June 2, 2008

Dogs White People Like

"Never be caught blogging in public spaces without your trophy dog!" Photo and caption from C-Notes. In, irony of ironies, Ohio.

Try to imagine what you would do if a law were passed in your state outlawing the friendly, well-behaved dog you live with and love — an eight or nine year old dog that has never harmed or threatened to harm anyone in all the years he's been with you. A law, say, like this:
Sec. 955.111. (A) Beginning ninety days after the effective date of this section, no person shall own, keep, or harbor a dog that belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog.

(B) Not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, a person who owns, keeps, or harbors a pit bull dog on the effective date of this section shall surrender the dog to the dog warden. Not later than ten days after receiving the dog, the dog warden shall euthanize the dog.

(C)(1) Beginning ninety days after the effective date of this section, if an officer has probable cause to believe that a dog is a pit bull dog, the officer may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for a search warrant. The court shall issue a search warrant for the purposes requested if there is probable cause to believe that a dog is a pit bull dog.

(2) After obtaining a search warrant, an officer shall seize the pit bull dog and surrender the dog to the dog warden. Not later than ten days after receiving the dog, the dog warden shall euthanize the dog.
Don't waste time wondering how anyone, even a politician, could be so ignorant and unjust. Half-wits with ambition and a mean streak have been elected to office since forever. And don't waste time wondering which dogs will be labeled "pit bulls": a pit bull will be anything the dog warden says is a pit bull. You might ask yourself, though, how much longer we'll allow elected officials in the United States, in the 21st century, to display their contempt for law-abiding American citizens by writing legislation like Section 955.111.

"Look at the dogs that have been impounded, and the surnames of their owners... They aren't killing dogs from Cherry Creek. They pick on the easiest people to pick on."

Let's talk race and class for a minute. Because never, not in a million years, will the dog wardens and the police burst into homes in upper-middle-class/rich white neighborhoods and take good dogs from law-abiding families without all hell breaking loose.

And politicians know this.

Do they give a rat's patoot about dog bite prevention? Please. Politicians want to know one thing: what sort of people own pit bulls? Politicians know, or think they know, that pit bull owners are an unpopular element with little power and less money, and, for all the lip service politicians pay to public safety, money and influence are the things that matter. That, and news coverage.

So instead of addressing unemployment and poverty and crime and failing inner-city schools, politicians say to themselves, let's take the dogs away from those people. Because by God, if it saves just one child's life, as opposed to the lives we could save by addressing unemployment and poverty and crime and failing inner-city schools, not to mention banning swimming pools and handing out bicycle helmets, it's worth it, and why should we wait until those dogs turn on somebody? [Which they will — because they all have "bad days," a scientific term that means "Merritt Clifton doesn't know the first thing about dog behavior."]

Ignorance, prejudice and urban legend are bad grounds for legislation — and it turns out that pit bulls are an excellent litmus test. Legislators in favor of breed bans are incompetent, cruel and stupid.

And speaking of thugs, PETA has this to say about those of us who adopt pit bulls from the local pound:
But we must consider that nice families rarely come to a shelter to adopt pit bulls; almost without exception, those who want pit bulls are attracted to the "macho" image of the breed as a living weapon and seek to play up this image by putting the animals in heavy chains, taunting them into aggression, and leaving them outside in all weather extremes in order to "toughen" them. There is no denying that pit bulls are at a higher risk of suffering a horrible fate. [Jeff Haines - PETA Spokesman]
You see the weird thing that happened there? Jeff said "nice families," but it must have been some kind of glitch, because I'm positive he meant to say "white people." [As opposed to the thugs in that photo on the left. They're from Bad Rap.] Pit bull owners, as everyone knows, have names like Tupac McGangsta and Felony Illegalpants Martinez. They don't vote. They don't matter. We don't know them and we don't want to know them. They're not like us.

