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Pit Bulls Are Just Another Breed Of Dog, Says Bully Bark Owners. What Do You Think?

They get a bad rap in the media, and are no more aggressive than any other breed, says Meryl Cohen of Bully Bark.

Meryl Cohen and Nicole Maples are on a mission: their group, Bully Bark, aims to educate pit bull owners how to handle their animals, and to educate the general public that pit bulls are not the monsters Cohen says the media makes them out to be.

“We want to re-establish the breed as a family animal and a good pet,” said Cohen, who is based in Pleasant Hill and serves Hercules and the rest of Contra Costa County. “And we fight against breed-specific legislation.”

The two met in college, and found they were both “animal-obsessed,” Cohen said. It was also in college where she fell in love with the pit bull breed.

“They were everything I wanted in a dog. I wanted to make it my mission to re-establish the perception of the breed. They are friendly, outgoing, confident, social and loyal.”

They are also in the news a lot, and not in good ways. Just this past week, there were reports of pit bulls attacking young children.

Cohen admits that there are instances of pit bull attacks, but claims that she sees a “desire in the media not to cover attacks by other breeds. I know of a lab that recently killed a two-year-old, but no one covered it.”

She also claims that, after working in animal shelters, she saw other breeds go into bite wards with equal frequency as pit bulls. She has worked with pit bulls who go to pediatric oncology wards to help ease childrens’ suffering. She said her own pit bulls were recently attacked by two off-leash Malamuts, but park rangers refused to do anything about it.

Originally bred to nip at the heels of bulls in England, pit bulls were brought to America to care for the children of settlers, Cohen said, thus their nickname “nanny dogs.” The bad rap came when the breed got caught up in gambling and fighting.

“I believe that behind every dog bite, you can find a problem with the owner,” she said. “You are responsible for your animal. There is no excuse for a dog to get loose.”

If a dog has a shaky history, it can still be trained, Cohen said. Bully Bark has clients in most central county cities, including Martinez. 

“It’s all about leadership,” she said. “I mostly train the owners. A lot of people with anxiety issues transfer them to their dogs.”

The Pleasant Hill resident has been working with dogs and their owners for the past seven years. She and her partner provide everything but basic training, and they also serve as ambassadors of the breed.

“I’m hopeful because I see the younger generation as more tolerant,” Cohen said. “There’s a rebellion against intolerance, more acceptance toward the breed. I’m hopeful that will mean changes in legislation.”

To contact Bully Bark, go to the website and send them an email.

Do you think pit bulls are the victims of negative media? Tell us in the comments. 

Glenn Abraham May 09, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Pit Bulls ARE just another breed of dog, and, as with all dogs, I love them. But, through no fault on their part, they seem to have an unfortunate tendency to attract owners who come from a very undesirable breed of people. The problem is vicious people, not vicious dogs, but combining vicious people with those very strong pit bull jaws can result in misfortune. So, neuter the vicious people.
Clay Hund May 09, 2012 at 06:57 PM
The problem is the media and the people that fear pit bulls. If people didn't fear them, the media wouldn't sensationalize pit bulls, and thugs would not be attracted to a non-feared breed. Until people smarten up, there will always be a different breed every decade or two that takes the bad rap. It is the fearful people that spread fear that are responsible for bad folks getting pit bulls and training them to be vicious. I am an executive, and I love pit bulls! I live in a very desirable area with virtually no crime, and in the past 5 years, there are quite a few pit bulls. The ownership makes all of the difference in the world. If thugs started using labs, the media sensationalized labs, then thus would get labs, rain them to be vicious, and then labs would take the heat. Believe it or not, in the first half of the 20th century, pit bulls were popular family dogs, owned by many highly respected US icons, including Helen Keller, President Theodore Roosevelt, and General George Patton. Boy, how public perception can change!
Michelle May 09, 2012 at 09:43 PM
As a former owner of a Pit Bull I love the breed and my dog. BUT I didn't trust her. She was sweet enough and didn't show agression but the pure fact that she had the capability to inflict such harm, I couldn't keep her once I had children. There was no way that I would take the risk. I get that many are just big pushovers, but they are dogs that can just do so much damage if they made the mistake to bit. I also get that a small dog can inflict disfiguring bites as well. Unfortunately due to the reputation as such a dangerous dog there are people out there that think that's a cool thing to promote. These are the morons that continue to help this breed be seen as a killer.

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