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These are individuals, companies, and organizations that are helping or hurting the pit bull’s image. Send nominations to: email@example.com.
Natalia Cancel, Lysette Garcia, Yaritza Rosario and Jasmine Zapata: These four eighth graders researched, developed, and proposed Illinois House Resolution 1026, which “urges municipalities not to enact breed-specific dog bans while encouraging laws that target irresponsible dog owners.” (ASPCA Press Release, May 24, 2006)
Kayley Green, Jamie Thomas, Emily Nance, Jeremy Romanyzyn and Aliyah Roberts, all eighth-grade students, gave a presentation to Florence County Council, SC, to explain why BSL is wrong. Full story. (2009)
Rachel Ray is a TV star and celebrity chef who has her own pit bull and publicly supports pit bull rescue efforts on her talk show. In December 2006 she firmly announced her support for a pit bull rescue group fundraiser calendar. (New York Post, Jan 7, 2007)
Jon Stewart is a pit bull owner and host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central. He pointed at the camera during a piece on Michael Vick’s dogfighting accusations and said, “Pit bulls are very nice dogs, by the way.”
Verizon finally pulled a commercial featuring chained junkyard pit bulls who are shown viciously lunging at a young man. Yet another negative portrayal of the pit bull in social media. They admitted they had taken a lot of heat for the ad. (July 2008)
Nike aired a commercial featuring a face-off between a Rottweiler and a pit bull in a brief but unmistakable imitation of a street dogfight. Nike believed the commercial was “edgy” and has not, to date, made any effort to undo the damage, either by apology or public education.
PETA is a vocal supporter of BSL. They would like all pit bulls to be killed. More information.
Animal Advocates of B.C. is another animal rights group that supports BSL and considers pit bulls inherently dangerous. Like PETA’s reasoning, their beliefs are based on media hysteria and stereotype, not scientific fact. They are also guilty of stereotyping. A quote from their website: “[Pit bull owners] have their reasons for owning this breed. Either they are criminals, using the dogs to protect their club house or their grow-op, or they fight them, or they are not very bright. Educated people are not attracted to pit bulls.”
DMX and Jay-Z are both rappers who have glorified dog fighting in their music. Jay-Z’s video “99 Problems” celebrates dog fighting and promotes the “vicious pit bull” stereotype. DMX pled guilty to animal cruelty after his arrest for possession of 13 neglected pit bulls.
The Village Voice carried an article about a NY man who was breeding his mongrels to be as human aggressive as possible. The article was basically an advertisement for the breeder—the man was identified by name and the article’s tone was actually reverent. The article also incorrectly identified the dogs as pit bulls—even though the breeder specifically described them as a mix of breeds. I won’t post a link to the article here because I don’t want to give this breeder more publicity. I’m sure demand for his aggressive curs skyrocketed after the article came out. (August 2005)
The Commerce City Gateway and Kathy McIntyre (editor): In an unethical, outrageous, hateful move, Kathy published the addresses of Commerce City pit bull owners in order to “protect the public from dangerous dogs”. Full story. Kathy was very active in the effort to ban pit bulls in Commerce City, imparting such gems of wisdom as: “The (dog’s) history shows us that they will not back down, they will not take commands from their primary owners.”
Harry Smith, CBS News Early Show co-anchor has done his fair share of biased reporting against pit bulls. In his own words: “I can’t help but believe part of the allure of owning a pit bull is the danger. If it’s not, then why bother?” Talk about offensive. What Harry doesn’t seem to realize is that he’s stereotyping both dog and owner. Responsible pit bull owners love their dog because of the companionship, love, and light they bring into our lives. Does Harry honestly think we’re all thugs and criminals who get a thrill out of intimidating others? My dogs are trained, socialized, controlled, and temperament tested… if the “allure” of pit bull ownership is in the “danger,” why would I bother making my dogs so darn safe? (Jan 2006)
Derick Oliver, a Marion, Ohio pit bull owner failed to muzzle his pit bulls in public (as required by law in Marion) and decided to run from police when confronted. He claimed that in doing so he was pursuing “equal treatment for pit bulls”, but after his arrest, it was discovered that he had pled guilty to dog fighting charges several years ago. Examination of his dogs and his home revealed he still had ties to the cruel activity. And one of the dogs was registered to a home where subsequent investigation revealed crack cocaine and resulted in more arrests. With “champions for equality” like these, who needs BSL? People like this only reinforce the stereotype and make matters worse. They should not own pit bulls. (March 2006)
Michael Vick: Okay, this one is rather obvious. I have been unable to have a single normal conversation since he was charged with dogfighting, and it’s really starting to annoy me. I want to talk about the weather, but all I hear is, “Don’t you have pit bulls? Didja hear about Vick??” In all seriousness, however, despite the fact that Vick’s fiasco has put dogfighting in the spotlight (and perhaps encouraged some law enforcement crackdowns on the disgusting activity), it has also, unfortunately, inspired breed-specific legislation in countless places.
