Positive Thoughts on a Negative Situation

By now, most of you know about last Friday’s court ruling about “pit bulls” in MD. Because of this ruling, all pit bulls are now “inherently dangerous” – no matter their behavior, personality, or actions.

I think we all felt the same way when we first heard the news: Disbelief. Heartbreak. Horror. Complete shock. Then came the confusion. What does this really mean? What are the consequences going to be? Who does this really affect? Then came the anger. The frustration. Feeling defeated and infuriated all at the same time.

After the news broke and we all spent a good deal of time letting off steam to deal with those initial feelings, the internet immediately blew up with thousands of, “What can we do??” comments.  News stations started picking up the story, and it spread like wildfire. Luckily, things began popping up that kept us busy at the very least attempting to counteract the tone that this ruling set. Station polls needed to be voted on saying NO, pit bulls are not inherently dangerous, petitions needed to be signed, and law makers needed to be contacted.

I have to admit – while this ruling is obviously one of the last things pit bull advocates would ever want, we should pause for a minute and admire what has transpired in our community this past week. Thousands of people have sprung into action, no questions asked. One of the best responses I’ve seen numerous times now is people urging pit bull type dog owners to make sure their dogs are the best dogs they can be. They’re right – this is the time we all need to step up and make sure our dogs are model canine citizens. In fact, I know many people aiming to do just that: get their dogs CGC certified.

What a remarkable way to fight back, no? Instead of kicking and screaming – like I know many of us want to do – the pit bull community is responding in a way that will speak volumes to the part of the public that knows nothing about these dogs. I’ve already seen some rescues and shelters referring to their adoptable dogs as “Pit Bull Ambassadors” in an attempt to show the public that they have faith these dogs are fit to be great members of society. The truth is we are conscious of the fact that each dog is different – some dogs are great for anyone, others have things they need help with, and some are just not ready to face the world – and responsible owners know which category their dog fits into.

It’s scary to watch the consequences of this court ruling play out. Anyone who owns, fosters, or loves a pit bull type dog is on the edge of their seat at all times waiting for something to change – good or bad. But I think we all need to realize that we’re in this together, and we’re all in it until the end. We will continue fighting the good fight and explaining to anyone who will listen why we don’t agree with this ruling, and we will do it using education, facts, and logic – not bullying, slander, or disparagement.

If you want to know more about this ruling, what is currently going on, and what can be done, check out Animal Farm Foundation’s statement, stopbsl.org’s overview, or HSUS’s call to action.

16 thoughts on “Positive Thoughts on a Negative Situation

  1. Narda

    Great perspective! Thanks for the moment of gratitude in this. You are right, it has been a sad week, but a great one as well. I have enjoyed seeing the various campaigns from all over striving for change and growth. What a good way to start a Friday morning!

  2. It has been super cool to see pit bull advocates spring into action over the past week. You all are doing amazing things in Baltimore. Have you seen the Coast to Coast Bully Walk page on FB? They are trying to get dog walking groups in every state to sponsor a “Bully Walk” for National Pit Bull Awareness Day. I think now more than ever it is important for people to see responsible pit bull owners out in their community!

  3. Janet in Cambridge

    I’m still having a hard time understanding how, after all the recent pit bull and BSL conversations, the legislature would vote this way. It’s based on so much ignorance. Did they not read about Ohio overturning its 25-year BSL on pit bulls? But that’s just me shaking my head.

    I know the BSL (read mostly pit bull) community, including people like me who don’t live with a dog, is ready, prepared, and informed. They will do everything in their power to get this changed. You have the power. It’s called The Vote.

  4. the pit bull community boasts some of the most open-minded, dedicated people i’ve ever heard of. this situation has made me want my very own pittie even more — not because i want people to think i have a dangerous dog, or even to defy maryland, but because, on top of all the wonderful things about pit bull type dogs, i want to go on pittie trails! i want to get a pit CGC certified! i want to turn one more shelter pit into an ambassadog!

    • Sherri Webster

      That is awesome Nevie! Once you go Pittie you will never want to be without one! It will totally open up your mind in a totally new light when it comes to Pits! I will own one the rest of my life, that’s for sure.

  5. Karen Wagner

    I don’t have a dog but I cannot imagine how all of you must be feeling about this:( I know I was ticked off to say the least that the pit bull is being targeted the way they are. Just wrong!! It is great that the responsible pit bull owners are uniting to show America how the pit bull is so awesome!! Thank you for writing this great blog…hugs and kisses to you and Otis! Have a great weekend everyone!!

  6. Lynnie

    I’m sorry to hear about the ruling – though not at all surprised. In this day and age of litigation run rampant and more and more “control” over our lives being legalized without our say, fear and “protection” seems to be the prevailing mood. I loved your writing and I ache for all the pitties out there who will die needlessly because of this ruling. You’re more than on the right track. Education, openness and advocacy for the breed are what the public needs BIG TIME. Thank you again for the work you are doing. It’s invaluable.

