|For Shelters &
|Labels & Language|
|For Dog Owners|
1. WHY DO YOU PUT “PIT BULL” IN QUOTES?
When labels are applied, correctly or not, they can carry serious consequences. No dog should be discriminated against because of a label. When a person calls a dog a “pit bull”, that dog is now saddled with a label that might get him killed in a shelter that does not adopt out “pit bulls” or kicked out of an area with BSL. While we don’t have any interest in arguing about what is or isn’t a “pit bull”, we are interested in protecting all dogs labeled “pit bull” from discrimination.
Our work supports any dog experiencing discrimination based on the label “pit bull” - that is our number one goal here at AFF. It doesn’t matter to us if your dog is pure bred or not, but it does matter to us if you and your dog are discriminated against because of what your dog is called. AFF is fighting discrimination for any dog labeled “pit bull.” Back to Top
When we first started, Pit Bull was only used as the nickname for American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), but our experience tells us that that has changed over the years. Some APBT fanciers still use it as a nickname. However, more often then not, “pit bull” is now used to describe any dog that has a big head or muscular body (but even that is subjective!). While all of our jobs would be far easier if “pit bull” still meant a genetically coherent pure breed of dog, we have to acknowledge that it no longer does. Back to Top
3. DOES THAT MEAN THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS DOG BREEDS OR BREED TRAITS?
4. WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT LABELS ANYWAY?
FOR SHELTERS AND RESCUES:
1. HOW SHOULD WE LABEL THE DOGS IN OUR SHELTER THAT WE THINK LOOK LIKE PIT BULLS?
2. DIDN’T AFF USED TO RECOMMEND CERTAIN LABELS, SUCH AS “PIT BULL TYPE DOG”? IS THERE A REASON YOU NO LONGER RECOMMEND A CERTAIN LABEL?
We have discovered that whenever we use words like “type” or “bullies” we are implying that all dogs called “pit bulls” can be lumped into a somewhat coherent group. They cannot be. We cannot have a pit bull TYPE dog without knowing what that TYPE (pit bull) is and as we said earlier, there is no agreement on what a “pit bull” is.
We don’t even use the word terrier to describe our dogs at Animal Farm Foundation unless we have seen a particular dog display behaviors typical of breeds of dogs found in the terrier group. “Terrier” implies an expectation of behavior and we don’t want to set up the dog or the adopter for failed expectations.
It certainly makes things difficult, to not have an accurate label for the dogs! We used to think that we needed to get better at breed labeling dogs, but then Dr. Voith’s research showed us that we cannot get better at it. And Dr. Marder and Janis Bradley taught us that there is behavior variability within each breed, and even more among breed mixes, so that we cannot possibly predict a dog’s behavior based on breed alone. Each dog is an individual.
Rather than focusing on trying to get better at breed labeling, we’re focused on educating people about the problems labels cause for dogs when they’re used to predict behavior and the consequences a label can have for a dog. Back to Top
3. BUT PETFINDER MAKES US LABEL THE DOGS IN OUR SHELTER, EVEN WHEN WE’RE NOT SURE OF THE BREEDS. WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
4. SHOULD WE DNA TEST THE DOGS IN OUR SHELTER, TO BE SURE?
5. WHAT IF WE HAVE A DOG WITH PAPERS AND WE ARE SURE OF ITS BREED?