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Thread: Photographer Shows the Sweet Side of Pit Bulls

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Default Photographer Shows the Sweet Side of Pit Bulls

    A New York-based commercial photographer has launched a campaign called Not a Bully which aims to challenge the all-too-common view of pit bulls as a 'bully-breed'.
    Douglas Sonders, 32, himself the owner of a pit bull mix called Emma, feels compelled to speak up for a breed that is often neglected, mistreated and typecast as mean, aggressive or dangerous.
    'Despite what some bad humans have done to these dogs, they are inherently sweet and very trainable,' he tells MailOnline.



    Happy face: Photographer Douglas Sonders captures the charming characters of rescue pit bulls, for his Not a Bully campaign, which hopes to change the way people see the breed for the better

    In a stunning array of photographs, Mr Sonders captures a host of noble and gentle looking pit bulls, all of whom have touching stories and are now blessed with loving owners.
    Although it started off as a photo campaign, Not a Bully is growing. National Geographic Wild recently profiled Mr Sonders with Ceser Milan, the acclaimed TV dog trainer, who he describes as 'wonderfully enthusiastic about helping animals.'
    Mr Millan, who posed for Mr Sonders with his Pit Bull Junior, is now an avid supporter of Not a Bully's mission, and in return, Mr Sonders has been donating his time and efforts to the Cesar Millan foundation for abandoned and abused dogs.





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    But it was Emma, the pit bull mix Mr Sonders adopted two years ago, who started it all.
    When his beloved boxer dog, Winston Churchull, died leaving Mr Sonders 'heart wrecked', he decided, following a period of intense mourning, to adopt a new canine companion.
    He didn't know quite what he was looking for, but he says he planned to avoid pit bulls, assuming, like many others, that they were a difficult breed.


    Not so scary: This pampered pooch, named London, was rescued from a life on the streets of Baltimore, and couldn't look less intimidating with her wonky ears and soft pink bandana


    Inspiration: Emma is the two-year-old pit bull mix adopted by Mr Sonders, who taught him what a loving, gentle breed she comes from and sparked his Not a Bully campaign

    'I’ve since learned that “pit bull” is a bad word in society, which is a real tragedy,' he says, adding that over 40 per cent of dogs in shelters are 'bully-breeds' and 22 per cent of pit bulls are euthanized regardless of their disposition.
    Still, the day he walked into his local Petco adoption drive and saw one-year-old Emma sitting quietly at the back of the room, he was in love.
    Emma had been rotated around foster care for nine months prior to finding a forever home with Mr Sonders. 'No-one wanted her because she was a pit-mix with black fur,' he recalls.


    Unfair: Mr Sonders says he 'tears up' every time he thinks about the fact that Emma (pictured) was nearly euthanized because of the way she looks


    Savior: Winnie (pictured) was adopted by a shy little ten-year-old girl, whom she helped 'break out of her shell' - the pair now compete in dog training competitions together

    'The thought makes me tear up when I think how she was nearly put to sleep because of how she looks.'
    Aside from her tendency to sneak into Mr Sonders' bed when he's away, Emma is 'perfectly behaved; naturally gentle, great with kids and other dogs, and an excellent running partner', according to her loving owner.
    Still, to his disappointment, Mr Sonders noticed his neighbors 'recoil' when they first saw him around the neighborhood with Emma - a knee jerk reaction he hopes he can shift with his project.


    Buddies: Cesar Millian (pictured with his dog Junior) appeared in the campaign and were filmed with Mr Sonders for a National Geographic documentary about pit bulls





    Another portrait in the series stars Winnie, who was adopted by ten-year-old Gillie, a shy little girl who found she was finally able to break out of her shell after finding a four-legged friend in Winnie. The two now compete in dog training competitions together.
    London was rescued from a tough life on the streets of Baltimore, and nursed back to health by volunteers at Good Doggie Daycare. Her adoptive owner, Carolyn, discovered that London, her first pit bull, was 'gentle, smart and good with all other living beings.'
    Porter is undoubtedly the most heart-wrenching subject Mr Sonders has photographed. He was found on the street with his legs crushed and his jaw smashed by an unknown assailant.


    Disgrace: What looked like it would be a grisly ending for poor Porter (pictured) turned into a hopeful tale, when a rescuer at the Humane Society ensured he was nursed back to health following a brutal attack on him


    Heart of gold: Porter won everyone over by displaying nothing but love, despite his awful mistreatment, and now has a happy forever home


    Child friendly: Mr Sonders seen visiting a local elementary school with his trusty Emma, to teach kids about the negatives of dog abuse and the importance of adoption, particularly with pit bulls

    Despite his despicable treatment, Porter showed nothing but a warm, trusting heart to rescuers at the Humane Society. Instead of putting him to sleep, Julie Conway, an employee at the organization, paid out of her own pocket to save him. He now fronts one of the I'm Not a Bully campaigns ads.

