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Dreamy Portraits of Flower Wreath-Wearing Pit Bulls Challenge the Stereotypes Surrounding the Breed

Pit Bulls, more so than most other breeds, are subjected to a great deal of prejudice and misrepresentation. Granted, there are times when said discrimination is warranted, it’s more often than not the lack of first-hand experience and knowledge, combined with society’s portrayal of the breed that lead to the misconceptions that exist.

Photographer Sophie Gamand was one of those who admittedly have a great deal of personal experience with Pit Bulls. But after spending time volunteering with a number of rescue groups, she started knowing the breed on a more personal level, appreciating them for their sweet-natured side that shines through when treated and respected properly. Thus, in an effort to shine a more proper light on these adoptable animals, she’s using her photographic abilities to create her Flower Power, Pit Bulls of the Revolution series.

In the series, she’s taken a number of Pit Bulls from three separate NYC shelters – Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Second Chance Rescue and Animal Haven – and photographed them, both literally and metaphorically, in a new light. In an email to us, she explained why she chose the theme she did, saying,

I realized pit bulls were always portrayed in very urban, gritty photographs. The imagery associated with these dogs is often harsh, very contrasted, conveying the idea of them being tough. In my opinion, this feeds the myth that these dogs are dormant psychopaths. So I decided to take the other route and portray them like hippies, soft fairy-tale-inspired characters, feminine and dreamy. The idea of Flower Power blossomed.

And blossomed it did. With the help of her #PitBullFlowerPower social media campaign, which invites everyone to post a picture on social media of their pet with flowers, the project is doing well. But, as always, it could use as much help as possible. Garland says the reception has been almost completely positive, specifically stating in regards to the feedback and criticism,

95% of the viewers received the Flower Power photographs very well. 5% have been posting hateful messages and emailing me their frustration. Yet nobody will change my mind. This project is not about saying all pit bulls are angels and encourage people to adopt them without educating themselves first. It is about learning to look at things with an open heart.

Sweetheart – Second Chance Rescue

Sweetheart – Second Chance Rescue

In addition to the images being shared virally across the web, Gamand is also selling prints of these images, with a 2015 calendar currently in the works. Naturally, 100% of proceeds will be split and go directly to the aforementioned rescue groups.

Regardless of what your opinion of these creatures are, use this as an opportunity to properly educate yourself and others on the matter and gain a first-person perspective of Pit Bulls. Go spend some time in an animal shelter, speak to the people there who interact with Pit Bulls on a daily basis and overall take a more open approach to learning about these loving animals.

If you would like to keep up with the work of Gamand, you can do so by giving her a follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Image credits: Photographs by Sophie Gamand and used with permission


 
  • Gabriel Barros

    Your comment, “keeping the odds from the third point in mind, also consider that shelters aren’t going to adopt out dogs that they think are a danger to adopters.”

    They do adopt out dangerous pit bulls. This year there have been a few major attacks from pit bulls who were adopted out. There is currently an investigation of one AC director who knowingly adopts out dangerous pit bulls to unsuspecting adopters.

  • Holly

    Or… People who care about the breed don’t want that lab mix identified as a pit bull when it mauled a toddler. Have you actually seen an instance where people called a dog that attacked someone a pit bull until the attack and then tried to pass it off as something else?

  • Gabriel Barros

    Apparently it is safe if it has pit bull blood in it. HUE HUE HUE

  • Gabriel Barros

    I have seen pit bull advocates comments to that effect. More common is the, “nobody can identify a pit bull” comment. Then I look at a picture of the offending animal and yep, it’s a pit bull.

  • Elly Denn

    A bit conflicted about your comment, as the one im replying to makes sense, but the one posted below “pretty photos but it doesn’t make these animals any safer to be left alone with children and anything else they might attack” suggests that infact you do believe particular dogs aren’t to be trusted?

    Bottom line is, a chihuahua can be vicious or a pit bull can too. The message in the photographs is to challenge the idea that every bull breed dog is dangerous, which is untrue, and just as untrue as saying that every other dog is not dangerous.

    If you approach a dog that you do not know (of ANY breed), then the onus is on you if that dog reacts (the key word here is reacts, meaning responding to a stimulation or situation provided by the person approaching them)
    If you leave your child with a dog that you do not know then I would also say that the onus is not on the dog, but the parent (and potentially pet owner) who allowed that kind of situation to arise.
    I really do think that it is unfair and ridiculous to judge an entire breed because of cases where a dog reacts from poor ownership (and most often neglect and abuse)

    We accept in our own society that human’s upbringing and exposure to certain situations shape their own patterns and behaviours and we also accept that these can furthermore be shaped through appropriate counselling and change.
    A dog is the same, and furthermore needs specialty care, love and support as we do not share a common language (with the exception of good training) and to say that a particular dog breed should be shunned and tarred with the same brush from birth is a massive throw back to peasant mentality, “if its different put it in the corner and poke it”

    That mentality is not conducive nor fair for any dog breed.
    If you don’t like bull breeds because “you just dont like them” then that’s a personal choice and great, good for you.

