Monday, January 31, 2011

The Denver Dog Killing Machine

Gruesome title, isn't it? However, it's for a good cause. Check out the Facebook group. This is a group of folks dedicated to ending the 21 year old "pitbull" ban here in Denver, CO.

Basically, Denver is the worst place in the US to live if you are, or at least own, an American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) or any dog that might possibly resemble the breed. So basically, if you have a dog with a short coat, obvious muscles, a blocky head, brindling, cropped ears or an athletic build, you'd better watch your step, because according to the BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) description here, all that makes a dog a "pitbull". In this city, if it looks like a chicken and sounds like a chicken, there's still a chance it might be a duck. And we don't take kindly to no ducks 'round these parts, ya hear?

Under Denver's definition, this Cane Corso is a "pitbull". Luckily, he has papers to prove otherwise.

Denver considers itself a "home-rule" city, which basically means they reserve the right to thumb their noses at the Feds and say "Nyah nyah nyah, you can't make me!" if they don't like or agree with some federal law. In some cases, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, when it comes to denying service dogs access to city/county limits because of their breed, it very much becomes A Bad Thing. That's right, Denver is refusing to allow even APBT's in an active service role to set one little pitty paw inside the county without wanting to immediately seize and euthanize it.

I attended a big rally downtown last week, put on by the DDKM. Right now, they're going for small steps in overturning the ban, starting with the ADA exception. There was a rather sizeable crowd gathered, over 100+. Most people had some type of sign, everything from the typical "Ban the deed, not the breed" to photos of their dogs that had been taken and killed.

 One person made sure the dogs famous for good reasons got some recognition.
 No one can really point to why Denver feels the need to have a draconian ban that rivals Ontario in it's "seize and kill" policy. There wasn't some huge, high-profile bite case. It seems it was a knee-jerk reaction to the case in California back in the 80's that sparked the nationwide trend of breed bans popping up like chicken pox. The sheer amount of funds and manpower being employed to "find illegal dogs" and "dispose" of them was staggering, especially when you consider what better uses it could be going for.

 Like finding actual threats to your children...

Now, myself, I'm a herding person. I like Aussies, ACD's, Filas, Border Collies, English Shepherds, etc. However, that doesn't mean that I don't love to play with and snuggle with the other breeds. Sawyer and I have participated in a number of anti-BSL rallys as "Friends to the Bullies".

"Please stop killing my friends."

I've had people ask me before, "you own an Aussie, why do you care what happens to some random pitbull?" Well, because BSL is not just about pitbulls. It's about Rottweilers, Dobermans, Boxers, Chows, German Shepherds, Huskies, Great Danes, etc. etc.

"But but but, those are awesome dogs!" comes the invariable response.

And that's just the point. All those breeds are awesome. They also have been, or are currently, subjected to BSL. In the 50's and 60's, Dobermans and Germans Shepherds were the "Demon Dogs" du jour. The Chows took that dubious distinction in the 70's, along with Shar Peis. In the 80's, the spotlight landed on the APBT and it hasn't shifted since. Because I'm lazy and in the middle of serious mutltitasking, I'm going to quote a note I wrote on Facebook back when the whole Michael Vick (*ptooey!*) thing hit the media.

The dog that eventually became known as the Am. Pit Bull Terrier (ABPT) did have a fairly unsavory past, this is true. However, in the process of creating a dog that would not give up in the face of adversity, these dogs also achieved a level of human tolerance never to be found in another single breed. These dogs had to be handled in the ring in the middle of a fight, oftentimes by strangers. Any dog that turned on a handler was dismissed from the fight and usually killed. No one wanted a dog that bit people. Any form of human aggression was systematically bred out of this breed, leaving it one of the most affectionate and tractable of all the terrier breeds. The ABPT consistently scores the highest on the American Temperment Test, beating out 'typical family breeds' such as Golden Retrievers and Labradors on a regular basis.

