A fresh idea can change the world. That is what Deirdre “Little Darling” Franklin hopes to do with her organization, Pinups for Pitbulls (PFPB). Chances are you’ve seen one of Franklin’s eye-catching images—they’re hard to miss. Classic pin-up style modeling paired with adorable Pit Bull-type dogs make for images that are as share-worthy as they are attention grabbing. And that’s the point. We talked to Franklin to learn more about the inspiration and mission behind PFPB.
TAILS: What inspired you to start Pinups for Pitbulls?
Franklin: I had just returned home from a harrowing rescue mission in New Orleans and Baton Rouge following Katrina. While there, I noticed the disproportionate number of Pit Bull-type dogs that had been left to fend for themselves, and I felt a strong desire to help change the perception and the laws affecting these dogs. I knew that I had the resources to bring awareness through my pin-up modeling and burlesque circle, and I wanted to put out a fun calendar showing their true nature.
What is your primary mission?
We want to educate people about the history, temperament, and plight of the Pit Bull-type dog, and raise awareness to rally against breed specific legislation and breed discriminatory laws. The goal is to restore the image of the Pit Bull-type dog to its former reputation as America’s companion animal, and to help people understand that all dogs are individuals.
Where did the idea come from to mix pin- up modeling with animal rescue?
I realized that these dogs were suffering from a perception issue and that it was challenging to get people to pay attention to breed bans and other issues facing Pit Bull-type dogs. I thought it would be a fun way to attract people who might otherwise ignore our cause, and then once we had their attention we could provide them with science-based facts.
How do you stylize a photo shoot?
Each year is a different theme. For our latest calendar we conceptualized vintage postcards modeled after the many states that have a ban on breed discriminatory laws. We call it ‘Traveling Against Breed Discrimination.’ It’s our best yet!
Can you tell us about your current pets?
Zoe, aka ‘Officer Zoe,’ is a Harrier mix who was adopted as a puppy from a trailer park in Pennsylvania. She is a funny working dog who is mostly ‘all business’ as we like to joke. She usually follows guests around to see what they are up to, hence her funny nickname.
Baxter Bean is my foster failure. He was covered in serious burn marks at the age of five months and it is believed that he was either set on fire or had caustic chemical burns. He was very shy and had a lot of learning curves to work through, but now, at age ten, he’s a very affectionate and athletic dog.
Why do you think Pit Bulls are so misjudged?
When I was working on my master’s thesis on breed specific legislation I had access to peer reviewed journals and nearly every newspaper article out there. Not one study existed proving that breed bans had worked or that Pit Bulls were inherently more dangerous than other dogs. However, in the newspaper section I came across 17,000 articles damning these dogs. There is a deep disconnect between science and logic and what the media prints. We are working triple time to undo these stereotypes and myths.
What needs to change?
It’s time for people to understand that banning a dog because of the way he or she looks is not going to keep you any safer. All dogs have teeth. Instead, focus on the enforcement of leash laws, breed-neutral spay and neuter laws, and help to reduce or ban chaining in your community. These are the main factors that contribute to most dog bites and can easily be avoided with education.
Have you noticed a change in the way Pit Bulls are perceived? They have a much greater collective voice in their favor. There are still some people who work hard to keep the hatred against these dogs alive, but they are fewer and farther between.
How has PFPB grown since you first founded it?
When I started PFPB in my living room in 2005, it was Carla Lou (Founding Dog and inspiration behind PFPB) and I with a dream and a vision. Now, we have street team members in half of the United States and globally.
What changes do you foresee for the organization in the future?
We want to spread the science and facts to the masses, and are working on bringing our mission and work to television or film. We also hope to fundraise for an RV so that we can hit the road to spread our mission across the country. We are hopeful to do that in the next year or so.
What do you still dream of doing?
I dream of writing my memoir one day, and I would love to live in another country, even if it’s only for a few months. I of course dream of ending breed bans on a federal level so that we can use our energy to help communities work on real methods to encourage and enforce dog safety.
For more on Pinups for Pitbulls or to purchase a 2016 calendar, visit PinUpsForPitbulls.org