In 2012, I answered a casting call for the Majority Project. The ongoing campaign, created by Animal Farm Foundation, is a photo collection of “Pit Bull-type” dogs and their owners. As the human to an American Pit Bull Terrier, I’m always keen to share pictures of my boy, especially when it can help educate the public about just how wonderful the breed is.
The foundation began rescuing and rehoming pets, focusing on American Pit Bull Terriers, in 1985. Very quickly, it realized that many of the dogs were not purebreds but a mix of various breeds often labeled as Pit Bull. The group says on its website that a Pit Bull is “not a breed or breed mix, but an ever-expanding group that includes whatever an animal control worker, shelter worker, dog trainer, politician, dog owner, police officer, or newspaper says it is.”
Beyond its many programs and services to help these dogs, AFF wanted to do something bigger to fight the breed-specific legislation targeting these dogs and their owners. The Majority Project features images of Pit Bull owners holding signs that read, “I am a ________. I am a “Pit Bull” dog owner. I am the MAJORITY.”
Each person personalizes their sign by filling in the blank with a word that describes themselves as a valued member of a family or community. The foundation had recognized that it wasn’t just the public’s perception of the dogs being targeted by BSL that needed to change, it was their perception of the owners of those dogs.
Notorious anti-Pit Bull groups like to generalize these owners with labels such as “thugs” and “lowlifes.” Those labels couldn’t be further from the truth, as the Majority Project is proving one photo at a time. The people who own the dogs, like myself, are as diverse as the breeds and breed mixes that fall under the Pit Bull umbrella. Since the start of the project, AFF has received more than 1,000 photos and gained more than 9,000 followers on its Facebook fan page.
Teachers, lawyers, doctors, children, parents, law enforcement members, and more have all submitted photos to the project. To add a little star power to its campaign, the foundation has teamed up with Jon Bernthal, best known for his former role as Shane Walsh on The Walking Dead. Some submissions will even be featured along with the actor’s in an upcoming televised public service announcement!
AFF’s director of operations, Caitlin Quinn, said that although “it is hard to identify the impact of the Majority Project, since these days so many great things are happening for Pit Bull dogs and their owners, we do know that BSL is on the decline all across the country. It’s our goal to continue to fuel that trend by generating awareness through the Majority Project photos. This is definitely good news for Pit Bulls and their owners across the nation. National Canine Research Council reported that five more states no longer allow BSL, and more than seven times as many U.S. municipalities repealed or rejected proposed BSL than enacted it between January 2012 to May 2014.”
It’s amazing having stars like Bernthal participating in the Majority Project. Posed with his two dogs, Boss and Venice, along with his two-year-old son, Billy, the actor has a sign that reads, “I am a father. I am a “Pit Bull” dog owner. I am the MAJORITY.” The actor’s love for his dogs doesn’t go unnoticed on his Instagram account, where he posts pictures of them going for walks with the family, riding in their vehicles, and sharing in cuddle time.
He is a model example for the public and for his son. Billy is clearly being raised to understand that dogs are part of the family and that they are individuals and deserve to be treated as such.
It is my personal hope that one day, we won’t need campaigns like the the Majority Project because it will have helped to eradicate BSL and other types of breed discrimination. We can’t get there without your help, though, so download the Majority Project poster, grab your pooch, and take a picture! Submit your photo, then check out the rest of the submissions on AFF’s website and Facebook page. Feel free to share your photo in the comments below — we’d love to see them!
Read more about Pit Bulls and BSL on Dogster:
About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.