Blog the Change for Everyone

This news story irritated me this morning (emphasis mine).

A dog described as an American Bulldog was visiting a Temecula home Saturday afternoon when the dog mistook kids playing as aggressive action, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. …

The dog, described by animal control officers as an American Bulldog, was with three children when the attack occurred. …

The dog, described by animal control officers as an American Bulldog, will be held in quarantine for 10 days.

Look at the pictures. It’s pretty obviously an American Bulldog. By saying “described as” every time the breed is mentioned, the story conveys, “They say it’s a bulldog, but since it attacked children, it’s probably a pit bull.”

I agree with the animal control officer quoted in the story who said she’d lock her dog up before leaving him alone unsupervised with children. In my life, being good with children is not a requirement for a companion animal.

I’m working on a novel about rescued pit bulls, and I recently received a critique that said:

I know that there are many defenders of pit bulls as wonderful misunderstood gentle creatures but as I write this another little boy locally had his face ripped off yesterday. Literally. And it was the family dog. It would be a hard sell for many of us to believe there is not a structural problem with that breed and frankly we don’t want to hear about how wonderful they are, especially in the face of their sometimes shocking dangerous behavior.

(I’m familiar with that story, and while the owner insists that dog was a pit bull, it looked an awful lot like an American bulldog to me.)

Pretty harsh words, but they came at the end of an otherwise insightful and helpful critique. This isn’t a fringe opinion I can afford to disregard. Maybe I’ll give her words to a character in the book.

I’m just so tired of prejudice.

dalai-lama-we-can-let-the-circumstances-of-our-life

I didn’t post anything here at the time of the Charleston church shooting, but here’s what I wrote on Instagram:

Not unspeakable. Not unthinkable.

Unconscionable. Not just on the part of the shooter. But that racism and hate exist to this degree in our country. That guns are ubiquitous. That deranged white killers are given flak jackets and arrested peacefully while black teens are beat up, harassed, and shot in the back by police.

Some people respond to the news of another mass murder in America by saying they have “No Words.” I have a lot of fucking words.

#CharlestonShooting #BlackLivesMatter

Something that broke my heart about the Charleston shooter is that he reportedly almost changed his mind about killing those people because they were so nice to him. That there was a moment where he was like, “Waitaminute, all those things I’ve been taught about black people might not be true.”

The bulldog article above is minor compared to the systemic racism in our country, but it struck me as I tried to think of something to write about for the Blog the Change hop. It’s the same discrepancy that we see in news coverage about dog bites. If a Golden retriever attacks someone, there’s something wrong with that dog or that situation. If a bully breed does, there’s something wrong with the entire breed.

People of color who do bad shit are labeled terrorist and criminals, while the actions of white men are attributed to mental illness or some other factor that isn’t the fault of the entire race.

I don’t know how it happens that people can feel hate toward certain other people because of the color of their skin, or their sexual orientation, or gender identity. I don’t know how we begin to fix that.

Can we start with dogs? Can we convince people who like some dogs but not other dogs, that the dogs they’re afraid of are basically the same as the dogs they love? They have many of the same wonderful qualities. And you know what? Your purebred whatever has a lot of negative qualities too.

I’ve snuggled a lot of pit bulls during the past year. Not one of them acted aggressively toward me. In fact, the worst “bite” I got at the Humane Society came from a black lab who grabbed my wrist with his mouth. It left a bruise, and that dog was adopted within days. At last report, it was a happily ever after situation. I wish my purebred dog would snuggle up against me the way the shelter pit bulls do, instead of hopping off the couch to get away from me when I smother him.

I’ll admit, I love dogs more than I love most people. So for me, it’s a pretty easy leap to love all dogs, no matter what they look like, how they were bred, or whom they bite. While I can’t promise to feel the same way about all people, the best I can do is speak out against racism and injustice when I see it.

This post is part of the Blog the Change for Animals Blog Hop.

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9 thoughts on “Blog the Change for Everyone

  1. Wonderfully, wonderfully said, Kari. I agree with each and every word. I have often had the same thoughts about prejudice against people and prejudice against dogs, and how those two things are so alike. When I used to pet sit one of the sweetest clients we had was a bully breed, so no one could ever convince me that the breed is bad. Any dog can bite, just as any person can be bad regardless of their race or sexual orientation. I honestly can’t comprehend how or why prejudiced people think the way they do, or why their minds are so closed to seeing things differently.

  2. Excellent post, Kari! I’m so with you on this one!

  3. Absolutely brilliantly said, there are a lot of parallels about the way we treat certain breeds and our own prejudices against certain people. Part of it seems to stem from the sensationalism and the constant negative media attention, but I know that’s not the only thing to blame. I read in my local paper yesterday about a German Shepherd that attacked a young boy (he was treated & released from the hospital) and it made me realize that everyone seems to have forgotten that they were once the focus of so much negative attention, and now most seem to regard them as loyal, intelligent, brave, and wonderful dogs. And before Shepherds it was the Doberman. It seems like we always want someone or something to blame for bigger issues, and so many times it’s misdirected. Every dog and every person is an individual, I’d love to see the day where we’re actually treated as equal.

  4. Great post Kari! I’m definitely a fan of bullies and it always breaks my heart at the hatred and ignorance towards the entire category of dogs. I personally prefer the tag #AllLivesMatter I think we all need to remember what is important, and how to love others be it dog or person for their differences.

  5. Thoughtful analogy you provide here, Kari…and you are so right, there are indeed similarities between the way we, as a society, practice discrimination against certain breeds of dogs and against certain types of people. Neither is right, and the world would be such a better place if we stopped allowing this hateful and sometimes fear-based nonsensical thinking. Best wishes with your book!

    Thank you for blogging the change for animals!
    KimT
    Be the Change for Animals
    CindyLu’s Muse

  6. Well said.

    Having lived in a neighborhood where nearly all of my neighbors were African American and nearly every dog was a pit mix, I’ve often seen parallels in the way people demonize pibbles and young men of color.

    Small-mindedness is never good. But it appears to result in more and more horrible violence.

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