The late Dr Martin Luther King very famously rallied for a society where his children would not be judged on their appearance but rather by the content of their character.
What a noble ask that was, and still is.
We should all be extremely wary of blanket, uninformed and misguided judgements based on appearances. Growing up, I frequently witnessed people being judged merely on the basis of their race, their beliefs, their gender, their socio-economic standing or their ethnicity. I have, like many others, also been judged on this basis many times in the past.
Looking beyond the breed
In this article, I want to shine a light on yet another form of discrimination: judging animals, especially dogs, simply based on their breed.
I was surprised when I observed the extent and depth of the harsh and negative perceptions that exist against what we call ‘bully breeds’.
Unfortunately, dogs in this group have fallen victim to inaccurate stereotypes, and many people believe they’re naturally aggressive. In reality, though, the bully breed category offers a number of wonderful choices for potential owners – including those who are in search of loyal, obedient, playful companions.
Ignore the myths, get educated
There are so many myths around. One of my great heroes, Dr Nelson Mandela said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and this also rings true in terms of the stereotypes and myths surrounding bully breeds.
I urge you, please get educated before you judge on breed alone!
The American Temperament Test Society, Inc. (ATTS), a professional organisation that independently tests the temperaments of over 25,000 dogs across 200 breeds, concluded that bully breeds such as the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier all rank in the mid-80th to low-90th percentile in terms of friendly disposition – on par with dogs such as the beagle and the Australian shepherd.
This financial year alone RSPCA ACT has seen 621 dogs and puppies come into the care of our Weston Shelter, with 231 of these dogs belonging to the bully breeds. They are also often the ones who wait the longest to be adopted.
Be a responsible pet owner
In context, it is so important to note that every breed of dog has the potential to be dangerous. This is where individual character and temperament needs to be carefully considered and matched with prospective owners’ lifestyles.
As responsible pet owners, we have a duty of care to ensure that our dogs are well socialised, trained and that if we take them into public areas that they are under of effective control at all times – regardless of their breeds.
While admittedly no one likes a bully, we at the RSPCA say it’s time to give the canine version a second chance.
Across Australia, RSPCAs want to especially help our ‘bully’ breeds find loving homes quicker and break the negative perceptions that surround them due to their looks. #adoptabull promo is on until end April 2019.