    However, if you find yourself in the above mentality of putting them in a corner and poking them then, really, you should not be on a page like this anyway as your attitude will not change. Which is strange, because the majority of people with the mentality of “putting it in a corner” refuse to change their mentality yet expect to see changes made in legislation to condemn particular breeds based on their emotion driven beliefs, and furthermore expect people with open minds to sway to their belief.
    To me, that is poor human behaviour, not poor pet behaviour!

  • Holly

    I found the case you’re referring to and I think it’s awful. There are so many good dogs that die in shelters there is no reason to adopt dogs out with a bite history, period, let alone hide that history and put people at risk. I still don’t think stories like that should stop people from rescuing dogs. Maybe some digging about the shelter’s history and their potential new dog’s history is advisable as well as really getting to know the dog before you bring it home and introducing other pets you have if the shelter will let you. There are great family pets surrendered to shelters not because they did something wrong, but because their owner couldn’t keep them any more. One reason for that is the difficulty people can experience looking for housing with their pit bull, which is a side effect of the anti pit bull propaganda. Another side effect of people insisting they’re vicious is people acquiring then because they want a vicious dog, making it vicious, and this making the statistics anti pit bull crusaders spout.

  • Gabriel Barros

    Your comment, “…legislation to condemn particular breeds based on their emotion driven beliefs, and furthermore expect people with open minds to sway to their belief.”

    Pit bulls were bred for over a century to kill another dog in “the pit” in the must inhumane way possible. The frequency and severity of these attacks warrants legislation to protect the general public from both the pit bull dog and the owner.

    Most of the people who wish to own these fighting breed dogs are the ones least likely to properly contain them. It’s not “all in how you raise them”.

    Almost every news article where a pit bull mauled or killed something, if the pit bull owner says anything, it’s “never showed signs of aggression”, “wouldn’t hurt a fly”, or something along those lines. The dogs are also described as “family members”.

  • Gabriel Barros

    Also, look at all the money and effort poured into pit bulls. No other breed gets this sort of attention.

    Even with all this effort, pit bulls are still despised by many. Now we have someone putting flowers on fighting breed dogs. HUE HUE HUE

  • Gabriel Barros

    I wonder of those flowers could have helped this Poodle?

    Aug 17, 2014

    Poodle killed by two pit bulls in Stuart

    STUART, Fla. – A Stuart man watched two pit bulls attack his poodle during a morning walk and the poodle had to be put down due to the severity of the injuries.

    Dan McKinley said the two pit bulls came running out of the woods near SE Black Oak Lane and a brown pit bull attacked his poodle “Lucky”.

  • Elly Denn

    So, if the subject was a Shar Pei it would be acceptable? Because that too is a fighting dog, yet it does not carry the stigma of bull breeds. Or would you only be happy if it was a poodle?

    I do agree, sadly, the wrong people do tend to buy the bull breeds, because of the stigma attached to them by people like yourself. They want to buy ‘tough’ and ‘dangerous’ dogs, and lets be honest, if the pet owners did any research into the breed they would know the right ways to train a dog. But sadly, most pet owners buy animals on their reputation (regardless of fact or fiction) and so by saying that the bull breeds are dangerous, you are encouraging the wrong types of people to buy this dog and sadly not care or train them properly.

    So like I said, if you are not going to ever like a particular breed, you really should not be on a page like this, because it is the beliefs like yours that encourage the wrong people to buy bull breeds and treat them cruelly.
    I may even go as far to say that you are part of the problem!

    So thankfully there are people like myself and the other people in this thread with positive and open minded things to say about dogs, because when these dogs end up in the shelters after years of neglect and abuse( from poor owners who most likely bought the dog based on a reputation that you encourage and support) they are then adopted by loving, caring and responsible pet owners and do fit into normal life.
    It is a shame that you do not see that side of the story as you have never bothered to look into it.

  • Gabriel Barros

    Your comment, “So, if the subject was a Shar Pei it would be acceptable?”

    When was the last time a Shar Pei killed a human? This year alone pit bulls killed 27 humans out of a total of about 32 deaths by dog.

    Also, the subject is pit bull dogs. Let the Shar Pei owners start their own propaganda campaign if they feel it’s necessary.

    It isn’t necessarily a stigma for the pit bull dog, it’s an earned reputation.

    Your comment, “I may even go as far to say that you are part of the problem!”

    Laughable. Fact is, it’s YOUR pit bull advocacy that makes pit bulls popular rather than limiting breeding and ownership of such a problematic dog. Your efforts undermine what you wish to protect.

    LOL, and more “pat yourself on the back” when all you do is trick people into buying and adopting pit bull dogs to people who are more than likely not prepared to own. Then they end up back at the shelter. Pathetic.

  • Elly Denn

    So not only have you missed the point, you have also confirmed that you will never change your attitude towards the bully breed.

