All posts by Annie Gieser

Grad Caps and Wedding Gowns

The fresh spring air brings life to the dead world winter brought. Along with it comes graduation caps, prom dresses, floral-prints galore, and yes – marriage proposals. Something about the blooming flowers or the transition from one part of life to another catches the spirit of young boys in love; urging them to get down on one knee. It is the season, some say, for a ring by spring.

Getting married young has been around since ancient times – the Greeks are said to have married once girls started their period and boys grew pubic hair. Various reasons called for this: shorter life expectancy, agreement between two households, staying a virgin until wedded (usually for religious reasons), etc. As consent laws came to form, life expectancies grew longer, and sex out of wedlock became less of a taboo, younger marriages obviously saw a decline. So why in this day-and-age are some couples still deciding to tie the knot before they’re twenty-five?

“We just knew that like no matter what we were gonna go through, we wanted to be together anyway,” explains twenty-three year-old Madison Peterson, who was nineteen when she married her husband, Joel. “No matter if we were financially ready; it didn’t matter. Or school’s in the way; it didn’t matter. ‘Cause we just knew that we were gonna be dating anyways so we might as well, let’s just get married.”

Madison was born and raised in the Dallas / Fort Worth area of Texas, where she definitely thinks people get married younger than in California, where Joel is from. This is true: the average age of marriage as of 2017 in Texas was 25.7 years old for women and 27.5 years old for men, compared to in California where the average age for women was 27.3 and for men, 29.5, according to Marriage.com.  

But it’s not just the difference in state culture, Madison thinks it’s more about religion.

“The Bible talks about how finding a wife in your youth is a blessing,” reveals Madison with a passion in her voice. “There’s a lot of scriptures that even go into talking about the kind of blessed lifestyle you live as husband and wife in your youth. I think that backs up a lot of young people, you know, let’s do it, let’s get married! God says we should, mom and dad! [laughs]”

Catholic Marriage Prep Class is an online premarital course run by The Marriage Group, specifically for couples who are having a Catholic wedding. Scott Werner, a representative from The Marriage Group finds that because they’re an online course, they are more accessible to younger couples.

“One contributing factor may be that churchgoing couples are generally more conservative in their views and lifestyle choices,” Scott says over email about why getting married young has traditionally been linked to religion – Catholicism specifically. “They are more likely to abstain from premarital sex and less likely to move in with each other prior to marriage.”

Joel and Madison did not attend any sort of premarital counseling, but part of her really wishes that they did. “Counsel would have been awesome just because there is wisdom in having a lot of people’s opinions – you don’t have to go by them, but there’s just a new perspective with each opinion you recieve. So we should’ve had that, I think it would’ve given us more insight to what marriage was going to be, but we definitely had counseling after we got married [laughs] yeah we had lots of that.”

 

Since Joel’s parents were also married young (twenty-one and twenty-two years old) they were incredibly supportive to their relationship, which Madison conveys helped tremendously, especially in the first few years when things were a bit rocky. Having a support system is important when marrying at any age, but it seems as though when parents have good experiences with marrying young, they are more likely to be supportive.

As was the same with San Francisco State University student, Angelica Romero, who got engaged two years ago when she was nineteen.

“I was a little bit worried my parents wouldn’t be as supportive,” admits Angelica. “But they told me that they actually got married within three months of dating and they’ve been together for twenty-four years. . . hearing my mom tell me that and seeing them so happy, that was just like, it just changed my whole perspective on getting married young.”

Angelica and her fiancé are both still in college and currently doing long-distance – he attends a community college in Riverside, California while she is up here in San Francisco. Because of this, and their desire to become more financially stable, they’ve decided to wait to plan their wedding until the time is right.

“I only have like hopefully one more year, I should graduate next summer,” Angelica reveals of her plans ahead. “So we’ve been talking to our parents and were thinking hopefully we can start planning [the wedding] like later this year or the beginning of next year so we can get married when I move back down there.”

