I remember, when I was in high school, (even though I never saw the infamous Sports Illustrated article and cover story which you can see here; again, more on this later, but I can not let a link to this abomination of an article stand alone so here are two more links that discredit the myths perpetrated by it and point to it as one of the main sources of current prejudice Current Affairs: Racism and the American Pit Bull and The Cryptic Philosopher: Where the pit bull prejudice began) hearing about these dogs and how dangerous they were. I'd never met one. I can't even tell you how I learned that these were dangerous dogs. But I can pinpoint this in time because of some very vivid memories of a friend. My friend was older than I and we met due to a shared passion for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His name was Mike, and Mike was a great a guy. He was sweet and kind; funny and generous. Mike had, if I recall correctly, two pit bulls. I remember, distinctly, being concerned upon hearing this because all I knew was what I had learned: that these were dangerous dogs.
But Mike, this kind, funny, all-around great guy, had two of them. And he loved them so much that he had their names and likenesses tattooed into his skin. I couldn't accept the cognitive dissonace this created for me. I have a vague recollection of a conversation that Mike and I had regarding pit bulls, and him recommending to me that I meet his. Alas, I never did. If I had, I might have understood sooner.
I do not recall having another personal encounter regarding these dogs for many years. Of course, I was peripherally aware of the ongoing media spectacle; but I never forgot Mike and that cognitive dissonance. And when a dear friend of mine adopted a puppy and told me she was a pit mix, it all came back. There was a moment of unreasoning dread when I read his text. I couldn't help it. But I was able to push it away. The next care package I sent (my friend was away at college at the time), and each one after that, had a toy and treats for the lovable puppy I had come to know through his texts and photos.
When I finally met her, my fear and prejudice evaporated. She was the sweetest, slightly timid, most adorable and lovable dog I had ever met.
Of course, by that time, I had heard the stories of how she was rescued as a 6 month old puppy from the most despicable of people. And how they were breeding dogs and training them to fight. And how she was found only on the second visit, after most of the other dogs had been rescued; and she had been left alone, staked out in the middle of pen where other dogs had been encouraged to attack her.
In time, she came to live with us. And it has been my job in life to see that she is protected and loved.