Sunday, July 17, 2011

I Am A Thug and Mina Should Be Dead

Teresa Chagrin wants to thank a shelter for killing dogs. Give her a plaque!

The anti-dog (Pit Bull) letter goes as follows.

The letter has several steps that are consistently followed:

Step 1: Thank the shelter for protecting Pit Bulls by killing, not adopting, and keeping them away from the public, etc. "I thank Spotsylvania Animal Control for protecting pit bulls by not releasing them to the public"

Ah, lovely play on words. The shelter isn't killing Pit Bulls, they're protecting them. I will never call on Spotsylvania Animal Control to protect me - they might just pump me full of blue juice!

Step 2: Insert stereotype about who want to adopt Pit Bulls. ""Nice" families rarely visit shelters in search of pit bulls.."Pit bulls are the breed of choice for dog fighters and thugs who beat, starve, chain, and otherwise abuse them to make them "mean.'"

There is zero evidence that Pit Bulls take the brunt of abuse, so it seems strange to make such confident statements! And what's with the quotations around "mean"?

And the first statement? "Nice" (again with the quotes!) families don't visit shelters for Pit Bulls? Clarification - what's a nice family? More clarification - where, Chagrin, did you get the idea that nice families don't adopt Pit Bulls? Like is there a national survey on this very issue that I don't know about? Did it get published in some peer-reviewed journal, Pit Bulls - Nice Families Don't Want 'Em. When you make a declarative statement like that, you damn well better have some actual evidence to back it up.

Breaking News: I am a thug. Phew, glad I could finally admit that. I adopted Mina ten years ago from a shelter. If fostering Pit Bulls from shelters counts, I've done that too. I'm ready now to move from adopting Pit Bulls to killing people. You've been warned. Or maybe I get to be the exception, one of those super-duper-worth-a-bazillion-dollars 'nice' families. Either way, I'm awesome and you should probably be afraid.

Step 3: Market Pit Bulls from shelters as skeery, unpredictable mutants who are probably aliens, not dogs. " "pit bulls from unknown backgrounds don't always make good family additions."

Ain't that the truth. Mina is one crappy-ass addition to the family. I've had to put up with her shit for the past decade. Like right now, Mina is trying to lie in a sunbeam but it won't fit her whole body, so she's getting a little annoyed at the sunbeam. She's got her nose in it, but she is heaving unsatisfied sighs at the condition of a world that does not provide her with Mina-sized sunbeams all the time. This probably stems from her unknown background which may have involved sunbeam deprivation leading to aberrant behavior like trying to find solace in the light of a fluorescent light bulb.

Step 4: Claim to have met all the Pit Bulls in the universe, and boy were they pieces of work! We're experts, listen to us!"Every day, staffers meet pit bulls who have been trapped for years at the ends of heavy chains blah blah blah. They are often aggressive toward other animals and lash out unpredictably because of how badly frustrated they have become."

Instead of alleviating their frustration through kindness, socialization, food, water, heartworm medication, well, might as well just kill them, amirite?!?

Further, of course the only Pit Bulls you generally meet are abused ones. You are visiting these dogs because someone called your hotline. You are not being called by people complaining that their friend's Pit Bull enjoys sitting at the park with kids and likes peanut butter. I could call you all the time about something Mina has done I find newsworthy - right now, her ear is twitching because it keeps relaxing onto her collar and Mina finds this annoying. Also, she has lost her sunbeam. She is inconsolable.

It is not surprising that your perception will be unnaturally skewed and unbalanced.

Step 5: If you love Pit Bulls, you'll agree with us. Otherwise, you're a thug!
"Pit bulls are bred for profit, neglected, fought, and abused based exclusively on their breed. People who have pit bulls' best interests at heart can agree that providing protections to and regulating these dogs based on their breed is not only fair, but essential."

Look, I am not stupid. I can think of ways to protect Pit Bulls that don't involve the landfill (Mina says landfills are great to roll in, though).

Progress can be painful, yo. It means coming up with alternatives to the status quo. Stepping outside the mantra of the past thirty years can be tough.

Example, when I noticed the shelter I volunteered at was killing all Pit Bulls with "battle cropped" ears, I was shocked. I had fallen in love with some of those dogs and it was surreal to think they were being killed because of cropped ears (dog fighters don't need to crop ears, anyways).

Now, I could have just maintained the order by simply going along with the killings. I could have said, you know what? Maybe these are former fighting dogs and despite the lack of any physical evidence they might be adopted by evil dog fighters and abused. Maybe they are better off dead.

But I didn't. I said to myself, SELF, THIS IS WRONG! And so I made a presentation to the board and talked with the director and I made my voice known. I got a couple of the animal control officers to speak up about the issue at the next officer's meeting. Give it a try, I said. Pick those cropped-eared dogs who pass your (inane) t-test with flying colors. Heck, have three officers t-test them. Just let a few enter the adoption kennels. See if the world ends.

The world did not end. A policy was changed. Dogs were not being killed because their ears were funny looking. This will blow your mind too - really nice people wanted these dogs. Like the kind of people you'd throw two legged Golden Retrievers at and know the dog would totally thrive. We didn't get a lot of severely cropped Pit Bulls in to this shelter, but the happy, exuberant, confident ones who did, they got adopted by those exceedingly rare "nice" families. Nice people tend to like dogs who look like they've been through a lot (scissor-cut ears) and who are still smiling and sitting at their kennel door, butt wagging in joy. WEIRD, I KNOW!

When we have a chance to alleviate the suffering of current animals, it is my moral imperative to do so. It's one reason I am working where I am - I get a chance to save and help care for abused farmed animals at our sanctuary. It's why I adopt animals and foster them when I can. It's why I encourage folks to adopt animals - dogs, cats, chickens, turtles, fishes!, parrots, horses, etc - instead of buying them. It means I strive to avoid causing suffering to animals who are alive. And I believe that killing intelligent, emotional nonhumans who are healthy and happy is causing suffering.

I'm happy Mina is alive.  I think lots of people are happy Mina is alive. But mostly, Mina is happy to be alive. She is forever in her skin, in her world, and she welcomes everyone else into it without hesitation. Even grumpy Celeste. And that is saying a lot, folks!

*Super awesome last name, yo. Pretty much how your letter makes me feel, but with an -ed.

You can read the letter here (seriously, they must have a little file that is gleefully titled "YAY DEAD PIT BULLS" that they send out).

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