Educating not Discriminating
Dog Legislation Education (DLE) is for anyone on either side of the Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) fence. I wanted to provide a place where you can ask questions that otherwise might spark debate. This is not meant to be a place to argue the issues, but to help people understand why dogs bite, who's really responsible, and what types of legislation have proven successful in protecting the public and punishing human offenders. Anyone commenting on the blog will be removed from the group for being insensitive. My main focus will be for citizens of Springfield, Mo as the Animal Issues Task Force (AITF) has proposed new legislation, policies, programs to City Council. Because these proposals could help improve the safety of citizens anywhere, the blog is open to anyone.
The Root of Fear is Ignorance.
The one thing I have learned over the years, is that most people who have a problem with a specific breed of dog either had one bad experience or heard bad stuff on the news. Humans are allowed to be afraid...I'm afraid of spiders, hopefully no one faults me for that! What I hope to accomplish with this blog is to help Pit Bull and other Power Breed owners to understand that some people don't know any better than to be afraid. As dog owners we have to take our time and show the public that no one breed stands alone with behavioral issues. I hope to not only educate people who don't know the blessings our dogs bring, but also help educate people who may not know what is appropriate behavior for them and their dog. Though I don't believe Breed Specific Legislation is effective in educating the public, I do believe Potentially Dangerous Dog, Dangerous Dog, and Irresponsible Owner Legislation can not only educate, but improve public safety as well.
Please enjoy the blog, sign up for email updates, keep your filters on when commenting, and hopefully learn something new today.
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Friday, September 27, 2013

I Learned Something New

I always say that it's a good day if I have learned something new. Last week I came across something new to me, in the Pit Bull world, that opened my eyes to a whole new mentality. I'm not sure it made it a good day, but it made me a day smarter... I saw a news report about a dog attacking a child. It was very unfortunate and probably could have been prevented. Of course the dog had showed aggression in the past and he was running at large once again. I had never commented on one of these articles so I thought I would try it and see what would happen. I commented that the stock photo that they used was very inaccurate for a few reasons. They tried to say the dog had never shown aggression in the past...The picture was clearly a seasoned aggressive dog. Secondly, I commented that because the breed hadn't been officially determined, and I thought it was unfair to post a pic of a pit bull, further demonizing the breed, rather than a more objective photo.

Wow! Was I not ready for what happened next! I know there are people who are scared of pit bulls and even those that think all pit bulls and mixes should be euthanized to eradicate the breed, but I had NO idea that the people who think all pit bulls should die, regardless of temperament, were so violent in their beliefs! I got attacked and called a number of derogatory names. One person called me a murderer because I owned pit bulls that will "someday kill my family members". The people just kept commenting even when I wasn't commenting back. I just kept reading until I couldn't read anymore. It really opened my eyes... They sounded like white supremacists when they are ranting. Frankly, it upset my stomach.

What did I learn from these people violently opposed to the breed? I guess it goes back to my post on talking to a brick wall. The people were commenting in such a "vicious" way, there was no way they would hear reason. Why even fuel the fire so that they can get their comments up for the public to see? So I just walked away... I am so glad I surround my self with people who read studies, listen to behaviorists, and have experience that teaches them to judge the dog by temperament, not by a guess of a breed.

I may have left the conversation, but I decided to go ahead and research some of the people commenting. One of them turned out to be a woman, I have heard of in the past, who started a website after she was "attacked" by a Pit Bull. She eventually moved from her home town to a city half-way across the US because it was determined by Animal Control that...get this! She attacked the Pit Bull! Crazy right?  Apparently there was some proof that she grew up being told all Pits should die and it carried into her adult life. I couldn't imagine being a person that is never open to learning new things. Just because something is my culture, doesn't mean I push it onto other people in a vicious way. It's got to stress these people out to be so hateful. I know I felt less stressed when I turned off the computer. Geeze!

This is the situation that made up my mind about Pit Bulls and mixes...
Fifteen years ago I got my first Staffordshire Pit Bull. She was almost two and hadn't been socialized. When I asked my boyfriend why he hadn't socialized her he said it was because of where he was from, "If they liked people they would get stolen". Months later when she moved in with me and we did have a few stand offs... She sincerely thought the couch was hers and I shouldn't come in the room. It was not pretty. I spent weeks entering the room with treats and even got her a recliner just for her use. It only took me a few weeks to change her mind about me sitting on the couch. For the next few months I spent time teaching her that people entering the house and passing us on the street were mostly good. She was so eager and quick to learn, it started to make me wonder about all of the pit bulls I saw on chains at my friends houses over the years. "The root of fear is ignorance" and I was very ignorant back then.

The owners claimed they were breeding them or raising them for protection dogs. I remember one in particular. The older brother of a friend said we couldn't go next to the mama dog because she was trained to keep people off of the property. I didn't know much about life back then, but had been observing dog body language since I could remember (I was always a dork about dogs)... I really didn't think she had the body language of a dog that was going to chase someone off of the property. Maybe she'd scare them with just her musclebound looks or by licking them to death, but not because of aggression. I always listened though because I knew other breeds of dogs weren't always friendly to people other than their owners, except for the time I snuk back to pet puppies, but do as I say not as I do. Hehe

Back to my Staffie. She lived to be 9 years old and by the end of her life, everyone was a friend. I think this is a testimony of the great loyalty the American Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Pit Bulls. Missy was very loyal when she was taught to not like anyone but close family, and she was very loyal when she was shown that it was okay to like everyone.

Again I want to state that a Pit Bull's best attribute is also their worst attribute...LOYALTY. They want to make us happy and in turn are the ones chastised for doing what they are told.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Meeting Update

I'm sorry I didn't write about the AITF meeting sooner. I had to take some time off and focus on my health. Sometimes those of us who spend their lives doing rescue and raising kids forget to take some extra time for ourselves. So everyone pick a day this week, turn off your cell phone, and spend at least four hours doing something just for you...