By all means, not everyone is going to be supportive of Madison’s and Angelica’s decision to get hitched so young, but to them that’s okay.  

“You’re gonna have doubters no matter what decision you make,” Madison points out as she speaks of those who disapprove of her choice. “If you wait until you get married at like thirties and forties – or even late twenties – you’re gonna have people who say oh my gosh you waited too long. There’s gonna be somebody with a different opinion no matter what you do, so you have to ask yourself like am I ready? Am I ready to make a relationship work no matter what?”

There’s gonna be somebody with a different opinion no matter what you do, so you have to ask yourself like am I ready? Am I ready to make a relationship work no matter what?

 

For her of course, the answer was yes.

Olivia Stadler, an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with the San Francisco Marriage Center finds that in her experience, couples that married young sometimes feel as though they’re missing out on things when they get older.

“I think one of the challenges of getting married young is so much growth happens from graduating college – assuming that they’re on the traditional education path,” Olivia explains.

“. . .you are still finding out who you are and I think a lot of transformation can happen from twenty to thirty. So is your partner on a similar pace of growth, can they grow along with you? Or does one outgrow the other? Or do you end up feeling like you no longer have as much in common or want different things out of life?”

Olivia has helped couples who got married young and are now older – currently in their late twenties or early thirties. She admits that on the other hand, getting married so young is compelling because the couple is deciding to change their life together usually at a crossroads in their life like graduating college.

Madison describes her and Joel’s relationship as an evolution itself. She understands how much change is coming their way, but they’re ready for that everyday.

“I’ve had people say oh you’re too young and you have so much to learn and why do you do this you’re gonna grow and you’re gonna change,” she divulges on the criticism she’s received from her decision. “Well yeah I am! I am young, I am gonna grow, and I am gonna change, but I’d love to change with my best friend because I know that he’s gonna love me no matter how much I change and I’m gonna love him no matter how much he changes.”

 

Because there are so many growing and moving parts of life throughout the twenties, Scott from The Marriage Group argues that marriage is apart of that equation because of how big of a step it is.

“At the point of college graduation, many young adults are ready to start their careers, move into their own homes, and embark on the next chapter of their lives,” Scott writes over email. “For many, marriage can be the right and natural “next step” for their journey together.”

However right that next step feels at the time, some couples who marry young can’t take the changes growing older brings. The Institute for Family Studies reports in a study that, “someone who marries at twenty-five is over fifty percent less likely to get divorced than is someone who weds at age twenty.”

Whether it’s the fear of missing out or just growing apart, younger married couples are more likely to not work out. But for those who still strive for that feeling they had back when they tied the knot, therapy is there and communication is the number one issue, says Olivia.

The first phase of the work is usually about skills training,” Olivia illustrates on how she helps these couples. “So teaching them new communication tools, how to express their needs without making the other person defensive, that type of thing. And then on another level, building more self-awareness – so maybe someone doesn’t really know what they want, or maybe they’re working all the time and they’re not really in tune with their body or their emotions.”

And maybe this will work, as counseling did for Madison and Joel in their first few years of marriage. At twenty-three years old, she has been married for almost four years and is now pregnant with their first child. For them, this whole marriage thing seems to be working out just fine. And to those who still doubt their relationship?

“Proof’s in the pudding,” she declares. As it is for all those, young or old, ready or not, who dive-in headfirst to tie the knot.

 

All Artwork by Ana Murray

Opening Up About Being Open

Open relationships are a lot like pineapple on pizza – people either love it or hate it. But as all new and different things,  maybe don’t knock it until you try it. First things first – what does an open relationship entail?

The concrete definition of an open relationship is difficult to pin down. Mainly because every relationship is different, with different people and different rules. Dr. Colleen Hoff, a professor of sexuality studies at San Francisco State University, defines it as, “one where you are allowed to have sex with another person outside the relationship.”

