Posts Tagged ‘Breed-specific legislation’

Lilly

Just a quick update before I get to today’s post. Forrest is back with me. We need some work on our manners when it comes to cats other than that he is a happy healthy little guy full of spunk. He is still up for adoption outside of BSL land (Ontario). Right now he would be perfect for someone who is in a home with no cats. On the other hand we are going to be working on his cat issues so hopefully he will become ok with cats.I haven’t gotten to witness his interactions with them as we don’t have one at home but I think the real issue is his constant want to play with them. More pics and a full update on Forrest coming soon.

I was updating myself on the pet related news as I usually do. I came across an especially sad story of a pit bull and chihuahua. They are often caught snuggling each other. It pulls on my heart-strings as it reminds me of the way that my small dog Lilly gets along with her sister and foster brothers. It makes me sad to think about it but if Stella and Lilly ever found themselves in a position like that I could see them snuggling for comfort. I often find her snuggling up to them after they have fallen asleep (she likes them a lot more than she likes to let on).

People often chuckle at the assortment of sized dogs that I have. Lilly is tiny maybe 5-8 lbs with Stella being the largest at close to 100 lbs. Both of the foster pups fall in between.  I personally believe that dogs of all size and breed can get along, period. Do you have special cases where dogs are not tolerant of other dogs? Of course. Is it just pit bulls? Absolutely Not. Does it take time for your dogs to learn what interactions are appropriate? Absolutely.  But for the large majority of dogs I believe that they can live together regardless of size or breed. It’s all about what you allow as far as their interactions go. Although I find in my scenario anyway Lilly is just fine to assert herself and set her boundaries as far as play and personal space go.  Lilly is proof that dogs big and small can live together as she has grown up her whole life around rescued pit mixes. We as humans are the ones who place such a large importance on breed. Dogs are thankfully ignorant to breed or often the discrimination that comes along with being or looking like a certain breed.

The end of the article goes on to say that chihuahua’s are right up there with pit bulls on the list of dogs most often put down in shelters in California. I have friends that rescue small dogs mostly chihuahua and chihuahua mixes. They live on the east coast so clearly it is not just a west coast problem.  It got me to thinking why are these little dogs being given up almost as much as the dreaded pit bull (hopefully you can sense the sarcasm)?  I thought I’d weigh in with my OPINION.  Pit bulls are medium large-sized dogs. I don’t exactly think anyone would be calling a Chihuahua a large dog any time soon. Pit bulls are often sought out by criminals who think that they are guard dogs or that they look tough holding one  (just for information sake they aren’t nor were they ever bred to guard things). Chihuahuas on the other hand are often sought out by the polar opposite  social group.

It’s hard to draw similarities between the two other than they are both dogs. The commonality I found is that they are both being sought out to fulfil a purpose. When the dog does not live up that purpose they are dumped at a shelter. Now the reasoning behind people hunting down chihuahuas and pit bulls are vastly different but both are equally as damaging to the breed. It’s sad that people can’t see that dogs are dogs and they have needs which as their owner it’s your job to meet. Your dog relies on you.  It reminds me of my crazy neighbour who yells at me for roller blading with Lilly(who gets more enjoyment out of running than any of my dogs). People often make the mistake that just because a dog is small that it doesn’t require the same basic needs that all dogs do. Exercise, rules, boundaries, are just some of the things all dogs need big or small. When these needs aren’t met problems arise. Sadly many people’s solution to their dogs problems is to drop the dog on the door step of a shelter instead of put the time and effort into fixing it. Like in so many other cases it’s the dog that suffers the consequences instead of the human. 

golden-retriever-puppy-breeders

I recently came across a media article about a Golden Retriever that had jumped a fence and attacked a woman. I might add somehow the uprising to ban Goldens  was oddly absent. After reading the story and the comments a few things stood out and even made me angry. The attitude of the owner was awful. He seemed to have zero remorse for fact his dog attacked someone let alone take any responsibility. When will people learn to place the responsibility where it belongs on the HUMAN?  Here is someone who is completely irresponsible when it comes to their dog. I’m not saying this guy isn’t nice to his dog or even just a nice person in general I don’t know for sure(although he doesn’t sound like it). He clearly has zero idea of what his dogs basic needs are as he openly states that his dog has bitten someone before. Its people like this who own pit bulls and contribute to the bad rap they often get. I find it rather interesting that this attack  was pretty bad yet garnered such little attention from the main stream media. Sadly I assume had the article had pit bull in the title the attention would be much more wide-spread with the grumbling of a city council somewhere talking about BSL.

