Have you ever read the comments on a news report that mentioned pit bulls?
Any news report. Even the ones where a pit bull saves her owner from a burning building… or a young child donates his birthday money to pit bull rescue… or a formerly abused pit bull becomes a therapy dog… It doesn’t matter what the story is. The haters come out. Every. Single. Time.
Years ago, someone wrote a lovely article about Emmett. It was all about his work as a reading partner at the public library. Two of the comments, right off the bat, were people saying that they know people who “these dogs” killed. And, honestly, if you read many of these articles, you realize that those comments were mild compared to the hateful, angry, misinformed, vile stuff that spews from some people. That’s just online stuff, too. The real-life stuff gets worse.
Clearly, pit bull advocates face a huge uphill battle.
Last week, a town in Louisiana could have been presented with a piece of BSL at their City Council. The other council members didn’t support the bill, and townspeople spoke out against it. It was withdrawn.
A victory, right?
But then there’s this:
Green said he garnered unwanted attention from pit bull proponents, including an online petition. “I’ve got 14 death threats on me, because of this ordinance. Death threats!” Green told an overflow crowd in the City Council chamber.
That, to me, tarnishes the victory.
This quote appeared all over the place. And I don’t blame the guy for being horrified! Death threats are uncalled for, out of line, and the kind of behavior that gives pit bull advocates everywhere a bad name. It detracts from the importance of the cause, and it paints pit bull owners in a bad light.
There’s a saying that I encounter from time to time: “Those pit bull owners are as rabid as their dogs.”
It makes me crazy. But not as crazy as the behavior of the people causing that statement to be uttered.
We are already fighting a war for the sake of our dogs… now do we have to defend pit bull owners, too? Honestly, I’ll defend your dog, but I won’t defend your bad behavior!
You don’t have to be vicious to be forceful. You don’t have to level threats to sway someone. You don’t need to shout hateful rhetoric to be heard.
In fact, it’s exactly the opposite.
It makes me so mad when articles about proposed BSL focus not on the legislation but on the vicious responses. Yes, I know this behavior comes from both sides and, often, it escalates because the BSL supporters escalate it first. But “our” side has lives at stake. It’s critical that our message is clear, crisp, and not easily dismissed as rabid rumblings.
Have your voice heard. Defend your dogs. But… Don’t let the message get lost or muddled! Don’t give reporters the opportunity to focus on anything BUT the message!
Be polite. Be respectful. Be informative. You can be positive and still be firm.
It’s so important because, you know, I’m not exaggerating when I say that lives depend on it.
Have you encountered this in your advocacy? How do you counter bad behavior – from either side?