    Hundreds of thousands of pit bull and other 'bully breeds' are put to sleep in the U.S. every year, and breed-specific legislation currently bans them from several states - essentially serving these dogs with a death sentence.
    The ASPA credits 'putative over-reporting and false reporting' of pit bull attacks on humans as a major cause for their public perception.



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    Man's best friend: Mr Sonders (pictured with Emma) hopes he can get people to see the breed in a new light, so that more pit bulls can enjoy happy endings

    In fact, it's the human attacks on what many insist to be a naturally gentle breed that perhaps need addressing; attacks mainly in the form those who abuse pit bulls, use them as 'bait' and force them into cruel dog-fighting rings.
    Mr Sonders points to the case of Michael Vick, the New York Jets quarterback who was jailed in 2007 for mistreating pit bulls as part of vicious dog-fighting racket. Almost all of Mr Vick's former fighting dogs were placed in family homes after positive training rehab, he reveals.

    At the end of the day, the Not a Bully campaign simply hopes to shine a very different light on this little-understood breed, so that more pit bulls can enjoy happy endings.
    You can donate or help the cause here.


    Read more: I'm not a bully! Heartwarming portraits of rescue pit bulls hope to challenge harsh misconceptions about the breed | Mail Online
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
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    A*O
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    When I see stories of a spaniel or a Labrador chewing off a granny's face (as happened last week here) maybe I'll change my mind about pitbulls.
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    Elite Member DeChayz's Avatar
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    I don't know what the actions of one breed have to do with the reputation of another -that's kind of like saying "I'll change my mind about blacks when I hear about a white guy robbing a bank"-but your wish is my command. We had a shelter employee's arm so badly mangled that the docs said she was lucky to have regained any use of it - which is still not near 100%. That dog was a long-haired golden. Had another dog, probably the most aggressive one we've had at least in my 5 years there, was one of those fluffy little foofy things. Had another woman get bitten badly enough in both hands to require time off from her job - basenji mix. Kid mauled in face: english bulldog. I could go on and on about the incidents we've had, but only one of them was a pit, and he had neurological issues as we found out (seizures, bloody noses, abrupt personality change). I know nothing I say will change your mind as you seem dead set, but A*O you are far too intelligent to form a prejudice based on sensational news stories. Chihuahua Mangles Child doesn't garner the same reaction, though trust me it happens far more often than you think.
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    A*O
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    Point taken. Any dog/breed can be aggressive and unpredictable if it's been with the wrong owner but I still think the pitbull's reputation is probably justified. They were originally bred to fight and have the necessary physiology, it's in the DNA, which just doesn't sit comfortably with their more recent role as family pets. I'm sure that with careful, responsible training they can be trusted not to revert back to their basic fighting/protective instincts but personally I'd never risk it. I speak as a lifelong dog lover and owner (various breeds).
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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    my neighbor has the most awesome pit. She's 7 and she's friendly, loving and cute.

    when i was 6, we had a rescue cocker spaniel that bit my face and arm because i was trying to pet it. Its owner made him that way. We had to give him back to the shelter.
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    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    I've never met a mean pit bull. Not towards people, anyway. They aren't always pack dogs.

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    I am Aunt to two Pits,Brad & Angelina. They are calm sweet doggies, the male is a bit of a doofy clown. He got a Red Mark at the vets because he growled when they stuck something where the sun don't shine. Since then he has to wear a muzzle,so he just cries pitifully instead. They are around my sisters cats. They love the cats who look down on them and beat them about the head & shoulders at every opportunity. The dogs never give up hope. They like to think they are lap dogs,as if a lap could be that big. They are well socialized and love company,except for the dreaded mailman.
    They are full on family members who will do anything for a treat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeChayz View Post
    I don't know what the actions of one breed have to do with the reputation of another -that's kind of like saying "I'll change my mind about blacks when I hear about a white guy robbing a bank"-but your wish is my command. We had a shelter employee's arm so badly mangled that the docs said she was lucky to have regained any use of it - which is still not near 100%. That dog was a long-haired golden. Had another dog, probably the most aggressive one we've had at least in my 5 years there, was one of those fluffy little foofy things. Had another woman get bitten badly enough in both hands to require time off from her job - basenji mix. Kid mauled in face: english bulldog. I could go on and on about the incidents we've had, but only one of them was a pit, and he had neurological issues as we found out (seizures, bloody noses, abrupt personality change). I know nothing I say will change your mind as you seem dead set, but A*O you are far too intelligent to form a prejudice based on sensational news stories. Chihuahua Mangles Child doesn't garner the same reaction, though trust me it happens far more often than you think.
    Very well said.
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    Elite Member gas_chick's Avatar
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    It has everything to do with how the dogs are treated. I had a pit mix and it was the sweetest dog ever to roam the earth and he was my baby. Any animal that is treated horribly and taught to fight is going to react. Every single one.
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    Gold Member laynes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisNine View Post
    I've never met a mean pit bull. Not towards people, anyway. They aren't always pack dogs.
    ^^^This. I had a Pit Bull who was the sweetest around people. He was actually even a therapy dog in a nursing home for a while. (This was even after we rescued him out of a junk yard where he was chained to a 5ft chain to guard the place).

