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Pit Bulls and the media: hooray!

Leslie Smith Editor in Chief of DogTime.com
by Leslie Smith, Editor in Chief
Friday December 3rd, 2010

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Hooray? Yes, hooray.

I noticed the link to a video clip titled, Blind kids get a helping paw from Pit Bulls, and I had to click. In it, Today Show correspondent Jill Rappaport reports on a pioneer program created by Main Line Animal Rescue: Pit Bulls as therapy dogs at a school for the blind.

The clip is worth watching for several reasons, not the least compelling of which is the flood of shots of adorable pittie pups:

But as the video played, it dawned on me that the big news here isn’t about Pit Bulls comforting the blind. The real story is that a mainstream media network chose to cover Pit Bulls in a positive light. This is huge. Not to mention highly unusual.

The report wasn’t perfect. More than once, Rappaport brings up the breed’s flawed reputation. Ok, fair enough. But in speaking to Main Line’s founder Bill Smith, she insists, “This is definitely an aggressive… not aggressive, but dominant, breed…”

Smith half-corrects her, reminding Rappaport that Pit Bulls were bred to fight each other, but remain loyal and gentle with humans. Any dog, not just a Pit Bull, can (and likely will) become aggressive when treated cruelly or violently.

Ultimately though, Rappaport’s message is accurate and hopeful. Pit Bulls can become aggressive when in the wrong hands, but when treated with love and respect, they are just dogs. Just dogs. Today Show anchor Meredith Vieira reiterates the sentiment at the close of the segment: “Dogs are like people. Some can be good, some can be bad.”

It doesn’t surprise me that such a strong bond between blind kids and misunderstood dogs has been forged. But it is ironic that there are still “normal” adults who can’t see the light.

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