Above is Juice, a pit bull type dog.
Last Christmas Eve, Juice was found tied to a pole in a construction lot and left to die. The NYPD brought Juice to the ASPCA where we treated his bite wounds and infections, and cared for him at our Animal Recovery Center. Juice was eventually adopted from the ASPCA Adoption Center by a college student and his family in Queens, NY, who report that Juice is happy, loving, and kind.
Sharing these stories is important because when people look at a pit bull type dog or imagine one, different images and ideas come to mind, and those images are often inaccurate and unfair. False preconceptions can be life-threatening for misunderstood dogs who make very loving and loyal pets.
It's true that the ancestors of many of today's pit bull were historically bred to fight dogs and other animals, but most modern pit bull type dogs serve as companions, and some are working dogs. You don’t hear news stories about sweet, well-behaved pit bulls, but they’re in shelters all over the country looking for safe and loving homes. They just need someone to give them a chance.
These dogs have different personalities, sizes, energy levels, and appearances, yet the one thing they share is an alarming tendency to be misrepresented and stigmatized.
Pit Bull Awareness Day is October 28th, and I hope this occasion encourages more people to look at dogs like Juice and think, simply, “What a big smile!” The rest is to be learned at responsible shelters from staffers who know the animal and her behavior very well. When it comes to adoption, facts – not fear – are by far your best guide.
I encourage everyone to be so willing this Saturday, every Saturday, and every day. You may end up adding a loving and playful member to your family – and you’d also be saving a life.
Matthew Bershadker is President and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)