How to Advocate
More Advocates. Better Advocacy.
Misconceptions regarding dogs perceived as pit bulls plague society throughout our country and the world. They surpass animal welfare knowledge and experience, go beyond brick and mortar walls, beyond foster networks, and run freely into all our communities. Unfortunately, pit bull issues are an iceberg with most of the mass being under the surface and not easily seen. Relieving these misconceptions depends on a united understanding of the origins and evolution of the misjudgment, and a concerted, consistent approach to a solution.
We need a multitude of advocates to hit the misconceptions head on. Pit bull type dogs are now revered almost as often as they’re feared, so we’re obviously making progress. All advocates need is a strategy that can be replicated and implemented in their community. Humans find great comfort in replication and trust consistency. Like the canine friends that we love so much, we love predictability and controlled outcomes. In that psychology lies key strategies to leveling the playing field for dogs known as pit bulls.
“If you want somebody to change their mind it’s no good arguing. You’ve got to reach the heart.”
Keys to Effective Advocacy
ASK WHY. WHY is possibly an advocates most powerful word. There’s a reason for people’s fear and discourse. You can’t possibly help them understand our side without first understanding theirs.
Learn to harness your emotions. This is a hard one. But practice makes it easier and easier. BELIEVE that it’s not personal. People don’t dislike your dog. They dislike pit bulls. They probably don’t even really dislike them… deep down they’re most often just afraid but don’t know how to project that appropriately. The less emotional you are, the less emotional they will be.
NEVER get defensive. Walk away if you need to. Don’t engage. Take the high road. Remember, it’s not personal. Being defensive means that you’re too emotional. We can’t advocate effectively in that mind space.
Put yourself in their shoes. Learn to develop your empathy. Many of us are born with some varying degree of empathy. Some of us need to learn how and practice being empathic. This is often confused with being compassionate. But they’re very different. Empathy isn’t just feeling sympathy for someone – it’s actually putting yourself in their perspective and feeling what they feel. This can be incredibly draining and difficult to control for those known as “Empaths”. For the rest of the world, it can be incredibly hard to genuinely do. Try. Practice. Ask us for help.
Offer non-judgmental support. Man, all these things are hard to do. But judging someone puts them on the defensive and you in a mental place where you think you already know. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Most folks we interact with mean no harm. They just don’t KNOW what we do.
Arm yourself with knowledge – Knowledge is POWER! Soak up the information on our website and others such as badrap.org and pitbullinfo.org. Subscribe to the Pit Bull Advocates of America – The Podcast!