Another bully breed slam

If the “have it your way” slogan is true, then it’s time for everyone to write to Burger King and their ad agency, Crispin, Porter, and Bogusky, and let them know you won’t be eating there any time soon.  Why?

Last night I saw an ad for their new breakfast menu, featuring a mailman marching down the street.  During his march he referred to Rottweilers and Pit Bulls in a very derogatory tone.  I am SO tired of news casts, product commercials, television shows, movies, and people in general, slamming dogs who fall into the bully breed category.

Several years ago Burger King created an ad campaign that featured a rooster in a fighting ring to promote their new chicken sandwich.  I wrote a scathing letter to their CEO asking that it be pulled due to it’s obvious support of cock fighting.  Surely, I wasn’t the only one who wrote to them, but I never saw that ad again.

We have a voice with our computers, our pens, and our wallets.  If you agree with my position and want to be part of ending bias and condemnation for bully breeds, then please write to Burger King at and to the ad agency at

I did!



Are Pit Bulls the new “minority?”

Here we go again…today I received email from an animal welfare colleague asking that I sign a petition against a proposed ban on all dogs considered to be from the bully breed category; Ohio HB 568.  You can go there now if you like, even before you read any more.  Ohio HB 568

How does one legislate compassion, love, morality, or decency?  Good question, because this breed is continually persecuted because they are strong, tenacious, and loyal to their owners…they used to be called the babysitter dog.  Some have been trained by unscrupulous holders who consider watching animals fight until one is critically injured or dies, a sport.  It is barbaric!

Ohio HB 568 proposes that:

  • No person shall own, keep, or harbor a dog that belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a Pit Bull dog.
  • No later than 90 after the effective date of this bill, a person who owns, keeps, or harbors a Pit Bull dog will be forced to surrender the dog to a dog warden.
  • Within 10 days of surrender, the dog will be euthanized.
  • If an officer has probable cause to believe that a dog is a Pit Bull, the officer may apply for a search warrant.  After obtaining a search warrant, an officer shall seize the dog and transfer the dog to a dog warden, who shall euthanize the dog within 10 days.
You want to kill ME?

You want to kill ME?

This reminds me of the gathering up of all Japanese Americans right after Pearl Harbor and interring them in camps around the country.  Talk about profiling!!  At least most of the Japanese were eventually released.  Arrested Pit Bulls will not enjoy the same luxury.  And no one forgets the concentration camps run by Hitler.  Is this as far as we’ve come?

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) Massachusetts is discussing something similar with HB 5092.    You can read about that bill at Massachusettes HB 5092

Do people in general, and specifically the people who govern, really believe that instituting this type of legislation will really deter this type of behavior?  Viscous and violent people remain so, no matter how many laws are passed.

Everyone appears to be aghast at the genocide taking place in Darfur; I certainly am, but how is this any different?  Yes, there are many of you out there who don’t consider animals to be equal with man, but both humans and animals are living beings and we both suffer in the same ways.  We also respond to love and compassion, food and shelter.  We usually will do anything our “parents” ask of us too.

Banning an entire breed of dog is genocide.  Are we not more civilized than this in America?  And if we’re not then what is the future of the human race?

How does government legislate the values of animal owners?

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  This was originally written earlier today and since then I have learned that nothing is underway to restrict any specific breed.  I do, however, still have the same questions.  Read below.

How does government legislate values? Aren’t the values of a pet owner the issue when considering a ban on a specific breed? Legislating a ban such as this is profiling, pure and simple.

When the media and others say that pit bulls are dangerous, they are making a generalization, just as insurance companies use generalizations when they charge young men more for car insurance. Doctors too, use generalizations when they tell overweight middle-aged men to monitor their cholesterol, even though many of the men in the middle-aged and overweight category won’t experience heart trouble

Because we don’t know what breed of dog will bite someone, who will have a heart attack, or which young man will get into an accident, predictions are made by generalizing. Here’s a generalization: Dobermans, Great Danes, German shepherds, and Rottweilers are frequent biters, and the dog that mauled a Frenchwoman so badly a few years ago that she was given the world’s first face transplant was a Labrador retriever. With this information, how does government go about banning only one breed of dog? It certainly has not been successful in either Denver or Detroit.

The media contributes to Pit Bull profiling as well. While interviewing a man whose two pets had been killed by the police who recently raided the wrong house, an MSNBC reporter said “…wow…and your dogs weren’t even trained Pit Bulls.” Emotionally charged comments such as these only fuel the fire about Pit Bulls, especially since the dogs in question were Black Labs and not Bully breed dogs.

