A little over a month ago I listened to an NPR segment on the dogs that Michael Vick was using for fighting (thanks Tracie!). The link allows you to listen to what went on as well as read a synopsis. I thought the information was pretty interesting.
Of course I’m a dog lover. While we’re not fostering dogs now we did for three years. During that time a little over 50 dogs spent time in our house. All different breeds. All different personalities. All of them just needing a little consistency and direction. We repeatedly questioned why anyone would want to give up this dog or that dog. We wondered why a dog that was found as a stray wasn’t being sought out by his or her owner. There were also some sad stories about a dog’s past that weren’t as simple as being found as a stray or left at a shelter.
While some stereotypes have some merit I think that it’s wrong to say just because someone or something falls into one that it automatically is X or Y. You can’t even say all apples are red. :P
I enjoy listening to NPR. I think they do a good job of reporting on a lot of interesting topics. In the segment I referred to above an author writes about the story of 49 dogs rescued from the clutches of Michael Vick. I’ve not read the book yet but it’s on my list of things I want to read.
I find it encouraging that out of the 49 dogs 47 of them have survived. One was put down due to injuries. And only one was put down due to behavior. Yes, some of the dogs are living out the rest of their lives in sanctuaries because they can’t be adopted. But these dogs have a chance to live out their lives in peace.
There are also dogs that have been adopted. Some are even trained now as therapy dogs. Just because a dog is a pit bull and just because a pit bull was used for fighting doesn’t automatically mean that the dog is mean, aggressive, and should not be given a chance. Heck, even Vick was given a second chance with his football career after all of this (but that’s another post).
It’s not the fault of these dogs that they were trained to fight. They didn’t know anything else. And when given the chance to actually be cared for in a proper way many of them have thrived. This doesn’t surprise me though. I think that dogs (and animals in general) are smarter than humans give them credit for. Many times a week our own dogs amaze me with what they learn and how they communicate with us. Yes, they’re still dogs. We don’t try and make them into humans. But we realize that we can effectively communicate with them and them with us.
Not all labs are friendly and love all other dogs and people. Haven is sort of this way, although most of the time she’s more interested in other people compared to other dogs. Beacon’s much more picky about the humans he likes and does not like. And he has to meet other dogs in certain conditions. He does a lot better when meeting other dogs off leash. He’s not the cuddly-with-everyone lab in commercials.
For me education is the key. Education is the key with many topics for me. If people would be more educated about dogs there wouldn’t be as much overpopulation. There wouldn’t be as much breed discrimination. Yet people get stuck on an “ideal” look and size of a dog and forget about personality. They forget that just because a dog is at a shelter doesn’t mean that he or she is “bad”. They forget about the responsibility of dog (or pet in general) ownership.
I’ve met some cool dogs over the years. I’ll often say that I get along better with dogs (and understand them more) than humans. Thankfully being educated when it comes to spay/neuter, adopting from a shelter or rescue, and not focusing on a breed’s good or bad stereotypes is getting better. But it’s still too slow of a process for me.