"A breed of satin and steel. Pit bulls are a mixture of softness and strength, an uncanny canine combination of fun, foolishness, and serious business, all wrapped up in love."

-D. Caroline Coile

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Real Tale Behind BSL

This is the story behind the story... of the lives behind the laws. Welcome to their hell: BSL.

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) refers to a law or ordinance passed within a given jurisdiction, which restricts or bans the ownership of specific breeds of dogs.

In some jurisdictions, specified breeds are banned completely, meaning that ownership of a banned breed is prohibited and illegal within that jurisdiction.

In other areas, ownership of these breeds is "restricted." While restrictions vary by jurisdiction, here's the basic premise: owners of a banned breed must comply with a long list of (ridiculous) requirements, including, but not limited to, the following: registering the dog as a "vicious" or "dangerous" animal, purchasing a high-dollar liability insurance policy for the pet, mandatory muzzling of the dog in public, mandatory requirements for "containment" of the animal... the list goes on and on. Possession of a "dangerous" breed can also lead to the denial or loss of homeowner's insurance, or eviction by landlord.

BSL affects many breeds, including Boxers, Rottweilers, Bulldogs, Chows, Shepherds, and Huskies. The most highly affected breed? The Pit Bull.

First of all, keep in mind that "Pit Bull" isn't really a breed at all. Sure... we all use the term to describe certain dogs with certain characteristics, but in actuality, the term "Pit Bull" represents at least 3 different breeds: the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Therefore, the term "Pit Bull" is essentially the same idea as saying "Retriever" or "Spaniel." It's not an actual breed. It means nothing.

So, therein lies the first problem... our society is banning a "breed" that isn't even a "breed" at all. Does this sound logical? No. Does it sound ignorant as hell? Absolutely.

Secondly, in restricted areas, owners of these breeds are required to register their dog --who has never exhibited any signs of being "dangerous" or "vicious"-- as a dangerous or vicious animal. They're required to pay thousands of dollars for liability insurance that serves no real purpose and has no justification. They're required to muzzle and restrain a pet who never has --and never would-- hurt anyone. Does this make sense? No. Does it sound completely ass-backwards? You bet.

In areas where ownership is banned entirely, owners of these breeds are forced to give up their dogs in order to remain in their towns. Does this sound justified? Negative. Does it scream "I'm with stupid?" You got it, dude.

Sure... it's very easy for the rest of us to sit back and say, "If this happened in my area, I would just move." But honestly, it isn't that easy for everyone. Our economy sucks. Jobs are scarce. Homes don't always sell. People can't just pick-up and move at the drop of a hat, and they're given no other option.

And that's why, each year, thousands upon thousands of "Pit Bulls" are being ripped from their homes and their families. Many of them end up dead in the animal shelter. The rest of them end up with me, or with other dog rescues like me.

I can sit here and vent all day about these ridiculous, unwarranted laws and the ignorant injustice that drives them. But that's all been done before. So now, I want to talk about the dogs... and what BSL looks like for them...

I've seen the impact of BSL on so many Pit Bulls... and I've witnessed what it does to these loving, deserving dogs. Let me first say this: it's extremely difficult to find an amazing home for any Pit Bull in the first place. Trust me... I know. Because... no matter how hard I try, societal bias has reduced the adoptive pool for these dogs down to the size of a tiny teardrop.

So, each day, millions of Pit Bulls across the country wait for hope to arrive. Some of them have been waiting for years. Others... for days... with only days left to live. For most of them... that hope will never come. But for a lucky few, a family will finally look at them and say, "You're one of us now. Let's go home."

I've seen the joy on their faces in that moment... as they shower their new families with love for the first time... love that's been waiting in their hearts all their lives. I've seen the relief in their innocent little eyes, as the nightmare finally ends. I've watched them happily prance out of the animal shelter... toward the future they never thought they'd have...

