Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pissed Off With A Purpose: Pit Bulls In The News

I'm not quite sure how it happened.  Its really quite a blur.  One minute, everything is fine, and the next minute, I'm being contacted for interviews and have been labeled an "advocate."  

I never really considered myself an advocate for anything, but who am I kidding?  I get so spun up about things, and have a tendency to voice my opinion (quite loudly in some instances), it was just a matter of time before something like this happened. 

See, a local news station (who shall not be named, I refuse to give them more website traffic), continues to post derogatory stories about pit bulls.  

Now, this is really old news.  I mean, anyone who owns a pit bull is used to the stigma associated with them. But, the number of stories/Facebook posts in one night (four in one night!!) was unbelievable.  For me, and several others, they had gone too far.  

For me, the deal-breaker was when they posted the following poll question: "Cities across the country have enacted laws that make owning a pit bull illegal.  In Alabama, 8 cities have banned the dog. Do you think Mobile and Baldwin Counties should be added to that list? This afternoon our area saw its 3rd pit bull attack in less then 24 hours."  

At first, I was just bummed:

But when I saw the poll, I was officially spun up. Matt, my husband, likes to refer to my excitement (read: fits and tantrums) as being "spun up."  I prefer to think of it as "pissed off with a purpose."  And pissed off, I was.  

I read each article with an open mind.  I was looking for facts.  

For example, the first "attack" was on an 18 month old child.  Tragic, for sure.  I can't imagine what she must be going through and wouldn't wish it on anyone. Of course, the news doesn't want me to know what her parents were doing while she was unsupervised with three dogs.

The second attack was a dog-on-dog fight.  Dogs fight.  Is that actually considered news?  

The third incident occurred when a man tried to break up a dog fight, and was "hospitalized."  They showed a video of his "bite" and I swear, it looked no worse than a cat scratch.  I studied the video pretty hard, and I couldn't even see stitches.  Meanwhile, in the video that aired that night, the "vicious" dog is walking around the yard, obviously hurt and bloody, without a leash.  If he is so violent, why is he not on a leash when animal control is standing around with him in the un-fenced yard?  

So this is when I start getting twisted (another Matt term):  

I sent an email to the reporter listed on the story on their website.  I sent a private message through Facebook, asking for facts and the other side of each story.  I posted publicly to their Facebook page. I vowed to post a picture of my pit bulls to their page every day until they issued an apology. I sent post after post, to any email address or Facebook page I could find. 

And then it happened:

They actually contacted me.  I could not believe it.  Maybe I was getting somewhere!  Maybe I was actually giving these dogs a voice.  I was so excited!  

The reporter sent me a list of questions, asked me to video myself, then send the video to him, along with some pictures of my dogs.  So, I did just that.  The same reporter contacted a friend of mine, Eudie's former foster-mom, Ashley, and she did the same.  

We were so hopeful:  

Only about a 5 second snippet of my interview was used.  Ashley's video wasn't used at all.  None of the facts that we provided about pit bulls were included.  And the news station dug up a "professional animal trainer" who referred to owning a pit bull as having a loaded gun.  

Um, what?  Where's Cesar Milan when you need him?!

I knew I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up.  I knew my words would be edited or left out.  I just knew it.  But I had to try.  

So, I just kept emailing, posting, and advocating: 

The next night, they aired another follow-up story.  This time, an interview with a local rescue group who specializes in bully breeds.  It was a breath of fresh air.  It was wonderful.  This story included many of the facts that Ashley and I included in our original videos that were never used.  

They included things like testing a dog's temperament, never leaving children unsupervised with any dog (regardless of breed), and the loyalty that so often leads to pit bulls being targeted for fighting. I immediately shared the article on Facebook with a big "Thank you!" to the reporter who did the story. 

I even told Matt I would stop posting Gumbo and Eudie's pictures to their Facebook page.  They had redeemed themselves!  Hallelujah!

Not so fast:

But again, disappointment.  The positive story ran on the 10:00 news.  Then on the 11:00 news, the same old "pit bull attack" story ran again.  The same one where the man tried to break up a fight and was "hospitalized."   

Matt and I had a long discussion about it.  It was one of those talks where he tells me I did a great job, that I have done good things for our dogs, and that I shouldn't be disappointed, discouraged, or heart-broken. 

To be honest, this couldn't have happened at a better time:

Yesterday, I found out that this week is Pit Bull week at the Huffington Post.  An international news organization has dedicated an entire week to the same breed that this local news station wants to see banned and made illegal.  What what?!  

Now, I'm not sure if this qualifies as Karma, but I'll take it!  

So, along with posting adorable pictures of Gumbo and Eudie on the station-who-shall-not-be-named's Facebook page, I will also be posting links to awesome pit-positive articles provided by the Huffington Post. 

You guys are great, really:

I cannot tell you how thankful I am for all of the support I received through my Facebook page.  I am thankful for each comment, share, and like.  I received private messages and friend-requests from total strangers and fellow dog-lovers, and that is just wonderful.  Its great to know that so many people have my back.

I will continue to be an advocate for these dogs, even if I'm the kind of advocate that likes to spout-off at reporters and come across all hostile and bitchy. (I did manage to come across as diplomatic and friendly in my 5 second interview.)  Because, you know what?  I'm pretty damn good at it.  

To the local "news" station:

I will not stop. I will not forget this.  When I find something that I am passionate about, I get the same "locking-jaws" as my two pit bulls and I refuse to let it go.  

And most of all, I feel sorry for the person at your station who has a vendetta against these dogs.  It breaks my heart to know that they will never know the joy of slobbery pit kisses, and sharing your pillow with the world's biggest cuddle bug.  Its just plain sad.  Bless your heart. 

UPDATE:  If you would like to donate to Citizen Cain's vet bills, click HERE for his Go Fund Me page.  The other dog involved in the fight, belongs to the man who was "hospitalized" and has no injuries and was not taken to the vet.

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