The Benefit I See in Michael Vick in Dogster Magazine

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I'm the Bee's- Knees!

Barked: Fri Mar 15, '13 10:01am PST 
"We need to stand up, be counted, and fight for these animals far more than we do. Not liking something is one thing, but striving to bring change is quite another."

A longtime member of the Dogster Community, writes about the opportunity to put issues of animal cruelty and dog fighting front and center.

forever loved
Barked: Fri Mar 15, '13 10:34am PST 
Fantastic article, well-written. I hope people see the truth in in it, and changes are made from it.way to go
Jake & Sweet- Caroline

Tricolored- Hounds for life!
Barked: Fri Mar 15, '13 12:00pm PST 
Great Article. I hope people read it and take the message to heart. Change needs to happen!

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 wink

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 wink 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


It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Sun Mar 17, '13 8:28pm PST 
Anyone who has read my posts knows how I feel about Vick, so no comment there.

But wow, Tiller...have you been published? If not yet you should be, excellent writingapplauseapplauseapplauseapplauseapplauseapplauseapplauseapplause
Miyu CGC

Bow down to the- Princess Brat!
Barked: Sun Mar 17, '13 8:47pm PST 
Very powerful, Tiller. And very TIMELY. You have the knack for going deeper, past the knee-jerk reactions, to the core of the problem. Always very insightful and thought provoking, I really appreciate that.

It is the cultural mentality that is very hard to get over. I come from a place where animals certainly aren't cared for in the way that they are here, and certain things just aren't the norm the way they are there. It makes you remember to not take these things for granted, and to try and speak up and connect so that you can bring change about.

Because I'm- Duncan, that's- why

Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 8:17am PST 
"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."

I will have to say this softly because this is Dogster, and this is a bit political. But there perhaps you have scratched the surface of the answer to the "pit bull problem" - dog fighting primarily, but all the rest too.

Michael Vick notwithstanding, people who feel alienated from the mainstream are going to care far less what the mainstream thinks about what they do. There are social injustices and wounds that won't heal in this country. When the mainstream holds no promise or future for those kids to which you refer, they continue on with that "mess" of gangs and drugs and pit bull abuse.

Sometimes I really do think that dog people could just stop for a moment and care about humans for one second. That might help. I'm just sayin'. Maybe if you fix what's wrong with that culture, you fix the pit bull problem. It's not about signing petitions or trying to censor hip-hop lyrics or videos. Those are just a reflection of the reality that is. I'm talking about working as a society to a more positive place and having something real to offer, actually caring about people that seem so "apart."

Though your Boudreauxes and the stuff in Louisiana is a whole 'nother matter. That has nothing to do with disenfranchised people and hopelessness. There, I guess yeah, just try and strengthen the laws -- and just TRY to get them to actually stick in spite of corruption and so forth, but good luck.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 9:29am PST 
There I actually disagree. Album covers were getting everyone in a furor for suggesting domestic abuse, but not the Pit Bulls. That's illegal, too. And in an often mentor-less culture where what the successful do get notoriously copied, it has an effect. DMX is someone who comes to mind. Those are, literally, his dogs. "Raccoon ain't nothing but a big cat." " You dont wanna get caught in a pit with one a them boy
They make good companians, but even worse enemys
Its all on how you take it" The beginning of the song in those quotes is barking dogs and "get 'em boy!"

There is so much culture....both cultures....wrapped up in that. The culture of the inner city, and our own, with the major labels and their promotional teams, willing to capitalize on inner city imagery. That's just not cool. They (major labels) make me spit bullets, and to me are such a symbol of our own hypocrisy. That's ok. Still here, today.....that's ok.

And no, it is not ok. And then you have dog fighter Michael Vick hit the news and we are "shocked." Really? I mean....really? We don't have near enough intolerance in our own and more privileged culture to say that. Pit Bull puppies sell like nuts in suburbia now, and that's a lot due to the imagery of what it meant to be "cool" growing up. Idiots get Pit Bulls, and in that context at least, "we" made those idiots.

Fortunately, it's had a slower fade for years and after the Vick situation I think people will be far more sensitive (above album released 2003), but for a long time we only did not care....we capitalized on it.

Because I'm- Duncan, that's- why

Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 11:55am PST 
There are quite a few themes depicted and glorified in that music/video/etc that "we" might consider objectionable.

Cop killing? Check. Gang-related violence? Check. Intoxication, with alcohol and/or illegal substances? Objectification and degradation of women?

Industry capitalizes on all of it because the concern of business is what sells.

Would you censor all of it, or only the pit bull imagery because that's what offends you as a dog lover?
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 12:14pm PST 
Some people tried to censor all of it, don't forget wink Which I didn't agree with, but the dog people being so indifferent was pretty telling. For they sure as hell weren't that with puppy mills. And that was our own hypocrisy.

And as noted, a further consequence is the rampantness of the PB as a power symbol in outside (from the inner city) culture today. That didn't exist until MTV. We here don't have a CLUE what goes down in the inner city until major media and entertainment has their way with it. I have seen the fashion emulated, the slang and the Pit Bulls. A lot of that shelter crisis links there. There was a time when there was no Pit Bull shelter crisis in the north. And that's all on that cultural phenomenon. MTV was nothing but racist when they started. They'd relegate black videos to the wee morning hours until Michael Jackson came along, and they then got a hint. Milked that cow, and what people....what few people there were then....saying was a huge concern, came to pass. It almost ruined the Doberman. And the Pit Bull? The result has been tragic, for the Doberman imagery was not directed at kids. Whereas the Pit Bull imagery was.

Those who were there in the pre MTV days and knew where this would go due to the 1970's Doberman phenomenon, and the propensity for street culture to catch with more general youth. The amount of product placement in hip hop videos is legendary. And one of those placed products was the Pit Bull, thick chains and snarly face and all. And we lapped it up, without offense. That was the tough dog, and that is what made you "bad." *sigh*

We, dog lovers, didn't do much to say that wasn't ok. That is why I don't agree with you. It's not about what others do or do not do, how or why. If we are the dog's voice, then we need to be that. If this is not ok, then we need to articulate that and insist upon that. Maybe it would have changed nothing, but at least that voice would have been out there. Rather than waiting for some big celebrity to go down and for us to be "shocked."

Much like the shelter world today. Sure, people still get their pet store puppies. Sure, people still BYB like nuts. But at least our voice is out there. It's the least we can do. And for the inner city Pit Bull, we didn't offer even that. Our apathy (or in some cases, disdain) effectively implicit in the promotion of this. For we were all he had. And we didn't give a damn.

Edited by author Mon Mar 18, '13 12:26pm PST

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