  7. Thank you for this perspective.

    I wanted to share that I have been a bit overwhelmed with all of the kind words of support that I have received from all sorts of strangers over the past week.

    I have two dogs; one of them is a pit mix adopted from the BHS 5 years ago, the other is a Ridgeback mix, also from a shelter. Everyday, for the 4 years I have lived in my current home, I have walked my boys about 2-3 miles throughout a variety of neighborhoods and developments. Three and half years ago, I added a baby in a carrier to that mix. We became quite the spectacle; you just don’t see a whole lot of baby-wearing mamas walking two big dogs on a double leash in Beaver Cleaver Land – especially when one of those dogs is pit bull. Initially, people crossed the street to avoid us. I had no delusions that it was because they were trying to be considerate or give this mom some room; they were scared of my dogs.

    I always called out, “They’re friendly”, and made sure the boys had moved over onto the grass to allow for us to share the sidewalk. Over time, as people got to “know” us, they stopped darting into traffic to avoid us. They watched as my boys ignored the other dogs that were barking like lunatics at them, never pulling me or showing anything other than mild curiosity at either other dogs or people. They started saying hello, and commenting on how well-behaved my dogs were, and asking me if they were good with the baby. Eventually, they started approaching us with and without their own, more “socially acceptable” dogs. They started to let their kids pet my boys, who were always friendly, and rewarded their attention with kisses. I also realized that some of my senior neighbors were watching out their windows, just waiting for us to pass by, so that they could come out and make a fuss over both my daughter AND my dogs.

    My daughter is now three and half, and does most of this walk independently, right alongside the dogs. This past week, after the ruling, we were inundated with these same people who were once afraid us coming out to express their support, and give my inherently dangerous dog a pat or a hug. Just by allowing my dogs to be themselves, and letting people witness their awesomeness, they have made an impact, and changed the opinions of more than few who were predisposed to judge them on sight. Write your letters, sign the petitions….but most importantly, let your dogs show the world around you what great animals they really are.

    • bren rivers

      great story and god bless you!! people see the news and here in az we see so many pit bull stories how they hurt people and attacked them- a recent news story said the dogs were dangerous then came back and said the owner is to blame- he opened the gate let them go and attacked a woman and her daughter— felonies should be placed against the ignorant owner not the dogs be taken to a shelter– makes us so angry— we need stiffer penalities!! not against the dogs–

  8. Most of the friendliest dogs I’ve ever met have been pit bull mixes. I’ve seen more mean dogs of breeds considered to be family dogs than I have pit mixes who are only marginally loving towards new people. It’s a shame bad owners have resulted in these dogs getting bad press lately.

    • bren rivers

      always have bad owners a few that are truly stupid– we have to keep being the dogs voices and rescue–many ins companies now wont insure your home if you have pitties and certain other breeds- we had a doberman and he was a pussy cat-when outside he was a guard dog but not vicious- alot of ignorance we fought-

  9. As a pit bull advocate who comes across many, many angry pit bull owners often who want to ‘make’ other people change it has been my mantra to them to make sure that their pit bulls are ambassadors for the breed type and then to get out there and meet as many people as they can with their well-socialized, well-behaved pit bull. People will believe what they see in the media and they will form their opinion of pit bulls based on what they see on the news and hear from others who have already made up their minds that pit bulls are dangerous dogs BUT it is a true fact that personal experience will ALWAYS trump what people see on television and hear from other people. Here in Portland Oregon we hold monthly Bully Walks and I’d encourage others to do the same where they live. In addition to that I’ve started a project called the Coast to Coast Bully Walk. If you are interested you can find it on Facebook. Please go there, ‘like’ the page, fill out the form to get onto the spreadsheet, check out the spreadsheet to find others in your area and get busy showing people how many responsible pit bull owners there are in their area and how great your dogs are.

    I can’t stress enough the importance of approaching this issue from the positive side. When we go against others they dig their heels in deeper and getting them to change is very difficult if not totally impossible but when we figure out a way to go with the flow, educating them gently by showing them what great dogs pit bulls are and how responsible we are as dog owners, we can manifest change much more easily. We can’t represent our dogs by being angry, irrational and combative. All it does is confirm to those who fear our dogs and who don’t know us that people who have pit bulls are as unpredictable, as volatile and as dangerous as they believe our dogs are. Let’s show them that we are their friends, their neighbors and that we are no different then they are and that the only difference between our dogs and theirs is that they are afraid of our dogs for no good reason.

    It is a very good rule of thumb for all pit bull advocates, rescuers, owners and supporters to keep a cool head and to redouble our efforts to show people who we are and who our dogs are everytime we are faced with a challenge like this one. I’ve started a petition in an effort to show the Maryland Supreme Court judges how many of us disagree with their ruling. I’ve put a 500,000 signature goal on my petition but I’d love to get many more than that. To that end please sign the petition and pass it around.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/maryland-s-ruling-that-pit-bulls-are-inherently-dangerous

  10. Pingback: You’re Invited! | Peace, Love, & Fostering

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