A dear reader and friend brought something to my attention this morning regarding an article published in the Chicago Tribune about Judge Judy and her sidekick Byrd. Actually the topic of the article is irrelevant,the article itself rather mundane, what is important here is the writer’s careless comment referring to the Judge as a “pit bull,” furthering the misconception that the breed is mean, vicious.

The media has bought into and propagted this myth for so long that it is hard to get your average person to see beyond it.  The bully breed is fighting everyday to overcome the stereotypes and having someone so nonchalantly adding to it doesn’t help!

In writing the article, Greg Braxton makes comments like;

[I] the lion’s den and the head lion was about to bite his head off” about the courtroom and the Judge and about Byrd, the Judge’s sidekick, “He is the guard dog to the pit bull.

There’s no way to misconstrue the meaning behind the way Braxton is using “pit bull” as other than vicious, dangerous, mean.  I don’t think I am misinterpreting it.

Now this might not seem like much of anything to most people.  Many would completely overlook the comment, not even notice it, but for advocates who are sick of the stereotype, we want people to stop being so careless, thoughtless.

Following is the letter my friend wrote to Mr. Baxter;

 I enjoyed your article about Judge Judy and Byrd, but there is one thing that really bothered me in the article.

You had said in your article, that Judge Judy is an animal advocate. I too am an animal advocate, doing independent rescue, handling the national Do Not Adopt registry, transporting dogs/cats from shelters (mostly high kill shelters), doing home visits pre adoption, crossposting animals in need, and closing down breeders gone bad. I also am a huge advocate of the bully breed dogs, which brings me to why I am a little perturbed with your article.

You had said in reference to Byrd “He is the guard dog to the pit bull”. Wow, that blew me away. By writing this, you have publicly stated that pit bulls are mean and vicious dogs, and saying that Judge Judy is mean and vicious; I do not believe she is a mean woman, she just does not take any crap from people, and I adore that trait in a person. I believe I must correct you on this matter. Pit bulls, or any dog from the bully breed family, are loving, sweet, kind dogs. You made me feel like there was a reference to a fighting dog by your statement, sort of like comparing her to one of the Vick dogs.

Any dog can be mean and vicious; it does not necessarily go with any breed in particular. It is all dependent on how you raise the dog and train the dog. I have met and transported many a bully breed dog, met them in the pet stores while shopping for my own furkids, helped re home them into loving families. I believe you should spend some time with a bully breed rescue and volunteer to see how wonderful and loving these dogs really are. You along with millions of other people in this country think that pit bulls are the meanest dog around. Sorry but you are sadly mistaken. You could have rephrased that by saying that Byrd is the “Gatekeeper”. Yes he is her guard, but not referencing either of them to a dog, especially a pit bull.

How about you go on a transport and see how volunteers work together to help the homeless animals, view some of the daily emails we volunteers receive in regards to any type of dog that has been used as a bait dog or has been a fighting dog, not on their own choosing. Read the book written about the Vick dogs, as they were Vicktums, and how loving and happy they are in their new homes where they are treated as they are part of the family, and given the love they so deserve, just like any other furkid of a family. Any dog who has been abused or used in dog fighting did not ask to be treated and raised like that. Do a little research on the pit bull breed; it may surprise you. I would be willing to take you on a transport, and maybe you would be lucky enough to see how loving a bully breed dog really is, especially the pitties, as they have such adorable body movements when they are happy – they turn into nothing but wiggle butts.

It is obvious to me, you have never met a bully breed dog in your life, otherwise you would have not made that comparison.
And Mr. Baxter’s rather careless (IMHO) response back;

Sorry you were perturbed by what was meant to be a clever turn of phrase.

But to draw the conclusion that I was making a statement about pit bulls is not only farfetched, it is inaccurate. Your interpretation of that phrase is  yours only.

See, that’s half the problem, it’s not a “clever turn of phrase,” it’s yet one more careless, thoughtless dig at an already far too maligned  breed. Pit bull prejudice is real and it kills, it kills hundreds each and every day!

Am I overreacting?  Is my friend?  No doubt many will think so but you go into the shelters where more than 50% of the population are bully breed dogs because of BSL, because people perceive them as mean and vicious and dangerous.  You go where thugs and gangs turn them into fighting machines because society says that’s what they are.  You hold the shaking and broken body of a bleeding and ripped apart bait dog.  You do all that then you tell me I am overreacting!!  Tell me my friend is overreacting!

Now, if you think we’re not overreacting and that maybe, just maybe, Mr. Braxton is just one more thoughtless, careless media personage trying to further himself with a “clever turn of phrase” over an already brutalized and maligned breed that fights against the stereotype every day, maybe you can help.  Take two minutes of your time and drop a line to Mr. Braxton and let him know firmly but politely, that it’s not okay, not clever to “use” a pit bull so thoughtlessly that you don’t even realize what you’re doing.

Please, for all the pit bulls out there, help to end the prejudice… email him here.


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