Fostermama’s Big Day: Paws in the Park

To my serious dismay I have been kept home a LOT the past week. No going to work with mama because she says she has mee-tings all day. It’s just me and fostergrandpa hangin out in the house for the looooong day that fostermama is at work. Then she comes home all sleepy and curls up on the couch with me and a glass of wine so we can blog. That part I of course do not mind.

Fostermama says all this time she is spending at work is because of my blog entry about paws yesterday some event called Paws in the Park. She says its a doggie walk and festivul, and that I get to go because I’m an MCHS adoptable! Yippee! Apparently I’ll be sticking with fosterdad that day though because fostermama will be too busy running around like a crazy person making sure everything goes smoothly.

She seems a little bit nervous about this event if ya ask me. Not necessarily scared nervous, but excited nervous – kinda like I get when I think we’re heading to my favorite spot in the creek but I’m still not sure yet. She talks a lot about how she’s never done this before so she’s worried she’s forgetting something, but I told her if I’m there that’s all she’ll need! Okay, maybe not all she’ll need… but still.  For how much time she has been working on this, she HAS to be ready! Besides, it sounds like they’ve got everything lined up as best as it’s gonna get: the vendors, the rescue groups, the activities, the demos – what more can you be forgetting, mama? I told her to just point me in the direction of the hot dogs and she won’t have to worry about me, I’ll be good to go.

I’m excited to strut my stuff wearing my Adopt Me vest and bandana in front of hundreds of people – maybe I will even find my forever family?? At the very least it will be a fun afternoon hanging out with fosterdad, and after this I will get fostermama back a whole lot more. Hooray!

Plus, I hear my friends over at Jasmine’s House will be there as one of the rescue groups! If any of you DC area folks are coming to the event, be sure to make your way over to their booth to say hi and buy some of awesome Jasmine’s House merch! Then of course look for me, as I put my paws in the park.

For more information about adopting Honey Bunches of Otis, go to his Adopt Me page or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Breed Specific Legislation: Why It Doesn’t Work

I’ve gotten to the point in my rescue career that the phrase “Breed Specific Legislation” (BSL) makes me immediately scowl, shake my head, and launch into a spiel about how much I hate it.  Like many other things in the advocacy world, I feel like everyone who supports pit bull type dogs feels the same way I do. It wasn’t until I mentioned BSL and Mark asked me what it was did I realize that not everyone knows what Breed Specific Legislation is, let alone its negative consequences.

I have to admit – and hopefully this can help some of you relate to what I’m going to talk about – there was once a time when I thought BSL was a good idea. It was back before I worked for the shelter, and I thought, “If they make pit bulls illegal then people won’t have access to them for dog fighting and it’s better for the doggies!” Could I have been more naive? Ha. Just goes to show you how “Joe Schmoe” I was: no inside info about pit bulls, no look into the rescue world, and no biases based on the work I do. So, while I know I’ll be preaching to the choir for a lot of you, I also hope to share some insight for others.

For those of you who don’t know, Breed Specific Legislation is a law or guideline banning or regulating specific breed(s) within a community. Apartment complexes can have them, townships can have them, and entire states can have them.

BSL has holes. Lots of them. While the laws aim to create a safer community and decrease dog bites, there is no evidence that enacting BSL keeps anyone safer – i.e. it does not reduce the number of dog bites. There are a lot of things BSL does and does not do, including:

Breed Specific Legislation is largely discriminative, basing most restrictions on physical appearance. Many breed laws turn to physical characteristics to define their bans, with descriptions of “pit bulls/dangerous dogs” often including but not limited to: muscular, medium sized, short hair, big head. This results in over inclusiveness, and puts a wide range of dog types at risk to be restricted – no matter their behavior. It also lets dogs that are actually dangerous but don’t happen to look like a “pit bull” slip under the radar.

This opens up another issue that I will touch on briefly: the lack of actual, purebred “American Pit Bull Terriers” out there. The majority of pit bulls around the country are mixed breeds, which is why I like to refer to them as “pit bull type dogs”. This is much more vague and makes no definitive assumptions when referring to a dog’s genetic makeup.

BSL uses physical appearance to predict behavior.  Whether a dog is correctly identified as a pit bull or not, no behaviors should be automatically assumed based on this identification. All dogs are individuals, and should be treated as so.

BSL punishes good dogs and good owners.  Have you ever heard the point, “For every one dog that bites, there are millions that don’t?” That’s what we should think about when we look at BSL. Hundreds of thousands of owners with well-behaved dogs are forced to relocate their pups, relocate their families, or, worst case, put their beloved family pet to sleep because of discriminatory breed laws – 100% regardless of behavior or temperament.

BSL ignores the source of the problem: irresponsible pet ownership. Owners must understand that they are fully responsible for the actions of their pet. Letting a dog run free, not getting them neutered, not socializing them properly, putting them in high risk situations – these are all things that set dogs up for accidents, including bites and attacks, absolutely regardless of breed.  BSL does not hold owners accountable for their actions, which puts everyone in jeopardy even with the bans.

BSL is expensive and difficult to enforce. The amount of money it takes to enforce these bans through law enforcement, local shelters, and the public is outrageous. The ASPCA reports that my neighboring community, Prince George’s County, spends $250,000 a year attempting to enforce their breed ban – with little success at creating a safer community.

This is merely a glimpse at the flaws of Breed Specific Legislation (forgive me, those of you who are sitting in your chair thinking, “What about this and what about that!”). There are numerous resources out there for more information about BSL, including Animal Farm Foundation, BAD RAP, and Best Friends Animal Society, as well as a decent number of scholarly articles with different studies.

