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Pit Bulls

Montreal’s Ban Against Pit Bulls Leaves Me Wondering One Thing

Good morning lovely readers.

I hope you’re doing well.  I hope you’re doing better than the dog lovers in Montreal.

For those who may not know, October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month and I was hoping to start the month off by sharing a few fun and easy ways to advocate for our pit bulls.  On Tuesday, however, Montreal passed a ban against all ‘pit bulls’ and my heart – heavy with sadness, disappointment, and frustration – feels the urge to ask many questions but this one keeps popping up in my head: What Exactly is a Pit Bull, Anyway?

And why are these dogs being banned?  And why does this specific legislation not allow the remaining pit bulls in local shelters to be adopted to areas that haven’t banned them?  And, most importantly, why do the dogs who don’t have owners the day the legislation passed have to be euthanized?!

A death sentence for many, many dogs because they are simply considered a ‘pit bull’.  

Which brings me back to my original question…

What exactly is a pit bull, anyway?  

Is it the mean looking, blocky headed, solidly built dog that society has come to fear?  A type of terrier that’s known for mauling anything in its way?  Or an inherently dangerous dog that should be banned to keep communities safe?  

Or is it a dog whose head is so big he must rest it on you at all times?  A type of terrier who rolls around in the grass, giving you that upside down alligator smile?  Or an inherently affectionate dog that can’t go a day without cuddling?

It’s funny that for as much as I advocate for this breed, pit bulls aren’t actually even a breed.  The phrase ‘pit bull’ is really just an umbrella term that covers a broad range of dogs that look somewhat similar.  And a lot of the time, these somewhat similarly looking dogs aren’t, in fact, pit bulls.  The American Bulldog, Boxer, Presa Canario, Cane Corso, and Mastiffs are often misidentified as pits.  That alone proves how unreliable, unfair, and incredibly dangerous breed specific legislation is.    

Unfortunately, with a 37 to 23 vote in favor of the ban, the majority of Montreal legislators don’t agree.  Even the mayor himself, Denis Coderre, told reporters, “I have a responsibility as the mayor of Montreal to protect the citizens.”

Again, leading me back to wonder what exactly a pit bull is in the first place.  And do the legislators of Montreal even care to find out?  

Because I know what one is.   

And chances are if you’re reading this, you probably do too.  And so do the millions of people who love or have once loved a pit bull.  Just this week I started bringing Romeo to the bus stop to get Christian off the bus, and a grandma of one of Christian’s friends got to meet him.  She was completely unsure of him the first day.  She mentioned how scary he looks.  How big his bark is.  How he appears to be such a handful.  

By day two, as Rome laid like a little frog in the grass, she couldn’t stop telling me what a good boy he was.  

She got to know a pit bull.

The Truth Is…

Some pit bulls have attacked, yes.  Some pit bulls have killed, yes.  And yes, all the rehabilitation in the world may never save that one dog because they’re too far gone.  These are all true.  But this is not specific to one breed.  This is especially not specific to any dog that has a big, blocky head and muscular build.  Breed specific laws don’t address the root of the problems.  They don’t penalize bad owners.  They don’t promote healthy, happy, and responsible relationships with dogs.  

They are based out of fear and ignorance.  And sadly, many well-adjusted, happy, healthy dogs will lose their life because of it.  BSL doesn’t work.  I encourage you to look at some of the ways you can help below.  As disappointing as this week has been, I am confident that if we rally together we can make a difference.

