Earlier this week, the NSPCA pulled off a rather ballsy and highly emotive guerrilla marketing stunt. For those of you who don’t know, Cajun Rules are the official “rules” for pitbull/dog fighting. Hence the fake website cajunrules.co.za
When this campaign launched, it set social media on fire and then a few hours later, when it was revealed it was in fact an awareness campaign, the news was met with mixed opinions.
I’m still not sure how I feel about the campaign. It initially upset me, I spent most of the morning, like many others, with my blood pressure through the roof and my stomach churning, phoning the number, looking at the website, trying to get some clue as to who these sick, disgusting people are. When the message behind the campaign was revealed, I was initially angry.
But I get it. I may not like it, but I get it.
Just because the dogfights aren’t advertised, doesn’t mean they don’t happen. They take place all the time every month, every weekend, every day, everywhere.This cruel and despicable industry thrives on secrecy and fear prevents individuals from reporting dog fighting.We created this fake dog fight to raise awareness of this scourge and get people talking and acting so we can start the real fight against dog fighting.To find out more about dog fighting in South Africa, and how you can help, go to www.nspca.co.za
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We have an AMSTAFF (American Staffordshire Terrier) which is part of the Pitbull family. An Amstaff is basically a regulated Pitbull. But people’s reactions to her have always left me cautious and aware.
These breeds are essentially the same dogs but have been bred for different purposes and/or size standards since the mid 1930’s. Some are even dual registered (i.e., registered as an American Pit Bull Terrier with the UKC and as an American Staffordshire Terrier with the AKC).
It’s no secret that dog fighting is a HUGE problem in South Africa and I have it on good authority, from a source that can’t be named, that it doesn’t only happen where you stereo-typically assume it would happen. It happens in the heart of Sandton and other affluent areas and is orchestrated by the rich and powerful, it’s not just a gang related crime.
I’m always so aware when I go anywhere with Layla that people are taking note of her. Some are utterly terrified thanks to the role the media has played in perpetuating the stereotypes that these dogs are nothing more than lethal killers who will turn on a child or an adult and rip each other to shreds. And others are morbidly curious about her. Whenever we have contractors at our home, before they’ve even gotten out of the car, they’ve asked if Layla is a Pitbull, if she can have puppies and if they can have one. I’m terrified of someone stealing her. To the point, where I won’t even walk down our driveway when returning for a walk, if there’s someone in the road. We live on a long pan handle, behind a set of double gates, so they can’t see her from the road but I don’t want anyone knowing she’s there.
Because here’s the thing. Like 99% of all Bully Breeds, Layla is too friendly for her own good and if anyone came into our yard, she’d happily wander off with them, she wouldn’t attack them or try to bite them or do anything other than play with them, giving her wide Pitbull smile and wagging tail.
Like 99% of all Pitbull type breeds, she is the most incredible dog. She’s sweet, loving, loyal, tenacious, curious, naughty and very very cuddly!
Did you know, Pit bulls repeatedly score better in terms of temperament and gentleness than 121 other breeds of dogs including lab’s?
As a Pitt Bull owner, I feel I have a responsibility. To educate, to demystify, to break the stereotypes and above all to protect my loyal companion.
I hate that these beautiful dogs get such a bum wrap. Have you ever watched a dog fighting video? I have. Watching those pit fights, it was enough to make me lose my lunch. It breaks my heart. And I am angered even further that so many shelters, will simply destroy any dog before re-homing if it has any physical traits of a Pitbull.
If you want see proof of these dogs incredible spirits, then you need to watch The Champions on Netflix.
This is the movie made about Michael Vick, a famous American Football player who was bust running his own dog fighting ring. He was found guilty but the punishment did not fit the crime. There was proof and evidence presented in this case of him electrocuting, drowning, beating, dogs to death, even taking his children’s beloved pet dog and throwing it in the pit to use for bait. This incredible documentary is about the landmark ruling that the dogs from this case be rehabilitated and not euthanized. There is no gore in the doccie, just hope and love and healing.
And these crimes happen daily in South Africa, we just don’t hear about it and so I am in FULL support of the NSPCA’s attempt to highlight this issue. No matter how shocking it was. It is happening every single day and we have a responsibility to do something. Anything. To help stop it. I think the Pitbull Federation of South Africa summed it up best:
Yesterday the NSPCA embarked on a very contraversial yet effective advertising campaign to highlight the scourge of dog fighting. While the PBFSA understands that many found it an offensive waste of money, we are asking each and every person to take a step back and see the good that came out of this.
For the first time South Africans sat up and took note, constructively. You reported the advert to the correct authority. It made us all uncomfortable and it united people.
It did not advertise or showcase dog fighting. This advert hit home hard. It made people uncomfortable and made people want to act. Which they did. If you are one of those who is angry about it, ask yourself why awareness of this vile passtime has angered you. Is it because you are angry that you got caught by an advert that upset you or because you are finally very aware of the reality of dog fighting. Many have said using photos of torn up dogs was the way to go. The PBFSA posted a video of just that, along with the contact details of the NSPCA, many people just couldnt stand to watch the video to the end, which meant that important info was lost.
Our legal system and society in general seldom regards the seriousness of dog fighting and fails to recognise the damage it does to the moral fibre of the community. It is more than just 2 dogs fighting until the death. In many communities including the pit bull show community in South Africa, dog fighters are hailed as icons, heros and demigods.
These people are treated like stars, so we are not too sure where the anger directed at the NSPCA coming from, this was a hard hitting ad campaign, you all hero worship South African wannabe dogmen all the time. You all were fine with an organisation posting dog fighting videos for shock value. Yet you are outraged over a billboard.
We are appealing to the public to see this advertising campaign for what it was. We ask you all to question your anger and then to channel that anger constructively.
So as a passionate advocate of this breed, I am proclaiming myself and my Layla as Ambassador’s. I want to show people that Pitbull’s are incredible dogs, I want to change your perception, I want to show you how to love this breed. And I call on all other bully owners to do the same. Proudly share your photo’s on Social Media using the #PitbullAmbassador and tag me, I’d love to see your beloved Pittie!nI’m going to try and post a pic daily of Layla doing what Pitbull’s are meant to do, sleeping, cuddling, being silly and just generally rambunctious fur children. I hope you’ll follow me on Instagram!
Because every Pitbull deserves the life that Layla has! Every last one of them.
I’d also really encourage you to follow Sophie Gamand, she’s an American advocate for the breed and her work is amazing, the photo’s and stories she shares daily remind me of how big a heart a Pitbull has, their ability for trust and forgiveness is boundless and that should be cherished and not abused.
Will you join me?
Feature Image Credit: http://www.sophiegamand.com/