It's crazy that the pit bull's salvation may be riding on photos of happy middle-class white people with their pibbles, and crazy that I should fret, every time I send a letter to some idiot politician, that she'll glance at my name and shrug and say, "Mexican," and ignore everything I took the trouble to write: the facts, the science, all of it. Crazy that anyone, in 2008 for crissakes, should think that such horrifying laws do any good. It's just nuts.

Oh, and Jeff? You can't kill them all, Jeff, no matter how hard you try.

That PETA quote just slays me. "Nice families rarely come to a shelter to adopt pit bulls;" hence, "almost without exception," people with pit bulls are not nice. And since they are not nice, apparently they deserve to be treated badly. Badly, as in, their dogs should be taken from them and killed.

Breed-banning is one of those odd ways we pretend to be a progressive, equitable, compassionate society. We fill law-abiding citizens with anguish, and kill their good dogs.


The pullquote is from Bill Johnson's column in the Rocky Mountain News, Pit-bull ban may reveal unwarranted prejudice. Link.


spotted dog farm said...

amen, luisa. i want you at all the BSL hearings!!! it's an uphill battle to get people to see this - but at least some politicians around here are reluctant to pass BSL because they see it as a racial hot button. so i'm all about playing the race card.

Anonymous said...

And I'm so sure that AARP-age white librarians never own pit bulls.

oh wait.........

But honestly, do you think PETA et al actually CARE about facts?

You know this isn't about facts.

All the pictures of nice white people with their pit bulls isn't going to change their minds.

I don't know how to win this fight.

YesBiscuit! said...

Hey - I know Felony Illegalpants Martinez and he has a Golden Retriever! ; )

Anonymous said...

I'd be the first to say I'd fight this kind of legislation if it were imposed in my area (because I have) and move (if the fight was unsuccessful). But I have to concede that I have the means to move wherever I choose.

I wish more people understood how much power they really have. Many people are too afraid to make any changes. They're too afraid to change jobs; to move to a new community.

It's nothing new for governments to pick on easy targets. In my experience, hard targets are almost always given a pass, simply because there's no easy win on the horizon. Why make powerful enemies and not even be assured a win? Why not exert power over those who can't fight back? It's like taking candy from a baby.

Now, on a certain, very primal level, I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who choose jobs and homes over their family members. You don't find parents saying they have to give up their children because their new condo association "doesn't allow children" or their new apartment building's landlord has a weight limit, and the children are too big. People wouldn't even consider giving up their children. (Although they're rarely asked to.) At the very least, they wouldn't choose to move to some area where children aren't allowed. Yet this is common among dog owners.

I'm disappointed that animal ownership is so tightly linked to convenience and whim. That's not likely true of the kinds of people who read your blog, but it's true of dog and cat owners, in general. Shelter & rescue numbers are testimony to that, along with the sheer number of animals rehomed at some point in their lives. On a personal note, I know I'd starve long before my pets. The excuses people give for abandoning their pets is about as lengthy as the list of pet owners who abandon their animals. Virtually all of them fail the "what if we were talking about a child" test. And that says evertying to me.

Still, I emphathize with people who have to make huge sacrifices to save their pets from their governments.

Imagine, though, what a message it would send if dog owners actually stood by their pets, and fought hard and moved (if it came to that). What if more people sued the government, either over constitutional issues or to recover moving fees?

Ah it's all pie in the sky, I suppose. The call for dog owners to come together and fight tyranny has been echoing in the ether for almost two decades. Maybe it's like the broken telephone game. What starts off as, "Fight bad legislation and save innocent dogs" ends up as nonsensical, "Bad dogs love animal rights, purple monkey dishwasher," and the public tunes out.

Anonymous said...

Great Post! I'm about as whitebread as they come, and I have three pit bulls - all rescues - my husband and I always make a pretty convincing pair when we show up at city council meetings that generalizations about pit bulls and their owners are bunk! When I drive home from work I pass some rich neighborhoods and humongous houses in a city where pit bulls are banned, and sadly I think "when I can afford to live in one of those houses (I'm a lawyer), A/C won't dare bother me and my dogs, regardless of the ban" - and I know it's true! BTW - Tupac McGangsta and Felony Illegalpants Martinez - what a hoot! But not far from the truth.

