Posts Tagged ‘breed discrimination’

Anabelle and her person

When I was growing up, I dreamed of living in Denver, near the Rockies so I could go into the mountains whenever I like, skiing in the winter, enjoying the fresh mountain air in the summer. That was before I found out that Denver has a lot of pollution these days and also before I found out that Denver is being run by bigots.

They’re not bigoted against people (at least as codified by law); they’re bigoted against pit bulls. And there’s a lot more of bigotry going on in the United States. Besides Denver, Miami, Cincinnati and San Francisco (tolerant of virtually anything known to man), all figured prominently in the new documentary, “Beyond the Myth”,

From the web site:
The documentary intelligently explores the contributing factors behind the public’s generalized fear of ‘pit bulls’, and examines the conflict existing between advocates and opponents of breed discriminatory laws, commonly referred to as breed bans.

It investigates the myths associated with these breeds, challenges the idea that they are inherently vicious, and presents eye-opening research regarding the media’s role in influencing people’s opinion on dog attacks.”
Some of these cities have killed over a thousand pit bulls since their laws went into effect. It was heart-rending to see a picture of a pile of dead pit bulls, all killed simply because of their breed, not because of anything they’d done. There was a lot of sniffing going on in the darkness of the theater.

It was depressing to find out that if a pit bull was involved in an attack, the words “pit bull” and “attack” were usually in the headline of the newspaper article, which was also more prominently placed in the paper than any articles on dog attacks where no breed specified because the attack wasn’t by a pit bull. The film pointed out that boy killed by pit bulls in San Francisco, Nicholas Scott Faibish, (whose mother was later cited for child endangerment, as she left him alone with two dogs, one of which had bitten him earlier in the day) was cited hundreds of times while the story of a girl, Kate-Lynn Logel, killed by the family’s malamute was hard to even find. For more information on how the news media slants news stories on dog bites, see CHAKO’s website,

I would never trivialize any attack on any person by any dog. I don’t put animals ahead of people. But as a Christian, I believe that people should treat animals as God’s creation. If you don’t want to take proper care of a pet, don’t have one. If you have a dog, you need to care for it, train it, restrain it when necessary, make sure it gets along with people, give it something to do, don’t let it run loose around the neighborhood, don’t leave small children alone with a dog and certainly not with several dogs, etc. Yes, there are some dogs of every breed that are just mean, even dogs are predisposed to fight. But most dogs, treated well, and with the realization by their owners and others that they are animals, not people, just want to love and be loved.

My state, Ohio, until recently wasthe only state with the dubious distinction of having breed-specific language state-wide. Thankfully, that’s changed.  This is from the American Veterinary Medical Association,

On February 21, 2012, Ohio HB 14 was signed into law by the Governor. This bill removes pit bulls from the definition of “vicious dogs” in state statute. Prior to the adoption of HB 14, Ohio was the only state in the nation to have state-wide breed-specific legislation enacted. The bill also revises the definition of “dangerous dog” and “vicious dog”; makes changes to the requirements that owners of dangerous or vicious dogs must abide by; and provides penalties for violations of the act.

While dog-bite prevention remains a priority, breed-specific legislation does not address the problem. Proper socialization of dogs, and proper training for both animal and owner, are important steps to prevent dog bites. Additionally, breed-specific bans create a host of other issues for animals and pet owners, including the risk of abandonment of the animal.

This is a great piece of legislation and I am happy that the Ohio legislature, Governor, and Ohio Veterinary Medical Association worked to get this adopted.

The bill becomes effective 90 days after signing.”

However, cities can still have breed-specific laws as does Cleveland Heights, a city next to ours and self-proclaimed “nuclear-free zone” and a supposed bastion of tolerance and diversity. Here is part of the laws regarding dogs… well, some dogs…not quite in line with all that tolerance and love, but typical of the belief that all pit bulls and pit bull mixes are inherently vicious dogs, without any sort of proof:

• “Pit bulls and pit bull crosses are considered vicious dogs (505.091). (See below.)

• Animals may be impounded if in violation of Cleveland Heights Animal Control ordinances. A fee and all kennel charges must be paid in order for the animal to be released.

