Pit Bulls and my latest epiphany

21 11 2012

I don’t know about you but sometimes I can get really involved in my assumptions or perceptions of the way things are. Those who know me know that I’m a huge animal lover, always have been, always will be. I took on the Pit Bull mission four years ago when I purchased my first Pit Bull dog. I knew nothing about the breed, negative nor positive, but have since bought and read as many books as I could (and still do) regarding this specific breed as well as dogs in general. At first, I was an irresponsible owner. I’m not going to beat myself up over anything (although I do from time to time) because we live and we learn and we do this at our own individual pace. I didn’t have all of the knowledge back when I first adopted my Pit girl and I didn’t make all the right decisions. The fact that I wanted to learn and wanted to change and make a positive difference makes me proud of myself. I’m not going to pat myself on the back though, I’m going to continue to learn and try to do the right thing.

A month ago if you asked me what I thought about breeding Pit Bulls, my blood pressure would rise along with my excessive heartbeats and I would confidently say I felt we should put a hold on breeding Pit Bulls. Why? Because there is an overpopulation of them, shelters consist of 80% or more of Pit Bull or Pit Bull type dogs, and thousands of them are dying each year because of this. Breeding them just didn’t make sense to me. I want the killing of Pit Bulls to end. Let’s just stop for a short time and regain control over this breed I would say. Since I’m a lover of Pits, and animals, it actually depresses me to see how many of them are “put down”. 

Thanks to Facebook, I’m able to connect and learn more from other Pit Bull owners and lovers all over the world. This one particular page seemed really cool, highlighting the breed and opening the doors to conversations between people in my town. The one thing that would bother me though was that so many people on this page were breeding their dogs (whether they had papers I don’t know, some I think did, some did not) and then trying to sell these pups and then later on some of the same people are sad and upset because they have to give up their beloved dog for one reason or another and seem desperate to find the dog a home or else… I don’t know where their dogs will end up. My guess is the local shelter. The same shelter that kills Pit Bulls within days of arriving without giving them the chance or exposure to find a “forever home” or being adopted or rescued.

After one Facebook argument I had on this page I was sick of these people on here and what I felt like was their ignorance. They were oblivious as to what was going on in the real world around them. I stuck with the page because of a couple reasons. One, was that I wanted to monitor and make sure nothing illegal was going on like dog fighting. I felt like I was this undercover spy. As long as I kept my opinions to myself, nobody would suspect what I was really doing on this page. Secondly, there were some people on here that really loved their Pit Bulls but had different lifestyles, which made me curious. They entered them into shows and competitions based on their physique, their agility, and their talents and skills. I’ve seen the dog shows on tv and I know there is a lifestyle such as this and it’s not wrong to society. So why should it be wrong to me?

I continued on with my opinions (keeping them to myself while on this page) but voicing them on my own Pit Bull page, blog, and to anybody wanting to listen. The other day I was reading another argument that somebody was having with the owner of that page expressing similar thoughts and emotions that I myself possess. As I continued to read I found myself learning something new. I’m not saying I’m in agreement at all with the page owner and his way of thinking. He made a clear point that I had never realized until now.

He bred Pit Bulls. He had papers and knew the bloodlines of both the mom and the dad. So he knew the mom and dad of the bitch and the mom and dad of the stud. It was like a family tree of Pit Bulls. This didn’t seem irresponsible to me. It sounded like he’s done some research and legwork into understanding his dogs. He bred healthy, championship dogs. He argued with the passionate shelter worker/dog rescue lady that his dogs were well taken care of and placed in good homes with other people like him who would pay a nice penny for his puppies and liked to show off their dog, compete them or just have expensive animals. At that moment I realized he wasn’t any different than the Yorkie breeder or the Golden Retriever breeder. Nobody is arguing with these people trying to get them to stop breeding their dogs.

