There’s no question that dogs known as “pitbulls” have a bad reputation. Unfairly targeted as dangerous in some parts of Canada, they suffer from an image problem.
That is changing, however, with cities like Vancouver and Edmonton repealing “anti-pitbull” legislation.
Anne-France Goldwater is a new pitbull owner herself. She adopted Mr. Spot, a pitbull-type dog with spinal cord damage, in part to see first-hand whether these dogs really were more aggressive than her other pups. She’s seen nothing of the sort in the sweet face of Mr. Spot, and she continues leading the legal battle to challenge breed-specific legislation (BSL) in Quebec.
But maybe there’s a way to change that. During a live AMA (Ask Me Anything) this week on Facebook with Goldwater, one user wrote in with an idea. “Everybody [should] start calling them LoveBulls to change people’s perceptions forever,” Maxime Da Sylva wrote.
It’s an idea that got Goldwater quickly onside.
“When we call a dog a ‘pitbull,’ we’re being subtly pejorative,” she said. “In the same way like in the Eric and Lola case, where the lady was nicknamed Lola because there’s a subtle denigration in that name.”
Goldwater said that the pseudonym attributed to this mom created a negative public perception of unmarried spouses.
In the Eric and Lola alimony and property case, Goldwater represented a mother of three in lower court disputes who was given the pseudonym Lola; she petitioned the courts to recognize her right to support from her partner as if they were married.By a slim majority, the Supreme Court disagreed.
“It’s the same thing with the word ‘pitbull.’ It makes us think of the pit where they do dogfighting, where as the grand majority of these dogs have not been raised for dogfighting,” Goldwater said.
So here’s one way to change the perception of pitbulls: “Let’s call them lovebulls,” she said.
The Montreal SPCA, also working to promote best practices on animal control in Quebec, also has a clear position on BSL: “…studies show – and experts agree – that banning dogs of a certain breed or who display certain physical characteristics does not reduce the risk, nor the severity of dog bites, and thus is ineffective in increasing public safety.”