At the beginning of the 20th century, the American Pit Bull Terrier was the most popular family dog in the United States. Pit bulls became the symbol of the American War Hero during World War I & II and were used in great capacity as guide and therapy dogs. Pit bulls exemplified the most desirable qualities of Americans and our “never quit” attitude. Pit bulls have been accredited with saving scores of human lives, as well as, dogs and other animals in various rescue missions. One Pit Bull in particular, Weela, has become a household name after saving 30 people, 29 dogs, 13 horses, and a cat during one flood! Theodore Roosevelt had 13 Pit Bulls in the White House during his administration. Woodrow Wilson, General George Patton, Helen Keller, Jamie Foxx, Rachael Ray, Jon Stewart, Ken Howard, Jessica Biel and scores of other celebrities have also owned Pit Bulls and are now advocates of these bully breeds.
So when did the Pit Bull become the most feared animal on the Planet? When did myths surrounding Pit bulls dictate the way the public views these bully breeds and subsequent laws that have led to the demise of thousands of great companion dogs? Watching, listening, or reading the news, one would be led to believe that Pit Bulls are vicious killers responsible for countless horrors. These false myths are none-more apparent to the countless thousands of Pit Bull owners across US and abroad who have a Pit Bull family member. One assemblage of Pit Bull activists and educators are about to embark upon quite a month for this misunderstood K-9 group; PINUPS FOR PITBULLS.
Pinups for Pitbulls and their celebrated pin-up calendar feature beautiful and elegantly strong pinup models with their beloved Pit Bulls companions. This non-profit group has been helping to reverse the damage the media has caused these bully breeds with sensationalized and down-right false news stories to create a buzz and sell newspapers. We at Blow The Scene were fortunate enough to catch up with Little Darling, founder of Pinups for Pitbulls, just weeks before their highly anticipated 2011 calendar release on Oct. 23, 2010 and the accompanying multi-city event, Pitbull Awareness Day!
Joshua BTS: Greetings! Thank you kindly for taking time out of your busy schedule with Pinups for Pit bulls for this Interview!
Go ahead and introduce yourself to Blow The Scene readers around the world and give us the lowdown on the Pinups for Pit bulls mission.
Little Darling: I am Little Darling, the President & Founder of Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc. We are a grassroots group of women who are dedicated to saving the underdog, particularly Pit Bull-type dogs. We create an annual Pin Up Calendar to illustrate the good nature of our beloved four-legged friends. Additionally, we host events, educational seminars, and more across the U.S. to help educate people about the danger of breed discriminatory laws and the lack of truth in the media spin on “pit bulls.”
Mission: Pinups for Pit Bulls, Inc. works to educate the public about the history and temperament of the American Pit Bull Terrier and Bully Breeds, to raise awareness about Breed Specific Legislation and Breed-Specific abuse, and to raise funds for bully-breed-friendly rescues and dogs in need.
Our goal is to reestablish the defamed reputation of the Pitbull as America’s premier companion animal, war hero, and therapy dog.
Joshua BTS: What originally sparked your personal interest in Pitbulls that led to the creation of Pinups for Pitbulls?
Little Darling: Short answer: I was tired of worrying that a law could sneak into a city ordinance under the radar that could legalize the destruction of my best friend, based solely on how she looks. I am fairly certain this happened in Germany circa WWII to another targeted group, and it did not fare well.
For the long answer and detailed Biography on Little Darling and her Pit Bull Rescuing history – please click HERE.
Joshua BTS: You have several upcoming events scheduled with Pinups For Pitbulls in Philadelphia and other major cities in the US. Can you give us an overview of what’s to come in October and into 2011?
Little Darling: We are hosting our largest annual event at Shampoo Nightclub this year, in Philadelphia to release our 2011 Pinups for Pitbulls calendar. It will be co-hosted by my dear friend, Shorty Rossi of Pit Boss. We put on an excellent show that includes Olde City Sideshow, Burlesque by yours truly, along with Candy Mayhem, L’il Dutch and Maria Bella. The F’n Heartbreaks are coming all the way from Atlanta, GA to play the event as well! There will be raffle prizes, silent auctions, and more! We’re always looking for cool items to be donated (tax-deductible) so if anyone is interested, please let us know!
On the same day, we’re hosting 2 more events, one in L.A. and one in Kansas City, MO. Please check our datebook for details on all of our events:
Pinups for Pitbulls Datebook
Joshua BTS: I know there is a lot of confusion about what actually constitutes a Pit Bull, which are also known as American Pit Bull Terriers. What qualifies a dog as a Pit bull? Is there anything different about the genetics of a Pit bull that would make it more dangerous than other dogs? Are Pit bulls more dangerous than other breeds?