Pit Bulls do have a negative reputation. Yes, some days it seems like it’s getting better but still there is so much going against them and even the people who own them. People that breed them don’t stand a chance to avoid scrutiny. This page owner stated the difference between himself and the people that breed mixed versions of Pit Bulls, also known as backyard breeders. He wouldn’t adopt from a shelter because he felt those dogs were improperly bred and sick with issues that cause problems. He wanted to know exactly where his dog came from and that’s when I also realized that there are people like that out there who want the same. The rescue lady tried to get the facts through to him, that she encounters hundreds of dogs that don’t make it out of the shelters, most of them Pits. Her heart is heavy with sadness because she loves the dogs, just like this other guy, but she has a heart for the underdog; the sad and depressed shelter dog just wanting to be loved. Her cause is different than this breeder’s cause.

Animal ID A228074_Room#:WD33 – 3 year old white male Pit Bull located in Orange Country Animal Services in Orlando, Florida. Available for adoption!

There are many people out there that want to adopt a dog and don’t care where they came from. Most behavioral issues can be easily fixed and help is out there more than ever. They want to bring this furry dog into their home and make them part of their family. That’s extremely noble and kind-hearted. That’s where I would put myself if I were to categorize. Maybe it’s because I was adopted as a baby and my parents had no idea what to expect from me. They had no idea what issues lurked inside me but they brought me home and into their family and never made me feel different or unwanted.

Then there are people who want to pay big bucks to buy a dog from a reputable breeder (hopefully). I could never see myself spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a dog, but that’s me. Just because I wouldn’t, doesn’t mean it’s wrong for others to do so. It’s not my place to judge.

The only problem I have now with this page owner is that although he is kind of contributing to the problem, indirectly, he seems oblivious to other important issues regarding this breed. He’s in the position where he could help out a lot with educating people and helping the cause but what he’s concerned with more is breeding awesome dogs and making some money off them (through selling the pups or showing his dogs in competitions). We can’t force anybody to do what we feel is the right thing. Our hearts break every time a dog is euthanized but this page owner isn’t concerned with what he feels are weak mixes of the breed. He wouldn’t even compare his dog to one from a shelter. I want to explain my comment that this guy indirectly contributes to the problem. The people that are interested in his puppies would never rescue a dog from a shelter. They want the same thing this guy wants, a good, solid bloodline. There is less chance of medical and behavior issues if you know your dog like they know theirs.

So I wouldn’t approach the argument by telling him to stop breeding as long as he’s doing it appropriately but rather ask for his help to stop other types of improper breeding rather than ignoring the problem. Some people just don’t care about what goes on in the world as long as it isn’t happening to them or involving them in any way. Personally, I don’t feel this is the right way to roam the earth. I enjoy helping people and animals. I love seeing dogs finding loving homes just like I love seeing children finding loving homes.

I know that we don’t always learn about things until they directly affect us. Why would you care about BSL if you own a Poodle, Beagle or Labrador Retriever? Why would you care at all about the agony and struggle Pit Bull owners go through on a day to day? Maybe you don’t have to if you own a Border Collie, Maltese or a Chihuahua. But this page owner owns and breeds Pit Bulls. BSL and breed discrimination can and will affect him. When he moves to a new place or his town decides that they want to ban all Pit Bulls maybe then he’ll take a stand and fight for what we are all fighting against; Irresponsible breeders, irresponsible owners and breed discrimination.

What I discovered with reading this argument was that both sides love Pit Bulls. Both sides want to enjoy life with their dogs without worrying about discriminating laws, negative attitudes, and false myths hyped by social media. We all want to be happy. There is no reason to stop breeding Pit Bulls in the proper way. After all, we don’t want them to become extinct. But we do want to put an end to irresponsible owners and irresponsible breeding. There are plenty of dogs in the shelters looking for good homes and have good bloodlines. Bloodlines as good as any backyard breeder can provide. The fight needs to focus on eliminating these types of breeders and we can do this by creating harsher laws and consequences that will prevent this from happening again.

Fighting for this cause will not hurt the page owner if he is following the laws of breeding which I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is. There needs to be a common ground of understanding and respect for this to play out right. Joining forces, both sides (pro-breeder and anti-breeders) can work together to eliminate the “real” problem and come to a happy compromise. The anti-breeder lady is not in the right by trying to convince this guy to change his ways and place the guilt of thousands of killed Pit Bulls on his conscious. Nor is the pro-breeding page owner right for ignoring the truth as to what’s going on and not offering any assistance with fixing the problem when he benefits greatly from indirectly helping it.