But just as in any monogamous relationship, no two are the same. Each couple sets different rules, boundaries, and standards for each other.

“Every open relationship has different dynamics,” explains Ryan Taylor, a twenty-four-year-old who just got out of a six-year-long open relationship. “That’s the interesting part.”

Ryan delves into the workings of open relationships with his friend, Stephen*, who has been in an open marriage for more than twenty-one years. Their experiences with non-monogamy differ, but neither of them would choose to go back to a strict monogamous relationship.

“I think that being in an open relationship is a way to pretend I’m living a single life in short bursts,” Stephen answers about his open marriage. “And then go back to the rock-solid foundation that I have that makes my life worthwhile.”

That’s important here – the foundation. Open relationships between two people work if the primary relationship continues to remain primary.

“We make sure that if we do anything with anyone else that we know where our boundaries are, especially our emotional boundaries,” Stephen describes about the particular dynamic him and his husband have. “If the other person develops feelings we have to really be aware of that. The partner always comes first. Everyone who’s coming in has to know my rules and what’s allowed.”

Both Stephen and Ryan are gay men and interpret the higher rate of open relationships in the gay community as a result of taking control of their own lives when most of the world wanted to limit them. And, simply, because they are men.

“I think generally men are more openly sexual,” Ryan suggests. “So in a relationship of two men where we’re like, we both want sex and we know that we can dissociate sex from love, so why not branch out and experience other people?”

Author of numerous books about human relationships outside of monogamy such as The Myth of Monogamy and Out of Eden, David Barash argues that monogamy simply isn’t human nature. Thus, outside relationships could be the answer.

“For most of human history monogamy wasn’t the norm,” David points out. “And prior to the homogenization of human societies following Western colonialism and Christian missionaries, only about fifteen percent of human societies were preferentially monogamous.”

And then the norm changed—most likely due to the desire and reliability of biparental families says David.   

But America’s interest in open relationships in the past decade has increased significantly, according to a study from the University of Michigan that focused on Google searches surrounding the topic. Is a future where monogamy is no longer the norm possible?

“Of course it is possible!” David affirms as he returns to the fact that if it was once not the norm, who’s to say that won’t happen again. But is pure monogamy itself still possible in our modern world? “I can’t say if it is becoming less possible, but it might be, simply because social media and the internet expose people to images and opportunities not previously available.”

Colleen has been working on a study for more than twenty years centered on gay men in relationships with outside partners. Open relationships are more likely to occur within the LGBTQ community (in Stephen’s experience here in San Francisco, 90 percent of gay men are in open relationships), but Colleen says her focus here was all about safety.

“It was pretty clear that a lot of gay couples had open relationships,” Colleen proclaims as she divulges into the topic of HIV prevention among the gay community. “I thought it was important to examine those relationships, with regard to what relationship factors might be associated to greater risk for HIV. Your life could be at stake if somebody’s engaging in risky sex that they could then bring home to you.”

For this reason, along with the many others that contribute to a healthy relationship, trust and communication are essential here.

“I’ve always found that communication is primary. That honesty and openness is better,” Stephen states about how to stay safe and healthy with his husband. And Ryan agrees, adding his ex’s boundaries were: “obviously always being safe, with condoms. Without condoms was a big deal breaker for him.”

Even with the best safety measures, it’s safe to assume all relationships, monogamous or otherwise, come with their own batches of jealousy. But Stephen argues that jealousy is not a common emotion between him and his husband.

“[Jealousy’s] a discussion point, it’s not present but it’s always under the surface and it could crop up if he doesn’t feel safe. And my job is to make him feel safe,” he assures, also explaining that just because jealousy isn’t always there, that doesn’t mean it won’t be at some point and the best way to avoid that is complete honesty with one another.

“You can’t sneak around, you cannot lie; that creates jealousy immediately,” he explains. “If all the cards are on the table and everyone sees them, then we can have so much fun. One person hides a card and then that spoils everything else.”