Contrary to many pit bull articles I didn’t see the outcry for the banning of Goldens. Many people delusional as they are posted comments like “Weird Goldens don’t bite” or “All Goldens are so sweet the owner must be abusing him”. Many people posted attesting for how the dogs are nothing but wonderful family dogs. This in most cases is true. Breed does not dictate the dogs chances of biting so much as the current situation he is in. Here is where we need to straighten a few things out. All dogs can bite. Fact. Big small does not matter. Surprisingly to some people breed has no bearing on dog bites either. There are many contributing factors to dog bites. For example someone commented on the article that since he bit he must have been abused. ABSOLUTELY FALSE. Now follow me here. If he was abused it contributed to him being a fearful or nervous dog which would could cause him to bite out of fear. But just because a Golden bit someone does not automatically mean the dog was abused. As if to say if you just love a Golden enough it couldn’t possibly bite someone. What it really sounds like is another case of irresponsible owner. The dog probably had little exercise, no rules, and it sounds like affection was on the light side as well.

Speaking of temperament.  When temperament tested pit bulls scored higher than some common household breeds. To put it in perspective the three breeds commonly called pit bulls scored on average 86.4% when temperament tested, while Golden Retrievers scored 84.9%. It may also interest people to know that pit bulls were NEVER bred to be guard dogs or be aggressive to humans in any way. Research shows that when dog fighting was a legal sport (many many years ago) any pit bull showing any signs of human aggression was sadly put down without another thought. While I am 100% STRONGLY against dog fighting it shows that human aggression was something that has been bred out of these dogs for 100’s of years. Pit bulls that display these characteristics are often with an owner who is inexperienced with dogs or has not socialized them properly, set rules and boundaries, and a daily regimen of exercise.

I just can’t understand how people in this instance can blame the owner and want him held responsible yet whenever a pit mix bites someone it must be because he is an aggressive monster that needs to be banned for public safety. Where are the outcries from citizens to be protected from Golden Retrievers? I wonder if it’s the positive portal in the media that makes everyone feel at ease.  It speaks to power of the media and they way they can use it to create fear and panic. I believe through education we can show people that dog bites have nothing to do with breed and that BSL will never be the answer. A BSL driven by fear will never be as effective at reducing overall dog bites as say a responsible owner law, placing the responsibility on the owner of the dog regardless of breed.

OPIE

My apologies for the lack of activity. For those of you wondering Forrest or Dee Jay is doing great in his new home. I got one email from his new family letting me know how well he was doing. I’m thrilled Forrest has come really far, worked really hard and deserves this. If everything goes well things will be finalized soon and he will officially become theirs.

Now back to my original thought for this post. I was reading through older articles that were published about Pit bulls. I read an article in particular from Barbara Kay a “columnist” (I use quotes as most of her works are un cited or uses extremely biased research) for the National Post. Her lack of knowledge on the subject was laughable. She cited the typical stuff that all pit bulls are all monsters and dangerous. I found many other articles written by her bashing Pit Bulls. I’m really not sure how the Post continues to print her biased and fact less trash. Its disgusting. PERIOD. She spews hate for the breed with zero experience or knowledge other than her inflated statistics and fear. It’s scary that someone so closed-minded is taken seriously enough to be a published author. She actually states in one of her hate speeches that BSLs actually reduce the amount of dogs put down (apparently she has never talked to a shelter worker). I mean we have all come across people like her in our lifetimes  stubborn, bull-headed, and the worst of all incredibly misinformed. Her statistics which she rarely sites but I’m sure are taken from websites that spread similar messages of fear and hate. I wonder if her articles were about discriminating against people based on looks would she have the same welcomed response. Some how I doubt it. After reading some of her hate speeches, there are two points I want to address.

