Pansy and Petunia are pit bulls, and they're wearing tutus in the photo above. They play dress up quite a bit. It's all very cute, undeniably so. But the dogs don skirts for reasons beyond earning giggles from passersby. Their flouncy, colorful tutus stand for a greater message: These dogs are goofy, loving, wonderful creatures, and they shouldn't be blindly stereotyped as dangerous or aggressive.
Temma Martin, a public relations specialist for the Utah-based welfare group Best Friends Animal Society, started dressing her dogs in these lighthearted costumes to prove this very point. "I've always been against dressing up dogs, but when I started to do PR I realized I needed a visual to attract attention," she told The Huffington Post. Martin said as long as her pooches seem happy and cooperative, she'll take photos of them dressed up in her homemade outfits for about 10 minutes and post them to her Facebook page. The images garner plenty of likes.
"It doesn't take very long. It's fun and it's easy and I feel like that little bit of effort goes a long way in terms of the message that people get when they see my dogs pose in tutus," she said.
Martin tends to make tutus in particular because they're paradoxical to the perception many people mistakenly have of pit bulls. "They're such a girly, cutesy thing," she said. "For anybody that has a negative perception of pit bulls, [the tutus] show the opposite. Anyone who thinks these dogs are tough or scary [is] immediately swayed when the dogs are snuggled together wearing these tutus. It counteracts anything negative people could think."
Who ya calling scary?
Pansy and Petunia are not the only pooches who prance around in tutus. Martin said she was inspired by her community and fellow pit bull owners to start using her dogs to break the taboo surrounding their make-up. There's even a 3,750 people-strong Pit Bulls in Tutus Facebook group that exists "to promote a positive image for all breeds through education and awareness and to encourage adoption and rescue by growing a network of supporters."
Martin reinforces this mission. She hopes her dressed-up pooches will help people understand that "the vast majority of [pit bulls] are in the hands of loving, responsible people." And according to Martin, her four-leggeds happen to be "very affectionate, very snuggly and pretty lazy."
They also make for pretty adorable Easter bunnies.
For the second year, The Huffington Post is holding a week-long, community-driven effort to bust the myths and raise awareness about pit bulls, a maligned "breed" that often bears the brunt of dated, discriminatory legislation that can make it near impossible for these dogs to find a forever home. You can follow along with HuffPost Pit Bull Week here, or on social media where we'll be using the hashtag #PitBullWeek.
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