Tag Archives: reclaiming my pit bull

Pawndered Thought: September 16, 2016

Keep Calm and Love Pit bulls

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#SmilingDog

I have to say something.

Some may understand. Some may not agree.

Yet, I have to say something.

The story of Diggy is both sad and upsetting. If you haven’t heard, though it seems to be everywhere on my newsfeed, Diggy is a dog whose picture went viral due to his smiling face. Due to the popularity of his picture local authorities took note and threatened to take him away from his brand new home because he looks like a Pit Bull and the area that he lives in has Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). Despite numerous pleas that Diggy is not a Pit Bull at all, but in fact an American Bulldog mix, and has a DNA test to prove it, his fate is kind of unknown.

Now, I’m glad that Diggy’s story has garnered so much attention. His ordeal has provided the chance to bring some much needed attention to the unfairness that is BSL. People have been given the opportunity to see just how damaging BSL is to families and how it kills dogs simply due to what they look like. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happened. Instead, of opening up a larger discussion on BSL, the focus has been kept on this one dog. The problem is that even saving this one dog from being a victim of BSL does not actually address the root issue: BSL.

I’m not going to lie, of course, and say that I don’t have a personal opinion on BSL because as the owner of a Pit Bull how could I not. I love my dog and I don’t like anything that targets my dog based on stereotypes.

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#smilingdog

Still, my logical brain doesn’t agree with BSL simply because it’s inherently unfair and biased. My understanding of BSL from what I’ve read (which can differ from area to area) is that it is based on a checklist and features that Pit Bulls typically have. If your dog fits within any of those parameters, then your dog could be apprehended. The main problem I have with BSL is that it is meant to target a specific breed of dog, yet a “Pit Bull” is not an officially recognized breed of dog. There is the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Bulldog, which are commonly all labeled under the nickname of “Pit Bull.” It doesn’t mean anything. It’s almost synonymous these days with calling a dog a “mutt” or a “mixed breed.” If people aren’t sure what type of breed a dog is, then they just seem to label it as a Pit Bull. For reals, I have read plenty of stories about dogs that clearly looked nothing like a Pit Bull, yet they were labeled as such in the article. I mean honestly, how could a tall, skinny dog with a Golden Retriever-like coat be labeled a Pit Bull at all? Even more upsetting is that BSL is based on stereotypes. Am I denying that people that have been bitten by bully breeds are lying? Absolutely not! However, why should all dogs suffer as a result? Do we still believe that all poorer people are lazy? All Jewish people are cheap? All Hispanics are Mexicans and immigrants? All women “asked for it”? No, because we know stereotypes are just that; stereotypes.

Last night as I perused my newsfeed I came across two articles about Diggy. One was a report on the fact that a veterinarian had run a DNA test on him and confirmed that he is an American Bulldog. The other was from Woman’s Day magazine and the tagline stated that the reason Diggy was in danger of losing his forever home was “absurd.”

Give me a moment…

Of course, it’s absurd! It’s absurd that a dog may lose a home just because of what he/she looks like. It’s absurd that a girl was in danger of losing her therapy animal, which was a Pit Bull, because of what he looked like. It’s absurd that a long-haul truck driver lost his dog because he dared to have a heart attack while he was passing through a town that had BSL in effect. It’s absurd that people choose to live in their cars in order to keep their dogs, or spend an enormous amount of money keeping their dogs in kennels because they aren’t allowed to keep them where they live. It’s all absurd. These dogs have never done anything wrong. They have loving homes and great owners, but are suddenly in danger of losing their lives anyways.

Furthermore, the fact that one of the main arguments people have used in favor of freeing Diggy is to say that he is an American Bulldog really displays just how little understanding there is about BSL. Bully breeds are usually what BSL targets with Pit Bulls being the main bullseye, and if it walks like a Pit Bull and talks like Pit Bull, then it surely must be a Pit Bull. Still, proving Diggy is not a Pit Bull doesn’t explain why it’s not okay for him to lose his home. It doesn’t address why he deserves to stay.

I guess the point of this post is to say that Diggy, the smiling dog, is not alone. BSL affects more than just this one dog and more than just this one family. When did we condone blanket punishments based on a biased and unclear stereotype? Let’s talk about the larger havoc that BSL wreaks, raise awareness about it, and see if we can find better ways to stop all dog attacks. (*cough*leash laws*cough*) I want owners who have misbehaving or dangerous dogs to have to take responsibility for their inability to be responsible owners. Do I enjoy getting attacked by the same Chihuahua every time I walk my dog and have it bite Simon’s face? NO! Is it okay that I’ve complained three times about this dog and yet it still gets to run around loose without supervision? NO! Yet, there are laws in place for dogs like mine who have never done anything, but look a certain way.

