In following Jen Lancaster on Twitter and Facebook, I've been made more aware of the unfair treatment of pit bulls and other dog breeds who society looks down upon. I've met Jen's dogs, Libby, Maisy and Loki. They're the most darling, loving, enthusiastic animals on the planet. Seriously. My dog Lucky may be smarter (hehehe) but Jen's three dogs are awesome! So when I see petitions like this one regarding a policy proposing the killing of specific breeds that are brought to a shelter in Fayetteville, North Carolina, I get absolutely outraged.
Let me state clearly that I'm a cat person. I've always loved cats, always will love cats, but I will also always be an advocate for the fair and ethical treatment of all pets - dogs, hamsters, lizards, pigs, birds (especially birds), etc. Cruelty is unacceptable when it comes to these animals who we've adopted out of love and a desire to share our lives with. I hate seeing dogs tied up outside. I don't like seeing dirty aquariums or cages. I come absolutely un-fucking-glued when I see someone yelling at or beating an animal of any kind.
When Jen brought this petition to my attention earlier today, I didn't hesitate to act upon it. Aside from signing the petition, I also sent a letter to each of the members of the council as well as the mayor of Fayetteville, NC. They will meet in less than an hour to decide the fate of these animals. What will you do to help?
To whom it concerns,
I come to you today with a plea to oppose the policy you will be discussing at tonight's council meeting regarding a new kill policy on certain breeds of dogs at the animal shelter(s) in Cumberland County. The policy suggests that certain breeds of dogs considered "vicious" be killed without being given a chance to be adopted -- dogs that have not personally shown aggression, but because of their breeds, people are being (falsely) told they're dangerous and should be put to death.
I was born into a family with a German Shepherd. There are pictures of me riding this dog when I was just a toddler. His name was Omar. I was thirteen when that dog died and I wept as though he'd been my own brother. He was protective, but gentle. Omar knew only how to love.
When my son was two and my daughter was just a few months old, we adopted a Siberian Husky puppy. He was black and white with bright blue eyes. Dakota slept in my son's bed with him at night, played in the snow with him and the neighbor kids and was the first to step between my children and I when they got into trouble. Not to snap or bark at me, but to detract the attention from them onto himself. He literally cried when they cried.
My sister owned a pit bull who was very much the same way. When my children were put in time outs, Chance sat with them, facing the corner and looking as scolded as they did. When he got into trouble for piddling on a carpet or chewing up a shoe, he knew he was in trouble and would put HIMSELF into time-out.
The fact of the matter is, I've been bitten by dogs before - Jack Russell terriers, cocker spaniels and dacshunds. I would trust a full-blooded pit bull, husky, doberman or rott before I'd leave my child alone with a cocker spaniel or a terrier. The point is ALL dogs can be dangerous if given the right circumstances. It depends on how they were trained and in what environments they've been raised.
The breeds listed in the proposed policy change aren't bad breeds. They shouldn't be judged by what other dogs of the same type have done. That makes as much sense as saying anyone who lives in Harlem should be shot upon sight - not because they're a specific threat, but because everybody "knows" ALL residents of Harlem are dangerous criminals who rape, murder and pillage. Ridiculous (not to mention unconstitional) to make those assumptions!
Are there bad dogs? Yes. Is there an over population of dogs? Yes. But killing a specific breed of dog isn't going to make those problems go away.
Instead, I would encourage the shelter teach classes (an excellent opportunity to raise funds for the shelter and the county) on how to train dogs. In fact, make the class mandatory for anyone choosing to adopt an animal from the shelter. Education is so important when it comes to owning a pet.
By approving the policy set forth tonight, Fayetteville isn't teaching anyone anything except how to be afraid and intolerant. And in a country when fear and intolerance runs rampant enough, is this really what needs to happen?
My brother and me with Omar
Our Great Dane, Dalton
(who would share his food and water bucket with the cats)
Dakota, our husky
My sister's dog Chance (look at that face!?)
Our voices were heard and the animals will continue to have the same chances all other animals at this shelter have to be adopted. WE WON! This update from the Fayetteville Observer clears up some mistakes we were told in the wording of the petition and describes how the meeting went down last night. Thank you to everyone who signed the petition and forwarded the links to others. :)