Pit-bulls aren’t a single breed! The American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier, and the American pit bull terrier, who have a square and muscular body, a short snout, and a sleek, short-haired coat, are all tossed into the general Pit Bull category.  Bully breed dogs have characteristics that some consider “troublesome.” Their gameness, determination, and insensitivity to pain are nearly always directed toward other dogs. Pit bulls are not bred to fight humans; in actuality, a fighting dog that goes after spectators, its handler, or the trainer, is put down.

The Bully breed dogs have been called the “babysitter dog” because their temperament is one of devotion. In fact, many of the dogs rescued from the Michael Vick compound were found to be gentle and safe and have been adopted into homes with children. One of those dogs is now a therapy dog.

And finally, you should be aware of this information, excerpted from a February 2006 issue of The New Yorker, and written by Malcolm Gladwell:

“In the case of the young boy who was attacked in Ottawa several years ago, the dogs in question were un-neutered, ill-trained, and charged-up by the child’s screaming and advances. These dogs had a history of aggression, and an 18 year-old, irresponsible owner with a pile of citations about the dogs.

Ottawa could easily have prevented these dogs attack, with the right kind of generalization—a generalization based not on breed but on the known and meaningful connection between dangerous dogs and negligent owners. But that would have required someone from the city to track down the owner and check to see whether he had bought muzzles. And it would have required that someone was sent to make sure the dogs had been neutered after the first attack. And it would have required an animal-control law that insured that those whose dogs attack small children will have to forfeit their right to own a dog.

It would have required a more exacting set of generalizations to be more exactingly applied. It’s always easier just to ban the breed.”

Pit Bulls are lovers not fighters, unless…

…they’re trained to do so by unscrupulous owners.

Nearly every time someone is attacked by an animal it seems as if it is a Pit Bull. No matter that they happen to be the most popular breed right now (as was the Rottweiler last decade and the German Shepherd the one before) if they are involved in any way in an altercation with a human, they are featured at the top of the news with aplomb. I have owned each one of these breeds and I am here to tell you that it absolutely depends upon how the puppy was raised and how it’s treated by it’s owner.

I love all animals. OK, so I don’t get all warm and fuzzy when I see a python, but they are living beings so I have to include them. (There is, however, a complete disconnect for me when it comes to cockroaches and I won’t bend on this!!) But this piece is about Pit Bulls and how they’ve been swift-boated by the media, so that every time someone hears anything about the breed, they cringe and fold into the fetal position.

People’s perception is that Pit Bulls are dangerous. Of course, not all pit bulls are dangerous. Most don’t bite anyone. Dobermans, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Great Danes are frequent biters, but the dog that mauled a Frenchwoman so badly a few years back that she was given the world’s first face transplant was, of all things, a Labrador retriever. Shocked? You should be, because statistically, the ONLY breeds with NO bite records are the Bassett Hound and the Beagle. But, come on, Snoopy would never have bitten anyone!

So yes, French Poodles bite. Chesapeake Bay Retreivers bite. Chihuahuas bite (a lot). And ANY dog who is afraid has the potential to bite. But I’ll bet you have never heard about any dog bites lately that weren’t Pit Bulls, have you? So in the interest of dispelling the negative profiling about this breed, I invite you to view a short video about Pit Bulls.


Verizon heard us!

Earlier this week I wrote about the offensive Verizon LG Dare wireless phone ad that featured two chained and seemingly aggressive Pit Bulls charging a man who jumped a fence to try the new phone. The country mobilized! ASPCA (American Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals), HSUS (Humane Society of the United States), PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and thousands of county shelters, grassroots rescue groups, and the general public converged on Verizon via email, phone calls, and letters, to convey their outrage.

As Margaret Meade once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Our collective actions proved Ms. Meade right and I am happy…no thrilled…to report that Renee Brace and the ASPCA Online Community spoke with Verizon Executive Coordinator, Steve Schwartzman, and the offensive ad has been pulled in all markets. Mr. Schwartzman was very understanding of everyones feelings and admitted that they have received quite a bit of heat over this commercial.

Shame on Verizon

Readers of my blog, please view the Verizon ad (link below) that features two Pit Bulls CHAINED and acting AGGRESSIVE and then PLEASE sign the petition so Verizon removes this hideous and thoughtless ad which profiles a breed with enough negative press.

