Dogster Cheesecake’s Appeal for Pit Bulls: Let’s Try a New BSL

Dogsters and Catsters are not just some of the most caring people on the planet; they are also some of the most talented. Take Cheesecake's...



Dogsters and Catsters are not just some of the most caring people on the planet; they are also some of the most talented. Take Cheesecake’s furmom, Jennie, for example and her stirring essay reprinted below.

Let’s try a new BSL: Begin Speaking their Language

There are a thousand pit bull faces in my mind. I have never seen a fighter.

I have seen a puppy chained to a post, left for years, while a collar grows into her neck. I have seen that dog lick the vet tech as he pulls back the infected skin from the wound. I have seen that dog, quivering, start to play with other dogs, learn to love people. I have seen that dog find a home.

I have never seen a fighter.

I have seen a dog neglected, left to his own devices, undisciplined, unneutered, unsocialized. I have seen that dog alone, day after day, confined in a space too small to run in with no one to play with. I have seen that dog grow restless, pacing. I have seen him charge the fence, increasingly wary of the dog on the other side. I have seen the fence grow weak, and, one day, the dog charge through, all the supercharged energy, anxiety, and isolation packed in a brain that twists with neglect. I have seen that dog kill.

I have never seen a fighter.

I have seen a dog left in a back yard with a broken leg, screaming in pain as she hobbles, enduring month after month with no relief until her bones heal in a bow. I have seen her rescued by animal control and placed in a shelter where she waits on death row until a rescue picks her out. I have seen her cower when humans come near, take refuge in the shadow of a huge mama mastiff, and finally learn to enjoya few ear scratches. I have seen her steal shoes off her humans’ feet, and learn to ring a bell to go potty.

I have never seen a fighter.

I have seen a huge pit mix in a no-kill shelter spend day after day, month after month, waiting for walks, rolling over for belly rubs, giving kisses to children. I have seen him begin to balk at the door to his room on the way back in, whine when his favorite volunteer leaves, grab at her clothing to keep her from leaving. I have seen him grow resigned, restless, cease to resist when his people leave. I have seen him grow anxious and one day, when a child unexpectedly rubs his belly, turn and nip at her. I have seen him condemned, and fifty volunteers and staff come to pay their respects.

I have seen dogs tortured, mauled, starved, burned, broken, and shamed into subservience, but never in their eyes have I seen the hate that burns in the eyes of the people that fight them, that wield them like weapons or toss them away like dirty rags. Never have I seen them laugh at a creature in suffering. I have seen them react out of fear, confusion, or surprise, but in the end, their eyes are uncomprehending. They do not understand what they have done. There is no malice. These broken dogs, these tools of the insecure, cannot muster the viciousness of premeditation.

In the eyes of those who hate them, they are a nightmare, but I have a different nightmare. I dream of a dog ripped from the arms of its family, held in a cold cement cell, confused and alone, and killed because a dog that shared its ancestry bit a child in a nearby county. I dream of an owner falling to her knees begging a temperament tester to understand how sweet her dog is, running him through his tricks so they can see he’s like every other family pet, pleading with their weary hearts to see that this dog is special, that this one deserves to live. I dream of that owner driving back to her empty apartment with its new “dangerous dog” policy, and collapsing to the floor sobbing because her dog is not a “dangerous dog,” but she can’t find an apartment manager who believes her.

In the background of my dream, I hear voices, people crowding in city halls, telling them their stories, holding up pictures of Staffies with babies, asking legislators to look, for a moment, at the lives they’re affecting. I see people gathering in parks with their pit-bull-type dogs, doing interviews with news teams, introducing their dogs to strangers. I see huge bully grins and happy dogs catching frisbees. I see growing awareness that the laws governing these dogs do not encompass the needs of communities or address the root of the violence.

And in the end, I see me. Fighting. I also am not a fighter. I hate violence, fear, injustice and anger, but I burn with a desire to see the end of a misguided crusade to punish the innocent, and to return to rationality, where a dog is no longer responsible for the actions of its owner, but understood as a malleable, dependent being that relies on the guidance of a human hand and voice to teach it how to live in human society.

And then I am at peace, and I sleep without dreaming.

2007 Jennie Friedrich

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