Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

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. 

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”.

For someone like me before coming to Ottawa I didn’t even know something like “Breed Specific Legislation” even existed. When I rescued Bently the dog who forever changed my life and made me love the breed I never even thought about having trouble with him in Ontario. Certainly discrimination is something we humans save for each other. A dog is a dog I assumed.

BSL is an unfortunate part of everyday life for folks here. Since passing this law it seems that Pit Bulls can do no right. The BSL has done a good job of casting a dark shadow on a group of dogs that just happen to look a certain way. It’s interesting we live in a government town surely the people who make the laws will look at research and make an educated decision as to bill 132. Sadly this is not the case. Just a simple google of BSL will bring you a slew of information about its ineffectiveness. The law makers claim they are trying to reduce the amount of dog bites. Great! Reducing dog bites is a plus. unfortunately BSL doesn’t do that. For instance a study done in the UK actually shows dog bites to have gone up by 50% despite having BSL in place since 1991. A 2007 study done in Spain analyzed a period of 5 years before and 5 years after BSL laws were introduced. It showed that the amount of reported dog bites stayed the same and that the banned dogs only accounted for 4% of bites both before and after BSL laws. A study done in 2006 from SFU collected data from SPCAs, RCMPs and veterinary sources, and found that it wasn’t breed but irresponsible ownership that created dangerous dogs. It states that BSL creates “a false sense of security” and doesn’t address the real issues behind dog aggression

Not reducing dog bites isn’t the only problem with this piece of legislations. Without being able to DNA test a dog there is no definitive way to tell breed. Going on body shape and coat alone isn’t good enough. A recent study showed that trained shelter workers are incorrectly labeling dogs 87.5% of the time. We have a dog in care who was a victim of this. He sat in a shelter unable to be adopted in Ontario because of someone thinking he “looked like a Pit Bull”. And that’s the thing about BSL it really isn’t specific. The law itself encompasses a group of dogs that look similar.

No science and logic aren’t your thing well here’s something everyone can agree on. We all hate to see money wasted. Guess what having a BSL is expensive. We need more animal control, police, not to mention people suing the government for taking their beloved pet away unjustly due to animal control being unable to properly identify breed from sight alone. A 2010 report from Calgary showed that the city turned a profit after repealing BSL and implementing registration laws and fines. Enough money in fact to buy a fleet of trucks, networked computer system and an expansion to their shelter. With all the over whelming research and benefits to implementing a system like Calgary’s you have to wonder what is keeping the government from waking up and facing facts that what they are doing DOES NOT WORK.

Since this law doesn’t do anything to solve the problem the question arises well what can we do? I’d look out west to places like Calgary. What they have done is placed the responsibility back where it should be ON THE OWNER. It all starts with us. Ultimately its up to us to lead our dogs and show them acceptable behavior and be responsible. Leashing your dog in public places and have them spayed or neutered are just two ways to be a responsible owner. (I could rant on on this subject but this is about BSL right lol).

Just like people dogs shouldnt be judged by their outward appearances but their actions. I have known balanced and un balanced dogs of many different breeds. Like I’ve said before strong breeds of dog are not for everyone but if you are up to the challenge it can be one of the most rewarding relationships you’ll ever have. With our hard work and dedication to making our dogs ambassadors for their breed we hope to abolish BSL in 2013. Place the responsiblity where it should be on the person holding the leash. Look West Ontario governemnt the answers there.