Cautiously optimistic. That's how I feel today about how things are going. Why? In the past month a few things have happened that might lead one to believe that the “court of public opinion” may not be a lost cause. The recent support shown for our cause and some positive media coverage of the issue gives me hope.
First, the phenomenal response to the Dollars for Dogs fund raising campaign. The campaign was so successful it brought tears to the eyes of many DLCC members. What stood out from that campaign was not just the amount raised and the sheer number of donors, which was absolutely incredible, but also that the donations came from such a broad spectrum of people, owning many different breeds of dogs and even cat fanciers. At times over the past few years, I have wondered if all dog owners understood that this isn't about one or two or three breeds (or as it happens a fictional breed), but about the right to have any dog. The Dollars for Dogs campaign showed me that the dog owners and breed fanciers in Canada and all over the world get it: They understand that
DOLA I have struck out DOLA and changed this wording because Lori is correct: Technically it's the amendment to DOLA that needs to be defeated, not the original Act. the “pit bull” ban needs to be defeated for the sake of all dogs and dog owners. It's not about the breed.
Second, there is this editorial in the Mississauga News. Here is the last sentence:
The Province must rectify the situation before other Ontario residents find themselves in the same mess as Truong and Nowakowska, and before other innocent animals are needlessly put to death because of their bloodlines.
It is a great editorial and points out the flaws in
DOLA the “pit bull” ban It has not been easy to get news coverage like this.
Third, there is the article on Michael Vick's dogs in the Toronto Sun. While the article does contain some errors as pointed out in Lori's post, overall it is a good article. Here are some excerpts, I'm including quite a few because they are important:
Often, the media gets it wrong,” says Michelle Besmehn, the dog care manager at Best Friends, who acknowledges that part of the Vick project is to restore the reputation of the American Pit Bull Terrier.
“They’ll say a person was mauled by a pit bull, and it’s not a pit bull, it’s a Mastiff or something else,” she said. “It’s frustrating because they get a bad rap, and it’s based on a general misconception.”
This is true. Dog breeds are regularly misidentified. They are misidentified by witnesses, which is ALMOST forgivable since they might not be well versed in breed identification, but all too often they are even misidentified by people who should know better but don't, those who work in Animal Control.
The Bad Newz dogs lived terrible lives, chained in dark, dank basements, electrocuted if they didn’t produce. The ones treated the best earned that treatment because they could fight and win. Some, like Little Red, had their teeth filed down so they could be used as “bait dogs” to spar with the champions without hurting them.
And yet the majority of these dogs have been rehabilitated. That should be a testament to the fact that the vast majority of dog problems in society can be directly attributed to the owners and the way the dog is raised and kept.
When Vick’s dogs were first seized, the courts received advice from People for Ethical Treatment of Animals and other humane societies, which said the animals should be euthanized because their chances of living normal lives outside a shelter or sanctuary were minimal.
Well, that isn't surprising is it? It's in keeping with past record, with PETA in 2006 euthanizing 2981 animals and adopting 12. Best Friends is proving PETA wrong. Good for them.
“The way I personally present the dogs is, ‘They’re dogs,”’ Garcia said. “It’s not necessarily a specific breed, per se. It would be nice to get some specific definition of what truly is an American Pit Bull Terrier and not just a ‘pit bull.’ If people got away from the ‘pit bull’ thing, it would be a lot easier.”
Exactly, and these dogs are bouncing back now. They are all being prepared for the Canine Good Citizen test.
Returning to my original point, the breeds targeted by BSL are being presented in the media in a more positive light than in the past. Other examples are a similar story on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Rachel Ray on the cover of Modern Dog with her “pit bull”. Our own Tammy St. Louis being interviewed for Northern Life about the Dollars for Dogs Campaign, with video of Tammy and her dogs.
All of these things have been improvements from what has happened in the past. They demonstrate that perhaps the tide is turning in terms of the public image of the “pit bull” ban. We can only hope. I am cautiously optimistic.