My name is Tanner the Pit Bull. I was living on the street when a kind lady took me to the shelter, the jail for dogs. I was supposed to 'go to sleep', but then Lou and Eugenie showed up and took me home. We've written a book about it, GIMME SHELTER. We're hoping you'll drop by from time to time to learn what's new with us and our friends. We'll be talking about rescue dogs, especially Pit Bulls, anger issues, and things we love, like movies, books, travel and karate.
While we might sometimes question the causes
they fight for, we owe our gratitude and respect to the men and women who put
their lives on the line in service to our country. Among my personal circle of
heroes, here’s a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for dear friends Joe Simone, Dan Cohen,
and John Dellasala, and a prayer that
our leaders will think long and hard before putting any our fathers, mothers,
brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters in harm’s way. While not nearly as numerous as two-legged servicemen and
women, war dogs continue to play a key role in our nation’s defense. As Josh Weiss-Roessler noted in a Cesar Millan's recent newsletter, after
months and sometimes years of rigorous training meant to hone their already
keen senses, canine soldiers are tasked with guarding installations, capturing
the enemy and detecting explosives and other contraband. But what happens to
these warriors when their hitch is up? In the past, they were ‘retired’ –
euthanized – when they became too old or unable to perform their duties.
Thankfully, a law passed in 2000 allows for the adoption of phased out war
dogs. Prospective adoptees and their would be owners must both be evaluated to
insure a smooth transition to civilian life, which means creating an
environment that provides lots of structure and discipline. Interested in
taking on the challenge? Contact the Warrior Dog Foundation.
Thank you all!
On a related note, two paws up to canine recent
police academy grad Kiah, who will now team with Officer Justin Bruzgul working to
detect drugs and locate missing persons for the Poughkeepsie, NY Police
Department. While the vast majority of
law enforcement dogs are either German shepherds or Belgian Malinois, pit bulls
are a rarity. As the recent NY Post story rightly points out, the breed’s reputation
for violence is “undeserved” and the result of human ignorance and
neglect. Recent studies have found no
correlation between dog breeds and dog attacks, and they have shown that
specific breed bans (BSL), like the one being considered in Montreal, fail to
reduce dog attacks.
Kia and partner Officer Justin Bruzgul
Sadly, many military and law enforcement personnel
can suffer from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition that
sometimes affects their canine partners as well. But even pampered pets, whose
closest brush with danger is a feisty squirrel or a TV shootout, can fall
victim to the disorder. Writing for Cesar's Way, Nicole Pajer says, “Dogs can be thrown into a state of extreme stress over
a variety of different experiences. Common causes may include weather - natural
disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, car accidents, Household accidents,
and physical or emotional trauma during interactions with people or other
animals.” Indeed. For nearly a year after he joined
our home, Tanner couldn’t stomach (literally, as the gallons vomit flowed) riding in the
car. Why? Our best guess is that he’d been abused – perhaps as a bait dog for a
fight ring – and associated the abuse with the motor travel. Even now, after years of patient rehabilitation, the July 4 fireworks evoke a
yearly nightmare, along with popping champagne corks and gusty Santa Ana winds.
They were blowing the other evening and Eugenie woke the next morning to find him missing from his
normal spot on the bed in my office. Instead, he was precariously perched on the desk,
his facing the corner. Scratching her head, she helped back him down. He spent the rest of the day looking tired and out of sorts, wrung out by his encounter with the 'devil winds'.
Many people (and dogs) I know tend to think of Canadians as plain spoken, common sensical folks, who (Rob Ford aside) tend to refrain from the USA’s more vulgar and ill-conceived excesses. Recently, however, officials in Montreal endorsed BSL - Breed Specific Legislation - aimed at, yes, that’s right, pit bulls. If enacted, the law would, among other things, ban new ownership of "pit bull-type” dogs, requiring owners to go through a background check and muzzle their dogs when in public. Some U.S. cities (Denver, Miami), and some entire countries (France, Spain, U.K, New Zealand) have adopted similar bans even though science has show that pit bulls (bred from bulldogs and other terriers) are no more inherently violent than other breeds. Among the notable advocates to condemn BSL are President Obama and the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan. In this video, he makes a case for America’s most unjustly maligned dogs. It may seem like we’re piling on but Bronwen Dickey, author of “Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon” calls the ban”stupid” and anything but specific. In a recent LA Times Op Ed piece, she shreds BSL, offering evidence of its ineffectiveness. For me, my human parents, and all our dog and dog guardian friends, BSL is just BS. If you’d like to help, write to Montreal official, asking them to reconsider the ill-advised action, and offering to boycott their industries and sport teams if they don’t.
Actress and rescue activist Linda Blair offered some reasons why BSL doesn't work, and some suggestions to implement instead. Why BSL does NOT work: It's not financially sound as it often ties up community resources while cases are determined. Many folks cannot properly identify the breed in question. Any dog (or companion animal for that matter) can bite. It has NO scientific basis and is not supported by the following organizations: - American Bar Association - American Kennel Club - American Veterinary Medical Association - Center for Disease Control and Prevention - National Animal Control Association - National Canine Research Council - The Obama Administration - State Farm Insurance - The U.S. Department of Housing and Development - The U.S. Department of Justice Instead of ineffective posturing, concerned legislators should focus on:
- The importance and
necessity of spaying a neutering, so we can end pet overpopulation.
- Ending puppy mills, so we
can end of the suffering of Mama dogs who’s feet often times never touch the
- The importance of micro
chipping, so beloved pets can return home.
- The importance of
vaccinations, so we can eradicate diseases like parvo that leave innocent puppies
- Updating our licensing
laws so that pet "owners" are held responsible for animals actions, not the
- Updating pet "ownership" laws - we are pet guardians
meant to serve and protect our beloved companions.
Linda Blair, rescue advocate
Like so many other human foibles, BSL makes me wonder just how superior our human partners are. It's a favorite theme of my dad, Lou, who currently has his large but mainly decorative snout buried in Carl Safina's fabulous book, "Beyond Words: What Animals Think And Feel". A highly decorated writer, scientist, and academic, Safina suggests that we're all animals with humans just one shade of a larger animal rainbow. He's struck by how animals live in harmony with nature and each other except for one particular creature that seems hellbent on wreaking as much mayhem as possible. Cesar Millan has a similar take:”Humans are good at a lot
of things. When it comes to creating art or doing science or excelling any of
hundreds of other pursuits that we have invented, no animal can beat us. Crows will never discover a cure for
cancer. An elephant will never create a
masterpiece – despite what you’ve heard about elephants painting in Thailand. What we lack in fur or feathers we make up
for an intellect. When it works for us,
we do things like travel to the moon or create “Hamilton” or invent new and better
machines to make our lives easier. That’s
part of what makes us human.
Unfortunately, we also excel at something that no animal can do. Humans are experts at working against Nature
at every opportunity.”
In all the commotion about
pit bull discrimination, I forgot to say congratulations to my 'mom', ace sculptor
Eugenie Spirito, for her participation in the recent art show at Canvas Malibu and for 28 years of marriage to my loving but
sometimes grumpy dad. They were wed in Verona, Italy at Juliet’s Tomb and
recently celebrated their continuing good fortune with the brief holiday in nearby
Ventura and Ojai, where a certain dashing pit bull got to join the fun and guard the room while they were off wining and dining.