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We’re going to get Denver’s attention!

The current count is ::drumroll:: 568 postcards!!!!

At last count two weeks ago, we were at 409, so this has been a huge leap forward. Keep up the momentum, everyone!! Have you posted the campaign on your Facebook page yet? Here’s the direct link to the postcard instructions: http://ohmydogblog.com/campaign-to-end-bsl-operation-denver/

I am so proud and so excited! When I launched the campaign, the mile-long stretch of postcards was sort of this crazy idea, albeit a little gimmicky. After I posted the first post about the campaign, I remember turning to hubby and saying, “Oh.my.gosh. What if I don’t get a single one?”

So the fact that you have made 568 postcards ready to be a loud voice for these animals… I consider this a humongous success already!

We have SEVEN WEEKS left until BlogPaws, the postcard deadline. If we all work together, I think we can double that number. What do you say?

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Make another postcard! I’ll be making 10 this weekend!
  • Share the campaign link on your Facebook page.
  • Blog about BSL and encourage your readers to ACT!
  • Tweet with the #endBSL hashtag.
  • Any other ideas? Anything I’m forgetting?

And, once again, thank you so much for all your help and support and everyone’s time in creating postcards and spreading the message. We are definitely going to get Denver’s attention!

BSL: From the mouths of babes

So far I’ve received 373 postcards and countless other commitments for submissions! I estimate that if all the postcards arrive from the folks who have requested my mailing address for hard copies, we’ll be close to 500!

This is awesome progress! But I’d like to throw out another challenge: This week, I’d like to challenge you to post a link to the postcard page or the Oh My Dog! Facebook page on your Facebook page. If we could each get at least one friend to create a postcard, that will more than double our current total! Heck, many of you have several thousand followers on Twitter! Let’s see if we can double the postcards this week! Light up those networks!! I know we can do it! I’ll post the next status update one week from today.

And now for a little inspiration… I received nearly 100 postcards from fourth and fifth graders in North Carolina. A very special dog named Gunny taught these kids about pit bulls, and their messages are so incredibly heartfelt. I shared a few of the fifth grade postcards already, but here are some of the fourth graders’ along with a couple postcards received from other children across the U.S. (Click on the photos to enlarge.)

On “pit bulls” and the media

One of the funniest postcard pics yet!

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch a well-done DVD called The Pit Bull Hoax: The Truth Behind the Media’s Mythical Monster. Produced by Drayton Michaels, the video “examines the facts behind dog bite incidents, effective methods of prevention, and the opinions of today’s leading animal behaviorists on how one breed, the Pit Bull Terrier, has been unfairly cast as the villain.” The DVD is fantastic, and the message is really simple: These are human problems, not “pit bull” problems. So the question is: Why have pit bulls become “the media’s mythical monster?”

A powerful message

Unfortunately, splashy headlines sell newspapers and magazines. They get clicks on web stories. Media professionals capitalize on this and toss around the “pit bull” headline – at least when it suits their needs. Take this story, for example, “Female Dog Leads Chained Friend to Freedom.” It’s a darling, heart-warming story. Though the dogs are pit bulls, the headline certainly doesn’t reflect that. Would the story have been less appealing to readers if it had been advertised in the headline that it was a pit bull who did the courageous deed for another pit bull?

Even cats want to end BSL!

And that media bias just fuels the breed’s bad reputation. Unfair reporting means that the dogs are constantly vilified without getting the equal positive coverage that they so clearly deserve. This unjust reporting exacerbates the problem – bad people who want a status dog see the pit bull portrayed as the biggest bad ass out there, so they gravitate to the breed, then neglect, mistreat, abuse, and under-socialize their dogs, who might then bite the neighbor’s kid, which gets reported as another pit bull biting a child, and on it goes.

Oh, the sweetness!

As an aside, I can’t help but apply my years as a media professional to this situation. With nearly a decade of marketing, branding, editorial, and public relations experience under my belt, there is a tremendous opportunity here. While we’re combating BSL in Denver, I’m also starting to think about what’s next…

In the meantime, I am so incredibly excited about the progress we’re making with the Campaign to End BSL! In fact, a recent Denver Post article indicates that we’re on a winning path! I will never, ever be able to express how grateful I am to all of you for your support, your efforts, your blogging, your tweeting!