Little Darling: That’s the thing, there are no such things as “pit bulls” unless they are pure bred American Pit Bull Terriers. This is where it gets hairy (wah wah!)…There are a few types of dogs that fall into the “Pit Bull” main category, then there are several dogs identified as “pit bulls” that have similar visual characteristics, i.e. square headed muscular/stocky dogs. There are over 30 breeds of dogs who aren’t related to APBT’s that are identified as “pit bulls.” The thing is, unless you’re pulling out a DNA kit, its hard to tell unless its a pure bred. Most of the dogs we’re working with are shelter dogs and at the end of the day, we just want people to realize they’re just dogs. It doesn’t matter what you call them, they’re just as wonderful as the next. Confusing, isn’t it? Exactly.
From a recent interview/explanation: American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers are the main 3 dogs of the pure bred variety, but most of the dogs identified as “Pit Bulls” are mixed breed shelter dogs that have an appearance that resembles the pure bred dogs. A really great site to reference can be found at the National Canine Research Council section on breed identification.
Genetics: Absolutely not. Most of the nonsense you hear about like “locking jaws” for instance is pure urban legend. There isn’t any scientific mechanism that can measure bite pressure, especially since different kinds of pressure are applied during different types of reactions, most of which you can’t create in a laboratory setting. They said in the past that Doberman’s brains swelled and eventually made them “snap”- they’re using the same kind of nonsense now about pit bull-type dogs. It’s ridiculous, and we are armed with scientific data to disprove these myths and to end the witch hunt.
THE BEST resource for information regarding such myths can be found at the National Canine Research Council.
From recent article: “Pit Bull” attacks, who is to blame for this sort of pet behavior?
What you read in the news are sensationalized stories using fear mongering to excite the public and to drum up business. A dog attack reported by other types of dogs does not receive the same kind of [media] coverage. Since “Pit Bulls” are a general category of dog type, 30+ types of dog breeds all get lumped under this title, so naturally it will look like this “one” breed is the cause of mayhem.
In reality, it’s information based on eyewitness reports that are often the result of: negligence by the owner, intact male dogs [not fixed], multiple dog households, and finally, resident dogs (that are not thought of as “family” members) who are chained, frustrated, and alienated. Any kind of dog would not flourish if not properly trained in a positive method. Most issues dogs have are due to poor handling on behalf of their human. The person on the end of the leash is responsible, if there’s even a leash at all. A good resource is the “Find the Pit Bull” game, even “Pit Bull” owners often get this wrong.
Joshua BTS: What are some of the problems with media coverage of Pit bulls in US and abroad? At the beginning of the 20th century Pit bulls were the most popular family dog in the US. They went on to become the symbol of the American Hero during World War I. Why has this perception changed so greatly over the last few decades?
Little Darling: Well for starters, its the “hot topic” of our era. For instance, at a seminar I spoke at recently at Brooklyn Law with Ledy VanKavage, lead attorney for Best Friends Animal Society, she illustrated how certain bite incidents occurred, even resulting in death, that were caused by various dogs not identified as pit bull-type dogs. These articles made it to 1 maybe 2 newspapers and didn’t make national news. However, add “pit bull” to the article, and these articles are circulated 600+ times across the globe, adding to the hysteria. It’s ridiculous. There’s also the issue of Police Officers not bothering to assess the entire situation when they enter a scene where a dog bite/attack has occurred. Oftentimes, these bites occur in homes where domestic violence has also been reported previously. On top of that, the households where these incidents take place are always the result of homes where the dog is intact (not neutered) where the dog is often seen more as a “Resident” than as a family member. Resident dogs are the dogs you see tethered in peoples yards, who are often alone and neurotic, left to the elements and lack socialization. This is in regards to all dog bite incidents, not any specific dog type. There are other typical bite statistic factors all of which fall back upon the owner’s negligence.
Additional info regarding media bias can be read here:NCRC – Dog Bites And The Media: Fear and Misinformation
Joshua BTS: That makes perfect sense to me. Do you feel we need stricter laws and penalties for those people who do not raise or handle their dogs correctly, which clearly leads to these type of attacks?
Little Darling: I would like to see as much education as there is enforcement. I think the general public still has no idea how important it is to socialize and neuter/spay your pet.
Joshua BTS: What can an average person do to help hold the media accountable for the spread of this misinformation?
