National Pit Bull Awareness Month competes with National Pit Bull Victim Awareness Day for attention

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      The long-running debate over pit bulls was re-energized late last month when the CBC's fifth estate broadcast a one-hour documentary on the topic.

      In Pit Bulls Unleashed: Should They Be Banned, journalist Mark Kelley spoke to pit bull advocates and people who had witnessed or endured horrifying attacks from these animals.

      The program revealed how advocates for the breed have launched ongoing lobbying campaigns to convince legislators not to outlaw pit bulls. (This hasn't been an issue in Vancouver, however, as no member of the park board or city council is raising concerns about their presence in off-leash areas.)

      One way of sanitizing the image of pit bulls has been through National Pit Bull Awareness Month. It's taking place in October.

      "We all can and should play a part in correcting false information and changing the perception of these incredible dogs," the website states. "We are their voice, and they are depending on us to educate the public (not only about the breed in general, but with respect to responsible ownership practices), to dispel the false information out there, and to restore their reputation as a great American icon. Leading by example is a great place to start!"

      Those who want the breed banned have responded by declaring Saturday (October 28) as National Pit Bull Victim Awareness Day.

      Its website states that in the last 30 days, four more people have been killed by these dogs.

      "A 7-year old boy was fatally disembowelled in Lowell, Massachusetts, and 9 first respondents were taken to hospital for trauma after witnessing the scene," the website states. "In Georgia, a woman was killed by a pit bull while getting out of her car. In Mississippi, a woman was killed by her son’s pit bulls. A one-month old Ohio baby was killed in his home by the family pit bulls. A 5-year old Utah girl was attacked in the face. Today, October 25, a 1-year old girl is in critical condition after her mother found her torn body in the jaws of the 'family pet, a pit bull."

      This year alone, according to the website, there have been 700 pit bull attacks reported in the media, with the majority being on children and seniors: "With millions of dollars at their disposal, the wealthy pit bull lobby has wreaked havoc in Canada and the United States—denying the danger of pit bulls in families, encouraging No Kill shelters, allowing inter-state and cross-border transportation of pit bulls on death row, pressuring council members to drop breed restrictions, and lobbying for anti-BSL [breed-specific legislation] bills in Congress." 

      Vancouver's pit bull advocacy and rescue association, HugABull, on the other hand, maintains on its website that there's "no way to conclusively identify a dog's breed".

      "Unless you have access to a dog’s pedigree, you are relying on visual clues like body shape and coat to identify a breed," it states. "A recent study in the Journal of Applied Welfare Science showed that even trained shelter workers are wrong up to 87.5% of the time when they guess at a dog’s breed."