It’s NOT a Pit Bull Problem

This blog has played many roles over the last year and a half I’ve been writing for it. It started as a way to share my fosters with the world, and now, during my fostering break, it includes stories about my own experiences in sheltering, my progress as an amateur photographer, stuff I learn about dog behavior and much more.  It’s pretty well-rounded in terms of what kind of information I like to cover (in my opinion, at least?).

Someone once said to me, “When I listen to you and your pit bull friends talk about dog stuff I feel like I can’t relate to anything you’re saying,” implying that for some reason we talk about special issues relating to just pit bulls and that they, even as a dog owner, couldn’t relate. At first I stopped dead in my tracks and I thought to myself, “Crap, do I do that? Do I alienate myself from the rest of dog owners because of my love for pit bulls?”

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized very little on this blog or what I focus on in my dog work and volunteering relates specifically just to pit bulls.  The more I considered what issues really matter to me, the more I realized they really don’t have anything to do with pit bulls at all.

When deciding what topics I’ve become hypersensitive about, I came up with the following: dog behavior, being able to communicate effectively with your dog, canine body language, enrichment, dog parks and play groups, keeping a dog happy and comfortable in a shelter, positive training methods, breed discrimination, keeping animals out of shelters, helping pet owners be the best they can be, preventing animal abuse and marketing adoptable animals  – among other things.

All of those items I listed can be applied to any and all dogs. They’re dog issues, not pit bull issues. In the same way that you can apply them to any other dog, I sometimes speak about them in the context of my “pit bull” fosters or pit bulls I know at the shelter – but I would do the same if I happened to spend a lot of time with spaniels or huskies or MUTTS.

On that note, yes – I do have a very soft spot for dogs labeled as “pit bulls.”  Therefore, I do surround myself with them and groups of people who also like them. When we’re together we talk about many of the topics I listed above. Sometimes specifically having to do with our dogs, and sometimes just in the context of all dogs.

I do hope this blog shows “pit bull” dogs in a positive light and maybe even changes some minds about them. But I think (hope) that almost happens naturally as people read my posts and realize that while yes, the dog I’m writing about happens to be labeled a pit bull, it is also just a dog living with a family doing family dog sort of things.  I don’t want to be on here pointing out every negative stereotype about pit bulls and then trying to disprove them because I feel like my dogs speak for themselves through their photos and their stories and their personalities. No two of them have been the same, despite their matching “breed” label – probably because they’re all just DOGS.

pitbullcollage


You’re Invited!

I have some exciting news! So exciting, in fact, that Otis wants to shout it out and make sure everyone hears about it.

Animal Farm Foundation, one of my favorite organizations dedicated to equality for pit bull type dogs, is going to be in Maryland this week giving free seminars to anyone who wants to listen! Sounds too good to be true, right?  See for yourself:

I don’t know about you, but I am really interested to see what these folks have to say.  In light of the recent court ruling that’s got everyone wondering “W-T-F do we do now?”, I invite you to come to this seminar to learn about the great topics AFF has planned regarding “pit bull” dogs (see flyer). If you are able to attend the Gaithersburg edition where I’ll be, make sure you say hi!

Otis thinks that you should go and hopes that you have a great time.

He also wants to remind you that if you know anyone interested in his devastatingly handsome smile, to let me know.

For more information on adopting Honey Bunches of Otis, go to his Adopt Me page to learn more about him and how to get in touch.


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.