|Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M|
I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
|Barked: Sun Mar 17, '13 11:42am PST |
|Thanks, Beasley. I would like to take a sec to speak a little more frankly here than I can on a more public page
The anger at Michael Vick, for however understandable, has gotten to the point of really agitating me as I see a hypocrisy in it. Many dog people, prior to Michael Vick, certainly have known there is dog fighting going on and, particularly in the inner city, that it is really bad. On Dogster before, I have at times brought up puppy mills, and that such is a very popular cause a lot of people are extremely proactive with. Puppy mills are terrible and the dogs there often suffer horrendously, but let's face it....it is a little easier to sympathize with cute fluffy little dogs than a Pit Bulls owned by a bunch of gang connected thugs. Every now and then one gets found on the roadside or in some back alley, torn up to shreds, and then we as dog lovers are all over it. People are heartsick, the donations pour in, they send toys and treats, the list of adopters is endless. It is very touching, but also very infuriating as this is something that outside of those moments when that dog by the grace of the fates ends up in our hands, in our loving arms, something we tune out. Because it is far more apart than we are from mills and from pet stores, and also because it is scary and makes us uncomfortable. There's a greater social message there, for yes, as people a flaw we have is to tune out suffering at times when it is not a part of our own backyards and communities.
Going back to early 90's, I had a huge fall out with a German Shepherd group I belonged to. These were dog lovers. Their dogs were their lives, beautifully treated, they had a big heart for dogs in shelters, the whole package. And when the Pit Bull subject came up, boy was I in for a shock. There was me (who has big heart for the Pit Bulls), one woman in Atlantic City who couldn't go a week without seeing Pit Bull bodies dumped on the roadside on her drive to work, and one woman who had had her childhood pet Pit (who had saved her life from a rattlesnake) stolen, which she knew was to be used a fighter or as bait, and it haunted her decades later. She was still restless. Everyone else? How unfeeling and uncaring they were would appall everyone here. They talked about how they didn't care, how they'd worry about BSL when it "came to MY breed," and said horrible things about the fight dogs and that they were trash. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I started calling myself the "Pit Bull Princess" at that time, almost as a sardonic joke, but one seething with passion and an unnerved disappointment in my dog people.
I laid low-ish, though. Me and my two friends got to work. Through my Schutzhund connections, I found a trainer way out in CA. She had a dog who had been rushed to her as an emergency foster after a fight raid (she was tied in with the local police department). He was torn up badly and in a state of severe distress, but from all the scars upon scars on him you could tell he had been fought...a lot. Her brief term holding of him turned into a foster fail. He was just such a sweet dog. So he healed, she trained him, and from that point on she had been giving her Sch classes with this dog off lead.....just dead trained. As this example to her clients that here you had this very scary looking dog who had been fought a lot, but that she could have him off lead around all these drive-y dogs, with perfect stays and downs. She wrote this beautiful letter on my behalf to present to the GSD jerkheads. This woman was one of their own. A Schutzhund trainer who knew a "great" dog when she saw one, and here she was with this Pit Bull. And he was not trash. He was the love of her life. And yet even with this, the GSD crowd did not care. Did not care about that, did not care about the fighting. A dejected shelter dog they would care about. Particularly if it was a German Shepherd Puppy mills they would care about. But fighting dogs and culture, and they were pretty heartless.
I have been down this road many years. And the ability to engender a truly PASSIONATE concern for this fighting issue has been frustratingly and heartbreakingly slow in coming. Back in the 90's, hip hop albums and videos were using negative Pit Bull imagery off the charts. I tried to get petitions signed. But no one cared.
So here comes Michael Vick. He is a dog fighter. I will not excuse that. But all our shock, and all our restlessness over him, to me is laden with a hypocrisy. He's just another dog fighter. He was there doing what he did when we were doing nothing. He grew up with all that imagery which those petitions people were trying to get signed and no one cared then. If through Michael Vick we all have that moment where we touch upon how horrible this is and how we have to stop it, then good. We need to do that. There is no reason why an inner city Pit Bull should be any less of a social concern than a puppy mill breeder. Maybe even more, as they permeate an entire culture, are connected with gangs, drugs, human lives of promise turned to waste. It is a mess.
And until we make that truer to our hearts, this will continue. If people could take even a third of a fifth of the anger they have towards Michael Vick and apply it to his past peers and help dogs who are STILL suffering, how much grander this would be.
This hits home to me a lot. I think of that era when I was trying to get dog people to protest MTV and the major record labels essentially promoting Pit fighting to kids. And right around that same time, when we were not caring, Michael Vick was one of those kids. He has said, and it is something I believe because it rings true to him and his life, that had he known how illegal this was and how repulsed average America is by this, that he would have stopped. Not because he is a great guy, but that there was nothing he would have done to jeopardize his dream of getting into the NFL. And in hearing that, it makes you wonder. What would it have been if that message was louder back then? I doubt it would have turned him into a compassionate human being, but you have to wonder if we, average America, had been screaming more about how this repels us and would not be tolerated, if we would know his name at all today outside the range of football. Michael Vick alone abused those dogs. But I will never say that we did not fail them ourselves. I know it can be hard to deal with other cultures....high shelter stats in deeply rural areas with wanting volunteerism and social concern, or the issues in the inner city. But this still is our country and these still are "our" dogs.
We need to learn from all that and press this forward. They have suffered way too much. Moving past "monster" and onto "dog fighter" is one of those steps. We don't say "monster" near as much as we say "child abuser," which reflects on an act we as a society can't tolerate, vs "monster," which sounds more like an uncontrollable force.
Edited by author Sun Mar 17, '13 11:49am PST
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