Tuesday, October 18, 2011

celebrate this

I need to preface this post by saying that it's very opinionated and may or may not reflect the opinion of others in our group ... individuals that we are.

I'll be the first to admit that I've never been very keen on the idea of Pit Bull Awareness Day. It's lovely, but it supposes that we need to market pit bulls to the world of (usually, white) people who (might) think they're scary. At this point in time, if people think dogs or people for that matter are scary based on what they look like, there isn't much we can do or say to help them see their way out of that mindset. But we'll keep keeping on with our events and activities and maybe those folks will notice how much fun we're having with our dogs - or maybe they won't. I sincerely believe that it's not up to us to change anyone's mind. We're here to have a good time with the dogs we call family and do some good work with the dogs and people who aren't so lucky.

On that note, as an animal welfare group, we do believe that it is up to the collective 'us' to look for ways to help the tens of thousands of pit bull owners in our home counties get what they need so they can enjoy their dogs. Which isn't easy considering dog owner resources are few and far between, and the economy has certainly forced many to make incredibly difficult choices, including surrendering their dogs on the heels of misfortune including foreclosure. So to celebrate the dogs the way we love best, we went out to under-served Pittsburg last Saturday and teamed up with Well Pet Vet Clinic to help people get their dogs fixed, vaccinated, microchipped and trained. There was no need to convince this crowd that pit bulls can be valued family members. There wasn't even any need to convince them that spay/neuter or training was beneficial. They were here for all kinds of help, and everyone was very grateful to get it.

The event officially started at 11am on Saturday. At four in the morning, people started lining up to make sure they were able to get what their dog needed... Four in the morning. At 8am, over 75 pit bull type dogs were in line to get spayed/neutered. By the end of the day, that number rose to 90 and we started wondering how far over budget we were going to go. A good problem to have, actually!

When you see a line like this, you have to wonder: Why would anyone in the world think that mandated spay/neuter laws would be practical or even necessary?

All in all, a hugely successful event that took a relatively minimal amount of planning. All advertised via flyers and word of mouth in under-served communities by fellow dog owners in the community, and staffed by volunteers who value this work. We are enormously grateful to PetSmart Charities for allowing us to buy so many surgeries (even though - gulp - we might've gone a little over budget on this one). And to Well Pet Vet Hospital for not passing out when the line grew around the block. You people rock in ways we didn't know people could rock!

Finally, huge thanks to our volunteers for your heart and tenacity and to Best Friends Animal Society for sending shelter workers from out the area to witness the way we like to celebrate pit bulls.

Finishing off with the best photo of the day. Thanks for your photography Brian George!


In Black and White said...

I totally see your point and in an ideal world I'd love to agree with you that its not our job to change people's mind. A Pit Bull Awareness Day may not be the way to go about it but my feeling is that if you go as far as caring about these dogs (whether as an adopter, a shelter volunteer or as a career), being an advocate is an unavoidable part of the "job".

For me that runs from sharing facts about 'pitbulls' (in the broadest sense of the word - a type, not a breed) with family and friends or chatting to strangers about my experiences with these dogs, to handing out information on spay/neuter to my neighbors or simply trying to train my bully dog to be a breed ambassador.

If I'm going to be moved by the rows of pitties in a shelter then I can't disconnect that from being obliged to encourage anyone I can to see them as the same as all the other dogs and just as worthy of a home - or trying to prevent my neighbors breeding yet another litter of shelter-destined puppies.

Donna said...

Thanks for your post. One thought B/W, it sounds like you're advocating that pit bulls are no different from other dogs. And if so, then in essence you're not trying to convince anyone of anything --- which is the ideal! It sounds like you're just helping shelter visitors see them as the individual personalities that they are. When we stop treating the dogs as less-than or better-than other dogs, we'll get to where we want them to be -- back in balance with the world of deserving shelter pets. No different! :-)

The Pit Bull Princess said...

Many people have the perception that Pit Bulls are different from "regular" dogs - if I had a nickel for each time someone asked me if they have locking jaws...

Perception is reality in many cases.

I feel there is a need to educate people (aka raise awareness) so they understand that the most of the things they've learned about Pit Bulls in the media is not true.

My feeling is that raising awareness is synonymous with educating.

Anonymous said...

Again, Badrap sets the tone we all follow!

Thank for bringing another tear jerking (though this time for joy) and thoughtful post to remind us all how special our dogs really are for our health and happiness and to remind us to share this post in hope that others may donate so BADRAP can recoup some of these necessary funds to continue the work.

Ps those cuties should land the badrap 2012 calendar cover. Spread the word.

Of Pit Bulls and Patience said...

Great post- I agree on all the major point. Pit Bull Awareness day is a great opportunity to connect to the community around you- whether it is educating them on pit bulls as dogs or helping fellow pit owners get the help they need in hard times. I think that last picture says it all!

Rachel said...

So glad you are still doing these!

Dianne said...

Well, for me, every Sunday I'm at the shelter as an adoption counselor is "Pit Bull Awareness" day. I usually answer the question "what can you tell me about pit bulls?" with "everything you think you know is probably wrong."

Thanks for all the happy pictures. I love the little girl in pink.

Donna said...

Too true Dianne.

As a shelter worker, you're likely working to dispel myths about chihuahuas too (like, they don't need to be trained since they're small.) Thanks for all you do to open people's minds to our responsibilities as stewards on this planet.

the slackmistress said...

Lots of people want to do right by their (animals, people, etc) but simply don't have the option. I myself have been guilty of judging rather than listening. Keep up the great work.

tridd said...

I hate to admit I bought into the pit bull stereotype. My mind changed 10 months ago when a beautiful pit bull, abandoned by her owner, came to live with my family. She has been a wonderful gift. She is funny, tenacious, and so sweet. We love her and she is a great companion to our great dane and poodle. Your work to assist pit bull owners is overwhelming.

Linda said...

Awesome event. Thanks for doing this, and showing the rest of the world that pitties are wonderful dogs. Someone has to counter the bad hype.

Just love that last pic!

Jill said...

Great post, and I'm dying for that gray puppy.

On another matter, I'm wondering why Ohio has some of the harshest anti-pit bull laws in the country, but you can own tigers, lions and wolves.

Elizabeth C. NYC said...

NYC has "Club Pit" which provides free spay and neuter services to pit bull and pit mixes 365 days a year...as well as free shots, microchipping, act. sadly, the myths about spaying and neutering seem to have such a strong hold in my community that they are seldom utilized, and instead we have so many beautiful pits being put to sleep on a daily basis. While I don't think mandatory neutering should -- or even could -- be mandatory, I swear...sometimes I just despair. :(

Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

What a wonderful event! Thanks for the blast of good news.

It seems to me that people's minds can be changed pretty easily--all it takes is a few interactions with a pit bull. I was scared of them too until I took one on as a foster, at which point my feelings did an about-face.

I welcome the opportunity to celebrate pit bulls, or really to celebrate any dogs. We celebrated Pit Bull Awareness Day by going to an adoption event, where most people thought my pittie puppy was gorgeous and didn't say a word to indicate they had a prejudice. So maybe there's been progress.

Shannon P said...

"there isn't much we can do or say to help them see their way out of that mindset." - TOTALLY disagree!! U completely changed my mind....i believed the hype until i stumbled upon BADRAP....i now volunteer at BACS on weekends and look forward to volunteering w/ the BADRAP Pitbull training program asap.
Keep doing what u do and minds & hearts will be changed :)