    However, after a bad fight with my German Shepherd (and 27 staples and hundreds of dollars later), I had to give him to a dog trainer where he's now the only dog in the home. I'm not sure who started the fight, but even a German Shepherd will have a hard time getting out of those jaws. I do miss him though.



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    Elite Member gas_chick's Avatar
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    I was attacked by a German Shepard as a kid but it was mistreated. My sister has one now and it is the sweetest dog ever.
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    Gold Member laynes's Avatar
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    gas chick- that's awful! . German Shepherds are another breed who had a bad rep for a while. My boy is the sweetest, albeit mischievous dog. Even after being a chew toy for the Pit, he's kept his nice demeanor.


    I just just read an article where a woman was pet sitting her friends Pit Bull and it attacked her two year old daughter. The dog was later euthanized. I'd like to know why this woman had her baby that close to a dog she wasn't familiar with? If she had used her head, her daughter wouldn't be in bandages and that dog would be alive. Sucks how often we fail as humans.



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    Elite Member Icepik's Avatar
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    I foster dogs that come from high kill shelters and can tell you that vicious and unpredictable can exist in any breed. I had a mini dachshund almost bite my finger right off and have had two poodles (poodles for fucks sake!) be psycho. Not to mention a border collie who would lunge for not reason what so ever. I also was holding a chihuahua in my arms when he decided to latch his teeth into my face so hard it took two people to get him to let go. I could barely see out of my eye from the swelling.

    I've only met a few pits as they are banned here in Ontario. We can foster, but have to adopt them out of the province. They have all been sweet, loving beautiful souls. That's not to say ALL pits are like that, but they are bred and taught to be like that. They get a bad rap because they (obviously) can cause a lot more damage when attacking. People would laugh when they saw my swollen, bruised face and found out a 10lb chihuahua did it.

    Remember; first it was the dobermans that were unpredictable and vicious, then the german shepherd, then the rottweiler, now the pitbull.

    If the laws ever change here, I'll be the first in line to get a pitbull pup. No question about it.
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    Hit By Ban Bus! rockchick's Avatar
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    Had the sweetest pit mix for years but one day he got loose and haven't seen him since. Still miss him terribly.

    Only dog that ever attacked me was a teeny tiny chihuahua.

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    I was injured by a German Shephard as a child too, but not because it was being violent. It was a friend's dog and the one of the friendliest animals I've ever known. She was actually just greeting me and jumped up to slobber me with kisses, but I was only about six and quite small and she knocked me right on my back and I broke my arm and split my elbow on the concrete. First thing I did went I got my cast was use it to scratch her belly. I think a dog's behavior comes down to its treatment and how well it's trained. I have never been wary of pits, even after a bad experience with one involving my dachshund. My dog was okay and I never blamed the other one anyway. It was my dog's fear and the other owner's ignorance that set things in motion. The pit was really just reacting on instinct to a small animal moving quickly, the same way my dog tries to go after rabbits and squirrels (though what she'd do if she caught one besides lick it into submission is beyond me).

    The thing that can be worrisome about pits, and all large breeds, I think, is not their temperament, but their size and strength. If I'm not mistaken, pit bulls are prone to "bite, hold, shake" behavior, thus the reason for the "locking jaw" myth. If they bite you, it can be nearly impossible to get free. They can cause more damage than other breeds, even if their intent is the same. Still, I truly believe they can be wonderful safe dogs to have. But like all breeds, they don't fit every family. Or I guess every family doesn't fit them. All dogs have certain basic instincts, even tiny little yaps, and if the people handling them are not sensitive to that, accidents can happen like the one laynes mentioned. Personally, 9 times out of 10 when an animal attacks, I assume a human is to blame.
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