    Pretty much anything we write, do or portray will be on deaf ears, so enjoy living your life in fear and hatred mate.

  • Gabriel Barros

    It’s not a matter of a dog attack being acceptable. That is just a silly argument. It’s a matter figuring out a way to stop pit bull dogs from mauling and killing. These attacks are putting your breed in a bad light and rightfully so.

    Your comment, “A little peek on your linked FB page shows that yes, actually, you yourself are a danger.”

    Laughable. You advocate for fighting breed dogs and you say I’m a danger? How? HUE HUE HUE

  • Holly

    What’s your agenda? Why are you so upset by positive press for pit bulls?

  • Gabriel Barros

    You’ll have to be more specific. You know my general stance on the subject of pit bulls.

    The positive press misleads people into thinking pit bulls are like other dogs, they are not and does the pit bull dog a disservice. They are purpose-bred working dogs and even with all the love and training humanly possible, many pit bull dogs will still act like a pit bull dog. A high drive mauling machine or a cold pit bull waiting for a reason to express its genetics.

    I’m not saying all pit bulls will maul and kill, but many do. At the least, many are an annoying danger.

  • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

    I think my comment was clear and concise. Did it mention poking or putting anything in a corner?

  • Holly

    I also looked at your Facebook page. You seem to devote a lot of time and energy to putting down pit bulls. You seem obsessed and I suspect you aren’t interested in photography and probably found this by searching for pit bulls, which you probably do often. To anyone reading this, please do your own research, use your own critical thinking skills, meet dogs, be open minded, and don’t let psychos with mysterious agendas skew your views.

  • Elly Denn

    Holly, I would say he most likely has a mental illness. Obsessive compulsive. Slightly Manic. Most likely has depression and never addressed it. Troublesome childhood. And as a consequence feels the need to assert dominance (as it is sadly, threatened by a particular dog breed…which is the actual pathetic thing) by finding anything related to his obsession and proving any logical point wrong. (Reminds me ALOT of those idiotic illuminati youtubers, note that he might also be one)

    I have heard about them, and have the internet (and obviously time) at my disposal so I can afford to look up sites and ‘facts’ about all of these ‘dangerous breeds’ of humans, so clearly any human that has the same ‘breed’ name must also be judged by this one persons actions. Furthermore we should judge them based on what the serial killers with the same physical traits do and make terrible mis-guided examples out of them, because that is the only logical thing to do.
    To quote, he is…”still despised by many. Now we have someone putting flowers on fighting breed…” humans. HUE HUE HUE”

    Whatever HUE HUE HUE means. Must be code for idiot.

    *please note the sarcasm, im guessing it might be too complicated for our friend.

  • Gabriel Barros

    Society & Animals Journal of Human-Animal Studies

    Volume 8, Number 1, 2000

    Managing the Stigma of Outlaw Breeds: A Case Study of Pit Bull Owners

    Hillary Twining, Arnold Arluke, 1 and Gary Patronek

    Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy

    Managing the Stigma of Outlaw Breeds: A Case Study of Pit Bull Owners (2000)

    In the face of this stigma, respondents resorted to using a variety of interactional strategies to lessen the impact of this perception or prevent it from occurring.

    These strategies included passing their dogs as breeds other than pit bulls, denying that their behavior is biologically determined, debunking adverse media coverage, using humor, emphasizing counter-stereotypical behavior, avoiding stereotypical equipment or accessories, taking preventive measures, or becoming breed ambassadors.

  • Gabriel Barros

    Society & Animals Journal of Human-Animal Studies

    Volume 8, Number 1, 2000

    Managing the Stigma of Outlaw Breeds: A Case Study of Pit Bull Owners

    Hillary Twining, Arnold Arluke, 1 and Gary Patronek

    Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy

    Managing the Stigma of Outlaw Breeds: A Case Study of Pit Bull Owners (2000)

    In the face of this stigma, respondents resorted to using a variety of interactional strategies to lessen the impact of this perception or prevent it from occurring.

    These strategies included passing their dogs as breeds other than pit bulls, denying that their behavior is biologically determined, debunking adverse media coverage, using humor, emphasizing counter-stereotypical behavior, avoiding stereotypical equipment or accessories, taking preventive measures, or becoming breed ambassadors.

  • mikken

    Because they’re TERRIERS. This is not a Pit trait, it’s a terrier trait. Think about a Jack Russell. Now scale it up to 40 pounds…

  • mikken

    The locking jaw thing? Really? Their jaws don’t lock. That’s a myth.

  • Terri

    I would perhaps speak to the childs parents about why they were not supervising their child (as all parents should do with all dogs)

  • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

    Sometimes I my neck hurts because of how much head shaking I end up doing because of people. Of course… These are animals and they will behave as such. Did anyone dispute that?

  • Christal Coffee

    My pit has lived with cats for the 14 years I’ve had her and sh hasn’t so much as nipped at a single one of them