The meeting on September 10th.
Mary Collette did a power point presentation showing the committee what the Task Force has been researching over the last year and a half. At the end of the presentation the City Council members and the committee members had a chance to ask questions. They focused on the need for a shelter and whether partnering with the Humane Society would be beneficial to the city, Humane Society, and taxpayers. City Councilman Doug Burlison asked the loaded question, "Is there too much animosity between Animal Control and the Humane Society of SW MO to try and build something as a team". Here is where I'm going to insert my opinion on the chocolate covered answers that were given to him...

I have had the chance to volunteer for both Animal Control and the HS of SW MO, and what I have found is A LOT of miscommunication. There are rescues that will work with one intentity that wont work for another, some for good reasons and some for very old and irrelevant reasons. There are MANY people holding ten year old grudges, and there are many people that have no clue the grudges are there. If anyone were to ask my opinion on the whole thing, I have two answers...

The politcally correct one...
We should all put grudges aside and work together since our goals are all similar and for the good of these animals that need our help. 

The unfiltered answer...
There are a lot of people currently unwilling to work together...That being said, there were even more unwilling to work together a year ago. I think forming the AITF brought key people face to face, in a controlled environment, and caused some of them to realize they agree on many things. Because I have volunteered for both Animal Control and The Humane Society I have heard some really downright mean things said. I think what all of the people currently working at AC and the HS don't realize is that some people have a really long history disagreeing with the other, and some key people have no clue there is so much animosity. Things have changed IMMENSELY at both AC and the HS over the last 3 years!!! Everyone needs to re-evaluate!!!

Was the BSL discussed?
The subject was presented in the overview, but the committee chose to start with the most important issue first... which was the new shelter. We have to get these dogs and people out of the disgusting conditions at our current shelter. It is a horrible place, and as much as I want the BSL gone... We have to think about the masses first.We have to have a better place to house dogs and cats so they wont be almost guaranteed to get so sick anymore.

I have been told the BSL will be a topic of discussion soon and I will be notified to be there when it begins. I will keep everyone up to date!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dog Bite Facts

I just wanted to throw out some references and information from some well respected people in the dog community. I have had some questions about what breed of dog bites the most and what breed of dog kills the most people... The answer is pretty simple.

There is no way to have a controlled study to determine what breeds bite more... 
People don't always report bites.
Small dogs can do less damage.
The bigger the dog, the bigger the possibility of damage needing medical attention.
Majority of dogs are of mixed breeds.

Want to know more about Dog Bite Fatalities? 
This is the most informational assessment I have come across...

Here are some quotes from well respected dog trainers, veterinarians, and behaviorists.

"...explanation lies in the fact that if a dog has not been taught how to function successfully in a domestic environment he will behave the only way he knows how".- Victoria Stillwell

"If I were asked to recommend a dog for a children's psychiatric ward, my first choice would be a Pit Bull".-Dr. Ian Dunbar

"Untrained dogs become the prisoners of their own behavior".-Carolyn Krause


"Create a functional relationship with your dog and family, not a dysfunctional relationship based on punishment".-Misti Fry

"Those of you who know me know that, when it comes to dogs, especially those accused of aggression toward humans... I am a realist, and know well that there are dogs that are dangerous....Yet I demand, from myself, two things: one, that I search for the total story behind an attack... and that secondly, every single dog gets a fair, fact-and observation-based evaluation, without presumption of guilt or innocence, and as free as I can make it from bias based on type or breed".-Jim Crosby

"Any dog will bite if pushed too far, and eliciting a bite does not necessarily mean that the dog is dangerous in general".-Nicole Wilde

"I believe all dogs should be judged according to their behavior not their breed."-Carrie Galvan

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Next meeting of the AITF will be on Sept 10th!!!

      The next meeting of the AITF will be on the 4th floor of the Bush Municipal Building at noon on September 10th.  As I explained in my last blog, they will do a power point presentation on their findings and answer questions from a few City Council members and other key members of a City Committee.

 PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! Don't go to any of the future meetings and make a scene!

      Read my first blog if you can...I was there for the City Council meeting in 2006...I strongly believe where we messed up was with all of the stories of how we love our pit bulls and how irate some people were. (I don't blame anyone, but I have learned a few things since then). I was going to speak, but I watched the City Council members and listened for hours before I realized, it didn't matter what we had to say, panic legislation was going to happen. The majority of City Council's mind was made up. They weren't even taking what area professionals had to say seriously. One speaker in particular is one of my mentors in life and I was shocked at the way he was treated by a certain city official. 
      The way I envision the meetings going this time would be professionals stating the facts...BSL does not work. Vicious dog legislation does work. Vicious bites may have gone down... but they are on the rise again. Why? My belief is because of the big uproar in Springfield in 2006. Public awareness was raised and everyone just chose a side without knowing the facts. We all put tighter reigns on our dogs no matter what breed. Everyone was listening to the city talk about the legislation, and frankly some of us didn't act very professional. I was upset too...I may have even had a few unprofessional moments myself...LOL 
      The task force has taken the time to research all of the facts. They have decided to take a whole city approach, not just fight one issue. We need a new shelter... We need to raise awareness and educate people...We need to punish people for not being responsible pet owners...We need to encourage spay and neuter in appropriate situations...We need to build a strong bond between citizens and Animal Control... And the list goes on. 


   In closing, if you are going to attend future meetings....Stay Calm...Be an expert for your cause and keep emotions out of it. Easier said than done, I know, but we have to play the game to get ahead. We have new elected officials this time around, lets show them how much we have learned.