Teaching people and children about dogs (in general) is our first step in educating the public about pit bulls. Our outreach efforts have shown us that even though people live with animals (dogs, cats, birds, reptiles) some people lack a general understanding about the animal itself. It is not willful negligence, it is a breakdown in the dissemination of information. Here are two hypothetical examples.
Take for instance a couple, married for three years who do not own any animals of their own. Maybe the wife grew up with big dogs and the husband did not have pets as a child. Then a friendly stray dog comes along. The couple takes the dog in and treats it like part of the family. In about a month the dog is put outdoors for having behaviors (accidents in the house, tearing up the furniture) that are unacceptable to the couple. Eventually the dog learns how to get out of the fenced yard and the couple resort to chaining the dog outside "for its [the dog] safety". Now did the couple have the best intentions? Yes. Did they improve the quality of that stray dog's life? No. In fact in Indianapolis it is illegal to chain a dog 24/7.
Or consider the 9 year old whose family owns a dog and a couple of outside cats. Even though the dog is indoors during the day, it is put out for bedtime or anytime the parents deem it has misbehaved. Sometimes when the child walks to school he passes some chained dogs and occasionally may glimpse a stray in the neighborhood. As this child grows into a teenager and young adult there are no drastic changes to the animals in his household or that he is exposed to. Then when the young man moves out on his own he decided to get a dog. How can we expect him to treat his animal any different (put them outside or chain them up) if he was never exposed to it.
In both examples the people (or children) just did not know any better. They were unaware of the work it takes to raise a pet. Dogs do not instinctively know how to sit, they must be trained. Those of us in rescue or who volunteer at a shelter also know that not every dog is driven to please its 'master'. Usually that type of bond develops through obedience training. Positive obedience training allows the dog to learn what the owner deems acceptable in a non-frightening or intimidating manner. This created a bond of trust between dog and owner. In the first example, if the couple had the opportunity to talk to someone about the dogs behavior they could have received information on how to crate train and house break the pet. In the second example, if the child was exposed to animals that were treated as part of the family (lived indoors, had owners that engaged the animals in their everyday life) he may started obedience classes with his dog and with crate training the dog could have lived inside.
We live in a disposable society and with burner cell phones, bottled water and Craigslist providing the opportunity to get or give an animal for free to anyone we must work even harder to educate people that pets are not consumer commodities. If you go out and get a dog because you want one and have no idea what you are doing. Then you get tired of the dog and surrender it to the shelter there are volunteers, like us, who will try to teach that dog to trust again and rehabilitate it so that it has a second chance at a happy life. However, we cannot spend all of our time trying to fix broken dogs, because they will never stop coming in if we do not address the owners. That is why we work tirelessly to educate the public.