Calling All Anti-BSL Folks

I became aware of this situation from one of my favorite blogs, Run A Muck Ranch.  They became aware of this through an Anti-BSL blog and then wrote about it on their blog.  All credit goes to them, I am merely doing my best to spread the word too because in my opinion, it’s shit like this that is really holding us and our beloved “bully breeds” back.  So, what is this all about?  Please watch this video:

http://www.abc6.com/Category/178006/video?clipId=8959457&autostart=true

“Son of a b*tch.  Great.  Here’s yet another negative story about pit bulls.  Why did that woman have to send her dogs to attack a reporter?!  Way to perpetuate the stereotype lady!”  I’m not proud of myself, but that was my reaction immediately after watching the video.  I’m willing to bet not many people will admit it, but it was theirs too.  And if I hadn’t taken the time to read the rest of what RAMR had to say, I would have only seen exactly what the ABC6 crew wanted me to: an innocent white lady being attacked, unprovoked, by two vicious pit bulls owned by a black lady living in the ghetto.

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Just another “vicious” pit bull, hangin out.

Let’s watch the video again and analyze it this time.  First we have the introduction: the reporter wanted to ask a “simple question” to the mother of a recently shot teen.  Wait a second.  I didn’t even really catch that the first time around because all I could think about was the “pit bull attack” I was about to see.  Ok, so we have a grieving mother on our hands.  I am only mother to my fur children and I can’t even begin to fathom the state I would be in if someone had shot them.  I can’t begin to put words to what she must be feeling.

The video starts, not as they are initially walking up to interview the mother, Ms. Lawrence, but at an undeterminable time later.  How long had they been there?  What did they say to her before they edited the video into the version we are watching?  Were they the only crew there that day?  Unlikely, since remember, this is the mother of a recently shot teen girl and the alleged shooter had just turned himself in.  So the very first clip is of the mother throwing a rock.  Then it shows the reporter walking up to the house…then it shows the same clip of the mother throwing a rock again?  Note the two dogs, sitting peacefully on the steps.  The mother is shouting, “Get away from me!” then she goes to get a bat.

So at this point, the crew had been told, by a grieving mother nonetheless, to leave her alone who knows how many times.  She threw rocks.  She got a bat.  Still the reporter was going to get her answer!  And remember, she isn’t harassing the mother of a recently convicted sex offender, drug dealer, or murderer.  No, she is harassing the mother of a victim.  The woman herself is a victim!  But dammit, Abby Niezgoda, reporter extraordinaire, has a right to know how she is feeling, and get her question answered! Ooookay.  Moving on.

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So, after yelling to “get away”, throwing rocks, and getting a bat, the mother tells the dogs to attack.  (Note that the dogs were just standing around loose up until this point, showing zero signs of aggression.)  They jump on Niezgoda, barking, and following her as she shuffles runs down the street.  There is a voiceover and Niezgoda says, “They bit my forearm.”

Ok, reverse and watch the “attack” scene again.  The dogs come out, barking, and really just trotting along.  One of them does jump up on her, and maybe nips her forearm, but then they basically just follow her.  I don’t know about any of you but the very first thought in my mind is that if the dogs really wanted to attack her, she would have been  flat on the ground the second they made contact with her.  Second, I’ve been bit by dogs before and let me tell you, I bled like a stuck pig.  I didn’t see a drop of blood, did you?  Third, and probably the most ridiculous, is Niezgoda’s attempt to run away.  She’s not moving at more than an awkward trot with those ridiculous heels on!  You mean to tell me these vicious, unprovoked dogs couldn’t catch her?!  Puh-lease.  What I see are two dogs that are reluctantly following the commands of their owner.  I like how they show the clip of her “running” and them “chasing” her a couple more times too, just for good measure.

The video ends with the reporter making sure to tell us that Niezgoda was on public property the whole time, she had to get a tetanus shot!, and there is a warrant for Ms. Lawrence’s arrest.  A warrant for her arrest.  Do I wish that she hadn’t decided to sic her dogs on the reporter?  Absolutely!  Do I think she was thinking rationally?  No.  Can I even imagine what she is going through?  No way.  Can you?  It’s funny how Niezgoda is portrayed as the innocent victim in all this, with our sympathies guided in her direction.  No sympathy for the mother of a shot teen who was just harassed at her home when she should have been left alone to grieve.

