to health. Her adoptive mother, Carolyn, discovered that London, her first pit bull, was naturally gentle, smart and great with all other living beings." Photo credit: Douglas Sonders/Not A Bully

Want to be involved? Sonders asks fans to tweet their own pro-pit bull pics using the hashtag #notabully. You can check out more of the photos in the slideshow below but find more still, as well as information about how to submit your own pittie for consideration, on the project's Facebook page.

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We're always looking for stories about animals -- get in touch at arin.greenwood@huffingtonpost.com

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