HSVMA Student Member Helps Raise Awareness About Pit Bulls

April 23, 2012

By Stephanie Silberstang

This past October at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, I organized Pit Bull Awareness month. These events were inspired by the MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, Mass. where they also spend the month recognizing these amazing dogs.

Cornell veterinary students and their well-behaved dogs at a "Meet a Pit Bull" event.
Stephanie Silberstang

Throughout the month of October, I hung posters throughout the veterinary school and small animal hospital with pictures and “fun facts” about pit bulls, including their average rank on the standardized temperament test—which is quite high—as well as famous pit bulls in history. Events throughout the month included a bake sale to benefit Out of the Pits, an organization in Albany, N.Y. that strives to educate the public, especially children, about the American Pit Bull Terrier breed and pit bull mixes using their certified-therapy pit bulls.

The “Meet a Pit Bull” event took place just outside the veterinary college with five well-behaved and well-loved pit bull mixes in attendance. The event was inspired by a staff member in the Student and Academic Services office that I struck a conversation with and realized she had never met a pit bull, knew very little about them and was even a little afraid of them. My dog is a beautiful and friendly pit bull and I knew that many students, faculty and staff also had pit bulls as pets. I mainly geared the event towards administration and staff as most students and clinicians work with these types of dogs in the hospital on a regular basis. Many members of the administration had admittedly never met a pit bull. The event had a great turnout with many students, faculty and staff coming to meet the diverse group of dogs. The main goal of the event was to show people that "pit bull" is not a breed, but a descriptive term for the physical attributes of these dogs—big heads, muscular bodies and short hair—and these dogs come in every shape and size. In addition, these dogs are very intelligent and strong, and are treasured members of many families.

Other events that took place during the month included student rounds with the shelter medicine resident discussing a new program called “Pit Pals.” This program was launched at the local SPCA and involved training volunteers to work with dogs, most often pit bulls, who require extra enrichment to prevent deterioration often seen in shelter settings. In addition, an “I Love a Pit Bull” poster was put up during the month for anyone with a great picture of them with their favorite dog to post for all to see. The month was a tremendous success and will undoubtedly be continued annually by Cornell’s chapter of the Shelter Medicine Club.

Stephanie Silberstang



Stephanie Silberstang is a 3rd year veterinary student at Cornell University and an HSVMA student member. Her interests include shelter, equine, avian and emergency medicine. She shares her life with a lovely pit bull named Tembo and a 12-year-old cockatiel named Doobie.