Vicious Dog Ordinance

Cleveland Heights Ordinance #71-1987 added Section 505.091 to the Animal Control section of our Codified Ordinances and deals specifically with vicious dogs and Pit Bull Terriers. The owner of a vicious dog has a great responsibility to neighbors and the public. In order to meet that responsibility, regulations have been established that must be followed. It is believed that dog owners who follow these requirements will reduce the likelihood that their dog will be involved in a bite. In addition, neighbors and people who pass by the dogs when the dogs are in the yard or are being walked will be less likely to feel threatened by the dog.

The city defines a vicious dog in three ways:

1. Any dog with a propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack, to cause injury or to otherwise endanger the safety of other human beings or other domestic animals;

2. Any dog which, without provocation, attacks a human being or another domestic animal;

3. Any pit bull terrier, which shall herein be defined as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed of dog or any mixed breed of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pitbull Terrier as to be identifiable as partially of the breed of Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier by a qualified veterinarian duly licensed as such by the State of Ohio;

(Notice that these dogs are automatically labeled vicious without having met #1 and # 2 above!–my insert.)

If you have a vicious dog, the following is necessary to comply with the law:

(For the rest of the ordinances, please go to

In general, the saying “There are no bad dogs, only bad owners” is true. Cities must realize that they need to do their research, not just react and certainly not just kill. Hard to believe that there are places in this country where practically anything goes, where the police can come into your house, take your dog and kill it, just because it’s a specific breed, no matter what that dog’s even done or not done. There are lots of people working to change this but until then, maybe I’ve just helped your decision about where to work and live easier by eliminating some cities from your possibilities. You can thank me later. And thanks to Libby Sherrill, writer/producer/director for making this eye-opening movie! See it if it comes to a theater near you.

Three weeks, a (foster) home, love and a new name. Instead of Crazy Mama (wishful thinking, from what I can tell), our dog sports the new sobriquet of Annabelle, in a nod to the South where she lived so unhappily. When I walked in a few days ago, she came to meet me, friendly but not leaping up; happy to be petted, but ready to go back to our daughter, her one constant in these days of adjustment.

Doubtless because of her former life,(fighting or as a bait dog, we don’t know), she has separation anxiety issues. Twice while our daughter was at class, Annabelle managed to push hard enough on her crate, not to pop the door open, but to create a small space where she somehow shoved her rather large head through, followed by her still a bit too skinny body. Once she tore the bottom of the crate. Fortunately, both times she neither damaged herself, except for some scrapes, or much else once she got out, although my Guinness hot pad, a gift from our older daughter, direct from Ireland, fell victim.

After the second time, our daughter and a friend covered the edges of the crate with colored zip ties, frustrating her latest escape attempt. Now, part of Annabelle’s work consists of being left briefly in the closed crate, while our daughter closes the door, standing outside the room, then coming back in to reward Annabelle for not getting too excited. She made it close to a minute today. Progress indeed. Once she realizes that when we leave, someone will come back to let her out, she can relax.

During Japanese lessons, Annabelle curls up on her sleeping pad. Mrs. Saito (and everyone else) loves her. She’ll be a good companion for someone who wants a friendly, loving dog that doesn’t require athletic training to keep happy. She knows how to sit and lie down; we’re working on “Shake”, an always popular trick. Sometimes when we go into another room, she can’t figure out immediately where we are and she trots from room to room, a panoply of wrinkles on her forehead, puzzling it out. Her feet mostly stay on the floor, even under the intense provocation of food smells. She likes to sit on a lap, pushing her head into the object of her affection, or to curl up in her round pad in an impossibly small space. Often, her head lies on the edge of the pad, squashed into a definitely non-feminine but unquestionable cuteness.

Yet this dog and thousands like her, suffer from breed discrimination all over the United States. In Denver, for instance, “It shall be unlawful for any person to own, possess, keep, exercise control over, maintain, harbor, transport or sell within the city any pit bull.” Section 8-55. A pit bull owner even has to obtain a license to transport a pit bull from outside the city, through the city to destination outside the city of Denver. There’s a separate section about dangerous dogs. So pit bulls are even below dogs that have to be demonstrably vicious!! Welcome to Denver, city of discrimination (and not in the positive way), a place that, when I was growing up, was where I wanted to life at some point! I’ve re-thought that idea and not just because of the pollution caused by inversions.

Welcome to a brave, new world, Annabelle, one where some places and people hate you without even knowing you. Given a chance, one loving dog at a time and lots of vocal owners, perhaps this will change. Until then, you can keep the Rocky Mountain high.