So what do you think: Why is the media so biased against pit bulls? What can change their perceptions?

Great message, darling little face!

Next Tuesday: From the mouths of babes! Thanks to a wonderful dog named Gunny, schoolchildren from North Carolina sent stacks of heartfelt, well-written postcards. They’re impressive beyond what I could have ever imagined. I’m in the process of scanning them in and will post some here next week and in a photo album on Facebook!

And don’t forget to comment if you’ve written about BSL so I can add it to the growing Anti-BSL Link Library!

End BSL: Campaign Update!

We’re making a lot of progress with the Campaign to End BSL! Thanks to fabulous bloggers, the project has circled the internet, and the #endBSL Twitter hashtag is getting daily use! Thanks, everyone, for all your help and support.

So far, I’ve received $200 in donations to offset printing and mailing costs (thank you, thank you, thank you) and nearly 200 postcards! Let’s keep those postcards coming!

To provide a little inspiration, I wanted to share with you a package of postcards I received at the end of last week. There is an awe-inspiring dog named Gunny who lives in North Carolina. From his fan page, here’s Gunny’s story:

In May of 2008, Gunny was rescued from his life as a “Bait Dog” in illegal dog fighting activities. He underwent three complex surgeries to remove a badly mangled leg and to repair severe crush injuries to his throat. Gunny’s incredible will to live, and innately gentle nature, have gained him fans quite literally around the globe. He works diligently to educate the public about the horrors of dog fighting, the needs of animal rescues, and the myths about his breed. Gunny has been a key player in community programs around the Charlotte area. Recently, he paved the way to pilot an effort to link an elementary school with an animal rescue for educational and fundraising opportunities. Gunny is no stranger to the local TV news and paper, and was recently contacted by an international newspaper re: a possible highlight in an upcoming story on Dog Heroes. He won a nationwide search for The World’s Most Amazing Dog, earning a year’s worth of dog food (that he donated to the rescue group that saved his life) and a trip for his humans to ride in the Rose Parade. It was a unique opportunity to spread the news of this special boy around the West Coast.
Learn all the details of Gunny’s journey at: http://www.northmecklenburganimalrescue.org/id125.html

Gunny, in his role as a pit bull ambassador, has touched the lives of schoolchildren in North Carolina. Last week, I received a package of 44 postcards from 5th graders at one of the schools Gunny visited. I wanted to share a few with you because the messages are so simple and heart-felt that they’re incredibly inspiring! (Click to enlarge.)

I’m so impressed with how thoughtful these fifth graders are! My favorite phrase is on the cover above that says, “Be heartful to the dogs.” Love it.

So… campaign next steps:

  • I’m writing letters to organizations, celebrities, and TV shows! I’m focusing on those who are sympathetic to pit bulls.
  • Next week I will be reaching out to the press in Denver with a press release and individual follow ups. Thanks to so many of you, I’ve received emails with the names and direct email addresses of a lot of sympathetic journalists!
  • I’m going to keep creating 5 postcards each week. In truth, I’m not considering this campaign a success only if we reach the 10,560 postcard goal. The main objective is to get Denver’s attention and get the Mayor to seriously reconsider his stance – it will only help his play for the governorship anyway! So now’s the time!

Keep sending in those postcards! Thanks to everyone who’s been blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking! Let’s keep it up!

And if you’ve blogged about BSL or the campaign, please leave the link in the comments! I’m trying to keep an eye out through a Google alert, but it seems to be missing a few blogs. I want to keep the link library updated. Plus, this Friday I’m putting together a little pit bull link love – send me a comment if you have a particular blog or post that you’d like me to check out for inclusion!

In the meantime, hope you’re all having a great week! Thank you for all your help and support to end BSL.

BSL campaign update and call for postcards!!

I’m excited to announce that we’ve hit our first 100 postcards! Thank you, everyone, for all your hard work!

