Meryl Cohen and Nicole Maples are on a mission: their group, Bully Bark, aims to educate pit bull owners how to handle their animals, and to educate the general public that pit bulls are not the monsters Cohen says the media makes them out to be.
“We want to re-establish the breed as a family animal and a good pet,” Cohen said. “And we fight against breed-specific legislation.”
The two met in college, and found they were both “animal-obsessed,” Cohen said. It was also in college where she fell in love with the pit bull breed.
“They were everything I wanted in a dog. I wanted to make it my mission to re-establish the perception of the breed. They are friendly, outgoing, confident, social and loyal.”
They are also in the news a lot, and not in good ways. Just this past week, there were reports of pit bulls attacking young children.
Cohen admits that there are instances of pit bull attacks, but claims that she sees a “desire in the media not to cover attacks by other breeds. I know of a lab that recently killed a two-year-old, but no one covered it.”
She also claims that, after working in animal shelters, she saw other breeds go into bite wards with equal frequency as pit bulls. She has worked with pit bulls who go to pediatric oncology wards to help ease childrens’ suffering. She said her own pit bulls were recently attacked by two off-leash Malamuts, but park rangers refused to do anything about it.
Originally bred to nip at the heels of bulls in England, pit bulls were brought to America to care for the children of settlers, Cohen said, thus their nickname “nanny dogs.” The bad rap came when the breed got caught up in gambling and fighting.
“I believe that behind every dog bite, you can find a problem with the owner,” she said. “You are responsible for your animal. There is no excuse for a dog to get loose.”
If a dog has a shaky history, it can still be trained, Cohen said. Bully Bark has clients in most central county cities, including Martinez.
“It’s all about leadership,” she said. “I mostly train the owners. A lot of people with anxiety issues transfer them to their dogs.”
The Pleasant Hill resident has been working with dogs and their owners for the past seven years. She and her partner provide everything but basic training, and they also serve as ambassadors of the breed.
“I’m hopeful because I see the younger generation as more tolerant,” Cohen said. “There’s a rebellion against intolerance, more acceptance toward the breed. I’m hopeful that will mean changes in legislation.”
To contact Bully Bark, go to the website and send them an email.
Do you think pit bulls are the victims of negative media? Tell us in the comments.