Then... I've seen them come back, when a new breed ban strips away their family and forces them from their home. I've seen the pain, the abandonment, and the despair. I've witnessed the utter devastation.

I've seen what most people don't see. I've stared into the face of BSL... into the eyes of the hearts it breaks. I've tried to pick up the pieces... to repair the damage of what our government has done to these innocent dogs. But no matter how hard I try... I'm never able to fully to fix what was broken...

I've watched them wait... every single day... for their families to return for them. I've cried uncontrollably, because I know what they don't know. Their families won't be back. No one will come for them. They will never go home again.

I've witnessed innocence at its most heartbreaking level... the innocence of those who have done nothing wrong... but were still punished for the crime. I comfort their sadness, with promises of a better future... knowing all the while... that I can never really be certain of my vows to them...

Because in my heart, I know the truth... at any time, BSL can appear in any city, in any county, in any state in America. Its impact can be sudden--without warning-- and just that quickly, these dogs can be right back in this very moment. A heart can only break so many times...

I bust my ass to save these Pit Bulls, because they have no other hope. Then, I bust my ass to find them amazing homes... to give them the lives they deserve. And eventually, I do send each of them off to their own special future...

But no matter how much I do or how hard I try... I can't stop BSL from stealing those futures. If I can save them... but no one can adopt them... then how can I give them the lives they truly deserve? I save them for one reason: to give them forever. Then, I'm forced to watch... as BSL suddenly, wrongfully, and tragically rips forever from their hearts.

This week, I found out that another of my babies will have her own forever taken away due to BSL. She'll be ripped from the only real home she's ever known... and returned to me. I'll be left to pick up the pieces of a heart, so broken... it may never fully heal. And every day... I'll have to watch her wait... for a family that won't ever come back for her...

Each day, my baby will beg me to take her home. But I'll know... that she will never go home again...

I'm asking each of you to help me end this injustice. We have to unite, stand up, and fight BSL. Even if you don't own a Pit Bull yourself, your dog's breed could be the next on the list. Your city... your county could be next.
BSL threatens your family... it threatens my family... my dog, Riley, and all of my rescue babies.

I'm tired of picking up the pieces of BSL. I'm tired of saying, "I'm sorry" for things I didn't do. I'm tired of looking into the desperate eyes of a dog who just wants to go home...

Knowing all the while... that they can never go home again...

I can't fight it alone. I'm just one tiny soldier. This will take an army. Please join me in saying, "NO MORE."

By Ashley Owen Hill


  1. NO MORE!! NO MORE....NO MORE. Dear God...please NO MORE. We are not Hitler exterminating the Jews....and HItler had it all wrong.
    Please dont give up the fight of helping Pitties. If they dont have you...they have NO ONE. Dont stop being their voice....dont ever stop telling their stories...PLEASE. If you stop, there is no one. ONE DOG AT A TIME...remember that. JUST ONE.

    Love you guys always...and will help you fight for this amazing, loving and loyal breed till the day I die...because I dont want them to die.

  2. What can I do and how do I go about it? The only pit bulls I've ever known have been loving, gentle and think they're lap dogs. They get along with other, smaller dogs in their family and are the sweetest most loving of God's creatures. Please tell us how we can fight this horrible law.

  3. I absolutely love the "pittbull" breeds. Those who poor money and effort in dog fighting MAKE mean dogs. You can't obtain a mean dog, they are made. Those who make mean dogs are primarily those who are responsible in BLS. Denver banned pittbulls in the city district because dog fighting was rampant. Even one of the Bronco NFL players was arrested for hosting dog fights. Every dog was a pittbull.
    These various breeds that are banned by BLS deny the facts that investigation in those who conduct dog fighting is more cost-worthy than obtaining, housing, and usually killing, dogs. Why strip away a breed when the problem lies in corrupt men and women? You strip away a breed, they will just use a different one. What is the point in letting folks have dogs who one day they won't be able to own a polmeranian due to dog fighting.