Wednesday, October 5, 2011

breed discrimination really pisses me off

pardon my french, but it does. here's a rant about it.

i was just reading this post called Dealing With Breed Discrimination over at Go Pet Friendly and, as i was writing a comment on that post, i realized i needed to come over here and tell you what happened to us at PETCO this weekend.

yes. at petco! where the freakin pets go!! and the people who have pets, some of which are dogs. and you assume these dog owners love dogs and know about dogs and understand dogs, but you'd be assuming wrong.

we had been at the store awhile (getting our very first doggie portraits taken. yes, yes. you're aware i am That Girl.) and desmond was pretty tired from playing with other dogs and doing his going-nowhere sprints when he was trying to get near other dogs and we were keeping him from doing so. he was so tired, in fact, that he was lying down on the floor on his side in his beloved Flat Desmond pose, with joey sitting next to him. they were waiting for me to finish paperwork for our portraits order (which went from $9.95 to almost $100 in the blink of an eye, by the way).

picture this

or this

or even this

that's the feel of the scene at petco. got it? OK.

a woman and her two kids are coming up to where joey and desmond are lounging when she steers her children out of the way and around my husband and furry son, declaring they needed to do so because "it's a pit bull!"

i've touched on breed-specific legislation before, but this is a different issue. this isn't about laws; this is about people being ignorant. this is about assumption and doggie bigotry.

first of all, this woman obviously knows very little about pit bulls, including what they look like. it's kind of crazy, actually, how many people think they know what pit bulls look like but then have trouble identifying them.

this is a bit of a tangent, but here are a bunch of pictures of some of the various types of pit bulls in existence:

american pit bull terriers on google image search

american staffordshire terriers on google image search

staffordshire bull terriers on google image search

obviously, google image search relies heavily on how people tag and describe their own photos, so there's definitely room for error here, but i think you get my point. in case you don't, here it is: desmond doesn't really look that much like a pit bull.

he doesn't have the ears or body or tail. he is, first and foremost, a greyhound mix. desmond is a bit thicker/stronger than greyhounds are in the front, and he doesn't have greyhound ears or a greyhound snout either. this is where we think another type of hound comes in. perhaps plott hound (based on characteristics as well as physical features) or vizsla. we don't really know, as many people don't really know the genetic makeup of their dogs.

just for comparison's sake, here are pix of greyhounds, plotts, and vizslas:


plott hounds


do we think desmond has some pit in him? absolutely. i can't imagine anywhere else his bouts of energy and playfulness would come from, not to mention his sweetness and desire to be loved at all times. but when i look at him, i don't see a pit bull. i see a hound mix.

it doesn't matter what i think or what i see. it matters what the public thinks and sees, unfortunately, because of breed discrimination and breed-specific legislation. because most people would look at him and see a pit, we can't take him to certain hotels. because most people look at him and see a pit, we often get dirty looks or stares and have been on the receiving end of a few comments on the street or seen people move to avoid us. oh yes, desmond is just so scary.

do i care if desmond is 0% pit or 100% pit? no, i don't. i do not discriminate against pit bulls. but the woman at petco obviously does.

the woman at petco who took her children away from my nearly-passed-out greyhound/pit bull/plott hound/god-knows-what mix obviously has a problem with pit bulls.


why does this woman have a problem with pit bulls? probably because all she's ever been told or heard or read is that pit bulls are aggressive and scary and will eat you and will attack you with knives in a dark alley in the middle of the night.

think about how many times you've heard on the news about a pit bull biting someone. rarely do you hear stories about other dog breeds biting or "attacking" someone--unless it's another bully breed, of course--even though it most definitely happens.

why do people--the media, in particular--want to perpetuate this stereotype instead of finding out more about the story? instead of finding out the truth? if the news wants to report on these stories, that's fine, but they should actually do some damn work first. i realize journalism isn't what it used to be, and i realize it's not just the media making this a problem, but i find it so frustrating that these stories never tell you about the irresponsible and ignorant humans--often the parents of children who got hurt--involved in these incidents.

people, most dog bites are CAUSED BY HUMANS. do you see this??? i am using CAPS LOCK. and repeated punctuation marks!!

just recently, there was something scrolling across the bottom of the morning news screen about a dog bite/attack. in this tiny space, where character count matters, they found a way to include that the dog involved was a pit bull. because that's relevant! how is this any different than naming ethnicity in every single crime story headline?

ugh, so angry!

and this woman at petco had me fuming. lucky for her (and my poor husband), i wasn't near enough to where this happened when it happened. i heard nothing, i saw nothing. joey told me about it after she walked away. i'm amazed that my eyelids returned to their normal locations.

here's the most upsetting part: this happened at PETCO!! have i mentioned that??

of all the places i wouldn't think i'd have to deal with this, petco is at the top of my list along with any other pet supply store and any dog-friendly places like the dog run (though the amount of ridiculousness we've seen there could fill a long series of books, and we've only been going for six months) and any dog-friendly events. it's just... really disappointing.

i have so much faith in dog owners, in the fact that they have huge hearts and common sense and compassion and a sense of responsibility. i still do, but every time i have an experience like this, it gets more and more frustrating and makes me think it should be much more difficult to bring a dog into your life, no matter what the avenue. there should be a test or something. i don't know. i just don't understand the mentality of making sweeping generalizations about dog breeds. as i've said before, it makes me think anyone who would do that would do the same in regards to humans. it's sad.

i wish there were more we could do.

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