Pit Bull Rescue 'Life'
Thanks to some great, dedicated volunteers, rescue ‘life’ has been so much easier the past few years. However - there are some things that weigh heavily on us that just won’t go away, no matter how much help or support we receive. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and have wanted to ‘blog’ about it for a while. So, bear with me :O)
Animal rescue is hard. Plain and simple… it is like being on a never-ending roller coaster ride. But - being involved in pit bull rescue takes that ride to an entirely different level of ups and downs, laughter and tears, craziness and madness.
Nothing draws more lines in the sand than the ‘pit bull’ debate. It doesn’t matter what the AVMA, CDC, ABA, AKC, or HSUS reports - John Doe said it, therefore it must be true. It doesn’t matter that city after city is overturning BSL because it has been proven not to work; while another city is in the process of proposing it. It doesn’t matter if you have sixty years combined hands-on personal experience with hundreds of pit bulls; because someone that has never even owned a pit bull knows more…
On one hand, you have those that support you 100%. Those like-minded folks that believe pit bulls are among the most amazing dogs in the world. Those that realize dogs are individuals and behavioral problems are not breed-specific. Those that are the life-blood of our rescue - we couldn’t do what we do without them.
Then you have those that have always heard the myths and horror stories, but are open to learning the truth. The ones we are able to convince not to judge a book by its cover... and let their preconceived notions be happily licked away. These ‘conversions’ make it all worth while :O)
Then - the worst of the bunch - the ‘experts’ that back up their viewpoint using some story about a friend’s cousin’s neighbor’s friend’s dog from 17 years ago to promote pit bull genocide; never giving a pit bull a chance.
Pit bull rescuers are a breed of their own, we believe. They see beyond the surface and stereotypes to find love, loyalty, and the goofiest creatures on earth. They do not let other people’s perceptions or fears sway them. They, instead, embrace those fears and revel in the love received from these amazing survivors, scars and all - dogs that others cast off, threw away or shunned - in fact, loving them all the more for it.
Sometimes we can laugh so hard our stomach hurts at the joy and goofiness a formerly emaciated dog can portray - or seeing the faces we have helped find forever homes, living the high life. And sometimes we can cry so uncontrollably at the atrocities we sometimes witness in the animal welfare world...the faces of those we failed.
Often - most of what we see is the dark side of animal care… those that abandon their pets; the uneducated; the uncaring; those with their hearts in the right place, but not willing to listen to reason or procedure; those that think we don’t do quite enough. It’s never the animals that bring us down - but the abuse and neglect people have done to them (and sometimes to us).
It is crazy the hatred and ignorance we encounter. Recently, we decided to task ourselves with compiling a section on our website of all the animal ordinances in the State of Mississippi. After multiple attempts to contact animal control, sheriff/police departments, city/county clerk offices, humane societies/rescues - we were still unable to obtain ordinances for some cities/counties. The officials simply didn’t know IF they had one, what was in it, much less how to access it. A few even had some unkind words to say about us rescuing pit bulls.
We also called around for donations for our recent Summer Online Auction. While we had great success with this, some businesses weren’t so open to working with a pit bull rescue. Several hung up on our volunteers after they stated who they were with. Some even cussed them out.
For every 'pit bull' who attacks someone, there are tens of thousands of others quietly tolerating all kinds of conditions: from loving and responsible homes to cruel, abusive and neglectful environments, without ever biting, attacking, or retaliating. All they ask is to not be judged - to be taken care of.
The craziest thing about this discrimination is that (more often than not) these people are so-called animal lovers. They claim to be animal advocates; yet are screaming for all ‘pit bulls’ to be destroyed. (as their ankle biters growl and the owner thinks it is cute…) Which, ironically, just happened to us - at our rescue - by a neighbor’s dog. We have 32 pit bulls - and Kenneth nearly got his hand bitten off by a Yorkie mix…
“This is the plight of the pit bull - victims of hatred, ignorance and horrific cruelties; victims of biased and unfounded media reporting; victims of political rhetoric - all fueled by fairy tales that would impress the Brothers Grimm.”
It’s an endless cycle that can eat a person alive and spit them out, or we can take these experiences and learn from them...become better rescuers and advocates. We have learned to set realistic goals and realize that, even though we WANT to, we simply can’t save them all. “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” We’ve learned to step in when we can; and realize when we can’t. We have learned to celebrate our successes - each adoption; each happy, smiling face; each healed body and each life saved.
Each rescue dog is an individual experience. Just when we think we have seen and heard it all, along comes another dog with a lesson uniquely theirs to deliver. And guess what? We Listen. With our whole hearts :O)
In closing, I read the following quote in a column in the Paw it Forward section on news-bulletin.com, and felt it was appropriate to end with...
“Despite the hardships and heartbreaks, people in animal rescue seem to survive on the very love, compassion and hope they give to the animals in their care and I believe to the world itself. It’s what helps us weather the sadness, the criticism, the ignorance and the heartlessness we often encounter from our fellow human beings. Many years ago, I happened upon a telethon supporting a local animal shelter. One of the staff members was sharing the ups and downs of his work, and the interviewer asked quite sincerely, “So, why do you do it? Are you hoping you can change the world?” The young man replied, “Oh, no, I don’t do this to change the world. I do it because I don’t want the world to change me.’” - Colleen Dougherty “Breaking our hearts” Column, August 2016