COMPASSION: BAD RAP
Securing the future of the American Pit Bull Terrier as a cherished family companion
By Donna Reynolds, Co-Founder & Executive Director
You know, this was lonely work until recent years. Not many were helping these blockheads when we first started BAD RAP. Some thought we were rather eccentric and maybe even a little foolish for focusing so many energies on—you know—PIT BULLS. But we felt that, if we stuck it out, eventually people couldn’t help but notice how wonderful the dogs were, and when they did, we hoped maybe they’d join in and help them, too. The Vick dog rescue was, of course, a life milestone for us. When the dogs’ stories came out with their amazing lessons, so much changed practically overnight that we thought, “Okay! Are we done now? Have we done all we can, and can we now go back to being anonymous dog owners?”
No way, Jose! That case opened so many new doors for the dogs that we really didn’t have any choice in the matter. The most critical time in these dogs’ history is right now while so many are opening their hearts to them, so we’re determined to help them to the finish line. Positive change is happening at such a breakneck speed that it is breathtaking. Breed discriminatory policies and laws are falling down, shelters are embracing Pit Bulls, more and more rescue groups are cropping up, and even the media is starting to talk about the dogs differently. It’s exhilarating when you consider how bad things were going for the dogs in the late nineties. Miles to go before we sleep, though!
Ohio’s pending triumph is, hands down, one of the most important and encouraging changes to happen for Pit Bull-type dogs. For over twenty-five years, the dogs and the people who love them have been held captive by a discriminatory law that labeled Pit Bulls vicious at birth. But a new generation of wiser, more compassionate leaders has stepped in to sweep that bias away. Now the no-mercy law is being replaced by a bill that regards dogs based on their behavior rather than their appearance. Such progress!
It’s going to take a lot of work to bring things back into balance for the dogs there, and we’re doing what we can to help. This spring, we’ll be headed back to Ohio to work with dog wardens so they can start to include Pit Bull-type dogs in their adoption programs. We started this work in Cleveland last year and have been so proud to watch that city kick their breed specific legislation (BSL) to the curb, embrace the dogs as deserving individuals, and forge dozens of happy adoptions.
Ohio shelters and rescue groups are going to need a lot of help to set the dogs on the right path. If you’re a dog lover in this state, find a way to hook up with an organization that’s working to help these dogs so you can add your fuel to their fire. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a breed advocate. Join us!
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