Both sides are passionate, good and right. What it comes down to is money, ignorance, how blind to the world you want to be, and how close-minded you’re going to remain when in fact these same problems that rescue groups and individual animal lovers are fighting for do indeed affect you. I’m not saying the pro-breeder should to take up a new cause, (even though he will be thankful when he doesn’t have to worry about laws interfering with his business; i.e. banning Pit Bulls means no more breeding Pit Bulls) but as the dedicated rescuers know, all it takes is a little bit of effort from everybody to eradicate the problem.

Backyard breeders and irresponsible owners lead the way to an overpopulation of unwanted Pit Bulls, some of which have medical and behavior issues due to their unknown, cross-bred heritage due to improper breeding. Behavior issues and irresponsible ownership of Pit Bulls leads to human and animal injuries/fatalities. Human and animal injuries and fatalities, mixed with skewed media coverage and false myths, leads to the banning of the breed or BSL. Therefore backyard breeders and irresponsible Pit Bull owners lead to the deaths of thousands of dogs, excessive government and taxpayer expenses, and the discrimination and legalized banning of Pit Bulls. 

Seems pretty clear to me. We need more education, training, awareness, and some positive reinforcement. Let the pro-breeder’s champion dog be a mascot for eliminating backyard breeders. Maybe he can even make some money off endorsements. I say, whatever it takes, because we all want the same thing. It’s not about who has the bigger, badass dog or about who is right and wrong with how they choose to live their life. It’s about doingwhat’s right and not discriminating any person or any breed of dog. Punish the ones responsible for causing the problem and leave the others alone. Let’s focus on eliminating the source of the problem while we work on educating the world about the truths of the Pit Bull.





Changing the World One Blog at a Time

7 02 2012

One person can’t save the world right? Or maybe they can.

I involve myself in the dog rescue world because I have always had a big heart for animals and I love making positive differences. It’s sad and upsetting to hear stories on a day-to-day basis about a dog owner surrendering their furry family member of some crazy number of years because of one thing or another.

I’m not one to judge but what happened to following through with the decisions you make?

You wanted a family dog, you got one, you played with him for years, you fed him, you let him sleep in your bed at times, you made him a part of your family, you made him believe he was safe and loved and now times are tough…

…There’s not enough money to be made to continue your lifestyle, the dog’s sick and you foresee huge vet bills, you have to relocate but you can’t take the dog, you don’t have the time anymore to take care of it….

 

I’m sorry but that’s bullshit.

I firmly believe that where there is a will, there is a way. Can’t remember where I’ve heard that before but it’s perfectly true.

This is my response.

Make yourself a new budget, plan ahead and get pet insurance, put some money aside for these unforeseen circumstances, change your plans or lifestyle a little to incorporate your furry family member, make time for the important things, follow through and take care of the responsibilities you took on rather than pawning them off on somebody else. Stop putting your wants and needs in front of everything else.

I had no idea the amount of responsibilities I took on when adopting my first dog. I was still in college and working full time. I learned the hard way but I learned. I had help at times but I always strived to take care of my own things and would work hard at getting back in balance.

And I did.

Not to say I wouldn’t be thrown off course again but I just get back up and move forward with my goals. Leaving my dog behind though, wasn’t an option to me.

Looking back I see some of the things I could have done better, better choices I could have made. I remember many times looking for an apartment within my budget that allows big dogs and hitting one dead end after another. The thought of how much easier this apartment search would be if I didn’t have a dog did come across my mind.

Easier is the key word here. And the apartment search would have been.

But I fell in love with this dog, and I made her a part of my family and to choose the easy way over the unconditional love this animal gave me would be a mistake I would live to regret for the rest of my life.

Not only would I fail and pass on my burdens to someone else, I would fail because the other options didn’t favor my immediate gratifications. I would fail because the other options weren’t in my comfort zone and I can’t think outside that box. I don’t know how anybody can justify doing that.

