Wednesday, February 4, 2009

beyond the myth

If you've spent any amount of time on my blog, you know that bully breeds hold a special place in my heart. I have two myself... Mona Mae - a Staffordshire Terrier mix and Quincy - a Pit Bull. Mona Mae is my Delta Society Pet Partner... meaning she had to go through rigorous testing - both obedience and temperament - for us to become registered. She is the sweetest, SMARTEST and most willing to please dog I have ever known. Quincy is a fun-loving, goofy teddy bear. He loves everyone and everything, and his favorite thing in the world is to go to sleep in my lap (all 55 pounds of him) while I'm holding him like a baby.

These two precious dogs are the reason why I am scared to death of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). For those of you that don't know what that is, you can read more about it here and here. But the basic idea is a city, town or even state can enact laws that ban certain breeds. Most BSL doesn't include a grandfather clause... meaning that if a law like this was enacted where I live, animal control officials would knock on my door, take Mona Mae and Quincy away and then destroy them. There's no doubt in my mind that I would move before that became a possibility, but many people don't have that option.

If you take the time to do research on BSL, you learn that in places where the ban has been in place, it has done absolutely no good. And the laws themselves are incredibly expensive and difficult to enforce. And most importantly... it doesn't solve the root problem - bad owners. Instead of focusing on and punishing owners who are irresponsible and criminals who use their dogs for illegal purposes, legislatures choose to place their focus on the dogs, making them into scapegoats. And just because you don't own a bully breed doesn't mean you won't face these same problems some day... many breed banning laws include American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers but also include Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Mastiffs, English Bulldogs and sometimes even Boxers.

There are many organizations, including the United States Humane Society and the ASPCA, that are fighting back against BSL, but it's a difficult fight. That's why I'm super excited about a new film that will be premiering called "Beyond the Myth." The film is about pit bulls and those who love and defend them. It looks at the factors behind the public's fear of pit bulls and examines the conflict existing between advocates and opponents of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). It also investigates the myths associated with Pit Bulls and delves into what - exactly - a Pit Bull is. You can watch the trailer here by clicking on the TV screen.

The film itself is a non-profit effort and they're currently trying to raise funds for two purposes:

1. Funding a public opinion survey that aims to identify public perceptions of pit bulls and their corresponding sources. The results of the survey will be used in Beyond the Myth, and following release, will be made available to animal rights and other advocacy groups. Coupled with other independent research from the University of North Carolina, this survey may help to substantiate the legal fight against BSL.

2. Establishing a legal defense fund for owners struggling to keep their dogs in areas where BSL has been passed. No one should be forced to give up a friend simply because they cannot afford legal help.

Please consider helping today by donating here. Even if you are unable to make a monetary donation, please make an effort to become educated about Breed Specific Legislation. Send around informative links to all your friends. Join the "Beyond the Myth" group on Facebook. Talk about this and make noise. Please don't just turn a blind eye because you own a Golden Retriever, or a Poodle, or a Cocker Spaniel. It might be your neighbor or best friend one day that must deal with having a loved one taken away from them. And if you're a dog lover, then you're a dog lover - regardless of the breed.

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