Anonymous said...

The DeSoto County, MS Police spent a year investigating a fellow for a $100 misdemeanor - fighting game cocks - and the photo in the newspaper showed a lot of law enforcement officers present. Their first raid one year prior had no cocks present.

How did it come about that there was news coverage present at the time of the raid as witnessed by the staff photos?

It said in the paper, "There are felony penalties for interstate commerce, importing and exporting fighting animals" But no local laws prohibited owning game cocks. So under what color of law were his animals seized? I'm up in the middle of the night worrying about this one.

Neighbors had been said to have complained resulting in an investigation by the DeSoto County Sheriff's office. I imagine that 255 chickens might have been a nuisance.

But I'm not sure how the HSUS got in it. HSUS is a not-for-profit-animal-rights organization? Why were they present at a police operation? Why were these fellow's animals taken and given to them if the crime in this area is a misdemeanor only if he was fighting them and why were his dogs and other birds taken as well if they were not illegal? Also why were they shipped to other areas of the country and euthanized if they were evidence? If his having these animals was a crime then why wasn't he arrested?

Don't get me wrong I have no interest in, or love of, fighting animals I'm only concerned with civil liberties as they apply to animals and animal ownership issues.

Were the civil liberties of Arnulfo Hernandez violated when his animals including his other animals were confiscated? Who gave HSUS authority to be present at a police operation and why? Did they present themselves under color of law when in fact they were involved in violating his civil rights by confiscating his property and disposing of it without due process? I certainly have no love of fighting animals but I do have love for civil liberties. If Mr. Hernandez can be treated in this manner should we all be concerned?

Who will stand up for Arnulfo Hernandez's rights? Is there any group or any newspaper group that would investigate this activity to answer these questions? Today it is Mr. Hernandez, who will it be tomorrow? He will have few supporters because of the nature of his activities and because of the color of his skin. Is that acceptable? Criminals should be given due process. That is rule of law. What gave the police department the right to confiscate and dispose of his property without due process? And why were they working tandem with a known animal rights activist group?

If Mr. Hernandez broke the law he must suffer the consequences. I do have many unanswered questions.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%! And I am so happy that I found another Shepherd / Pit Bull person! I thought I was the only one in America. Right on!! Talk to me! :-)

Luisa said...

Laura! We can't possibly be the only two. [Can we?] What about the price of hay these days, eh? I heart the photos of Loretta and the lamb. Have you checked out Bill Fosher's great sites?

Sheep Production Forum
Edgefield Sheep [Bill's blog]

[It broke my heart to read of Lucy's passing. She was a dear dog and a great inspiration, and you've done her proud. Bless you for fighting the good fight in Texas.]

Anonymous said...

Thanks, for the kind words, Luisa. Those sheep sites are new to me but I will check them out. I am usually on the Hobby Farm Sheep Yahoo Group.
(I just kicked the bottle baby out of the house, finally. She thinks she is a Pit Bull, not a sheep, and is NOOTTT HAPPPY. Good luck with the brain surgeons in Lancaster.

Anonymous said...

so I live in lancaster,ca and my mayor has arrested 150 pits and rotts because ONLY GANGS OWN THEM.
he has mistaken harrasment for law enforcement. he mentions as often as possible that he doesn't care about
CERTAIN PEOPLES CIVIL RIGHTS. my girls are a collie (perpetual puppy)
and rott lab mix (bitter old and arthritic like me), so there are many of us who are starting to work on getting rid of him for many reasons but who can i turn to for help saving our dogs????

carrollcox said...


We are looking for anyone that has contact information for Mr. Arnulfo Hernandez of Byhalia Ms. We are attempting to determine the HSUS' role in his arrest and the disposition of his animals. If interested you may learn about our efforts at carrollcox.com. We appreciating any help you can provide.
Carroll Cox