The first being that many of these pit bulls that bit some one, were from “nice loving homes”. That’s all well and good but just because someone is nice doesn’t mean they are a responsible dog owner. Many dog problems stem from owners who give all affection with zero rules, exercise, or discipline. That is a recipe for disaster with any breed. I have known many people in my life that are awesome and amazing but should not have a dog of any kind. It reminds me of my uncle growing up. He was the nicest man  but had a crazy golden retriever. He was a dog owner who was a really great person but had zero knowledge of what to do with his dog. Being nice has nothing to do with having the discipline and motivation to train and exercise a powerful breed. If we took away the pit bull and gave this same person a German Sheppard, Doberman, or Rotti I can almost guarantee we would be in the same scenario, just less media attention. So no loving your dog does not automatically  make you a responsible dog owner.

The second point being that if you were mauled by a pit bull some how that makes you an expert on BSL and pit bulls in general. She makes reference in one of her tirades that clearly we should listen this girl (who was making a PRO BSL speech) as she was bit by a pit bull once. I’m going to be blunt here and if you don’t like it that’s fine we’re all entitled to our opinion. Being bit by a pit bull means just that you were bitten by a pit bull. You were bitten by a dog it did not transform you into an expert on dog bites. Many of the people for BSL are dog bite victims asking for a ban out of fear and lack of understanding and education. Contrary to what Barb would have you believe dogs do not “snap”. There are always warning signs before a bite. Some are subtle and most people will over look them but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Many people bitten by dogs have no knowledge on body language, how to approach, or what a dog that should not be approached looks like. I commonly hear well their tail was wagging. Tail wagging does not automatically mean happy dog. Another issue being most people can’t even identify a pit bull if they saw one. An example being an article Barbara wrote where she calls two dogs in a picture pit bulls. The dog on the right is clearly a boxer, this is someone who has spent time researching pit bulls as she so often regurgitates facts (no matter how skewed and biased) but like most people cannot ID one by sight. Was the dog involved DNA tested?  If not how do you know it’s a pit bull? Short answer you don’t. It would be like saying you know I’m Korean (I am by the way) because I look Asian. There is absolutely no way to tell by my looks alone what Nationality I am (people guess all the time). Just like there’s no way to tell the breed of dog on visual ID alone. Even shelter workers who are trained in this and see dogs all day are wrong 80% of the time when IDing by looks alone.

So in closing being a “columnist” doesn’t mean you know anything, so beware what you read in the media. Being a nice person doesn’t make you magically a responsible dog owner any more than my wishing to never read another hate filled article about pit bulls by someone with ZERO experience with them. Some dog owners are irresponsible. Some of these owners have pit bulls. But they are not the majority, just a small portion the media chooses to highlight.

If you’ve read anything else I’ve written I foster dogs for  Bullies In Need we are a pit bull rescue in Ontario. I wanted to share with everyone what an amazing experience fostering has been so far.  We got Opie at just  puppy maybe 3 or 4 months old. He is a typical story here in Ontario. Despite a BSL in place there are still a ton of pit bulls out there many unfixed and still having puppies (this is where a responsible owner law comes into play instead of just a blanket BSL). We have some dogs currently sitting on death row waiting for someone to save them (puppies too). It’s sad to think puppies like Opie are put down everyday here because of BSL. Puppies that are completely innocent never given a chance just because they look like a breed that doesn’t actually exist. Pit bulls are really a mix of many breeds. We have a few puppies right now waiting to be sprung from the shelter. They need out ASAP.  If you’re on the fence about fostering TAKE A CHANCE and do it. It will change your life for the better. I promise.

We had all the typical concerns. “What if I get too attached” or “I would never be able to give him up”. We considered our options.   We could go adopt another dog or we could foster and have the potential to help many dogs. Sure it will be sad when they leave us. We may cry. But you wont know if you don’t give it a shot and take a chance.  We liked it so much we went back for seconds and currently have Forrest a little guy out of Toronto who spent 2 months in the shelter. He was a bit timid the first few days but has really started to come out of his shell (which is certainly one way of putting it). It truly has been a life changing experience getting to foster. I’d recommend it to anyone who asks. I know when one of my guys gets a “forever home” I’ll be sad. It’s going to hurt I know it will. At that point I’ll do my best to remember why I decided to foster. Help as many dogs as I can.  Each of them has taken a small piece of my heart but I know that there are many more dogs out their just waiting for a spot on my couch to open up. Some in terrible conditions.  I ask you to open your heart open your home I promise you’ll see what I see. Here are some pics from our outdoor activates lately. We have been having a blast in the fields behind our house.

