Forgive me in advance if I am not able to completely tie together the two ideas that are bouncing around my head in a coherent way that anyone other than myself can actually follow and understand.
If you read my post yesterday, you know it was about on vs. off-leash dogs and liability. Bren from Pibbles & Me commented and basically said despite leash laws, she fears that if something ever happened and her dog (while appropriately leashed) bit a dog that was off-leash, she would still be held liable because of the fact that he dog is a “bully” breed and asked for my opinion on that. My response was: I absolutely understand and share your fear. I don’t know where you live, so this is a general response, but normally if there were a dog bite and the “victim” (owner of unleashed dog) pursued you, it would go to a judge and/or jury to determine liability. In a perfect world, since your dog was leashed and following the law, they would find no damages against you. In the imperfect world we live in, it’s scary to say, but I think it would just come down to the individuals. We unfortunately know the kind of prejudice that is out there regarding our beloved “bullies” and it’s entirely possible that some or all of the fault could be assigned to you. Obviously this is sh!tty and I only hope and pray none of us ever find ourselves in this situation. In the mean time, I think the best thing we can do is continue trying to raise awareness about how GOOD our “bullies” are in hopes that if ever we found ourselves in front of a jury, the jury would be comprised of fellow “bully” lovers!
How sad is it that any dog owner ever has to harbor this fear? This fear that their dog, because of nothing more than his appearance, will be discriminated against whether or not they actually do something wrong. It’s rare, but I have on occasion taken Maggie to the dog park because I believe that socialization (though it’s normally done in a very structured manner) is important for her. It didn’t matter what she was doing, I was guaranteed to get at least one dirty look while we were there. Sure, she plays a little rough sometimes, but so do 95% of all the other dogs there. The difference is, she has a big blocky head, with a mouth big enough fit a small car in, and ripped muscles. She’s not fluffy and (to some) friendly looking so when she pounces on a dog, the same way that adorable Lab mix just did, some people assume she must going in for the kill.
So how do we fix this? In my opinion, we do what I said in my response to Bren and continue trying to raise positive awareness about “bully” breeds and do everything we can to show them in a positive light. Why? Because I don’t know of a better way to change minds than this. But here is my problem: I feel like I am preaching to the choir. I can’t be certain, but I am pretty sure that my followers are already “bully” lovers. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s awesome and certainly a community I am proud to be part of, but their minds don’t need to be changed. I started Tallahassee WalkABulls (photos from our most recent walk throughout this post) to mainly help socialize dogs in a safe way, but also to show off “bully breeds” in a positive manner. Sure, we occasionally turn a few heads, but for the most part we walk in rural areas and don’t really draw much attention to ourselves. Plus, as you can see, some walks we have less “bullies” than anything else in attendance. No complaints here though, I love me some mutts 🙂
So I’m looking for suggestions. How do we reach outside of our little circle and touch some people who’s minds really do need to be changed? How do we preach beyond the choir?