Thanks to Ashley over at Lucky Dog Rescue for posting this on fb yesterday. While I don’t know Scotlund, I know Ashley through the marvelous rescue community on FB. I couldn’t have said it better than Scotlund does in his article. He has first hand rescue experience with Pit Bulls that he shares in his story and this sad story expresses clearly the problem with Breed Specific Legislation and breed prejudice.
If you follow Whiskey’s page on fb then you’ve heard us say repeatedly “don’t blame the breed, blame the owner.” I stand by this and while Whiskey is our first dog (eva’) we do intend (and say it pretty frequently as well) to get a bully breed at some point. We almost came home with a huge bully breed (he looked sort of like an English Bulldog but I’m not an expert and was bigger than I thought they’d be. huge!) named Bob (for his stumpy tail). He was huge and ugly but ugly in that “OMG that’s the cutest dog I’ve ever seen!” kind of way. We still talk about Bob. It was probably love at first sight, but we weren’t ready to bring a dog home yet.
I was also reading an article in Modern Dog this morning on Staffordshire Bull Terriers (SBT) which mentions the confusion between bully breeds. While I appreciate their article’s attempt to explain to the public between different dogs labeled as “bully breeds,” I did not appreciate the implication made that SBTs somehow get “lumped in” with those other bad breeds and “pit bulls” and in the loose wording of the article at that point it is almost as if they are saying that the other breeds are bad, and deserve breed specific legislation while SBTs do not. Poor SBTs getting confused with those other bad dogs. No dog deserves breed specific legislation banning, limiting, or encouraging prejudice against it. If any legislation should be created it should be against bad owners and limiting their ability to own or train a dog. This article did little to encourage and educate the public about how ignorant prejudice against the dog instead of the owner is wrong. Instead it seems to encourage “us vs them” mentality with making sure the line is drawn between the right and wrong types of bully breeds. For example, see the first paragraph where the word “hostiles” is used, immediately setting the theme that SBTs are confused for the wrong type of dog. For shame. Especially since you make it emphatically clear that the SBT is overly loyal to people and would attack other dogs if told to do so. This dog is just as capable of violence as another type of dog trained or told to do so. Perhaps they didn’t mean to come across this way and in their enthusiasm for the breed (and defensiveness against getting confused with those “other” hostile dogs) they came across too heavy handed on the “it’s not us” plea, instead of utilizing the perfect opportunity to say “it’s really not any of us, it’s the owners” and provide an educational non-prejudice teaching moment for the reader.
I imagine the piece would be defended by someone saying that the piece is supposed to be a breed profile and it doesn’t lend itself to making room for political statement on other dog breeds. But if you make room to imply that other dogs are “bad” and poor SBT for being confused with them, then you are being hypocritical. Either keep mention of other breeds out of it, or for the love of dog at least don’t encourage prejudice about another dog between words of praise for your dog.
As dog lovers we need to do all we can do to educate one another about breeds and what they are capable of. Then as good owners you must shape and encourage your dog to bring out the best in it. Your dog is your mirror. Don’t forget that.