Interview with Deirdre ‘Little Darling’ Franklin, Founder
by Gwendolyn Graves adapted from Drive-In Magazine
1. WHY DO YOU THINK PIT BULLS GET SUCH A BAD RAP?
Pit bulls get a bad rap because they are the current media “buzz word.” They are too often made guilty by the press, when in actuality, all dogs are innocent. The human at the end of the leash (if there is even a leash) is always at fault when a dog is not behaving well publicly. I always say, “never set your dog up to fail.” They are our companions, our everyday heroes, why would we chain them in our yard, neglect them, starve and abuse them? We are fortunate to have their companionship and should treat them as such.
Whenever you hear a bad story in the press, it is often filled with holes, poor journalism will report a story with no real facts, only assumptions and what appears to be true. Often the investigation that reveals the facts is either unpublished or on “page 10” where no one cares to follow up. Our dogs have been demonized, but humans are the only ones you can blame.
2. WHAT IS THE MAIN GOAL OF YOUR CHARITY?
Our main goal is to remove the “stink” that has been added to the “pit bull” name. We want people to understand that ALL dogs are individuals and should be evaluated by their behavior, not by how they look. We do this by creating an annual Pinup calendar, hosting events, and tabling at other events, in order to be available when people have questions about behavior, positive reinforcement techniques, and how to deal with the stigma. We encourage people to not be reactive when faced with adversity, but rather, to remain positive and think of the dogs.
3. IS THERE A CERTAIN PIT BULL RESCUE THAT YOU ARE TEAMED UP WITH?
Not one specifically. We deal with this issue nationally & internationally. We do work extensively with Sweet Bark Pit Bull Rescue (PA). The founder of that organization, Jennifer O’Donnell is one of our Pinups and also manages our social media sites. We work with Game Dog Guardian (KS) as well, this is also one of our Pinups who helps run this organization. We help all of the rescues who contact us however we can. By posting their dogs in need, “Chip-Ins”, and have donated tens of thousands of dollars to groups in the past. In the last year, our board decided we will promote the needs of other rescues, but allocate our funds to the much needed education of the public. We are working on a seminar circuit with Game Dog Guardian so that we can educate
people on a larger scale.
4. WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS THE GREATEST THREAT TO PIT BULLS TODAY?
Breed Discriminatory Legislation (BSL/BDL) banning them outright and removing them from the care and love of their families. Dogs are individuals, I can’t stress that enough. All dogs can bite. People need to remember that. Pit Bulls are not stronger in jaw structure, they don’t have locking jaws (nor do they require a key to unhinge them) and they are not different from who they were nearly a century ago when they were America’s premier war hero and family dog.
5. DO YOU SEE A CHANGE ON THE HORIZON FOR HOW PEOPLE VIEW PIT BULLS?
Yes, I see it daily. We do our best to affect each person that we meet. Most people who dislike pit bull-type dogs typically have never actually met one. I usually start there. All day long, I take the opportunity to dialogue with people who do fear them, either rationally or irrationally, and I set the record straight. Most people leave convinced, but there will always be a few skeptics. I know we are affecting change each and every day that Pinups for Pitbulls gains fans, is asked to events, and is written up in Dog magazines, Pin-up magazines, Tattoo magazines, as well as mainstream newspapers and media outlets. We get the attention needed to spread our message, and we do it professionally, with kindness and grace.
6. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AN ADVOCATE OF BLAME THE DEED AND NOT THE BREED. DO YOU AGREE?
Absolutely. Dogs are individuals, I’ve said that often in this interview because the point needs to be driven home. An incident is not something you can blame an entire “breed” of dog for. An incident happens because of negligence on behalf of their human.
7. HOW CAN OUR READERS HELP IN THEIR OWN COMMUNITY?
They can start by watching their companion animals and their behavior. If they have an issue they’d like to work on, they should contact a certified positive reinforcement trainer and should never use force, choking or electric shock. The last 3 things can lead to an unsound dog. You can always stop using force, choking and shock if you already do, and instead switch to a martingale collar with an easy-walk style harness. That’s a good start, a safe dog is a happy dog, which leads to a safe community.