BSL is BS

Baby Ernie, the first day I brought him home.

Baby Ernie, aged 5 weeks.

Ernie’s pictured in this post about BSL.

BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) is something I had never heard of before I owned pit bulls. And if I’m being honest, I don’t really remember if I had an opinion either way on pit bulls before Ernie. Sure, my friend had a pit mix (Dexter, who later came to live with me), but I don’t remember having a thought one way or the other about his breed. He was just a big, sweet dog with too-little ears who knew to stay on the porch. Oh, and he let us dress him up. But his canine older brother, Tucker (who was a retriever mix with regular-sized ears), had the same qualities and did the same things.

Baby Ernie (and a chubby Hemo)

Baby Ernie (and a very chubby Hemo)

I fell in love with Ernie when he was two days old; he looked like a little guinea pig. While I was waiting for him to be old enough to bring home, I bought a Pit Bulls for Dummies book and set about memorizing it before he came home.

Cement block-shaped head? Pump handle tail? Check and check. At the end of the book was a chapter on BSL and where it had been successfully challenged, and organizations to contact if you had any questions.

I filed it away, hoping to never have to give it a second thought.

A few months later, Ernie and I were in PetsMart getting an ID tag made at one of those “etched while you watch/wait” kiosks.  Ernie, a few months old at this point, was exhausted from the sheer amount of people, treats, and toys in the store, and was laying at my feet as we waited for his tag to be finished. A woman approached me, keeping a careful eye on Ernie, and asked me what type of dog he was.

Baby Ernie sits.

Do I look ferocious?

“He’s a pit bull,” I smiled at her.

She took a couple of big steps back.

“Oh – those dogs shouldn’t be allowed around people.”

My face flushed bright red with a mixture of anger, shame, frustration, and shock.  How do you even react to that, when the dog, nay, PUPPY, in question is laying at your feet? Does “I’m sorry you feel that way” even begin to cut it?

Then I moved to the small town of Romeo, MI.  A few months after moving there, my step-dad pointed out to me an article in the local paper which reported that the village was thinking about enacting BSL which would ban pit bulls and pit bull-type dogs within it’s borders. I went into full-on panic mode and turned to the “Resources” page of my Pit Bulls for Dummies book. I called about 5 numbers, left messages, and waited anxiously for a reply.  I got a call back from a group that had successfully defeated a pit bull ban in nearby Detroit, and they agreed to send a representative to the next council meeting.

I am not a public speaker, but I went to that meeting clutching pictures of Ernie and a few prepared words in my sweaty hands. Ernie, then 9 months old, was at home and although he obviously had no idea what was going on, I didn’t want to let him down. One of the village trustees described pit bulls as being  “merciless when they attack” and I almost lost it. Another Romeo resident held up pictures of a child mauled by a pit bull and advocated for their banishment. When it came time for me to take the floor, I was so nervous I had a hard time meeting the gaze of any of the attendees. Luckily I managed to stammer out a coherent sentence or two (thankfully quoted in an article in the Romeo Observer* or I never would have believed it actually happened) before sitting down.

Ernie and his cousin, Sadie

Ernie and his cousin, Sadie Lu, after a long day.

The motion was successfully defeated in favor of enacting a more general (and effective) dangerous dog ordinance. But the seed was planted, and I’ll never forget how close I’ve come to losing my boys, and the hatred and fear people can bear for a dog they’ve never even met.

Through this blog, I’ve met (well, read the blogs of) many other pit bull owners and advocates (like Kate at save the pit bull, save the world, Miss M and Mr. B and their awesome owners at Two Pitties in the City, and rescue/educational groups like Bad Rap, The Unexpected Pit Bull, and Richmond’s Ring Dog Rescue) who have strengthened my belief that these dogs have a place in our world and our homes. All of us can’t be wrong, right?

So now that I’ve shared my sob story, I have to ask for a favor.  I’ll be attending BlogPaws West this fall with RichmondPetLovers.com. The catch is that the conference will be held in Denver, CO, a city where Ernie, Dexter, and all pit bulls are not only banned, but would be in danger of being seized and euthanized based only on the fact that they are pit bulls. Maggie at Oh My Dog! has created and is organizing the Operation:Denver campaign to educate Denver’s Mayor Hickenlooper about the facts, rather than the myths, about pits and the people who love them.

Ernie's glamour shot

Ernie's glamour shot.

Maggie is coordinating a postcard campaign to send 10,560 post cards, or a mile’s worth, to the mayor of the Mile High City.  All you have to do is create an electronic postcard (you can download a template for PCs or Macs) and email it to Maggie at operationdenver@gmail.com. That’s it! Just a minute of your time.

Because I feel so strongly about this, I’m putting my money where my mouth is and I’m going to donate $1 to Operation:Denver for every postcard you guys create. That’s right – if it means no more delicious beers for me, than so be it.

So force me into a ramen diet, guys! Create a postcard and let me know you’ve sent it to Maggie by telling me about it in the comments (or copy me [badmuthafudrucker@gmail.com] in the email you send to Maggie at operationdenver@gmail.com). If you need a pit bull image, feel free to use any I’ve posted here or anywhere in the blog.