It’s scary to think – and I’m sure most of you with pit bull type dogs would agree – that any of our dogs could be ripped away from us with little to nothing we could do about it if we ended up somewhere with BSL. Otis is of course one example, but he falls more under the “wrongly labeled as a pit bull type dog” category. While he’s got a blocky head, that’s about it – his lean figure and extra slobbery jowls suggest many other breeds before pit bull. But he could fall victim to discrimination in a heartbeat if the wrong person saw him in a community with a breed ban. Such a shame.

The best thing we can do is speak up. There have been multiple victories when it comes to BSL, including Ohio recently declaring it unconstitutional. If enough people make noise and step forward to prove that breed-neutral dangerous dog laws and regulations would be much safer and more effective than outright breed bans, lawmakers will listen.  Change is possible, and with more education and advocacy on the topic, better days will come. If you have any questions about breed discrimination, feel free to email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.”                -The Lorax



Former Foster Fridays: Baxter goes camping!

Got the best email from Baxter’s new family last week. They took him camping! Check out how him & Piggy did in the great outdoors.

We wanted to let you know that the pups made it through the wilderness with flying colors. They were great protectors and on alert the entire time (please reference attached pic #1), so we felt very safe indeed.

We felt that we need to show them our gratitude with some unconditional love for the excellent protectors they were throughout our trip (please reference pics #2 and #3).

When we returned home, they resumed their posts as our brave guardians (please refer to pics #4 and #5).

A strange thing happened though. On Saturday morning, as we were taking them on their morning walk, we ran into a lady who had her pit mix, Eva, with her so we stopped to chat. She asked their names, and when we said Baxter, she completely freaked out and screamed ‘you mean Baxter from the blog???!!!’ So we said yes :) It turns out she has been following the little guy all the way til the final stop of his journey. Very funny and VERY small world!

This ends the recap for now :)

L & D

So cool, right!? I can’t believe how well Bax is doing in his new home! When people ask me, “how do you say goodbye to your fosters?” I tell them stuff like this is what makes it all worth it. (Not to mention how stinkin AWESOME the second half of that story is!).

Have a great weekend! See some of you tomorrow for Pittie Trails.


100!

Today’s post marks #100 for Peace, Love, and Fostering.

…What??

It feels like just yesterday that WordPress told me “Congratulations! That was your 15th post!” It’s weird but exciting to sit down right now and think about the fact that I started this blog in August, with zero expectations and very little clue about what I was doing. I saw the many who were doing it, and was inspired to follow in their footsteps. I admired what they were doing, and wished only to be a fraction as successful as they were at sharing stories of beloved fosters.

Fast forward six months, and here I am 100 posts, three foster dogs, and many, many words later. It’s hard to even think of my blogging experience as a whole, because so many monumental events stand out to me. There was the day I brought Zabora home from her spay surgery, after agreeing to foster her on a whim only three days after my Barley passed away. There was the time Zabora got adopted to the perfect home, leaving me heartbroken over saying goodbye to one of my first fosters. There were the weeks leading up to my career milestone, the Love Ball, that were spent with Curious Georgia.  Then of course, there was the decision to bring Baxter into our lives.

Little Zee.

Since Baxter has been with us for nearly four months now, his chapter is becoming more significant every day. It has only been since fostering him that I have updated this blog five days a week, spending almost every evening working on entries. It’s been only since him that I’ve gained such an incredible following, met many wonderful people, and gotten so much touching feedback about what I do. Baxter has changed so many things in my life, but the impact he has had on this blog is immeasurable.

Sometimes it seems difficult to get my posts written, or I stay up late editing pictures, or my evenings are a little more crammed – but it is all worth it. At exactly six months and one week, I feel like I am finally getting the hang of it.  I love photographing my dogs (though that is still something I really need to work on), I love documenting my journey with them, and I LOVE sharing it with all of you.  I wouldn’t trade this for the world, so thank you for being here with me as I figure it all out! You all are the best part of this experience (along with the doggies of course : -) ).


Pittie Trails First Walk!

You all had some really great guesses about what the two pictures in yesterday’s post had in common. The answer? They were both from the first ever Pittie Trails hike!

We had a great, great time! There were nine dogs total who came out to Rachel Carson Conservation Park last weekend. From the top left: Baxter, Lily, Athena, Reese (with the backpack), Cotton (gray & white), Nelly, Penny (pink collar), Stella, and McMuffin (who is for adoption!).

All of them were extremely well behaved, even while working on different manners.

Seeing all the dogs walking together really demonstrated how valuable things like this can be. It exposes the dogs to other dogs in a safe and controlled group, while also adding in distractions. Sometimes the distractions are far from anything they’d ever come across otherwise, like:

A horse! We came across very few other people on the trail, but one of which was this pair.

The poor horse “doesn’t like dogs” according to the rider, and you can imagine what we expected the dogs to think about the horse. Luckily, though, we were on a spot on the trail that everyone could get far off the path (which they did quickly and quietly because everyone was so awesome!). The horse snorted and pranced by us, visibly unhappy but tolerant. The dogs all did great, except I think for Athena who sent out a few barks expressing the way she felt – understandably!

Other than that, it was nothing but woods, creeks, and fields. The weather was perfect, and I think a good time was had by all! The trail was a little short, so I think a few dogs ended up energy to spare – but we are really excited to start branching out to new locations after we get the group going. Hopefully we can get to an area by everyone who wants to join.

Thanks so much to everyone who came out for the first hike!

We don’t have the next one scheduled yet, but stay tuned to the Pittie Trails Facebook page for the coming schedule. Also, check out the Facebook page in the next few days to see the photo album of all the pictures from this trip. Email pittietrails@gmail.com if you have any questions about coming on hikes with us – we’d love to have you.

What a great afternoon!

For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.