I’d like to toss out a challenge: Can we get another 100 between today and next Tuesday? I think we can! Activate your networks, share the campaign on Twitter and Facebook, I know we can do this! I will commit to making 5 more with some of the bullies from our therapy dog program! Let’s do this!

For a little inspiration, I wanted to share the two most beautiful postcards I received in the mail. These were hand-done in watercolor! I’m so impressed and so proud! I scanned them in, and it doesn’t quite do them justice, but take a look:

Aren’t those amazing? And so many of the postcards that have come in have really powerful, personal messages. I’ve been uploading them to the Facebook Page. (Have you joined the Facebook page yet??)

I’ll keep a daily total between now and next Tuesday – I know we can hit 100 in one week!

Giveaway winners and BSL campaign FAQs!

Last week brought in a bunch of postcards – thank you, everyone, for your hard work! The giveaway ended last night at 5 PM EST. There were a total of 10 entries, and I used random.org to determine the winners. And now, drumroll please!

The first winner:

Comment #3! Annemieke, congratulations! You win the Seventh Generation pet-safe cleaning products. I just know you will love them. Drop me a line at info@maggiemarton.com with your address, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of the products!

The second winner:

Comment #8! Cari, congratulations! You win the PawSafe pet-safe cleaning product prize! Email me your address to info@maggiemarton.com, and I’ll get the prize right out to you!

If for some reason either one of the prizes goes unclaimed by next Tuesday, 8 AM EST, I’ll hold another drawing. For those of you who didn’t win, don’t worry! I have a handful of giveaways lined up for the summer.

Update on the Campaign to End BSL: Operation Denver

  • I’ve received $135 in donations, which will pay for more than 500 postcards! Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart!
  • Speaking of postcards, in the first two weeks, I’ve received nearly 30! Very exciting! Keep spreading the word through your networks!! Also, if you’re on Facebook, Oh My Dog! finally has a page!! Please become a fan and encourage your pet-friendly networks to create postcards, too!
  • And the campaign has been featured by organizations I greatly admire, and I am incredibly honored: Best Friends, Stop BSL, KC Dog Blog, and Scratchings & Sniffings.
  • Thanks to everyone for your support, encouragement, Facebook “liking,” and #endBSL tweeting! We are definitely getting there! Let’s keep up the momentum!
  • I’ve been adding links to the End BSL Link Library. If you have one to add, please leave me a comment!

Some Campaign FAQs

Over the last two weeks, I’ve received a handful of questions more than once, so I wanted to go ahead and address those today! Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any more questions than what I’ve covered here!

  1. Do you have to live in Denver to participate?
    Absolutely not! In fact, putting a national voice to this campaign is even more crucial as Mayor Hickenlooper will be running for governor of Colorado. It’s urgent that we provide a voice for the dogs and dog owners before he gets to state level! (That being said, the state is opposed to any BSL, and even if he wins as governor, the citizens of Colorado would not support state-wide BSL. Hmm.. Perhaps that’s a great point to make in our postcards!! :) )
  2. Can you send more than one?
    Yes, yes, yes! Send as many as you would like!
  3. I want to craft mine. Can I send it in the mail?
    Of course! In fact, I’m really excited because someone emailed me to say she’s creating hers in watercolor. I can’t wait to see those! In order to make the biggest splash in Denver, though, all the postcards will be sent at once. So if you’re going to handcraft your postcard, simply email me at operationdenver@gmail.com to get my mailing address!
  4. Is there a Mac version of the template?
    There is now, thanks to Emily on Facebook! You can grab it here MacPostcard-TemplateMac, and it’s going on the main campaign tab, too.
  5. What’s going on with the donations?
    It’s going to cost just over $0.20 per postcard to print and mail. The donations are to offset the cost of the printing! If I end up with more than the cost of printing, the remaining sum will be donated to a rescue. One fabulous postcard creator suggested Colorado Pit Bull Rescue, which seems like a great fit!

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me! And keep those postcards coming in to operationdenver@gmail.com!

Thank you so, so much to every single one of you – this is a community effort, and I know we can make it happen!