Ways You Can Help:

  • Sign & share the petition against the city and Mayor of Montreal: SIGN PETITION HERE.
  • The Dodo has a very informative article regarding the details of the ban, share on social media to spread awareness of what is really going on:  THE DODO’S ARTICLE.
  • Maybe you’re on the fence and think BSL isn’t so bad…read and continue to educate yourself (and others) by checking out StopBSL.org: WHAT EXACTLY IS BSL?  And, WHY BSL DOESN’T WORK.
  • Continue to share pictures and stories of your own pit bull or pit bulls you know

Please be their voice.  They need us more than ever right now.

romie

life lessons thanks to my dogs, Pit Bulls

The Shape of His Head Does Not Determine The Size of My Dog’s Heart

size of my dog's heart

There I was, in the Wal-Mart parking lot, sitting quietly in my car.  Seventy pounds of gorgeousness sat next to me in the passenger seat.  His body curled up into a ball, eyes closed, faintly snoring.  We had just finished a hike.  Something we do pretty regularly, as Cleveland has some of the most gorgeous trails around, and each time I prepare to either be warmly welcomed by fellow hikers, or have to politely smile while dirty looks and rude comments are thrown our way.

On this particular day, the latter happened.  It’s nothing new at this point, and each time I try to be understanding that some people just might not like big dogs.  Maybe they’ve had a bad experience, or their mom’s neighbor had a mean dog, or hey, they just might not like dogs in general, big or small.

Either way, I usually nod my head and keep going.  This day, however, has stuck with me since it happened.  The exact words from this father’s mouth, in front of his two small children and wife, as he nearly sprinted away from us, was this:  “That dog ain’t killing my family!  He isn’t coming anywhere near us!”

size of my dog's heart

And that’s exactly what happened because Romeo, who is a pretty muscular guy, was quietly sitting on the opposite side of me when our path crossed this family’s.  The man bolted away and I was left standing there, looking down at this dog who didn’t seem like a dog anymore because he was part of my family, realizing how ignorant the world actually is and trying to understand discrimination at its finest.  I have a feeling if Romeo could talk he would tell me not to care and that it wasn’t worth getting upset over, but I do care and I was upset.

Well, we kept on our adventure for the day and ended up at Wal-Mart because I needed some eggs.  I sat there, listening to Romeo snore, and was reflecting not only on the day, but also the year.  A year ago, I had no idea who he was or who I had become.  Both of us lived very different lives than the ones we live now, and I felt more than gratitude welling up. 

Maybe it was that guy’s comment that really sent me over the edge, but I remember hearing the first few notes of one of my favorite songs — Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah — and tears formed in my eyes.  I sat there quietly looking out my window, and before any rolled down my cheeks, this wonderful guy came and sat on my lap.  There we squeezed into the tiny space between the steering wheel and my seat, together.  His head resting on my shoulder, mine on his.  While my arms draped around his body the tears came, landing on his beautiful steel grey coat.  

I felt loved.

size of my dog's heart

He’s a dog, just a dog, and a pit bull at that, but I love him.  And I have a dream that one day people will be able to see him, and dogs just like him, the way I do, and the way millions of other pit bull owners do.  

I’ve learned more about prejudice and discrimination in the last 10 months of my life than ever before.  It’s not the color of your skin, the slant of your eyes, the sound of your voice, or the shape of your head that determines who you are.  And the truth is we’re all capable of a hurting someone tremendously.  But we’re also all capable of loving someone tremendously.  We’re capable of helping, healing, and accepting someone.  Pit bulls are no different.

When we discriminate against any certain type of person or dog, specifically pit bulls, we are moving in the wrong direction.  With every nasty comment, abusive action, and ban put on these dogs, we are all taking steps backwards, and it’s my hope that one day we can stop.  It is my dream, and the dream of many, that these dogs will one day be greeted with love and wonder, rather than fear and hatred.  And that they will get the chance to share a love that exists purely because it just does. 

It doesn’t take much to fall in love with them.  They sweep in, claim a little piece of your heart, and change you forever.  You will wonder how you ever really lived before, and you will fight to show the rest of the world that something as silly as the shape of their head does not, cannot, and will not ever determine just how much they can love.  And to judge them solely based on that is a mistake.  

Had you asked me a year ago if I thought it was possible to feel the most genuine kind of love from a seventy pound pit bull, while sitting in my parked car with tears in my eyes because of a past I wasn’t happy with, I would have probably told you no.  But I would have been very wrong, and how amazing would this world be if we could all be proven wrong about something like that.

size of my dog's heart