Tuesday, December 4, 2012
For dogs have surrounded me: Sunday School Scriptures for Pit Bull Enthusiasts--Psalm 22:16
Once upon a time I knew nothing of pit bulls. I suspect, most people are like that, they don't know, and they don't care. I'm sure, even after reading media reports of a mauling, or seeing coverage of a death, most people may be curious, but don't come up with judgements about a breed of dog. Once upon a time I myself may have looked upon on them as the kind of calamities that happen by chance and of which we have no control...like tornadoes, and cougars that somehow end up in city limits and attack, and semis that loose their breaks on mountain passes, or somebody goes off the deep end at a basketball game and beats someone within an inch of their life. Unless it happens to you or someone you love, then it's just the sad chance game with the fates.
Then there are acts of violence and needless death and injury that happen to a family member, and in their memory, someone takes up a torch in effort that such a senseless happening never happen again, or is at least reduced, or that greater consequences are given to those who are reckless with precious, sacred life. I'm called to mind the creation of MADD by an outraged Candice Lightner, after her 13 year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver. I'm reminded of Judy Shepard who started a foundation to help combat hate crimes against gay, lesbian, and transgendered people, and in the memory of her slain son Mathew. She continues to fight for legislation for hate crimes and human rights.
Then, once upon a time, a woman who was jogging down a street was savagely attacked by a pit bull. She may not known a great deal about pit bulls at the time, but she certainly received a first hand kind of education that nobody really wants. Painful, life changing. She found she was not the first, and that something should be done about spreading the awareness about the dangers, about needing new laws to protect the best interest of the public, about advocating for victim's rights. She found that these are not rare happenings. These attacks may not always be fatal, and they happen nearly every day.
I'm sure Candice Lighter and Judy Shepard had their share of critics, had their personal lives torn upside down. Today, there are critics of MADD's "19th century" views on alcoholic consumption, and Judy Shepard met with opposition from the Westboro Baptist Church. But neither of these founders have had their personal lives raked over the coals like the woman who created dogsbite.org..
Type dogsbite.org into a search engine, and you are likely to find many blogs and social media organizations dedicated to discrediting the site itself, the cause of BSL, and go on to muse about the founder's personal life and whether or not she was ever attacked at all. The "dogs" will surround her and bark: this person is not an expert in dog genetics or behavior, how DARE she. They will maul to death moot points in her testimony...did she break her arm as a result of the dog's attack , or did her arm break because she fell? Well, Candice Lighter was not an expert in alcohol, cars, roads, and the multitudes of issues about drunk driving. Judy Shepard, not an expert on laws. These woman were expert in the human condition, that's what counts. There are plenty of other people who are voicing their opinions about these dogs being dangerous, and none of them are experts in dog genetics or behavior: Surgeons, the insurance industry, and City Hall. We know, one photograph like the one above must speak more volumes than the thousands of photos of children using Pibble for a pillow and personal accounts of how wonderful they are....and it's all how you raise 'em! Those of us who dared to share our story are bullied and threatened. How they hate those photos and the testimony of yet one more pit bull attack. There are petitions to shut dogsbite.org down. This, by people who fight for the right to own whatever breed of dog they wish, they would like to shut down the freedom of speech. She bears the bullying and parodies with grace.
If there were as much effort in self scrutiny of their own advocacy....are the mantras and memes working to reduce the attacks from pit bulls?
Leashes. Better Fences. Liability insurance. Tougher punitive consequences for those who fail. Prevention. Stop promoting these dogs as family pets and stop putting them in situations where they fail. Ensure that only capable experts own these dogs. There will come a day, when a critical number is reached that equals ENOUGH. BANS and BSL. Your choice.
HEY PIT BULL ADVOCATES...there would be no need for dogsbite.org if you would do your job and tell the truth about these dogs. Very likely, people like me and that nice lady who founded dogsbite.org wouldn't care very much about pit bulls, because we never heard of another attack, because an attack didn't happen in our lives or touch the lives of anyone we knew personally. They wouldn't think of these dogs... if at all.....like I did.....once upon a time.
Thanks Colleen Lynn for all you do.