Here is a link to sign a petition to have Verizon remove this ad immediately – “Make Verizon Accountable. Can They Hear Us Now?“ It’s the least we can do to protect the image of these wonderful, and often maligned dogs.

My Pit Bull Rosie thanks you!

Remember Woody

My rescued Rosie

My rescued Rosie

He had red hair, amber eyes, and a heart as big as the sky. When he was just four months old he was brought in to the Humane Society shelter in the city where I used to live. His name was Woody, and like his fellow inmates, his home was a 3′ by 6′ cell.

Woody had issues. Woody had lots of energy. Woody needed to be adopted by someone who was willing to spend time running and playing with him every day. Woody was a Pit Bull. For months no one offered to commit that much to him. He waited.

I met Woody when I began volunteering at this shelter. I started by walking dogs a couple of days a week, but I soon realized I’d have to do more when I found that at any given time there were over 100 dogs living in that shelter, and there were only a handful of volunteers. There are a total of 15 shelters in the county where I lived then, and about 58 counties in that state. If every shelter housed only half the numbers mine did, the number of dogs living in shelters across the country every day is staggering

Because there were so few volunteers sometimes 10 days would pass before Woody could be taken out of his cell; over time he slowly lost his mind. For exercise, he used to run up the sides and over the top of his small space…over and over and over again.

Every animal, human or otherwise, reacts differently to incarceration. Some have been so abused that a kind voice, a safe place to sleep, and food and water is a huge improvement in their lives. Some animals are adopted quickly, especially the kittens and puppies. Some are adopted and then brought back because, for one reason or another, they didn’t fit into the family dynamic. And some, like Woody, get up every time someone comes down the row and wonder, is today my day? Will someone want to take me home? Will someone love me now?

So, I asked myself over and over again…what will change this situation? What can I do?

I’d like to see children and adults educated on the depth and breadth of the responsibility of pet ownership. I’d wish it could be mandatory that anyone who wants to adopt a pet has to work in a shelter for a month before they can. I’d like all people to know that every dog’s personality is different and not every dog will get along with every person. I’d like people to know that each dog requires different attention; some need lots of exercise and personal care, such as daily brushing or weekly grooming. I’d like people to learn the breed characteristics before committing to a dog (the Dalmatian or the Jack Russell Terrier, for instance, are extremely hyper dogs and requiring lots of play). I’d like people to know that, just because you have a back yard doesn’t mean you need a dog, and that all animals are born pure with no preconceived ideas as to how they are to act. As their owner…their pack leader…YOU influence who they become.

Let’s take the infamous Pitt Bull. I have a beautiful rescued Pit named Rosie. She wasn’t born knowing how to fight viciously, and if she were a fighter, she would have been trained to do so. Naturally, she did not learn that behavior from me. We set the tone for our animals’ temperament through the amount of love and attention we give them. We are responsible for their health and safety.

So what happened to Woody? It was inevitable; he ended up snapping at a shelter worker and he was euthanized. I believe that he’s in a better place, but I can’t help being sad that he spent nearly all of his entire time on this planet in a cage. I am sad that he never got to sleep at the foot of his owner’s bed. I am sad hat he never knew the joy of greeting his master at the door – that he never experienced the warmth of his own home – that he was never part of a family.

In my opinion, in order to prevent the fate of thousands more Woody’s, the solution to the millions of unwanted, abandoned, tortured, and discarded animals, is to have your pet spayed or neutered by its six month birthday. Puppies and kittens are adorable, but they grow into adult animals, and they require daily love and care and a lifetime commitment.

Shelters and rescue groups require that your new family member is spayed or neutered before it can go home with you. That helps with those animals, but you should know that one intact female dog can start a cascade of over 11,000 dogs in one year’s time, if she and her offspring remain unaltered. Unless you are a responsible licensed breeder, there is no reason for your dog or cat to produce more animals, some of whom will become a Woody right in your town. There are hundreds of abandoned and unwanted Woody’s being picked up or owner-surrendered every hour of every day right in your backyard, and thirty-five percent of them are pure bred. So, make a pledge today to have your pet spayed or neutered before its six month birthday, or if your pet is an adult and still intact, get it done today. Many municipalities and counties offer low cost or free spay and neuter services…and free surgery if they are a Pit Bull. If there is nothing like this available why not start a Spay and Neuter campaign of your own? Begin with your own veterinarian; he or she may be willing to charter a non-profit group under your lead. Or, if you wish, donate your time, money, or both, to your local Humane Society, animal shelter, or rescue group.

And please do it in Woody’s name.