The Obamas just adopted a pretty new Portuguese water dog. But if the first family really wanted to make a statement, they should have adopted a pit bull from the pound instead, writes Susan Nusser at Salon. Pit bulls are "resilient, unpretentious, and a little gritty," she says. "To me, pit bulls are as American as a striking coal miner." Yet pit bulls are routinely excluded from private shelters in favor of their more "easily adoptable" peers, instead languishing in public shelters with "aged, injured, ill, and undesirable animals," where they are euthanized at three to four times the rate of other breeds of dogs.
So why doesn't anyone want them? For "white, suburban America," she posits, "pit bulls serve as a metaphor for the urban, non-white, poor, and male problems of which they are the most afraid." Cities and towns regularly try to ban them, and media stories around the dogs are typically "tinged with race and class issues." A recent headline in the Stranger by columnist Dan Savage read: "Pit bulls should be boiled alive like lobsters and fed to their idiot owners." But pets can also offer the opportunity to remind people "not of their fears and their differences, but of their common humanity." If Obama wants "to show the country what resilience is," she writes, he should "leave the purebreds to the aristocracy," and "go to the pound and get a pit bull." Click to read Nusser's full column. (Read more Barack Obama stories.)