The Pit Bull is a much maligned breed, with a reputation often fueled by sensationalist media reports and misguided breed specific legislation. 5 year old Elle is just another example of a pit bull who is proving legislators wrong. She was recently named by the American Humane Association as its 2013 American Hero Dog for her work as a therapy animal in North Carolina, where she helps children learn dog safety and overcome their fear of dogs.

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With help from her owner Leah Brewer, Elle participates in a reading program they have established called "Tail Wagging Tales" that helps students practice reading and strengthen confidence. Children at the Vaughan Elementary School and the Chaloner Middle School take turns sitting with Elle and reading out loud to her for 20 minutes. "She provides confidence for students and a comforting ear," Brewer told TODAY.com.

The Humane Association awarded Elle the top honor after combining more than 1 million public votes with those from a panel of animal activists and celebrity judges that included Kristin Chenoweth and Miranda Lambert.

"The dog community is trying to grapple with issues around what to do with breeds that have some bad reputations," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association. "This is a fantastic awakening to see a pit bull win.",

We hope that Elle's win will help to change some general misconceptions about pit bulls and show the public the true nature of the breed.