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Look, the last thing I’m saying is that what Ms. Lawrence did was okay, and yes, I do think she perpetuated some stereotypes.  Our dogs should never be used as weapons.  It is our duty to protect them at all times and at all costs.  But again, I don’t think she was anywhere near a rational state of mind.  She was provoked, how much, we don’t even know.  I think there was a hell of a lot of editing going on to produce the video that we all just watched.  Who knows what else happened that we didn’t see?  And now she is going to get arrested?  Actions absolutely should have consequences, so how about Niezgoda getting arrested too for harassment?  I think we all know that isn’t going to happen.

And what is going to happen to the dogs?  I shudder to think of the possibilities.  So, here is what I think needs to happen.

1)  The dogs in the story are the ultimate victims.  They did not randomly attack Niezgoda.  They chased her down after their owner told them to.  They also came as soon as she called them off.  I think we can all agree that these are not the actions of vicious, unprovoked dogs, and also that they do not pose any sort of threat.  If Niezgoda had left Lawrence alone, after who knows how many times she told her to, this never would have happened.  It might already be too late for these dogs, and if so, ABC and Niezgoda should be held accountable.  But it might not.  If you are in the Rhode Island area, or know someone that is, I implore you to try and contact Animal Control and speak up.  These dogs do not deserve to die over this, and should be returned to the Lawrence family who has already lost too much.

2) I think Niezgoda needs to hear from the masses that what she did was wrong.  Through who knows how much editing, Niezgoda and ABC painted an ugly picture.  They want us to believe that this is just another story of a vicious pit bull attack.  These stories need to stop!  Until the media begins to report incidents like this more accurately, our dogs are in danger.  We need to all stand up and let our voices be heard.  Yes, what Ms. Lawrence did was wrong, but what ABC did is even worse because they are endangering not just those two dogs, but all pit bulls with this kind of inaccurate, lopsided, prejudicial reporting.  So, let’s tell them what we think of their actions.  Below is a copy and pasted list from RAMR of various outlets to contact.  They are all public information so no worries there.

3)  Everyone, please, think before you act.  As the owners of “bully breeds” our actions are constantly in the spotlight.  One wrong move and you never know just how blown out of proportion it might become.  Let’s all try and take some time over the next few days to do something extra public and positive with our pit bulls.  Maybe a walk through a park.  Post a cute picture online.  Just something to show them in a good light so that we can hopefully counteract a little of the most recent damage to our breed.

Thanks for sticking with me through that incredibly long post.  Below are the list of contacts.  Go.  Now.

*This information was made available from public sources, and as outraged citizens, you are entitled to make your opinions known.  Freedom of speech, just like freedom of the press, is guaranteed in the Constitution.  Your filling of Abbey Niezgoda’s inbox can’t be any more wrong than her refusing to leave a grieving mother alone who asked her to leave.   Unlike Ms. Lawrence, who never expected to be attacked by the press, public figures such as Abbey Niezgoda should expect people to express their opinions of her freely.

https://www.facebook.com/abbeytv

Twitter:  @abbeyniezgoda

e-mail: aniezgoda@abc6.com.

Please contact the ABC6 Executive Team and tell them that Abbey Niezgoda’s self-serving, unethical and despicable behavior should cost her her job.

Chris Tzianabos

Vice President/General Manager

ctzianabos@abc6.com

401-453-8000

Michael Troiano

General Sales Manager

mtroiano@abc6.com

401-453-8024

Beth Ulicnik

MultiChannel Manager

bulicnik@abc6.com

Web/RINC/Digital

401-453-8021

John Methia

Director of Broadcast Operations & Engineering

jmethia@abc6.com

401-453-8058

Robert Rockstroh

News Director

brockstroh@abc6.com

401-453-8036

Cindy Walsh

National Sales Manager

cwalsh@abc6.com

401-453-8026

Judy Shoemaker

Promotion Manager

jshoemaker@abc6.com

401-453-8158

Anne Marie Menard

Business Manager

amenard@abc6.com

401-453-8008

Contact ABC and let them know of the unethical means in which one of its affiliates creates news. (sorry, these are form contacts, but your voice is worth the effort)

http://abc.go.com/site/contact-us?nord=1

http://abcnews.go.com/Site/page?id=3271346&cat=ABCNews.com

If you are local to the Providence, Rhode Island area, contact the sponsors of ABC6 News and tell them you have a problem with a news station that tortures victims for a story, and ask that they pull their support until Abbey Niezgoda is fired, and ABC6 has issued a formal apology to Melissa Lawrence.