Little Darling: The average person can challenge their local media by writing to them expressing their discontent and calling them as well. The more the media understands that we don’t want to hear it and that the public is not in agreement with this perspective of ignorance, the better chance we have at getting them to stop.
Joshua BTS: I know you have helped raise money for several smaller/grassroots Pit bull Rescues such as Street Tails in Philadelphia and Bad Rap in California. Do you feel that smaller grassroots Pit Bull rescues have a better handle on direct practices that save Pit bulls from being euthanized or going to other shelters that are not as experienced with the breed? What are some of the problems Pit bulls face at general city animal shelters?
Little Darling: Ooh! I like this question. We help the smaller grassroots organizations for various reasons. One of the main reasons is we know how hard it is to raise funds and how frequently urgent dogs fall into these groups. I think since its more hands on, often foster-based, it makes it easier to manage the time involved in raising a great dog and finding it a forever home. I can assure you that shelters are overwhelmed and many shelter workers are beyond burned out. Finding funding is always the problem and the overhead for a shelter is much greater than the overhead for a small grassroots organization. I definitely think having the small groups around helps to save more dogs and give them more opportunity, since they can pull from the overpopulated shelters and ease the load for everyone involved. I think its not only wonderful, its essential to all parties.
Not to nit pick, but pit bulls aren’t a breed:)
Joshua BTS: True. 🙂
Problems pit bull-type dogs face: Well for starters, they have the media waiting in the shadows to bring down their image. So, when people go to adopt a sweet dog, they often don’t think of a pit bull-type dog as an ideal candidate. It is also hard because many homeowners insurance companies and rental communities have banned these dogs based on the same rumors spawned by the media, making it even harder to adopt a pit bull-type dog. I believe the statistic is 1 in every 600 pit bull-type dogs is saved from a shelter each day, meaning 599 are killed each day due to backyard breeding, media hysteria, and lack of shelter space to give them an extra day. Many shelters will only adopt what they deem to be the best “breed” ambassadors and will euthanize the rest, to reduce the stereotyping associated with these dogs on the street. I think its time we overhaul the system and start adopting Shelter Enrichment Programs. Programs like this developed by such organizations like Animal Farm Foundation are using positive reinforcement training and pairing dogs up with volunteers to give the dog a better chance at staying in a home once its adopted. More can be found here on this:
BestFriends.org Info on Pitbull Volunteers and Pairing I have seen their program first hand and its impressive! They are always eager to help reduce the stress for shelter dogs and shelter workers alike.
Joshua BTS: In the US, it is estimated we destroy over 6 MILLION dogs and cats at shelters EVERY YEAR. I find this insane. And Pit Bulls are surely a large % of those destroyed. Is there anything being done to crack down on puppy and kitten mills and backyard breeding which contributes to the over-population and waste of life? I mean this is modern holocaust of man’s supposed “best friend.” And further, many of the means of so called “euthanization” are archaic, we’re using CO2 gas and other methods of destroying these loving animals, thousands by the day, in slow and sometimes very painful manners. That doesn’t seem like a good way to treat our “best friends.” What can we do to help end this terrible cycle?
Little Darling: For starters, cracking down on backyard breeders and creating more programs for affordable and safe spay/neuter programs will really help reduce the overpopulation. I think people still don’t understand that creating more animals in their homes is often illegal in certain jurisdictions but its also killing more animals than it creates. It’s disgusting and absolutely needs to be cracked down upon.
Check out this interesting statistic: “according to the Humane Society of the United States, 10,000 babies are born in the U.S. on any given day. On that same day, however, 70,000 puppies and kittens are born. Match those two statistics up, and you’ll see that there will never be enough homes for all the animals born in this country unless we all take responsibility for spaying and neutering our pets”-found on AdoptaPet.com Info on Spay and Neuter
There definitely does not need to be such an archaic and often faulty approach to euthanizing animals, but at the end of the day, what’s more important that the spaying/neutering of your beloved pet can actual save them from various cancers relating to reproduction.
I think sadly, a greater part of this country still doesn’t see their pet as a family member and often leaves them to their own devices, lacking structure and nurture can destroy any human child as much as it can lead to disastrous outcomes for pets.
Joshua BTS: Do you own a Pit bull?
Little Darling: I own two pit bull-type dog mixes, yes. One is a Staffordshire Terrier Mix and the other is a Pit Bull Terrier mix. My eldest is Carla Lou (16 years old) , who inspired me to start Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc. The youngest is Baxter “Baby Man” who recently turned 5. We have two other dogs, Zoe and Lexi, who are not pit bull-type dogs.
