Started back in 2012, Not a Bully is a heartwarming project by photographer Douglas Sonders that aims to change the perception of rescue dogs that have been unfairly labeled as bullies. The term “bully breed” covers 14 popular dog breeds like Boxers, Rottweilers, and PIt Bulls. Essentially, they’re dogs that people believe are inherently mean, aggressive or even violent. Shelters are crowded with loving bully breeds whose unfair stereotype severely limit their chances of ever finding a home.
Not a Bully hopes to change all that. Through these beautiful portraits and inspiring rescue stories, the project aims to educate the public on how all rescue pets deserve a loving home. The photographer himself adopted his own rescue dog, a Pit Bull, black Labrador mix, which inspired him to create the series. As Sonders states, “Emma had been saved from a Georgia shelter that would have put her down. She’d been circulating through the foster-care system for nine months, unable to find a permanent home. Potential adopters had been turned off by her ‘scary’ appearance and pit-bull background. But we connected instantly. Emma was meant to be my dog.”
After he adopted Emma, Sonders, a commercial photographer who had shot ad campaigns for major companies and who had taken photos that appeared in The Washingtonian, Time, and Rolling Stone, felt compelled to create this personal project. “I love the chance to capture the true nature of my portrait subjects,” he said. “I realized photography was the perfect tool to show people what Emma and other pit bulls are really like.”