Don’t VICTIMIZE My Breed!

We’ve all heard the phrase “Don’t Bully my Breed!” in regards to pit bulls and other types of dogs that are typically the recipients of stereotypes. I get it… people are tired of their dogs being the subject of misinformed accusations and outright lies. However, I’m here to tell you that while I get the reasoning behind it, that’s NOT what we should be saying. Confused? Stick with me.

What well-intentioned ‘advocates’ don’t realize, is that by reminding people not to bully their breed, they aren’t actually changing minds and opening hearts… what they are really doing is reminding those fence-sitters (the people who don’t know much about pit bull dogs, or haven’t established a position on them) that there are a lot of people out there who don’t like them. And if a lot of people don’t like these dogs, why would they want to adopt one? There has to be some truth behind it, right? Of course, we know that isn’t the case, but you wouldn’t convince them of that, not by that statement alone anyhow.

By reminding people that pit bulls are more likely to be euthanized in shelters, we also remind them that there must be something ‘wrong’ with these dogs.

By exaggerating how many pit bulls are abused and used for things like dog fighting, we remind them that there must be something ‘different’ about these dogs.

By talking about how pit bulls are so much better than other types, we remind them that there is something ‘unique’ about these dogs.

By comparing pit bull bite estimations to those of smaller breeds, we remind them that it is okay to judge all dogs based only upon breed.

By talking about how great all pit bulls are with kids, we remind them of all the dogs who were supposed to be, and weren’t.

By saying that “it’s all in how they’re raised!” we remind them that dogs who weren’t raised well, don’t deserve a chance.

By coming across as wacky pit bull people, we remind them that there is something ‘strange’ about us, and our affinity for these types of dogs.

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Think about the day after the Super Bowl: nobody wants to buy the loser’s T shirt. The same can be said for shelter dogs. Sure, bleeding-hearts and the people who are embroiled in the day-to-day sorrows of animal rescue are going to be best-sold on the sob stories. But what about the real families, the college students, the retired couples? THOSE are the people to whom we want to market our adoptable dogs! And what are they looking for in a pet? They are looking for an addition to their family, a pup that will sleep in bed with their kids and go on hikes every weekend. They want a dog they can take on vacation or whose silly antics will entertain their friends at a party. The average, awesome family is not going to be interesting in taking on a dog with ‘issues,’ so why do we keep marketing our dogs to people just like us? We are ‘protecting’ our dogs from people who may not be perfect by first application-perusal, but all of that might be nothing a little information and conversation can’t fix. And while we are denying applications based on age or income or lack of experience, other amazing dogs are dying every day in the shelter. Guys, we as a society of animal rescuers, are protecting our dogs to death.

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Research has shown that any instance of negative marketing has a tendency to result in psychic numbing. When we frame our dogs as an overwhelming problem or negative abstraction, rather than individuals who bring value to our communities, the public is always going to turn the other way. They will walk away from your marketing thinking ‘This hurts” or “This is unpleasant” as opposed to imagining the added benefit to their lives with a new family pet.

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In professional marketing, there is a saying that ‘Sadness repels, and happiness sells.’ Let’s start taking a positive approach to marketing our adoptable dogs. Think about the products that possess marketing tactics that draw you in. Do their advertisements make you feel guilty for not purchasing their product, or rather make you imagine how much better your life would be with that product in it? Of course! And aren’t there about 1,257,832 reasons our adoptable pups would make fantastic pets? Then why aren’t we focusing on that?! It’s not as if we can’t come up with amazing reasons to adopt! In order to find adopters who are truly a great fit for our pups, we need to focus on selling our dogs, not their stories.

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Let’s stop unintentionally doing such a disservice to our dogs. Let’s stop marketing to ourselves, and instead focus on all the reasons the public would be lucky to have our adoptable dogs in their lives. There are only about a billion to choose from!

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17 thoughts on “Don’t VICTIMIZE My Breed!

  1. I love this post! I love that my boys are ‘Pit bull-types’ but rarely refer to them by breed when in conversation. They’re just dogs and though they can both be called Pit Bulls, they are not the same type of dog, nor do they have the same temperment. Also, the “it’s how they’re raised” statement sets my teeth on edge.

  2. How do you always beat me to things? I was literally planning almost an identical post! I’m right there with you on the raising vs. managing and drawing unnecessary attention to the story behind dogs rather that the actual dog (something I’ve been guilt of in the past 😢). I recently read this wonderful article about a former “pit bull” rescue that completely dropped their name and mission statement because they realized they were doing a disservice to the breed by singling them out. It was very impactful and definitely opened my eyes! Excellent message!!!

    • You’d better still make that post, girlfran! I am not the first to come up with this topic, and I know you have lots of awesome readers who don’t read my blog (though, why, is the question?) Just kidding. But hope you plan to share the link to that article in your post!

  3. ‘Men are unthoughtful’, ‘women are moody’, ‘labs are good with kids’… generalizations are lazy! I know many thoughtful men, plenty of calm women and at least one yellow lab who will knock a kid over to get to his/her lollipop! We have to stop looking at people and animals in buckets and look at them as unique gifts to the this glorious universe.

  4. I totally agree. This is why I usually keep my mouth shut when people say mean things, my dogs can speak for themselves! And then I vent to those in my inner circle:) I cringe whenever I hear it’s all in how they’re raised! The other day a little girl said it to me. She was obviously told it over and over by grown ups and the gesture was sweet but I felt like making up a story about an adverse upbringing but I just smiled.

  5. So cute! I especially loved your little memes! Can I just say my other little pet peeve (which is kinda what I thought this post might be about but was pleasantly surprised with this too!) is hearing this statement from pit bull advocates, “Why do people say pit bulls are dangerous when xx breed bites more often?” *hits fist into head* Great post though, you’re a wonderful advocate for DOGS everywhere!

  6. Love this post! And the photos…especially Tonka!

    I think about things like this all of the time. Sometimes I will have the exact same goal as someone else, like promoting adoption, but I get so upset by the way the go about it. Some people really just scare people off and make everyone in rescue seem crazy. It really does such a disservice to the dogs. 😦

    And until I read your post and the previous comments, I never realized the other side of the story of the “how they were raised” comments. I would have never thought people would assume dogs cannot be rehabilitated just because they had a rough start in life. Dogs are so resilient! One more thing to add to my pet peeve list 🙂

  7. My husband and I were considering adding a pit type dog to our family, but were put off because the pamphlet that a rescue in our area gives out suggests that pit type dogs can never be trusted with your other animals. In reading all these different blogs, I see pit type dogs coexisting wonderfully. By printing this info, the rescue is certainly doing a disservice to all the pit type dogs that they have (90%).

    Love the marketing ideas you showed above, especially the “frosting”.

    • It makes me so sad that so many “rescues” still insist on disseminating information that is boldly and simply untrue! I hope you have realized by now that ALL dogs are individuals, and so regardless of breed, some pups will be great with other animals, while others need more space. Regardless, I have always believed that the majority of animals can be trained to act appropriately around other pets. Sure, some dogs may have instincts to chase, but I don’t think it is asking too much to expect them to treat the other pets the way we want them to be treated. I’m glad you remained open minded, and if I can help you find the right addition to your family, please let me know! Thanks for considering rescue 🙂

  8. Pingback: Passively Positive Pit Bull Advocating | Temporary Home, Permanent Love

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