Thanks, friends. BSL is getting my blood boiling.

—————————————
*The last sentence in this article makes my stomach twist in knots. Is this guy a dog expert? Fuck no, he’s a freakin’ VILLAGE COUNCILMEN. Get a clue, ass.

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12 thoughts on “BSL is BS

  1. I adore you. As soon as I get some sleep under my belt and can coherently construct a sentence (I have had to retype this three times, heh), I will send a postcard for each of my pits. I’ll copy you.

    Thanks so much! I know you are a bully fan, too.

  2. Please rethink bsl for Pit Bulls.
    In a time where vicious attacks are an everyday occurence, it only makes sense to pass it.

    It doesn’t make any sense. Denver has had a pit bull ban on the books since 1989, and in the 5 years that they’ve been aggressively enforcing it (nearly 2,000 pit bulls killed in the last 3 years), there has been no evidence that the ban has decreased the total number of dog bites or attacks in the city.

    Doug Kelly, the Director of Animal Care & Control in Denver, CO, adds that the ban gives people “a false sense of security.”

    A more sensible and effective tactic would be to pass generalized dangerous dog laws that hold all pet owners responsible for the safety and health of their dogs and the community at large.

  3. As a Denver resident, I HATE that BSL is in place. I live in Adams county, and used to live in Jefferson, both of which allow pits, and the shelters there are FULL of them. Table Mountain Animal Shelter, specifically, is, at any given time, at least half pits (based on what I’ve seen). People who are moving to a place that doesn’t allow pits always turn them in in counties where they’re allowed so they’re not immediately put down. It makes me so, so sad.

    I will say I’ve met some not-so-well-behaved pits, but I’ve also met their owners. And, as someone who regularly hangs out at the dog park, I’ve also met a PLENTY of bad dogs of all kinds of breeds. I firmly believe that owners who allow their dogs to be bad should be the ones who are punished.

    Anyway, I want to smoosh Ernie and Dexter into a ball of adorable and kiss their faces and I’m SO doing this.

    It’s so sad to hear about people forced to abandon their pits before they move into town. Is that what the lawmakers envisioned when they passed this law?

  4. Oh man. I’m on board with the idea of making the owners responsible, but to ban all dogs of a certain breed just because of a few bad ones is a bit much. What’s next? Banning all people who are lawyers just because a few are bad/corrupt? I’ve met dogs whose breed indicates they are sweet-tempered who were in reality not so nice – because their owners didn’t handle them properly. Any animal can be made vicious – they are animals after all. SOOO irritating and I don’t even own pits!

    Thanks for the support!

  5. When I think of Pitbull I think of that rapper.

    He definitely shouldn’t be around people.

    I don’t know, his jams are pretty catchy. That Calle Ocho song? Love. It.

    I’m not ashamed to admit it.

  6. Done! I hope you succeed in your quest to educate these people that it’s not a breed problem but an ownership problem.

    Toe – you are the bomb.

  7. I do have to admit, before I adopted Miss M I didn’t like pitbulls either. I told myself the dog I adopted wouldn’t have any trace of pitbull…then I ended up with her AND Mr.B. I think these people haven’t actually met pitbulls; that’s what I realized when I adopted Miss M and I actually didn’t know anything about pitbulls, nor had I met a pitbull. That’s why we work so hard now to take our dogs everywhere, show them in a positive light, and write about them on our blog. I love the story how you stood up to town hall, and I love what you’re doing here. We will work on our postcard right away.

    Thanks so much. It’s kind of like the phenomenon when you buy a new car; after you buy it, you see the same model everywhere! It’s like they were all hiding before. Now that I am a pit bull owner, all these things that I was never aware of are FRONT and CENTER, as in the case of BSL. Who’d ever think that you’d have to fight for the right to keep your healthy, socialized, vaccinated, properly controlled DOG for gosh sakes?

    And thanks for your postcard!

  8. Thank you for doing this. I sent Maggie my postcard yesterday and blogged about it today. I truly don’t think that anyone who doesn’t own a pit bull-type dog can understand the horror that BSL strikes in the hearts of the rest of us. Like you, I really didn’t know much about it before we adopted Mayzie but now I feel it’s my duty to educate others about it.

    Frankly, I’m very conflicted about BlogPaws holding their conference in Denver. It makes me ill knowing that thousands of dollars will be pumped into that city because of a pet conference. It just feels really wrong to me.

    Anyway, thanks again for what you’re doing! I hope we can make this happen!

    I share your unease about BlogPaws’ venue; I was lamenting the fact to BADRAP.org’s Donna Reynolds and she told me that “We couldn’t justify spending a dime in Denver. It’d be like going to Auschwitz in hopes of educating the Nazis.”

    Thanks for helping with Operation:Denver – we gotta do what we can!

  9. The BSL just makes me so sick. Ignorant, uneducated people make me sick in general but when it comes to executing animals, I want to punch someone in the neck.

  10. They need to be regulated for their own good. Pit owners need to take off their blinders, if you want to help them you should push FOR bsl.

    What about BSL keeps pit bulls safe? In Denver, BSL doesn’t even keep it’s humans citizens safe, much less the 2000+ pit bulls that have been euthanized.

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