Nice Pitbull Looks to Help Open People’s Eyes

Duluthian Jesse Hakala Started Nice Pitbull Seven Years Ago to Raise Awareness and Stomp the Stigma of Pit Bull Aggression

DULUTH, Minn. – Through the power of social media and people coming together, one Northland man is looking to spread H.O.P.E, helping open people’s eyes.

“I love all dogs, but pit bull’s are the ones that I chose,” said Jesse Hakala, a pit bull owner.

For Hakala, a walk in the park or down a sidewalk comes with pride.

“They are our family; they are our kids, our children so we are in love with them,” said Hakala.

His baby happens to be Apollo the pit bull.

“I’ve had this breed probably about 15 years,” said Hakala. “I’ve experienced good, I’ve experienced bad.”

He’s not referencing past pets. Hakala is talking about social interaction with strangers nearly every day.

“I think a lot of it is fear based,” said Jessie Welsh, a member of Nice Pitbull.

“I’ve witnessed people crossing the street or holding their children close when we walk by,” said Hakala.

Social cues he and Apollo are sick of having to deal with.

“We started Nice Pitbull to solve the problem of people not knowing whether or not the dog was nice, the pit bull was nice,” said Hakala.

“Kind of felt like I needed to be the voice for those dogs,” said Becky Mathiowetz, a member of Nice Pitbull.

Mathiowetz is choosing to jump on board with Hakala’s mission, becoming part of Nice Pitbull.

“Give them a chance. They are like any other dog,” said Mathiowetz.

A list of items featuring apparel, leashes and event blankets is looking to make it easier for owners to educate and strangers to know when it’s okay to approach.

The clothing and items are colorfully designed by artists from all over the world.

“We’ve worked with a lot of local artists, some even out of the country, and one in Brazil,” said Hakala.

Money from each purchase is used to help grow the brand. Since launching seven years ago, more than $500 dollars has been put toward pit bull friendly organizations across the world.

“We started the partnership with Nice Pitbull a while ago and the products have been really popular at the shelter,” said Nicole Facciotto, Animal Enrichment Coordinator at Animal Allies Humane Society in Duluth.

Facciotto says Animal Allies adopts out a large number of “bully breeds” every year. They are proud to support these animals and help stomp out the stigma surrounding their behavior.

“It’s really fun when people come in and are a little hesitant and not so sure if they want to meet with a bully breed, we always take that opportunity to educate and let them hand out and see how cool they are,” said Facciotto.

In the future, Hakala hopes to host more events bringing pit bulls and other breeds together.

Traveling to get the message out across the country is also on the Nice Pitbull agenda.

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