Packs of pit bulls and people promenade to promote breed’s reputation

Posted at 5:41 PM, May 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-04 19:41:34-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A group of Salt Lake area dog owners came up with an idea to show how pit bulls can make good pets.

They said the dogs often get a bad rap, but when they interact in a controlled environment, pet owners said it can make dogs and people feel more comfortable.

Every other week, the SLC Strut-A-Bulls dog walking group forms a pack of 20 to 40 dogs as a way to socialize their animals and help form a support group for owners.

“It gives the sense that you can go out and walk your dog with people who know what's going on with your dog,” said dog owner Kepin Lawson.

Erin Graf rescued her dog, Bean, from a shelter. The pit bull was used as a fighting dog and couldn't be socialized with animals, at least not until she found the walking groups.

“I couldn't get here even remotely close to other dogs at the beginning, but now here we are 9 months later and I'm able to walk with a pack: It's done a lot for me and for her,” Graf said.

Some of the owners advocated for legislation that would prohibit cities from enforcing breed-specific laws. That bill will go into effect January 1, 2015, but owners said it still highlights the apprehension some people feel about certain types of dogs.

“A lot of people think when we are opposed to BSL (breed-specific laws) we want dogs to run wild and attack people and that's not it at all,” said dog owner Scott Schun. “We want the legislation to be smart, to reinforce responsible dog ownership, and the BSL laws don't do that. They hold the dog accountable for owners not doing the last thing.”

These dog owners said they feel like some irresponsible pet owners gravitate toward pit bulls, which has created the perception that all pit bulls are dangerous.

But they said walks like this are small steps to put fears at ease and encourage owners to take good care of their animals.