I never planned on launching a campaign to combat a law in a city 1,069 miles from my own. I never planned to use this blog or my Twitter account or Facebook page to do anything more than talk about my boys and dog training and pet products. I never planned to advocate for… anything, really. I love animals, and I’m utterly smitten with dogs. I believe with all my heart in their welfare, but I never planned to get a campaign of this magnitude going.
For those of you who are new to this space, a little background: It all started with BlogPaws. The conference in Ohio was amazing. Though I couldn’t take Emmett – they still had statewide BSL at that point – I enjoyed every moment and left feeling inspired and motivated to improve this blog. Then the second conference was announced for Denver. Denver, with its abhorrent record of animal welfare, a record of putting several thousand dogs down simply because they look like my Emmett.
So here I am.
And I’ve put a lot of thought into why I hope (expect?) other people to care about this. The reality is, breed-discriminatory language goes far beyond a “pit bull” issue. It’s at its core an animal welfare issue. Can we really stand by and let thousands of dogs be killed across the nation simply because of how they look? Every single one of those dogs deserved a good life. They deserved loving homes with families who fed, walked, trained, and socialized them. They deserved so much more than what we allowed to happen to them. That, to me, is what BSL means: Taking from our dogs the lives that they deserve.
It means that we’ve given permission to our municipalities to pass laws that say which dog breeds we’re allowed to love – and that the rest? Go ahead and euthanize them.
It means that we’re allowing some dogs’ lives to be valued over others. Should Emmett be more expendable than Lucas just because of how different they look?
It means that we’ve gotten to the point where a dog that mauls a child isn’t news, unless the dog in question was a pit bull or mix.
It means that when a dog bites, the dog’s future is determined by its breed. And the dog’s people? Well, they’re off the hook because it was the pit bull’s fault, not the owner’s.
It means that we’ve rendered dangerous dog laws ineffective because we make those laws breed-specific. If a lab or a Chihuahua or a poodle bites someone… well, we’ll look the other way. Because those aren’t dangerous breeds, right? Dangerous dogs, dogs who maul or attack a person, should be the focus of these laws, not the breed of a dog. The owners of those dogs should be dealt with swiftly and severely. But BSL takes the onus off of dog owners.
The simple fact is that breed-specific legislation doesn’t work. It costs cities a fortune to enforce, but it doesn’t cause even the slightest decrease in bite numbers. And it costs thousands of dogs their lives. How can we let that stand?
As we round the corner on the last month of the Campaign to End BSL: Operation Denver, let’s give it our all. Send in postcards, tweet with the #endBSL tag, and post the campaign on Facebook.
We have the opportunity to be the voice for these dogs to the Mayor of Denver.
Let’s make sure we’re really, really loud.