A study done for the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy in 2016 found that one in five of single Americans have been in a non-monogamous relationship.

So why do so many couples decide monogamy isn’t for them? Colleen, as a sexual therapist who has worked with many open relationship couples, explains that there’s never a single reason for this change.

“Sometimes couples do it for sexual excitement,” she explains in a simple matter. But Colleen also delves into more complicated reasons, such as one partner having a medical condition that disables them from performing sexually. Here, the other partner would go elsewhere for sex while still maintaining the emotional side of the relationship with their unable-partner.

Ryan explains that he and his ex decided to go open because, “we both were looking for more. We were just wanting to experiment more and grow as people and just make more connections.”

Although their relationship is over now, Ryan would not give the experience of an open relationship for anything.

“I learned a ton about myself and personal growth and what I can and cannot tolerate and just being valued,” Ryan recalls, to which Stephen adds with comfort, “and how to speak up for yourself.”

To them, an open relationship is the answer to the struggles of monogamy where you are constantly restricted or jealous, and shamed for seeking sex elsewhere. In a country where the divorce rate is more than 40 percent, according to the American Psychological Association, open relationships could be the answer.

In Stephen’s marriage, his husband his more vanilla when it comes to sex, whereas he has gotten more into the BDSM community in the past few years. By having an open relationship, both of them are able to have the sex lives they prefer while still having stability – a win-win in his opinion.

“[BDSM]’s incredibly exciting and the opposite of boring which is what I want,” reveals Stephen. “I can be settled [with his partner] and still feel like I’m growing and changing at the same time. I am so close with my partner, I feel so lucky because I have everything I want. I’m loving my life and this is a part of why I love it.”

 

*Name has been changed to protect privacy

 

A.L

                                                                         

   Drawings by Ana Murray

The Myth of the Pit

A wide jaw, stocky build, and short thick hair in an array of colors. The defining features of a pit bull aren’t up for debate when it comes to this dog breed. Behavior on the other hand, never seems to stop being a controversy. Extreme efforts go into painting the picture of a vicious beast, rabid and uncontrollable in any situation. The other side reveals a loyal and loving dog, reacting the way any dog would if put in a bad situation raised by unfit owners. But what depiction holds truth in reality?

When approaching any controversy, education is key. First and foremost, what is a pit bull? Ariana Luchsinger, from San Francisco Animal Care & Control, thinks most people identify a pit bull as just a “well-muscled with a blocky head” dog, but that doesn’t always add up to a pit bull-type breed.

“‘Pit bull’ is really an umbrella term for multiple breeds of dog – Staffies [Staffordshire Terriers], American Bulldogs, Pit Bull Terrier – and as a term is overused and in shelters is overidentified,” said Ariana. “Unfortunately, people get a lot of misinformation about dogs in general, and pit bull-type dogs are the biggest victim of these mythologies.”

The generalization of pit bulls is based around decades of bad-breeders and their actions; over-breeding, improper training, or training to specifically make them aggressive.

“The public often views pitties as aggressive killing machines with a higher likelihood of biting,” Ariana declared. “In truth, they are like any dog; a product of their genetics, their socialization, and their environment.”

Jennifer Rosen, founder of the dog rescue Bullies and Buddies in Redondo Beach, California, agrees that it’s all about the breeders and owners, and that these dogs are a product of bad-nurture rather than the nature in their genetics.

“What’s happening is people are using them as guard dogs and chaining them up,” Jennifer preached as she boomed about a breed she’s loved since she first rescued a pit bull in 2004. “You have a working breed that has a lot of energy and they are sitting there tied up or in a backyard, that’s a problem. It’s really on us as the owners; how we raise our dogs. If we exercise them, socialize them, give them some boundaries, there should be no issues.”

A complicated process is implemented at Bullies and Buddies in making sure an owner is the right fit and ready for owning a pit bull including applications, home visits, and visits with their trainer at the rescue. Jennifer understands what can happen if a pit bull is given into the wrong hands, and does everything she can to prevent that.