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So today I was having a bit of a hard time deciding on a topic. I had spent a few weeks before starting this blog getting ideas together for posts. My goals are to talk about pit bulls in a good light, my fostering experience, and the BSL here in Ontario. Sadly I read an article that again painted pit bulls in a negative light and unjustly so. If you’d like to read it you can click here. These were my thoughts.

The article leads with  that the attack was un provoked as many do. Dog language can be subtle and more than likely it was missed dog language that lead to the attack. It is something that people commonly  miss out on. It could have been as something as small as a lip curl or one dog displaying another subtle form of dominance. At times the body language can be very hard to pick up on.

The article goes on to paint a pretty vivid and negative image of pit bulls. The story is that she was walking by a group of men who “called out at her”. The next thing she knew there was a un muzzled “pit bull shaking her small dog every which way”. Let me say in no way am I excusing or condoning what happened here. Everytime a dog bites someone  it is tragic. A bite usually comes from a negative situation from both sides human and dog. The article goes on to say the man fled and the police are still searching for him and his “pit bull”. I have to ask this. During the chaos of a dog attack how was this person, whose profession is not identifying dogs, properly identify that this dog was a “pit bull”. Shelters are wrong 87.5% of the time when identifying dogs. These are trained professionals who have time to examine each dog not just a look during a moment of complete mayhem. It makes me think about a dog we had in BIN named Guinness. He was labeled a pit bull when he is actually a swiss mountain dog. So I wonder how in the mix of all the chaos and a dog fight that this person was able to positively identify that this dog was  pit bull. It may have been one or not but the point is here are pit bulls in the media being portrayed as a “snarling mass of muscle and teeth”. The authorities stated that if it was a pit bull it should have been muzzled not committing either way. Yet the article says pit bull over 5 times.

I did some research into dog bites and the articles that surround them. Many dog attack articles sight that the attacking dog was a “pit bull” or “pit bull mix”. Many of the police reports accompanying these attacks site no breed of dog at all. So I wonder where did this magical pit bull come from. Well let’s face it a small dog biting someone’s hand and the person requiring 5-10 stitches is no headline grabber. On the contrast a head line like “Pit Bull Mauls Man, requires 50 stitches” pulls people in and grabs readers. It’s a shame that so many journalists are being so irresponsible and ruining the reputation of a whole breed just to entertain readers. On average pit bulls score much better on temperament tests than many other “family dogs”. Lilly has grown up with pit bulls her whole life.  In many instances there is no hard evidence  at all  to support that  the attacking dog was in fact a pit bull. In many cases it seems some writer took it upon themselves to just assume what kind of dog it was. If this author was reporting on  a plane crash  I find it hard to believe that people would be so understanding of falsifying facts just to gain headlines.

I’ve said it in my past posts that pit bulls fall into what I believe are power breeds of dogs. These guys require the extra mile in most cases. Some popular ones including Dobermanns, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Mastiffs. Many of these breeds at one time or another were subject to BSL laws in the past. Not everyone has what it takes to responsibly own one. Many people buy dogs to selfishly fulfill something inside themselves or portray an image never thinking about what the dogs needs are. What the article fails to do is place the responsiblity where it belongs on the owner. They talked about his tattered clothes as if that had anything to do with his out of control dog or maybe it was to add to the negative image many people have of pit bull owners.  Today it seems as if people just get dogs and assume that they will behave with little to no effort on their part. Or maybe that they should behave because we humans are “in charge”. They couldn’t be more wrong. When we get a dog we are making a commitment to giving a dog what it needs to feel fulfilled each day. It is our responsibility to train them show them rules, boundaries, discipline (which is different from punishment), and appropriate interactions with the world around them. I guess it’s just a shame people aren’t more responsible with their pets and journalists with their words. Both create a bad image for a loyal and loving breed of dog.

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Thought I’d include a picture of one of those “snarling masses of muscle”.