I recently read an article that made me sick. Lennox, a six year old American Bull Dog Lab mix pictured as a puppy here, has been on death row for the past 20 months, living in a dirty kennel just waiting to be euthanized. Lennox was wrongfully seized from his northern Ireland home on May 19th, 2010 by Belfast City Council Dog Wardens.
As I continued to read this article, my initial thought was maybe he attacked a person or another dog, but as I read on my heart sunk. Lennox was seized simply because he resembled a Pit Bull Terrier.
I have been in the pet industry long enough to identify victims of the media upon meeting them – Pit Bull fearing humans. Inevitably, every time I bring a Pit Bull or Pit Bull mix to the dog park, five or six fearful dog owners immediately leash up their dogs and leave. It’s a completely different story if the dog I bring to the park happens to be a Lab or a Shepherd type.
I’m curious to know where this fear comes from? I would like to see a direct source, something that can inform me as to why so many people fear this breed? The only source I can see is the tainted media – news reports of Pit Bulls biting their owners and others. But what I don’t see is the Pittie’s story. I’m sure if these dogs could talk their answers would be “I was scared”, “I was starving”,”They abused me”, “I did not receive proper training” or “I wasn’t loved enough”. Under no circumstance should any dog be discriminated against by it’s breed. If I recall correctly I believe there’s a word for that – racism.
I have been working with dogs for the past 8 years of my life. I volunteered at an animal shelter, worked at a pet store, and now provide in home pet sitting services. As anyone who works with animals should know, there’s a good chance you will be bitten at some point, whether it’s your fault or not. I’ve sustained five bad dog bites over the years working with animals, and not one of them came from a Pit Bull Terrier or Pit mix and I’ve worked with plenty of them. Three of those dog bites came from Labrador Retrievers, the most popular breed in America.
I’m not saying we should all go out and fear Labradors now, but what I am hoping is to help others realize the real source of the problem – irresponsible dog owners. The above picture was taken in January of 2011. I was out for a walk with a clients dog when I hear barking coming from my left. When I turned to look I saw a chocolate lab running across his front yard, unleashed and unfenced while his owner, who was also outside, lazily called his name, which I think was his attempt to control the lab. I immediately began yelling at the owner to please control his dog because my clients dog, who was properly leashed and secured, did not like other dogs. Unfortunately my calls fell on deaf ears, and the owner did nothing but continue to to lazily and cheerfully say “Hershy, come here boy, come back.”
The dog fight broke out within seconds. I desperately tried getting the dogs apart by body blocking my clients dog behind me, but during the all chaos, the Chocolate Lab bit my thigh three times in the same area. Finally the owner of the lab came over and pulled his dog off me, and pulled him to the house by his collar, not saying a word to me, but muttered to his dog “You need to listen to me better.”
This is a typical case of “No sir, you need to be a better, more responsible dog owner.” Keep in mind that this happened in January, it was freezing that day so I was wearing a pair of tights, leggings, and jeans – I couldn’t image what my leg would have looked like if it was summer out and I was wearing shorts. This incident would have never happened if the Chocolate Lab had been properly controlled.
People tend to forget that dogs are animals. They need proper training, quality nutrition, and most importantly boundless amounts of love, because they are always willing and ready to give it right back. So I ask of you not to fear the breed, fear the negligent irresponsible owners instead. Do not believe the medias push to terrify people into thinking certain breeds are dangerous. And please, help Lennox find his way back to his owners by signing this petition. Lennox did nothing wrong, this is the fault of an unjust fear.
(My clients dog was not harmed, thankfully, just a bit shaken. I checked him over when we got back to the house.)