People sometimes ask if our pit bulls, Junior and Martha Washington, were used for fighting because they have cropped ears. I know for a fact that neither of them were (they both had fabulous owners before coming to us!), but the public — and some animal welfare advocates — still think cropped ears are a sign of dog fighting. I got to spend time this week with the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force, and I asked them if the dogs they seize from fighting operations have cropped ears. Their answer: it’s very, very rare. They said a decade ago it was common that dog fighters cropped their ears, but these days most dog fighters don’t want to risk raising red flags, so the opposite tends to be true. Cropped ears are simply a cosmetic thing. Made me sad to think of all the cropped-earred pit bulls who end up in shelters and get branded as “fighting dogs” — and then they’re either prohibited from being adopted, have special restrictions placed on them, or are feared by the public because of misconceptions about their behavior.