“When they come to me, you know they fill out an application and I see what their lifestyle is, I’ll tell people this is not the breed for you,” Jennifer said with conviction, and added that her answer sometimes turns people off, but she’d rather turn away an applicant than have a pittie end up in a non ideal situation and continue to perpetuate myths.  

Environment and caregiving is everything in this circumstance. Not just for the individual dog itself, but also for the public. Every pit bull that gets treated wrong becomes another statistic for those wishing to ban the breed entirely.

“Your dog has to be an exemplary ambassador because the breed itself can’t afford him not to be – and that’s a huge and unfair responsibility,” insisted Ariana as she spoke about a time a woman had to cancel her adoption because her mom threatened to literally disown her if she owned a pit bull.

“In addition to being a baseline good dog-owner, you have to be willing to demystify your dog to everyone from passers-by to your neighbor, to your family. The public will forgive and forget the trespasses of a Goldendoodle, [but] they will never forgive the same behaviors in a pit bull.”

The American Temperament Test Society is a national organization designed to test the various temperaments of dog breeds.

“The test takes about 12 minutes to complete,” according to the organization’s official website. “The dog is on a loose six-foot lead and three ATTS trained evaluators score the dog. Majority rules. Failure on any part of the test is recognized when a dog shows panic, strong avoidance without recovery or unprovoked aggression.”

 

An average pass rate for a breed is 83.4 percent. For pit bull-type dogs the average pass rates are: Pit Bull Terrier with 87.4 percent, Staffordshire Terrier with 85.2 percent, and American Bulldogs with 86.7 percent. All well above the average.

But their stocky and muscular demeanor is threatening to those in fear of pitties. Before ever even coming into contact with one, most people on this side of the argument have their mind made up that pit bulls are not to be trusted. Ruth Matias, a junior at San Francisco State University, said she isn’t very fearful of the breed. Her mom on the other hand, is terrified.

“My mom is scared of pit bulls because back in Ethiopia, dogs are guard-dogs, not domesticated house pets,” Ruth explained, elaborating that her mother emigrated to America from Ethiopia. “So whenever she sees [pit bulls] they still instill fear in her. They’re not animals she’d want to go up and pet.”

Pit bulls are at the top of the list for dog-bites in California at 29 percent, right above German Shepherds and Chihuahuas according to the California Department of Public Health. These bites are reported and recorded. The breed of the dog is either claimed to be a pit bull by the victim or by a visual identification from veterinarians and staff at a shelter. In 2015, The Veterinary Journal studied the identifications of pit bulls by shelter staff versus DNA testing of the dog confirming the breed.

Staff shelters identified the attack dogs as pit bulls 52 percent of the time whereas the DNA testing confirmed the dogs as pit bulls only 21 percent of the time. Ariana agrees that shelters are huge on misidentification of pit bulls, a huge problem when it comes to statistics. She points out that the San Francisco Animal Care & Control shelter constantly has pit bull-type dogs in house.

“At any given time, SFACC’s dog population is roughly 30 percent pit bull-type dogs, the majority of which are found as unaltered strays,” she said, emphasizing that unaltered means not spayed or neutered, which is the other huge problem that involves the breed.

 

“Despite a ton of progress in the realms of public awareness and spay / neuter, pitties are a population that is favored for illegitimate backyard breeding,” Ariana declared, revealing the reason why there are so many pit bulls in shelters and rescues: greedy breeders not spaying or neutering pitties in an attempt to make more money. There are many laws throughout the country that specifically require pit bull-type dogs to be neutered or spayed in order to stop this problem.

San Francisco code 43 section 1 states: “no person may own, keep, or harbor any dog within the City and County of San Francisco that the person in possession knew, or should have known, was a pit bull that has not been spayed or neutered.”

