When Danette Johnston began searching for a new dog for her family, she didn't necessarily think it would be a pit bull. But, Rufus, a two-year-old shelter pit bull, found her.
Johnston, a dog trainer and owner of Dog's Day Out, admits it wasn't necessarily love at first sight with the dog. But, after bringing Rufus home and watching how well he interacted with her children and other pets, she was smitten.
"In the past we've had herding breeds, which are known to be great with kids," she said "Those dogs tolerated my son, but this dog seems to actually enjoy him."
In many communities, pit bulls are often labeled as aggressive or unpredictable. Across the state, many cities have strict laws governing pit bulls, and many have declared the breed "potentially dangerous." Other cities - including Buckley and Enumclaw - created all out bans of the breed.
Currently, Seattle does not enforce breed-specific laws and does not outlaw pit bulls (or any mix) based solely on their breed. Johnston believes each dog, regardless of breed, should be individually evaluated for potential hazards to the community.
"Pit bulls need to be dealt with as individuals," she said. "It's not fair to put a blanket on every dog."
To help the community learn more about Pitbulls, Johnston recently launched Pittie Party, a seminar that works with families and those interested in learning more or adopting Pit Bulls. She will debunk myths about the breed, share its strengths and weaknesses, and offer tips for care. The next Pittie Party kicks off Nov. 11 at 4 p.m. at Dog's Day Out.
October is Pit Bull Awareness Month and Pit Bull Day is Oct. 27. Johnston hopes the Pittie Party will educate the public and help many shelter pit bulls find loving homes.
"Most pit bull owners have to spend time defending their dog, but our best defense is a good offense," she said. "I want to show people how good these dogs can be and also let the dogs interact with the public."
The Pittie Party is for humans only. Pre-registration required.