Pitbulls and babies

It's no secret that pit bulls have been dealing with a major PR problem for the last several decades. As the preferred breed for illegal dog fighting rings and other illicit activities, these hefty pooches are often perceived as inherently dangerous and aggressive across the board. This mistaken belief has little to do with the biological temperament of the breed, and everything to do with the humans who provide shoddy or downright abusive training. Sadly, these negative attitudes towards pit bulls have a heartbreaking effect on adoption and euthanasia rates and have even motivated some communities to enact bans on the breed.

In response to this doggy discrimination, there's been a strong push to rehabilitate the reputation of pit bulls using the power of photography and Internet hashtags. One quirky campaign that has recently taken off is the #KissedByAPit challenge, organized by Dog Park Publishing.

Based on the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge that took the world by storm this summer, the challenge invites people to capture a photo of themselves sharing a slobbery kiss with a pitbull. Participants are then encouraged to share the image on social media with the hashtag #KissedByAPit and send a $5 donation to an animal shelter or rescue group. Thousands of people, including actor and pitbull lover Kevin Bacon, have taken the challenge.

Some other popular pit bull-related hashtags that you may have noticed populating your Instagram feed include #DontBullyMyBreed, #PitbullLove, #Pitstagram and — just when you thought the photos couldn't get any cuter — #PitbullsAndBabies! Now if that doesn't convince you that these misunderstood animals have an innate capacity for being loving, gentle companions, then nothing will!

Here's just a small selection of Instagram images by parents who have no qualms about trusting their beloved pitties with their bundles of joy.

 

 

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.