I recently released this picture of our Niki. Niki is an “SS” (significantly similar) dog if you believe our local SPCA, who informed me five years ago that they felt she was a “pit bull” and as such was subject to BSL. Niki weighs in at 108 lbs. currently. Yes, before you all start screaming at me I KNOW she is overweight we are working on it and to date she has lost four pounds. However Niki’s weight is not what I wish to speak about today.
When BSL was introduced in Ontario in August of 2005, I did not worry for my dogs. After all none of them were “pit bulls”, so we weren’t affected directly by this heinous legislation. Our dogs were safe, or so we thought. But that was back when we didn’t really know what BSL would mean for Ontario dog owners. We could not have been more wrong!
The first time someone told me that Niki could be in danger because of her looks I scoffed at the notion. “That’s ridiculous!” I replied. “Niki is NOT a “pit bull”, she’s a husky/lab cross.” I put it down to that person being an alarmist and thought no more about it.
A few months went by, and we continued on as we always had, walking Niki sans muzzle like the docile mutt we knew she was. Then, disaster struck in the form of a five foot two blue haired old lady! Niki and I were calmly walking along the beachfront when we heard “Why isn’t that “pit bull” muzzled?” I turned to find little Ms. Bluehair staring hard at Niki and pointing.
“My dog?” I asked innocently. “Ma’am my dog is not a “pit bull”, she is a husky/lab cross breed.”
“I know a “pit bull” when I see one young lady!” was the old lady’s reply. “I have already called the pound, and the SPCA is coming to get your dog. You people can’t be keeping these vicious beasts around innocent citizens! Your dog will be taken from you! Good thing too, no one has any business owning one of these dogs! I’ll fix you!” She waved her cell phone at me.
“Good Lord!” I thought, “this poor woman needs glasses!” Thinking nothing more of her threats I continued my walk. About fifteen minutes or so later I looked up to find an SPCA truck driving slowly alongside me. The passenger side window was rolled down and I heard “Excuse me, but can we talk to you about your dog?” I stopped, put Niki in a down stay position and turned toward the source of the voice.
“Can I ask why your “pit bull” is not muzzled?” came the question from the SPCA investigator.
“Because she isn’t a “pit bull” I replied.
“Ma’am, I know dogs, and that is CLEARLY a “pit bull”. You are of course aware of the BSL legislation recently passed in Ontario?”
“Yes, I am.” I replied becoming just a little worried. “But Niki is a husky/lab cross, and not a “pit bull”. She is far too big to be mistaken for one.”
“Can you prove that?” asked the SPCA officer. “Is she registered as such?”
I looked at him wondering how he expected my cross breed dog to be “registered” as anything, she was after all for lack of a better term, a mutt. To the best of my knowledge there is no registry for mutts. “Um?. . .if you mean is she licensed with the city as her true breed mix of course she is! Her breed mix is also noted with her veterinarian.”
“Ma’am, we are telling you that this is a “pit bull” dog, and as such is subject to BSL. I will not take your dog today, as it is clear to me that you were not aware that she is a “pit bull” however, if I see her without a muzzle again I will take her from you!”
Suddenly, just like that, our dog and our family were subject to BSL, and life for Niki changed drastically. Gone were the trips to the dog park to play with other dogs. Niki had been labeled “pit bull” and “pit bulls” are not allowed in off leash parks. Gone was the freedom of walking down the street sans muzzle to meet and greet people and dogs. Niki, up until that point had been my advocacy dog. She had traveled with me to promote animal interaction education for children, and explain why spay and neuter is so important. Now I couldn’t take her with me in my advocacy work. With that Hannibal Lecter mask they insisted she must wear she scared everyone. No one wanted to be near the “vicious pit bull.” On several occasions Niki was actually assaulted by rocks thrown at her and shouts of “get rid of that vicious thing!”
It was the muzzle that changed things. No one had ever been afraid of Niki before, they would see her smiley face headed for them, and a smile would break out on their face. She is just that kind of dog, she loves everyone, and up until she was forced to wear the muzzle everyone loved her.
Niki doesn’t understand why people avoid her now. She doesn’t understand why people throw things at her or yell out nasty names. You can actually SEE the hurt in her eyes when someone doesn’t like her. Her world has changed because one person with authority doesn’t know a “pit bull” when they see one. Still think your Labrador Retriever is safe? Think again!
Until Next Time Remember,
Peace, Love & Freedom for Pit Bulls