Pit bull battle: Team Pit-A-Full creates an international petition in support of the breed
They don't make Air Bud movies about pit bulls. There are no commercials in which a pit bull licks ice cream from a gleeful toddler's cone of Rocky Road, and only Weimeraners seem to drive cars. In Denver, the pit bull breed is illegal, and it has been for decades. David Edelstein can't change the last part yet, but he's working -- slowly -- on the first two.
The city's history with the breed-specific legislation spans 22 years; it stemmed from a May 1989 incident that provided the impetus for banning the dogs. Edelstein's time with the issue has spanned five, starting when he became the caretaker of his first pit bull, Little Daze, a gentle brown giant later followed by two adopted siblings. All three became the motivation for his nonprofit effort to break down public stigma against the breed: Team Pit-A-Full.
If the name is sad, it's a reflection of Edelstein's feelings about the ban.
In the coming months, the group plans to bark up a different tree than the typical route of city council through an international petition devoted to reexamining the breed's role in Denver. Appropriately named OccuPIT Denver, the petition takes its title from another local movement also led by a dog.
Courtesy of Rick Watson David Edelstein's pit bull companions (Forrest, Little Daze and Mr. Kane) round out Team Pit-A-Full.
As he shares the group's origins, Edelstein's conversation is punctuated by an occasional bark in the background.
Team-Pit-A-Full's platform against breed-specific legislation in the Denver area focuses in large part on the idea that there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. Violence on the part of a pit bull can be tracked directly back to its owner and living situation, Edelstein says, and though the concept can be tough to translate to non-dog people, it has to be done. In order to approach any remotely successful change in public perception, Edelstein and his fellow pit bull supporters must make the issue matter with people for whom the dogs don't.
"I try to use comparison and contrast: Imagine you're a homeowner and you have a neighbor who has an oak tree he doesn't trim," says Edelstein, a chef who lives with his dogs in Arvada. "In a windstorm, a branch falls off and hits your house, causes damage and maybe even falls through the house and kills your child. Would you want to see all oak trees cut down in the world, or would you want the owner of that particular oak tree to be punished for negligence?"
More about Team Pit-A-Full below.