Dare We Hope?

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.

 

2 Comments

  1. Great post! I agree wholeheartedly with your statements.
    I would like to clarify one detail. The ban on the 3 breeds and anything “ss” (substantially similar) was an amendment to DOLA (Dog Owners Liability Act). DOLA has been in place since the late 1800's. The act itself is really not the problem, what the problem is now is the amendment needs to be removed from the act by overturning it (which is what we are arguing in court). People and domestic animals need good laws to protect them from sub standard owners of ALL breeds and types of dogs.
    The problem that has existed for years, and is still an age old problem is enforcement.
    DOLA was so rarely used or in some cases I think not even known about by animal control of municipalities. It was never used in the huge majority of cases. I am being cautious with that statement because I do not know of a case where DOLA was ever used but I may be wrong. I do like to be truthful with what I put out there.
    DOLA is a provincial law. Municipalities have their own pet bylaws which are more commonly used to take sub standard owners to task.
    Unfortunately now the ban has become a witch hunt tool for some animal control officers and municipalities to use as they “see fit” or worse they may freely add to it without permission. That is right, they have every right to add breeds at their leisure.
    The reason I wanted to explain this since it really doesn't have a lot to do with the content of your post, but I know some people are worried to hop on board behind us even though they don't agree with the ban because it is discrimination. They worry that there will be no protection for the public and domestic animals and this just isn't true at all. We have nowhere to go but up from here! Or rather once we win our case. (Sorry I have had my mind wrapped around post ban for a long time now.)
    Once we overturn the amendment to DOLA (which is the ban) DOLA will be restored to its original state. It may still be used to protect people and municipal bylaws will still stand. Municipalities will be forced to remove breed specific legislation from their bylaws once the precedence is set at a provincial level since provincial overrules municipal etc.
    The reason we stand so firmly behind the model Calgary has created with the Responsible Pet Ownership bylaw is because it is a proven winner with no discrimination. It takes sub standard owners to task but does not punish the people who are compliant good dog owners. We would love to see an across the board, fair legislation put in place provincially.
    I had a dream, that I could move anywhere I want in this beautiful, great province, country of ours and be accepted based on my actions and responsibility of dog ownership. Not be discriminated upon based on the shape, breed or crossbreed of my dog. Not be thrown out of a town, city, neighborhood, apartment or housing because of the type of dog I own.
    I dream that one day we can put this bull**** to rest and get on with our lives cause dog bites and attacks of any shape or breed were NEVER an issue in the first place! The media just led some to believe that based on there is no truth in journalism and propaganda sells news. The governments have used it as a tool to set a precedence for other areas of interest they wanted, and capitalized on it. They should be eternally ashamed of themselves, but they have a hell of a lot to answer for! Throwing innocent citizens like dog owners under the bus is a disgrace beyond comprehension, but I assure you we are not alone.
    I had a dream, citizens of this province/country would band together to hold the government accountable for the careless and irresponsible governing tactics in passing legislation that discriminates against innocent people instead of implementing enforcement of existing laws and tweaking what already exists. We are the government people! We put them there.
    We have witnessed a banding of dog owners which is what you refer to in your post. The ball is in motion. We worked hard to get it moving and fought a lot of tough obstacles but it is moving and we intend to keep it going in a forward direction. Look the hell out Fiberals!

  2. Thanks Lori, right you are about the ammendment, and before it municipalities did their own thing. I would love to see banning by breed ruled unconstitutional so that all of the municipal laws containing that would have to be changed. I am so happy to see this 'ball rolling' as you put it!

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