Ignorant breeders break the law, which leads to pit bulls without homes, being found on the street, and hopefully being found by a shelter or rescue before it’s too late for them.

“People are breeding them and trying to make a profit,” Jennifer added, agreeing that the biggest issue here is overpopulation. “Now it’s like they’re a dime a dozen. They are getting euthanized left and right in shelters. Spay and neuter. That’s the problem.”

With more pitties starting out with bad breeders or incapable owners and without proper altering, the stigma behind them just continues. Jennifer finds passion in educating the public on the “other-side of the pit bull story,” knowing that the future for these pups will be bright one day if people are willing to learn what is fact and what is fiction.  

“The bottom line is, each dog is an individual,” Jennifer stated, still knowing that some people’s minds may never change. “You know, what I’ve learned is that you can’t fix stupid. It is a privilege to own this breed. I am so proud everyday.”

The Myths of the Pit

A wide jaw, stocky build, and short thick hair in an array of colors. The defining features of a pit bull aren’t up for debate when it comes to this dog breed. Behavior on the other hand, never seems to stop being a controversy. Extreme efforts go into painting the picture of a vicious beast, rabid and uncontrollable in any situation. The other side reveals a loyal and loving dog, reacting the way any dog would if put in a bad situation raised by unfit owners. But what depiction holds truth in reality?

When approaching any controversy, education is key. First and foremost, what is a pit bull? Ariana Luchsinger, from San Francisco Animal Care & Control, thinks most people identify a pit bull as just a “well-muscled with a blocky head” dog, but that doesn’t always add up to a pit bull-type breed.

“‘Pit bull’ is really an umbrella term for multiple breeds of dog – Staffies [Staffordshire Terriers], American Bulldogs, Pit Bull Terrier – and as a term is overused and in shelters is overidentified,” said Ariana. “Unfortunately, people get a lot of misinformation about dogs in general, and pit bull-type dogs are the biggest victim of these mythologies.”

The generalization of pit bulls is based around decades of bad-breeders and their actions; over-breeding, improper training, or training to specifically make them aggressive.

“The public often views pitties as aggressive killing machines with a higher likelihood of biting,” Ariana declared. “In truth, they are like any dog; a product of their genetics, their socialization, and their environment.”

Jennifer Rosen, founder of the dog rescue Bullies and Buddies in Redondo Beach, California, agrees that it’s all about the breeders and owners, and that these dogs are a product of bad-nurture rather than the nature in their genetics.

“What’s happening is people are using them as guard dogs and chaining them up,” Jennifer preached as she boomed about a breed she’s loved since she first rescued a pit bull in 2004. “You have a working breed that has a lot of energy and they are sitting there tied up or in a backyard, that’s a problem. It’s really on us as the owners; how we raise our dogs. If we exercise them, socialize them, give them some boundaries, there should be no issues.”

 

 

 Photos Niko LaBarbera/Xpress Magazine 

A complicated process is implemented at Bullies and Buddies in making sure an owner is the right fit and ready for owning a pit bull including applications, home visits, and visits with their trainer at the rescue. Jennifer understands what can happen if a pit bull is given into the wrong hands, and does everything she can to prevent that.

“When they come to me, you know they fill out an application and I see what their lifestyle is, I’ll tell people this is not the breed for you,” Jennifer said with conviction, and added that her answer sometimes turns people off, but she’d rather turn away an applicant than have a pittie end up in a non ideal situation and continue to perpetuate myths.  

Environment and caregiving is everything in this circumstance. Not just for the individual dog itself, but also for the public. Every pit bull that gets treated wrong becomes another statistic for those wishing to ban the breed entirely.

“Your dog has to be an exemplary ambassador because the breed itself can’t afford him not to be – and that’s a huge and unfair responsibility,” insisted Ariana as she spoke about a time a woman had to cancel her adoption because her mom threatened to literally disown her if she owned a pit bull.

