Bad rep: Jasmine, an example of a pit bull mix. *Photo by TWO + QUARTER STUDIOS
Bad rep: Jasmine, an example of a pit bull mix. *Photo by TWO + QUARTER STUDIOS

A Bermudian woman has embarked on a campaign to dispel negative myths about the pit bull breed.

The mother-of-two has started a group called “Our Misunderstood” in the hope of raising awareness about pit bulls as well as promoting breed equality on the island.

“Our Misunderstood” already has over 100 followers on Facebook and the group has just launched its own website this week.

While last week it launched The Yellow Dog Project on the island, which is part of a global initiative, where dogs that need space wear a yellow ribbon or other yellow marker to make other dog owners aware.

The yellow ribbons are currently free and available from Animal and Garden House.

The group’s founder was spurred into action by a recent court case where a man drowned his pit pull after it attacked another dog.

The young islander, who asked not to be named, told the Bermuda Sun: “I have always felt very passionate about pit bulls and the unfair treatment they face at the hands of irresponsible owners, media hype, and legislation.

“My passion for the breed was strengthened when I had the chance to experience first-hand what the bully breeds were all about.” She added: “The Facebook page is not the result of this one incident alone but rather the product of years and years of negative criticism, discrimination, and bias placed onto one specific ‘breed’ — the pit bull — a dog that is described by the UKC (United Kennel Club)  as “strong”, “confident” and “eager to please”.

“In the long run, we hope to encourage the removal of breed-specific legislation and replace it with realistic and appropriate legislation governing all dogs and holding owners accountable for their pet’s behaviour — not the other way around. Our movement is focused on breed equality and on breaking down the social stigmatization on many of the prohibited and restricted dog breeds in Bermuda.”

The American Pit Bull Terrier is currently on the prohibited or banned breed list in Bermuda along with 12 other breeds. 

The new three-category approach to dog classification of prohibited, restricted and non-restricted was introduced by Government at the end of 2011.

But a degree of uncertainty still surrounds the new Government’s stance on how dogs are classified.

The founder of “Our Misunderstood” added: “By forming a public platform, I hope to have the opportunity to gather insights from dog owners and non-dog owners alike.

“We are finding that dog owners want the exact same thing as the rest of Bermuda: a safe and welcoming society.

“Unfortunately, some dog owners do not feel welcome in their own country.

“Our aim is justice for the breeds. Whether a dog is legal or not, owning a pit bull is viewed by much of society as irresponsible. This is unfair. 

“We have supporters who own all kinds of pit bulls and pit bull mixes and their dogs are wonderful pets.

“Yet when many of them walk out onto a Railway Trail or take their dog to the park for a little exercise, they are faced with derogatory comments, smug looks, and blatant disrespect. 

“Pit bulls are popular dogs in Bermuda but a culture of illegal activity and abuse carried out by a small sector of society fuels the predominantly negative perception.”

To find out more about the campaign join its Facebook group or visit www.ourmisunderstood.com. n