Joshua BTS: So Pit Bulls can get along with non pit bull type dogs? I happen to own a large pit bull that lives happily with 2 Shih Tzus without ever having an issue. Is this out of the norm? Or is it another misconception that Pit Bulls cannot live peacefully with non pit bull type dogs?
Little Darling: Of course! They’re just dogs, some need more structure than others, some are less social with dogs, but overall, I know more multiple dog and multiple species households with pit bull-type dogs and other dogs/cats than I do without them. Even our calendar this year for 2011 features a horse with two pit bull-type dogs in the same shot! I don’t think its out of the norm, dogs should be treated as individuals though, and should be assessed by an experienced behaviorist before making any assumptions. Think of it this way, would you want to date any random girl or guy just because they’re human? You’d want to mesh with their personality, right?
Joshua BTS: Are Pit bulls for everyone?
Little Darling: I don’t think there’s any specific type of dog that is universal for everyone. We all have different lifestyles, different needs, and should adopt a dog or pet specific to how we live our lives. I think visiting a local shelter or adopting through our Pinups for Pitbulls fan page is ideal. We love all dogs, we are just rooting for the underdog until their name no longer needs to be protected.
Joshua BTS: Any recent Pit Bull Success stories you care to share with our readers?
Little Darling: Our most recent success story is Milo formerly known as “Boney” who was adopted by my hair colorist after she saw that he was being fostered with us. He was on “Area 51” aka “the euthanasia list” at ACCT but was pulled by my boyfriend to help reduce the #’s of dogs at ACCT and to give him a fair shake at life. He was in foster care for about a month learning tricks and manners through positive reinforcement methods and is now living happily ever after with Megan, Andy and Logan in NJ.
Joshua BTS: Any plans of doing a male version of the calendar for your female fans? We know many male musicians and artists that would surely be interested in donating their good looks! (Myself Included!)
Little Darling: We have been asked several times to do a Male calendar and always think it sounds like a great idea, but women are much more particular and are less inclined (we think) to buy a male version of the calendar. We’ve discussed doing a limited run to try it, but have not been able to pursue it. It may happen! We do love a good looking man who loves dogs!!! We may take you up on that, Joshua!
Joshua BTS: We see you’ve linked up with Shorty Rossi of the nationally syndicated TV show, Pit Boss. Tell us, how did you come to link up with Shorty and what should we expect from his Philadelphia appearance with Pinups for Pit bulls at Club Shampoo?
Little Darling: His team called me to see if I’d be interested in coming on Pit Boss to help advocate for my cause. I couldn’t say no! I was on a plane within a week of the invite! What better opportunity to educate the general public than to be on a fun reality TV show? We are hoping to be asked back for Season 2.
Shorty will be in the VIP section of our Pit Bull Awareness Day evening celebration on 10/23 at Shampoo. He’s co-hosting with me, announcing our Pinup of the Year and more! He’s so awesome, you should really come and meet him yourself. He’s actually flying from our morning L.A. event to be at our evening gala. We recently did an event together in Tampa and had such a blast hanging out, we had to ask him to come to Philly too!
Joshua BTS: Blow the Scene plans on being at the event for sure! Now, for our readers who may not be looking to own a Pit bull, but who would still like to help, what are some of the best things he or she can do to help the breed?
Little Darling: Educate yourself! Attend one of our seminars or read up on the NCRC website and our website for information about fostering, advocating, donating, and more. There are so many ways they can help! We always need street team members (people to post our fliers), people to repost urgent dogs in need on our Facebook and Myspace, and items for our silent auction, band stuff included!!!
Fun Fact: Lou from Sick of It All has been sending us CD’s, T-shirts and more for our auction for years. We love having his support and the support of the Hardcore and Punk Rock scenes where many of the Pinups, myself included, learned how to be active for our community.
Joshua BTS: We at Blow The Scene would like to extend our sincere gratitude for your fine work with our beloved Pit Bull friends and for taking time out of your very busy schedule to enlighten our readers! We would love to do some follow-up features with Pinups for Pitbulls and we will be seeing you Oct 23rd at Shampoo as our HQ is also based out of lovely Philadelphia. Until next time…Cheers!
Little Darling: Thank you so much for devoting so much time to this piece! It means a lot to me and to our fellow pinups and fans to have an opportunity to speak about our beloved four-legged friends!
Pinups For Pitbulls Facebook
Pinups for Pitbulls Twitter
Click to Order Tickets for PitBull Awareness Day at Shampoo in Philadelphia PA on Sat. Oct. 23, 2010
National Canine Research Council