Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More on the Pit Bull

I was reading the Humane Society web page and found some very scary statistics on the people who are involved in dog fighting. Officers have said that in raiding these operations they have, in some cases, found sippy cups at some fighting pits. This is horribly sad from the standpoint that parents are teaching their children to be cruel to animals and that it is okay, meaning this barbaric tradition will likely continue for many years.

Another statement that bothered me made by the Humane Society was that Amazon.com sells books on fighting techniques, so I did a quick search. There are some books on the history of dog fighting in America and Europe, but there are also books on breeding, training and using dogs for fighting. I am a person who has purchased many books from Amazon, especially books on writing, writing techniques, and living the writing life. I will now take my business elsewhere. I looked for a link to be able to contact Amazon and couldn't find it. The Humane Society suggests that we contact Amazon and tell them to stop selling the books on animal fighting, but I've never had luck contacting Amazon about anything. I'm guessing on this particular subject they don't want to hear it, and will bury their head in the sand and simply argue they are book sellers.

This has become a new hot point for me purely by accident because I have Callie and I was researching the breed and came across some incredibly disturbing facts about these dogs and what happens to them on a daily basis. We consider ourselves a civilized society, yet the barbaric practice of dog fighting continues to happen in America. The guesstimate is that tens of thousands of people are involved in this underground activity that, by the way, also frequently involves drug dealing and using.

I'm obsessive by nature and latch on to topics that have meaning to me. Cruelty to animals is something that raises my blood pressure, it always has. This topic is also very personal to me now that I have Callie in my life. I am terrified that she may become victim to this insane witch hunt happening in this country (when Denver passed Breed Specific Legislation regarding Pits, 1,800 Pit Bull family members were required to be surrendered to shelters and were subsequently euthanized. This was not a highly published fact). PETA has come out and said that this is a dangerous breed, even stating emphatically that trying to rescue Michael Vicks dogs was a waste of resources. Sports Illustrated published an in-depth article in December 2008 about the status of the dogs he used for his operation: 47 out of 51 dogs were saved. Most have been adopted or remain in foster care, many are at a Utah sanctuary where they will live out their lives because their trust issues are too daunting. Several have received "Good Citizen" certificates for their behavior and the work they do in their communities. For example, one is now a therapy dog visiting cancer patients, one helps children feel more comfortable reading aloud. The list goes on.

The groups I find myself now supporting in whatever manner I can are the groups that are working to change the perception that society in general has of so-called "strong breed" dogs. One of the groups that was pivotal in saving the dogs that Vick used is called "BAD RAP" (stands for Bay Area Doglovers Responsible about Pit Bulls) based in Oakland, California. They are the group who made a proposal to the judge in the Vick case, evaluated and rescued so many of the dogs that had been taken from his property. They went in initially thinking that they could help three or four dogs, and what they found surprised even them. The dogs showed no or very little signs of aggression. What they found instead were very scared dogs, afraid of what would happen if they came out of their kennel, because invariably when they were living in Virginia and were brought out of their "kennels", something really bad did happen (read the article in Sports Illustrated by Jim Gorant, it is very illuminating and heart breaking. I just read he's now writing a book about the dogs. Good. Keep in in the public mind). What the group did was not short of a miracle and the resiliency that the dogs have shown is truly awe inspiring.

I don't know what I can do on a daily basis to help, but I know that I can give my support to these organizations and spread the word.

On a personal level, I can honestly say, that though Callie is walking through her puppy hood with some issues, i.e. destroying dog beds, my comforter and chewing whatever else comes into view, she is the best dog I've ever had. I did not set out on purpose to get a Pit Bull, I had many of the same fears as others do, but that is changing. When I was told she likely had some Pit in her, I was nervous, but now I know what I as a dog owner need to do on a daily basis with her, and it makes me a better dog owner. What I have found with Callie is that she is smart, funny, responsive, terrific around people and other pets, athletic, and an all around well-balanced dog just wanting to grow up and live life the way it is meant to be lived: Pampered, exercised, fed and getting a good nights sleep...oh, and don't forget, the biggest stick on the block to play fetch!

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