Campaign to End BSL: Operation Denver

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of this campaign, I have to say a huge, heartfelt THANK YOU to you, to all of you, for your insights, ideas, and encouragement. Thanks to everyone who commented, emailed, tweeted, and Facebooked, I was able to refine this campaign to the point where I’m confident that our voices will be heard in Denver!

Because this is going to be the mother of all blog posts, I’ve broken it up into a few different sections. After today, these details will live under the Campaign to End BSL: Operation Denver tab above. That tab will also house the link library for all the posts that are submitted to me – and I’m so, so excited that so many bloggers I admire are jumping in to tackle this issue. If you don’t want to cover BSL on your blog, please feel free to share the link love or tweet with the official hashtag, #endBSL!

One quick note: I want this campaign to be a collaboration, and in that vein, I promise to keep everything completely open and transparent. Any steps I take will be covered here, including full text of any letters and emails sent, as well as costs and fund-raising goals.

So here we go!

The Goal
The objective of Operation Denver is to collect one mile of postcards that will be delivered directly to the Mile High City’s mayor, John W. Hickenlooper. Though the state prohibits municipalities from passing BSL, Denver’s breed ban was sort of grandfathered in, so we’re targeting the city itself.

The Postcards
To meet USPS’ regulations for the cheapest postcard, they have to be 4 x 6″ which means we need to collect 10,560 postcards for them to stretch one mile, end to end! And I know we can do it!

I created a simple template in Microsoft Word with text boxes aligned to meet the post office’s regulations. These postcards can be customized any way you’d like! Get creative! Use images, clip art, text boxes, fonts and colors. If you prefer to use another program (or even make one by hand!), please feel free as long as the measurements adhere to the regulations.

Postcard template in Microsoft Word: Postcard Template

Here’s the postcard I made: Emmett Postcard. Feel free to download the postcard I made and tweak it if that’s easier!

All postcards should be emailed to operationdenver@gmail.com. If you’d prefer to send a handmade card via U.S. Mail, please send an email to operationdenver@gmail.com to get the mailing address!

Images
If you don’t have images to use, use images from the Flickr Creative Commons. The images located HERE only require that you credit the photographer, which you can do with a small text box. HERE is another set designated for noncommercial use, though they still require attribution to the photographer. And, lastly, HERE is a set through Google images, which are all allowed to be reused and modified, though some specify that the photographer must be cited.

Text
We want Denver city officials to know that we’re real people – not just a mass-printed mailing. So please write a heartfelt message to the mayor. Include facts, stats, stories, anecdotes, or even just a simple, “Please repeal Denver’s breed ban.” For solid stats, reference StopBSL, Pit Bull Rescue Central, or Understand-a-Bull. This is a particularly useful fact sheet.

The Cost and Fund-raising Efforts
I set up a PayPal Donation button. All donations will offset printing and mailing costs. It’s going to cost roughly $0.235 per piece. If funds exceeding the final cost are collected, they will be donated to a Colorado bully rescue. I’m researching organizations now, but if anyone has any nominations, please let me know either via comment or via email to operationdenver@gmail.com. Also, I received a fantastic suggestion to create a CafePress store because 10% of all sales would contribute to our efforts. I’m all for this, though if there are any designers out there who want to brainstorm on a logo and slogan, please, please email me!

Social Media and Media Campaign
The official hashtag for this campaign is #endBSL. Use it liberally! Several people wisely suggested choosing a day for blogs and tweets. I commit to writing and tweeting and Facebooking about BSL every Tuesday between now and BlogPaws! I’ve made Tuesday my official campaign day, and I would love for you to join in. I would LOVE to organize a monthly tweetup to occur between now and BlogPaws. I’ve never done that before – any ideas, suggestions, tips, volunteers?

In addition to the Tuesday social media push, I’m going to be writing letters to every organization and personality who might be interested in the cause. I’ll post the letters I write on Tuesdays. So far my list includes: the bully orgs mentioned above, Rescue Ink, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Pinups for Pit Bulls, Victoria Stilwell, Oprah, Ellen, Rachel Ray (a bully owner!), and The Today Show. I also want to reach out to shelters and rescues in and around the Denver area. Please feel free to comment or email with other suggestions!

