Pit Bulls and Atheists
Posted by: Alicia | on April 10, 2012
Owning and rescuing pit bulls prepped me for “outing” myself with my disbelief in a divine entity such as “God.” As I mentioned in my previous post, “Did You Judge Me?“, “Changing the public’s perception of a specific term does not happen through silence. It happens through demonstration.”
See, being a pit bull owner has been relatively taboo for a while, however, progress is being made to change those perceptions. But, because of it’s “taboo” nature, pit bull owners get judged just as much as the dogs themselves!
Pit bull owners and atheists have to have thick skin to put up with frequent discrimination. Let’s look at a few examples.
|“Those dogs are evil!”||“Atheists are evil!”|
|“You gotta watch out for those dogs. You can’t trust them.”||“I don’t trust atheists.”|
|“You own a pit bull? Aren’t you worried?”||“You don’t believe in God? Aren’t you worried?”|
|“But, this dog is nice! It can’t be a pit bull!”||“But, you’re so nice! You must believe in something!”|
|“Only people with bad intentions want those dogs.”||“Atheists have bad intentions because they don’t have God to guide them through right and wrong.”|
|The look of horror and disgust when you tell someone petting your dog that it is a pit bull and they draw away.||The look of horror and disgust when you tell someone you are godless and they draw away.|
Think I’m overreacting? Definitely not. Misinformation about both of these things coupled with misplaced or unjustified fears breeds this exact kind of ignorance. Yep. I said it. Ignorance. Refusing to learn more about something you fear or that you don’t understand and choosing to believe any fear-based drivel that is hand-fed to you instead of thinking for yourself, that’s ignorance.
When I first got involved with pit bulls, I realized that not everyone liked them, but I had NO idea that the hatred was so deep with so many people! My family and friends didn’t squish up their faces in concern when I told them, but acquaintances or those in in work-related relationships couldn’t help but raise some of these questions with me. And it happened so often enough that I just started laughing and being matter of fact about the facts that, “no, I’m not worried they’re going to eat me. I still have all my fingers and toes don’t I?” Most would brush it off and move on, others would ask a few more questions, and then a few would comment how “cool” it was and that it was totally unexpected that me, of all people, had pit bulls.
Isn’t that a curious observation? “I didn’t see you as the type that would own pit bulls.” Well…that’s part of your problem then isn’t it? See, ALL types of people own pit bulls. Naturally you’ve got those who are ill-intentioned, but the reality of it is, MANY “normal” people own pit bulls. And you’d never know because many of these people who do own them actually care for their dogs and make the effort to treat them as any other pet dog – a valued family member.
Many people ask me, “But, why pit bulls?” Well, why not? They are an extremely human-friendly breed. They are active and versatile. They’re easy to train and ready to do whatever it is to make you happy. They are clownish and have a zest for life that is contagious. They’re also a short-haired breed who, compared to other breeds, is on the quiet side. No, really! When you first walk into my house, if the dogs are in their rooms, you wouldn’t know I had them!
It was aggravating at first to have to deal with all the curious, but ridiculous, questions. “Oh they’ll turn on you! Aren’t you worried? Oh no! You have them around kids? Don’t they eat babies? What about that locking jaw of theirs?” and on and on and on. Let’s set a few things straight on this. No. Pit bulls do not “turn” on people at some magical age for some magical reason that no one knows. A temperamentally sound pit bull will NOT bite people. After some of the abuse I’ve seen handed to these dogs, you’d damn sure wished they would have bit the person who treated them so wrongly! *sigh* And as for pit bulls and kids, they’re GREAT together when everyone is properly supervised. And that’s with ANY breed of dog. Don’t let the child torment the dog! And also teach the dog (any dog!) proper behavior when playing. I could go into a novel about this topic so for now, here’s a link to read instead about “Preventing Bites” from Safe Kids Safe Dogs. Anyway. They also don’t have a “locking jaw.” What a misnomer. The skeletal structure of a pit bull is the same overall as other breeds of dogs. They don’t have a special key to operate…Where this may have stemmed from however is that they are a breed with a “bite and hold” nature. Compared to smaller dogs like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians who tend to have a “bite and release repeatedly” nature Other breeds with a similar bite and hold grip are German Shepherds and Rottweilers. So, yes for some it may be scary still, but you have to remember that breeds of dogs were originally bred by humans and for a reason. Pit bulls were NEVER bred for human aggression. Dog/animal aggression does NOT equal human aggression either. The way dog fights were orchestrated, any dogs showing aggression towards people were killed or removed from breeding programs. They posed a danger to the people in the ring and that was simply unacceptable.
*deep breath* I’m trying hard not to go off on a big slew of pit bull education, I promise! For now anyway
As you can see, there are a bunch of questions and fallacies surrounding pit bulls and their ownership. Even their history. People will take one bad story and let it form their entire opinion of an entire breed of dog, and that’s without even having met one first hand!
People do the same thing with those that identify themselves as “godless.” It’s an odd and disturbing shift to watch. I, fortunately, have not experienced the in-person rejection as others have yet. At this rate though, I think people would learn quickly that if they did, I might laugh at them for their silly behavior. I’ve seen them do it with the dogs. They’ll be getting kisses from such a cute and friendly dog and maybe even be so far in as to be giving belly rubs. Then they’ll ask the million dollar question, “what kind of dog is this?” Now, not everyone withdraws immediately (or at all!). But there are a select few that are still so trapped by a fear that they will get up and move away from the dog immediately, likely believing the myth that they turn suddenly and without reason or warning.
My time living and breathing pit bulls helped to prep me for the continued discrimination that would abound once I realized the true nature and reality of my godlessness. And not necessarily discrimination towards me but perhaps to continue to be that voice to educate, as I did and still do with talking to people about the true nature of pit bulls.
Just as I surprised people with the information that I do in fact own pit bulls, I seem to continue to surprise people when they learn I don’t believe in any gods. Because I’m good. And it shakes their perception of what kind of person they think an atheist is, much as for many it shakes their perception of the type of people that do own pit bulls.
And ultimately, that’s what I’m here to do. Face your fears and ask your own questions. Get to know me and get to know my dogs. Test the truth behind your perceptions.