Changing the Pit Bull stigma – one flowered crown at a time
By Stefanie Gibson
Sophie Gamand is changing the way we see pit bulls– one flowered crown at a time. The New York-based photographer shows us the softer side of pit bulls with her photography series, Flower Power. Her loving portrayal of the misunderstood breed is turning heads–not just because the photos are adorable (really adorable), but because they strike a nerve and challenge us to face our own prejudices.
Sophie has created several award-winning dog photography series, and after working at an animal rescue for four years, she decided it was time to confront her own perceptions: “My mind was filled with the horror stories around pit bulls. But the rescuers I knew who worked with the dogs said they’re such a loving breed. These two images didn’t add up so I wanted to confront this.”
Admittedly, she says, “this series is not about saying they’re not going to bite you.” It’s about flipping the the scary image that has been cultivated by those who misuse the breed into one that’s more “My Little Pony” than “Sons of Anarchy.” Through her work, Sophie is challenging both societal fears and the perceptions held by the criminal element that these are “tough dogs”: “Will people still be afraid of them? Maybe the badass people won’t be interested in them anymore.”
All of the dogs featured in Flower Power are up for adoption, but out of over thirty dogs, fewer than ten have been adopted. Sophie’s favorite success story is that of Brownie: “Because she was small and shy, she didn’t show well, but the image I took of her was really cute and it went viral.” After spending over two years in a shelter, the image resulted in a potentially successful adoption. Following our conversation with Sophie, she received an email from Brownie’s new owner letting her know that the gentle pup is now a permanent member of the family, and she is receiving all the love, patience and respect she deserves.
The plight of pit bulls is truly of our own creation. The breed–which isn’t a real breed but an umbrella term for several different breeds–is a human construct. At the end of the day, pit bulls are just energetic dogs who are as capable of love as any other. Comparing our treatment of pit bulls to the disposable nature of our fast food culture, Sophie is shocked (and rightfully so) by the fact that over 1 million pit bulls are euthanized every year: “I don’t think we can be a society that euthanizes over 1 million dogs every year. America needs to man up.”
Here at Get Leashed, we definitely agree with her. It’s time to challenge the way we see the breed and do more to help dogs who have been raised in the wrong hands.
Browse some of the adorable faces up for adoption below and follow the links to more animals on Sophie’s website and social channels at the bottom of the page.
Love the photography? Of course you do! Grab yourself a calendar with all of the dogs here, and support the adoption campaign. And be on the lookout for her book of photography, “Wet Dog,” which is coming out in Fall 2015.