Thursday, January 1, 2009

Prospero año Nuevo, Homies!

I think it's only appropriate that my New Year begins not only with a warm and sunny day and a twinge of a champagne-induced hangover, but also with a redemptive act on the part of an institution I have boycotted for the past twenty years.

Prior to the mid 1980s, few people in the United States, much less the world, had heard of the American Pit Bull Terrier. The breed that had enjoyed top dog status as a beloved family pet from the mid 1800s to the first few decades of the 1900s, was now for the most part quietly owned by either the very few "dog men" (i.e. those who kept tight control on the quality of their lines by matching their dogs in fights) left in America, or by responsible people throughout the country who still valued the pit bull as a quality working dog and family pet.

Then Sports Illustrated released this issue and all hell broke loose.


In fact, it is a widely held belief among dog enthusiasts and historians that this cover single-handedly sparked the ensuing firestorm of hysteria surrounding the breed, leading to hundreds of inflammatory media stories as well as legislation banning these dogs from municipalities throughout the country. Ironically, one of the nation's first pit bull bans was passed by the good citizens of my very own burg. It remains in existence today, as does the ban implemented around the same time in the Great City State of Denver, despite a 2004 law passed by the Colorado General Assembly prohibiting breed specific laws.

At any rate, back to Sports Illustrated. Last week, the magazine redeemed itself with this:


You can read the whole story here.

So what? You might ask. It's just a breed of dog. Well, think about this: it has long been my contention that the hysteria surrounding pit bulls is not about the dogs themselves, but about the "kind" of people who own them. This is not an animal rights issues. As a matter of fact, I don't believe in animal rights. But I do believe in human rights, including the right to own whatever you damn well please to improve the quality of your life, so long as you act responsibly with your property. In my ten years advocating for these dogs and their owners, I have confronted scores of gooberment officials and community organizers on this issue, all of whom respond to me with the same tired old refrain: they implement pit bull bans because they don't want "those kinds of people" living in their neighborhoods.

Hmmm. Now where have we heard that before?

20 comments:

Wendy said...

Great post. I'm sure I've told you this before, but here goes... again. After that Presa Canario attack in San Francisco, I got an assignment to do a story about dog bites. I interviewed a local vet, who said that the nicest dogs he'd met during his practice were pit bulls. The most vicious? Cocker spaniels. I've never heard anyone say anything bad about cocker spaniel owners.

Mandy's Kidding said...

I don't have an issue with any breed of dog, just certain breeds of dog owners. I owned a Black Lab named Odin and a German Shepherd named Elsa. They were both sweet, well-behaved dogs thanks to a lot of dog obedience classes. They passed away in 2002 and 2004 at the ripe old ages of 16 and 10, respectively.

I don't think I'll own any more dogs because I really haven't gotten over that one-two punch of losing both of them within two years. I'm getting choked up just typing that right now.

Dammit.

My point is, I went to see Marley & Me on Christmas Day and that was a Really Bad Idea for three reasons:

1) It was Christmas Day

2) Marley died of the same condition that Elsa had

3) Those people shouldn't be allowed to own a dog. They allowed their dog to attack people and other animals, run away, destroy their house and become a public nuisance and a danger. Not funny. Not cute.

My god. I've just left a blog within a blog.

I'm done now.

moi said...

Wendy: Oh boy was that a tragedy that didn't need to happen. Those poor Presas were totally unstable, highly dangerous dogs and yet everyone involved in their so-called "rescue" not only ignored that fact, they also did nothing to try and modify the dogs' behaviors. Their owners were justifiably indicted.

Mandy: Aw, girl, I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your pals. It sounds like you were not only a loving owner, but a responsible one, too. Rant away on Marley and Me. I fully agree. Ill behaved dogs like that are neither cute nor funny, and they shouldn't be set up like that to tug at our heart strings. Instead, their owners should be held up as examples of the epitome of irresponsible dog ownership.

K9 said...

first, mandy. im sorry. i understand.

moi they way they handle it down here is to increase your homeowners insurance if you choose to have a certain breed of dog. that is an example of the new control tactics -carbon taxes, punishment for food choices, punishment for car choices, punishment for achievement....etc etc etc. oh no - its not a law. like hell!

i read a great piece last week about the ever tolerant citizens of san fran who dont like some of the people that moved into their city limits. now who is clinging to their guns? grrrrrrheheehahahaha!