“In addition to being a baseline good dog-owner, you have to be willing to demystify your dog to everyone from passers-by to your neighbor, to your family. The public will forgive and forget the trespasses of a Goldendoodle, [but] they will never forgive the same behaviors in a pit bull.”

The American Temperament Test Society is a national organization designed to test the various temperaments of dog breeds.

“The test takes about 12 minutes to complete,” according to the organization’s official website. “The dog is on a loose six-foot lead and three ATTS trained evaluators score the dog. Majority rules. Failure on any part of the test is recognized when a dog shows panic, strong avoidance without recovery or unprovoked aggression.”

An average pass rate for a breed is 83.4 percent. For pit bull-type dogs the average pass rates are: Pit Bull Terrier with 87.4 percent, Staffordshire Terrier with 85.2 percent, and American Bulldogs with 86.7 percent. All well above the average.

But their stocky and muscular demeanor is threatening to those in fear of pitties. Before ever even coming into contact with one, most people on this side of the argument have their mind made up that pit bulls are not to be trusted. Ruth Matias, a junior at San Francisco State University, said she isn’t very fearful of the breed. Her mom on the other hand, is terrified.

“My mom is scared of pit bulls because back in Ethiopia, dogs are guard-dogs, not domesticated house pets,” Ruth explained, elaborating that her mother emigrated to America from Ethiopia. “So whenever she sees [pit bulls] they still instill fear in her. They’re not animals she’d want to go up and pet.”

Pit bulls are at the top of the list for dog-bites in California at 29 percent, right above German Shepherds and Chihuahuas according to the California Department of Public Health. These bites are reported and recorded. The breed of the dog is either claimed to be a pit bull by the victim or by a visual identification from veterinarians and staff at a shelter. In 2015, The Veterinary Journal studied the identifications of pit bulls by shelter staff versus DNA testing of the dog confirming the breed.

Staff shelters identified the attack dogs as pit bulls 52 percent of the time whereas the DNA testing confirmed the dogs as pit bulls only 21 percent of the time. Ariana agrees that shelters are huge on misidentification of pit bulls, a huge problem when it comes to statistics. She points out that the San Francisco Animal Care & Control shelter constantly has pit bull-type dogs in house.

“At any given time, SFACC’s dog population is roughly 30 percent pit bull-type dogs, the majority of which are found as unaltered strays,” she said, emphasizing that unaltered means not spayed or neutered, which is the other huge problem that involves the breed.

“Despite a ton of progress in the realms of public awareness and spay / neuter, pitties are a population that is favored for illegitimate backyard breeding,” Ariana declared, revealing the reason why there are so many pit bulls in shelters and rescues: greedy breeders not spaying or neutering pitties in an attempt to make more money. There are many laws throughout the country that specifically require pit bull-type dogs to be neutered or spayed in order to stop this problem.

San Francisco code 43 section 1 states: “no person may own, keep, or harbor any dog within the City and County of San Francisco that the person in possession knew, or should have known, was a pit bull that has not been spayed or neutered.”

Ignorant breeders break the law, which leads to pit bulls without homes, being found on the street, and hopefully being found by a shelter or rescue before it’s too late for them.

“People are breeding them and trying to make a profit,” Jennifer added, agreeing that the biggest issue here is overpopulation. “Now it’s like they’re a dime a dozen. They are getting euthanized left and right in shelters. Spay and neuter. That’s the problem.”

With more pitties starting out with bad breeders or incapable owners and without proper altering, the stigma behind them just continues. Jennifer finds passion in educating the public on the “other-side of the pit bull story,” knowing that the future for these pups will be bright one day if people are willing to learn what is fact and what is fiction.  

“The bottom line is, each dog is an individual,” Jennifer stated, still knowing that some people’s minds may never change. “You know, what I’ve learned is that you can’t fix stupid. It is a privilege to own this breed. I am so proud everyday.”

 

 

Photography by Nicholas LaBarbera/Xpress Magazine