I was naturally appalled when I saw a post on Facebook warning that an individual was trying to make Halloween “National Kill a Pit Bull Day.” I immediately did an Internet search and found that the horrifying holiday suggestion was a hoax, thank goodness. But it got me thinking . . . can hoaxes like this become reality? Can just the suggestion of such a thing bring it to life?
Black cats have traditionally had a hard time on Halloween, and most pet experts recommend keeping your black kitties inside that evening—some rescues and shelters won’t even adopt out black cats in the month of October, which illustrates the depth of the fear of ritual Halloween animal torture.
It’s a good idea to keep all pets inside during Halloween, in fact, simply because there are wandering ghosts and goblins carrying chocolate outside, and you don’t want Fido to be tempted, or Kitty to become frightened. But, for a more sinister reason, Halloween does seem to be an excuse for some people to harm other people’s pets, and hoaxes like National Kill a Pit Bull day can be damaging not only for this maligned group of breeds, but for their fragile reputation.
“The propaganda used to promote National Kill a Pit Bull Day, hoax or not, does considerable damage to the efforts that advocates of the breed make toward education and awareness,” says Shannon Graham Foster mother for Pibbles & More Animal Rescue in Binghamton, NY. “The message behind National Kill a Pit Bull Day plays on people’s fears, many of which are erroneously derived from a media that eagerly froths at the mouth to sensationalize and exploit beings that cannot advocate for themselves. This is akin to racism; it is breedism.”
Bridgette Boothe, Director of Fresno Bully Rescue in Fresno, CA, said that spreading a hoax like this encourages some people to carry it out.
“We know very well that some people in this world are capable of such horrible actions,” says Boothe.
Graham agrees, adding that the hateful message, meant to encourage fear and ignorance, is not conducive to compassion and education.
“I would like to say that anyone with half a brain would not take this seriously,” says Graham. “On the other hand, seeing the abuse and neglect that goes hand in hand with rescue has me jaded. I see what people are capable of and know that there are people who jump on any old hate bandwagon.”
There may be one tiny silver lining in this hoax, in that it can serve as a moment of reflection and education.
“Many people are not aware that it was a hoax, which cause lots of unneeded hysteria,” said Boothe. “But it may also serve as an opportunity for education on keeping your pets safe during the holidays.”
Yes, National Kill a Pit Bull Day is a hoax, but Graham still encourages dog owners of all breeds to be vigilant everyday, not just on Halloween.
“Never leave your dog unattended outside your home, regardless of the circumstance,” said Graham. “Though fences provide protection, they are not a guarantee for pet safety. Never walk your dog off-leash, because you never know when something distracting can cause the dog to bolt. As dog owners, it is our duty to protect, advocate and educate, to be the voice of the voiceless. Many of us do this in the hope that one day we will be heard and that love and compassion will reign louder than the hate and ignorance that fuels such things as National Kill a Pit Bull Day.”