Aunty Belle said...

pardon me Moi, but ain't ya seen how iffin' "those people" was an ethnic category or a gender issue they can do whatever? But "those people" who are identified wif' a philosophy (rightly or wrongly) is fair game?

Mandy, aw Sugar--thas' a shame. We have two Labs buried in the camellia garden--I really does unnerstand, Pumpkin.

ALl breeds have bad owners--some of the worst dawgs I ever seen wuz Poodles--I mean, worst behaved cause they owners thought bein a toy poodle meant so cute ya cain't find fault when they chew your babies' arm off.

K9, what kinda people moved into San Fran?

Aunty Belle said...

Wait a minute--readin' back'ards, ya mean, K9's folks have Dogos? yikes. I seen some an' admit, they is creepy canines. K9, doan trust 'em!! Keep back!

An Boxer -Babe is right! I pinched the idea(All in the name of makin' $) of puttin a purty pearl handled derringer on a shirt wif' the motto:

"Pearls is always appropriate"!

(ya know how 22 seconds after the game, the Gator's score is on shirts? Heh..yeah, I had the shirts made by that company. But I will give you and AB a royalty.)

HOWL!!! (bu

TROLL said...

Uncle Jed's rescued pit-bulls were among the best-behaved of the critters I battled this past week.

Waited patiently for their food. And promptly devoured every morsel of it.

Boxer said...

Mickey, my five pound Chihuahua bit my husband in the face, but I can him without any additional insurance, etc. Whatever arse-hole had my dog before I adopted him did more damage to his little soul than I'll be able to fix in his lifetime. As long as animals are considered property people will be able to abuse all breeds.

to Mandy - your comment breaks my heart because I know I'll be there at some point. I have three beloved dogs all over the age of 12. I hope you do adopt more dogs because YOU are the kind of person who should have them.

Wow, that was awkward said...

Great title to your blog.

I didn't know you were boycotting SI for the last twenty years. Let me know if you want any SI fleece pullovers or blankets. I think I have 20.

Meghan said...

That is an awesome Sports Illustrated cover. I hadn't seen it yet. Funny... I've been boycotting SI, too. But, more for the swimsuit model issues than the dog one.

Oh, and... HAPPIEST OF NEW YEARS, DEAREST MOI!!!!!

moi said...

K9: The insurance issue is just so ding dang stupid. You want to penalize an owner because they have a DOG (or a cat)? Fine. But you can't penalize one breed over another. Besides, it would seem children are a much greater liability.

Aunty: Looks like 2009 is going to be the Year of the Tee Shirt! I really should open up a Cafe Press shop . . .

Troll: You're back in one piece! Yay! Those sound like good doggies. We teach all our pitties that Nothing in Life is Free. In other words, they have to do something to get something. Like wait patiently for their food. Or sit at the door calmly when guests arrive.

Boxer: Then there's the famous case of the Pomeranian that killed a newborn in Los Angeles back in 2000, I think. They're not on any insurer's list. As for the animals as property issue, I've thought long and hard about this and done a lot of research, and have come to the conclusion that the best way to protect them is to give them legal status as property. But that's a discussion for another day :o)

WTWA: Yes! And I'll make a superman cape out of it for my dog!

Meghan: Now all they need to do is create a cover shot of Helen Mirren in a bikini posing WITH a pit bull. Everybody's happy!

Boxer said...

I do agree with you regarding property, but laws differ from state to state - in Washington State we happily have very clear rights for animals and I'm proud of that.

Wendy said...
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Wendy said...
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Aunty Belle said...

I'se wearin' mah new pink T shirt wif' a pearly handled derringer on it--hoo-whee!

(fer the record, ladies of a certain maturation ought to abstain from T shirts!)

Big Shamu said...

Not too much I can add to an excellent post. John Grogan blows. Screw the movie.

I agree with AB, don't give up on dogs Mandy, they need a wonderful owner like you. No dog can replace Elsa and Odin but they can come to sit beside them in your heart of beloved pets.

Big Shamu said...

Check out the post on the squirrel blog, would love your input.

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