Sadly, Diggy’s story isn’t the first and he certainly won’t be the last dog affected by BSL.  So, please, support Diggy, but not just because he’s a cute, smiley dog who deserves his forever home. Support his case because you don’t agree with BSL and want to give a voice to the many other dogs that fall victim to this policy.

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#smilingdog

In Response to: “Breed Specific Protection”

In case you haven’t heard, PETA has recently announced that they are in support of banning the breeding of Pit Bulls. In an article they have released on the Huffington Post, they make the argument that by banning the breeding of these dogs they are not supporting anti-pit bull legislation, but rather they are actually supporting a way of protecting these dogs. My understanding of this article, as well as PETA’s claim, is that by enacting breeding bans on the specific breed of dog that represent the majority of dogs in shelters, are used in dog fighting, and most often are the ones found in abuse and neglect cases, then the aforementioned problems will be alleviated. By not allowing these types of dogs to exist, then it will deny abusers and dog fighting rings the ability to take advantage of them.

It is a noble thought that by simply getting rid of a single dog breed problems like abuse, neglect, and dog fighting will be eradicated. As a society we wouldn’t have to worry about dogs being hurt, brutalized, or forgotten about. In short, the world would be a better place.

Yet…then reality hits me in the face like a cold shot of water.

Unfortunately, (in my humble opinion) PETA is wrong.

Abuse, neglect, and dog fighting rings are not going to end just because we stop breeding Pit Bulls. Things might slow down for a little while, but then other breeds of dogs are just going to take their place. Dog fights are still going to happen, abusers are still going to abuse, and others are still going to get dogs and leave them in their backyard because they’re too much of an inconvenience to take care of. Violence, abuse, and neglect don’t discriminate. These plagues on society aren’t going to stop just because one breed of dog is eradicated. Rather, other types of dogs will be abused and neglected instead, and then what? Will PETA (as well as others) ban the breeding of Boxers (since they have been used as fighting dogs historically)? German Shepherds? Bulldogs? Heck, even Chihuahuas when we’ve run out of large breeds to ban? Even more importantly, where will it end? When do we draw the line at punishing the victims, and really try to end the actual problem?

These problems aren’t going to go away. As long as we continue to punish the victims of these crimes, and not the perpetrators nothing’s going to change. Instead of punishing the bullies in these situations we continue to limit the victims and hide behind the argument that by removing the victims from the situations we are really protecting them. However, are we really protecting Pit Bulls by committing genocide? Why aren’t we sending the message that dog fighting rings and the act of abuse and neglect of dogs (and all animals actually) is in no way, shape, or form acceptable in our society?

Let’s not be those people that say those women wouldn’t have gotten attacked if they hadn’t have been wearing such skimpy clothing. Let’s stand up and say violence perpetrated against another is not okay.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why PETA is supporting such a decision. The abuse and neglect of dogs in general is a big problem. Too many dogs just get left out in the backyard with little to no interaction of any kind. Too many dogs gain fame these days in internet stories written about the abuse they have lived through.  Furthermore, backyard breeding is certainly a big problem. For instance, a couple of months ago when my family took Simon to the dog park we met a couple who had brought in their new puppy who was from a backyard breeder, and the conditions he was found in were deplorable. Every morning the puppies were given a few minutes to drink some water from a hose and then once it was gone that was it for the day, and their food was whatever was put in a kiddie pool. There was no shelter, and they were left in the sun for most of the day. Generally, I’m sure stories like this aren’t exactly new, which is actually pretty upsetting, to say the least. The worst part though, is that it is these puppies that end up getting abandoned, neglected, used in dog fighting, and turned over to already full shelters.  Dog fighting rings are definitely a big problem. Dogs are treated horrendously, and as nothing more than a commodity that is thrown away when they’ve been all used up. So, I do understand the logic behind PETA’s explanation. Frankly, I just don’t agree because their solution doesn’t actually target the source of these problems.

So, here are my proposed solutions: wider access to spaying and neutering services, perhaps even making it mandatory for all household pets to be fixed unless someone is a licensed breeder; getting rid of housing discrimination practices since one of the main reasons dogs get surrendered to shelters or abandoned is because people can’t find housing that accepts pets; more severe punishments for abusers, neglecters, and especially people that are involved with dog fighting rings (because seriously, there is no way Michael Vick should even be allowed in polite society after what he did). It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be a quick fix. However, I firmly believe that one breed of dog should not have to pay for simply existing.

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