Did you really exhaust ALL of your options?

Maybe bringing the dog with you on your cross-country move would be extremely difficult. Maybe it would mean you would take longer to get to your destination or maybe it means you’ll have to live in a different city close by the one you originally wanted to live in. Maybe it would cost a little more. Maybe it would require more planning on your part which takes up more of your time.

These reasons don’t seem impossible to overcome. They don’t sound like life-threatening, doomsday, can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel type of corners you think you’ve backed yourself up into. If there is a will, there’s another answer other than wiping your hands clean of what you now call a problem when you used to call him your dog.

I’m thankful to all of the people out there who own up to their responsibilities, for better or for worse, and stick through it. I’m thankful to those who lend a helping hand to people and animals that need it in tough times or just in general. I’m thankful that there are people out there that don’t mind taking on more than their fair share in order to save the lives of these dogs.

If we all just did our part, and it’s really not that big of a part, then this world would be such a different place. One to be proud of.

Which makes me come back to whether or not one person can save the world. My answer is absolutely! One person at a time.





Vampires and Breed Discrimination

11 10 2011

On this particular Tuesday, I was enjoying my morning walk with the dogs like I usually do. Having what some people may call “aggressive” breeds I make sure to take the extra steps with understanding and training them. I spend hours every day exercising, disciplining, and teaching them proper behaviors. You’ll find many books from Dog Psychology to Breed Specific literature on my bookshelves because I know the important key is for me to be properly trained if I am to have well behaved dogs.

As we walked on the sidewalk back in the direction to my house we passed people jogging, walking their own dogs, and riding bikes. Nothing out of the ordinary. I’m used to around 50% of the people out and about to be nervous when they see me approaching them with a German Shepard on one side and a Pit Bull on the other. After all, they have no idea what I’m teaching these animals and how they’ve been raised. They just know what they’ve heard through the grapevine and through biased media reports.

I don’t get offended… when the lady jumps up on a cement wall and lets out a screech as we approach her. The leashes are short, each with a little less than an arms reach worth of give which is supposed to ensure people that I have these dogs under control. That and the fact that they are walking beside me paying that lady no mind at all. I observe this lady’s crazy behavior and chuckle as we walk on by.

I don’t get offended… when people rush to pick up their small Maltese or Jack  Russell terrier while they ferociously bark at us as we pass by. (And my quiet,  calm-assertive dogs are supposed to be the big bad aggressors). Sure, they’re judging a book by its cover but that’s their prerogative. We always continue on our merry way.

Breed discrimination is out there. Human ignorance is out there too. Which leads me to discuss what does get under my skin. We all have our boiling points.

Today mine was an overweight, middle-aged man wearing a fluorescent yellow shirt riding a mountain bike down the road in the early morning hours. I don’t know how long he had been behind us as we were walking down the sidewalk. I didn’t hear him even approach us until he rode past on the street parallel to where we were walking. He turned his head and called out to me, “Hey!”

Focused on our path ahead, I snapped out of my concentration to politely give this stalker the time of day.

He then proceeded with, “If either of those dogs bite me, I’ll sue you.”

I looked around to see who he was threatening like that, out of the blue, with no good rhyme or reason. It turned out he was talking to me. My Pit Bull looked up at me and if she could talk I bet she would’ve said, “You want me to chase him, mom. Give him a little scare? Come on, it’ll be fun!”

I have never seen nor encountered this man before in my life. Neither have any of my dogs. They never barked at him, growled, lunged, or even glanced in his direction before he made himself known with his stupid comment. It was so out of the blue and non-deserving but for some reason, his retarded ass needed to be heard.

“That’s nice, but my dog’s aren’t the ones you should be concerned with about biting you,” I responded to the strange fat man. 

He looked at me with a scowl on his face and I smiled back at him. In an instant my teeth turned to vampire fangs and I flew at him with my super-speedy vampire skills piercing the flesh on his neck. His screams drowned out by the dog’s barking and when I was through feeding, which was a good minute due to his weight issues, I left his limp body on the side of the road next to his bike.

Moral of the story… Don’t judge a book by its cover. You never know who’s a vampire!