Clinton Portis: This Washington Redskins runningback publicly defended Michael Vick thusly: “I don’t know if he was fighting dogs or not, but it’s his property, it’s his dog… If that’s what he wants to do, do it. I think people should mind their business.” The reporter mentions dog fighting is a felony offense. Replies Portis: “It can’t be too bad of a crime.” (ESPN.com, “Redskins RB Portis: Vick can do what he wants,” May 22, 2007) He publicly apologized, but only after recieving a talking-to from his boss. Take your pick: Portis is either 1) clueless or 2) callous.
Petsmart has banned “bully breeds” (from their site: “American Pit Bull Terriers, Miniature Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Bull Dogs, Bull Terriers or mixed breeds that have the appearance or characteristics of one of these breeds”) from doggy daycare. I fully agree that dog-aggressive dogs do not belong in daycare, but dog-aggression is an individual trait. Petsmart assumes that all bully breeds are dog-aggressive, when that’s simply not true. Why do they choose to discriminate against “bully breeds” and their owners when a simple blanket ban against dog-aggressive dogs of any breed would be much more reasonable and effective? 8/8/08: To add insult to injury, I received in the mail a coupon from PetSmart—for discounted doggy daycare. Gee, which dog should I bring?
Politicians who have done the right thing for pit bulls and their owners. Send nominations to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laurel Mayor Craig A. Moe tried (unsuccessfully) to get Prince George’s County to consider dropping their pit bull ban. He observed that “all such dogs observed have been calm in demeanor and completely under their owners’ control.”
West Columbia City Council initially considered BSL against pit bull owners. However, after some correspondence with community members, the council completely reversed course. The mayor even made a public apology for considering BSL. (2009)
Politicians who have publicly expressed their hatred of pit bulls, or who have proposed discriminatory laws against pit bull owners. Send nominations to: email@example.com.
Assemblyman Tim Leslie was quoted in the LA Times as saying “”It’s time to get rid of these pit bulls. I think we ought to string ‘em all up…” In fact, Tim, some people do “string them up”—and those people get prosecuted for animal cruelty.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris stated that mandatory spay/neuter of “pit bulls,” Rottweilers, and similar-looking mutts would be a good way to “crush” gang members. Full story. (2009)
Aurora, CO Councilmember Bob Fitzgerald pushed for a pit bull ban because “We don’t want ‘those people’ here.” Apparently he feels that people who own pit bulls are somehow socially unacceptable, abnormal, anti-social, possibly criminal… do I detect a hint of racism, too? And yet another fine quote explaining his support for a pit bull ban: “The thought of one kid getting hurt is too much for me.” Only kids bitten by pit bulls register on Fitzgerald’s sympathy scale. Meanwhile, a little girl named Kate-Lynn Logel was killed by two Alaskan Malamutes in nearby Fruita, and Fitzgerald had nothing to say about that.
Denver City Attorney Kory Nelson apparently has a personal vendetta against pit bulls. Denver’s pit bull ban isn’t good enough for Kory; he pushes for BSL in other cities across the United States. But why is he so fixated on pit bulls? In 1996 Kory Nelson was quoted in the Rocky Mountain News saying, “‘There’s no doubt in my mind that chows or chow mixes by far are the No. 1 bite dog in Denver. The numbers are just overwhelming.” And yet, Kory doesn’t seem interested in eradicating Chows.
District of Columbia
South Dade Justice Center hearing officer Rafael Licea was unswayed by a DNA test proving that a supposed “pit bull” (banned in Miami-Dade County) did not, in fact, have any “pit bull” DNA in it. The dog was actually a whippet mix. The dog’s owner plans to appeal the ruling. Full story. (2009)
State Senator Colleen Hanabusa sponsored SB 79, which would have banned pit bulls in Hawaii. After intense public outcry against the bill, Hanabusa backpedaled, claiming she only introduced it at the request of a constituent and did not personally support it. (Yeah, right.) The bill died in committee. (2009)
Rantoul Trustee Chuck Smith proposed BSL against pit bulls. Smith was quoted saying: “We need to ban pit bulls, Rottweilers and Doberman pinschers based on the reputations of the animals, not the owners.” In other words, to Smith, breed stereotypes are more important than owner responsibility. Mayor Neal Williams, a Rottweiler owner, opposed the proposal. The BSL was eventually dropped. (2009)
Sioux City Council passed a pit bull ban in September 2008. They retaliated against everyone who spoke out against the ban by sending them warning letters telling them to get their pets licensed. Only Councilmember Jim Rixner found the warning letters unacceptable.