These were the dogs that so faithfully served their country during the World Wars that we have a flag from WWI depicting the APBT as the ultimate symbol of courage and perseverance. These dogs were known as "Nanny Dogs" by millions, as their high tolerance for pain made them perfect playmates for younger children prone to pulling on ears, tails or clumsily tripping over the dog during the course of play. These same dogs that would fight in a ring one day were implicitly trusted to watch over the dogmen's children that night and every day there after.

The APBT USED to be a favorite of President's, movie stars and television. Petey from "Our Gang" was an ABPT. The original RCA dog was an ABPT. The most highly decorated soldier in the history of the US Military, for his courage in delivery messages and alerting to the presence of enemies, was an ABPT named Sgt. Stubby.

However, in the last 20 years, PEOPLE have changed the breed. What started off as one isolated incident back in the 80's was picked up, sensationalized to the hilt by the media playing to the public's bloodlust and created this perception that the ABPT was a "vicious, killer dog." As a counterpoint, we are also the same country who believed that American Eskimo dogs were the carrier of rabies and in the 1800's, used to shoot them on sight in the street. This shows that the public, for better or worse, tends to believe what they are told by newspapers and TV (who have sales and ratings to boost) rather than common sense and real-life proof.

This has attracted the least savory elements of our society to the breed, who began to breed for and/or abuse for "meanness", thereby corrupting CENTURIES of careful breeding to the contrary. What was once the safest breed for people to handle has now been crossed with breeds KNOWN to be human aggressive and there now exists a few strains of APBT capable of human aggression, something not before seen and it seems to boil down to "urban culture". I am fully aware there is an element of racism in that statement, however, the facts still stand. THESE are the dogs making the headlines. No one wants to hear about an ABPT flawlessly performing his duties as a Service Dog or bringing comfort to hospice/cancer/nursing home patients as a Therapy Dog. It just doesn't sell.

We now have a country full of people who rush to the doctor to report almost ANY dog bite as a "pitbull bite", who cannot tell the difference between an APBT, a Labrador or a German Shorthair Pointer. The CDC can only report numbers that have been reported to them. The general public will find ways to brush off or justify a bite from almost any other breed out there, causing misleading statistics. Speaking of statistics, when a population contains 500 of one breed and 2 of another, with even one incident being reported for the group of 500 and none for the second, of course the numbers are going to appear skewed. Remember," there are three kinds of lies: lies, **** lies and statistics." --Mark Twain quoting Disraeli.
 Even with my lovable, adorable, fluffy Pirate Pants Aussie boy, I've run into issues. When I was looking for an apartment back in KC, I had one of those finder services turn me down because I owned a "shepherd". It didn't matter that I had an Australian Shepherd, that the biggest issue most people have with these guys is the amount of barking they tend to do, that the only thing in common between German Shepherds and Aussies is the fact that they're both herding breeds. My dog was a "Shepherd" and they just weren't going to work with me.

That's what BSL does. It causes stupid problems. It goes after EVERYONE, not just the morons who have no business owning a pet rock, never mind a living, breathing, thinking animal.

"I lurves everbody!"
 Luke, his collar and this picture are all property of Rebecca/Ella's Leads

This is a topic I could rant about for hours, if that hasn't already become patently obvious already. I'm not alone in that, even "Shorty" Rossi from Animal Planet's "Pit Boss" made an appearance and speech.

The footage they took that day will air on an episode at some point, but I don't really watch much TV outside of Doctor Who and a couple other shows, so I can't tell you much beyond "check your local listings!"

It's not just people who are upset about this. It's not just dog that are hiding.

"Are they going to come for me next?"

Disapproving Goat disapproves.

Yeah. There was a goat at a dog rally. He's a Nubian cross and just the most chill little guy ever! I've got a picture of me holding him, but you're all reading this to see cute pictures and I don't want to ruin it for everyone.

And he wants you to help overthrow BSL in your area. Because it doesn't matter what the breed, they're all dog and they deserve good owners.

Support dangerous dog ordinances instead! They focus on the individual problem dog and the idiot/oblivious owner, which is how it should be.


  1. Lukey hates teh BSL.
    Great Blog post!!!!

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