And, lastly, I’m going to put together press releases to go out to the Denver media. I think we can get a lot of local attention for a mile-long stretch of postcards heading to the mayor’s office!

PHEW! I think that’s it! Every Tuesday I’ll post updates – letters, postcards, fund-raising, anything and everything to do with this campaign. Every Tuesday I’ll tweet with the #endBSL tag and post Facebook status updates. Want to help organize a tweetup? Design a t-shirt logo for the Cafe Press store? Any other ideas or volunteers? Send me an email!

Fire up your networks, everyone! 1 down, 10,559 postcards to go!

Breed-Specific Legislation: Part 1

When I first wrote about BlogPaws in Denver, I left out some crucial details in my haste to get something, anything written. So let’s start at the beginning…

BSL is the acronym for breed-specific legislation. BSL frequently targets pit bulls and dogs that resemble pit bulls. BSL laws range from restrictions on pit bull owners (like requiring additional liability insurance, or their pit bulls to be microchipped, to wear muzzles, or to be spayed/neutered) to outright breed bans whereby people are prevented from owning dogs with a certain appearance.While pit bulls are the most common targets, in some areas of the country the laws include German Shepherds, Dobermans, Akitas, Presa Canarios, even St. Bernards.

Breed-specific legislation should not be supported by responsible dog owners and definitely should not be supported by those of us who are deeply concerned with animal welfare.

Because here’s the thing: BSL doesn’t even work. Since we’re going to Denver, let’s use that city as an example. Denver’s BSL law started in 1989, had 2 brief non-enforcement periods, then resumed in 2005. Since 2005 Denver has killed 2,266 dogs identified – or, frequently, misidentified – as pit bulls. (Want to know how hard breed ID is? Take this test to see how you do!)

There is a huge cost associated with enacting and enforcing a breed ban. For example, Denver currently faces several lawsuits. The plaintiffs are disabled and had their service dogs seized – in one case, the dog wasn’t even a pit bull. And those aren’t the only lawsuits; there are at least 5 others that are costing taxpayers thousands of dollars, despite Denver’s $160 million budget shortfall.

Beyond the cost, BSL fails to improve public safety. Sadly, dog bites still occur. Here’s a quick run-down of some bites in Denver if you’re interested in further reading.

The reality is that BSL fails to protect public safety. It’s costly, inefficient, and ineffective. And it’s unethical. The bottom line? BSL punishes dogs instead of irresponsible owners. In fact, it gets bad owners off the hook. And the dogs are the ones who are suffering.

But I have to be totally honest: Until I adopted Emmett, my bully ambassador, I had never heard of breed-specific legislation. My Emmett is the sweetest dog you will ever meet – he loves absolutely everyone, he snuggles with anyone who makes eye contact with him, he’s a therapy dog who thrives in an environment filled with loud, noisy children who just need a little love. And he does love them. He waggles, cuddles, performs tricks, and gives high-fives until he can barely lift his arm. But I’m constantly questioned, “Is that a pit bull?” “Does he bite?” The worst one we ever got, “He’s a pit bull, right? So are you going to put him down when you have children?” While this discussion isn’t about me and it isn’t about Emmett, it’s about all the dogs like Emmett who are wonderful, one-of-a-kind dogs who want nothing more than to make people happy. And yet people want dogs like Emmett to be euthanized. Why? Because of how he looks? It’s unjust and intolerant.

I’m so happy we’re having this discussion. I’d love to know what you think about BSL, what your experiences have been, or – most especially – stories about bully ambassadors you’ve encountered!

I’m breaking this into two posts because, well, it got a little long. Tomorrow, I’m going to write about the ideas I have for how we – pet bloggers, dog lovers, animal advocates – can make sure that the voices of these dogs are heard, loud and clear, and how I think it ties in to BlogPaws West. But for today, I’m going to leave you with a little bully love with one of the best music videos ever!