{Legal Issue} BSL Around the World

It’s been a hot minute since we did the last Legal Issue post so I figured it was time to get back to business!  This topic is one that likely hits home with at least a few of us: BSL.  A reader asked what International Laws look like and if BSL exists in other places.

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 You all remember the Lennox case, right?  In short, Lennox was removed from his home in Ireland after officials determined he was a “pit bull type dog”.  His family fought legal battles for two years, all while he was deteriorating in horrible conditions, along with support from people literally all across the world to save him–he had done nothing wrong.  You might remember seeing pictures of pit bull type dogs with the words “I Am Lennox” –this was done as a show of support.  Ultimately the family lost and Lennox was euthanized.  Up until this point, I can honestly say that I hadn’t really paid any attention to international BSL issues, but this case brought it jarringly to my attention.

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Obviously this is a huge topic that could literally fill books, so I asked Rich to kind of give us a condensed version of his research.  Without further ado, here are some “fun” facts about International Laws surrounding BSL:

You may think that our country’s unfair view on certain breeds is so far from the norm that it wouldn’t be duplicated in other countries. While this is a nice thought, the United States is far from being the only country that allows breed specific legislation to be passed by its constituent states. In fact some other countries have gone so far to enact federal BSL that touches every border of the country, and it’s not just pit bulls that are affected by these laws.

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For example, the United Kingdom has a law that prohibits four types of dogs entirely from the country. These are the Pit Bull, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasiliero breeds. The good news is that the area of Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom, is not affected by this ban. But the bad news is that Northern Ireland has enacted its own ban that includes these dogs (this is where the Lennox situation occurred). In addition to outright banning these breeds the UK law encourages voluntary microchipping of dogs and imposes severe penalties on owners of dogs that attack people (including prison time up to two years).

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Australia is another country that has a ban on these breeds. Additionally they also include the Perro de Presa Canario. For those that don’t know about these breeds that are banned, for the most part they look like Pit Bulls and Mastiffs, large dogs with defined muscles. Although the Tosa does not look like either type, it is apparently nicknamed the Japanese Fighting Dog. In Australia the importation of these breeds is banned, and any dog that was “grandfathered” in by being there prior to enactment of the ban, is required to be neutered, thus Australia is attempting to let the breed die out (completely die out!) in the country.

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Finally, a little closer to home the island nation of Puerto Rico has enacted a similar ban on these types of dogs (although it doesn’t appear that Tosas are included), banning the importation, sale, and breeding of these dogs. When this law was enacted it gave owners eight months to register the dogs that they already owned to “grandfather” them in. Additionally it looks like the legislators there saw the trouble that Miami-Dade had in court defending their ban on “pit bulls” as being too vague, and the Puerto Rican law defines Pit Bulls to include specific breeds, and cross breeds between them and other breeds. Also it gives a physical description of what the banned dogs look like.

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Unfortunately this is just a sampling of the breed specific legislation throughout the world, and there’s no end in sight. Venezuela has passed a law that will outlaw American Staffordshire Terrier and American Pit Bulls in 2014. This law was passed in 2010 and the delay in going into effect is probably due to the fact that it is an outright ban and there will be no “grandfathering” in.

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Rather depressing, isn’t it?  So what can we do?  First and foremost we can use our own dogs to show what great family members these “pit bulls” and other breeds really are; we can walk the walk.  We can also take the time to sign petitions against bans; we can ask our friends to sign these petitions as well.  We can write letters to legislators and intelligently and politely make a case for our family members.  We can get involved! 

The photos from this post are from the Pittie Party.  It was a wonderful event and if you are in the Tallahassee area and looking for helping throwing a charitable event you should seriously consider checking out my friends at Hire Wire Charitable Even Planning.  They rock; more pictures to come!  And a couple of the dogs featured in this post are available for adoption, so if you are in the market and one catches your eye, please get in touch with me!