Opelousas Alderman Reggie Tatum and Mayor Don Cravins both cited a need for some sort of regulation on “pit bulls.” Says Tatum: “I am seeing more and more pit bulls. I think we need to be proactive. After a child has been killed, it is too late.” According to news media, “Cravins agreed, mentioning a pit bull that was being led through the crowd by a man at a recent city parade. ‘That scared me to death.’” (2009)
Ridgeland City Council passed a ban on “pit bulls” after a single citizen complained about her neighbor’s pit bulls—yet there had never been a single incident regarding those dogs, and a court ruling (resulting from that citizen taking her neighbor to court for no apparent reason except fear) had determined that those dogs were not dangerous. No other “pit bull”-related incidents had occurred in the city.
New Florence City Council refused to allow a diabetic man into a city council meeting with his service dog, which was a Rottweiler. They also passed a ban on pit bulls. Quote from Councilmember Andrew Johnson: “The pressure that they [pit bulls] have from the jaws and the DNA they have in them are part of it.”
Waterton Mayor Jeff Graham: Here’s what he has to say about people who adopt pit bulls: “those who go to shelters seeking out breeds like Pit Bulls have an agenda that goes beyond just having a family pet. They are looking for something that is linked to violence, something that is intimidating….”
Dare County Animal Shelter director Denise Lambiotte stated in the media that pit bulls’ jaws lock! Yes, seriously. She also stated that pit bulls do more damage when they attack, something that simply is not substantiated by science. And she implied that pit bulls are unique in their reactions to children–again, not something substantiated by science.
Whitehall Councilwomen Leslie LaCorte and Jackie Thompson went to astonishing lengths to try and get a pit bull ban passed in Whitehall. The rest of the council declined time and time again, yet these two women simply couldn’t let it go. Councilwoman Thompson’s behavior at every council meeting is childish, insulting to her peers, and makes a mockery of the community she purports to serve.
State Representative Paul Wesselhoff is determined to pass a statewide pit bull breed ban. Wesselhoff has no problem using scare tactics and sensationalism. Some of his more famous quotes about pit bulls, pulled straight out of the pages of urban myth: “They are nice warm pets until something (goes) off in their brain…” “They are a land shark. They are a walking time bomb…If something sets (a pit bull) off, it can kill. It wants to kill.” “Each year we lose 10 children and two elderly people because of pit bull attacks nationally.” (Where did he even get these numbers? No dog bite studies back this up.) Wesselhoff has no idea what he’s talking about, but that’s not stopping him. His two pro-BSL bills were H2657 and H2658 (neither passed).
Midwest City Attorney Katherine Bolles was quoted in the media saying, “Those dogs [pit bulls] will seek out small children or petite women as their prey. They don’t just bite them and release, they bite to kill.” (2009)
Killeen Councilmember Eddie Vale was pursuing BSL against pit bulls and Rottweilers despite the fact that state law prohibits BSL. The city’s own animal shelter supervisor clearly stated that neither pit bulls nor Rottweilers were responsible for the most serious reported bites in Killeen, and that the biggest problem the city faces is free-roaming dogs. The city attorney came up with several non-breed-specific suggestions. So why does Vale continue to press for BSL in the face of such opposition? He “believes most people who own that type of dog (pit bulls) are very irresponsible.” Vale is firmly committed to the pit bull and (pit bull owner) stereotype, not reality.
Moses Lake City Councilmembers Richard Pearce, Bill Ecret, Ron Covey, James Liebrecht and Dick Deane voted in favor of an ordinance to declare “pit bulls” and some other types of dogs “hazardous.” There was no real rhyme or reason to the selection of which breeds to restrict—not even local stats on dog bites—and only one out of the numerous audience attendees spoke in favor of BSL. Full story. (2008)
Ontario, Canada Attorney General Michael Bryant championed the Ontario pit bull ban. He was unable to identify a pit bull out of a lineup. He also ignored all of the testimony from countless experts in areas of animal control, welfare, and behavior, all of whom were advising against the ban. In 2009, he killed a bicyclist in a bizarre incident.
Nanaimo, BC Animal Shelter manager Helen Roberts was quoted in the media thus: “‘Pit bulls are very different from other breeds,’ said Roberts. She claims they have been bred to kill… Roberts argues that any pit bull has the potential for spontaneous aggression, no matter how good a dog it has been.” (2009)