Monday, September 22, 2008

Living with breed specific legislation

I can't go home.  Well, I can go home but I have to leave two members of my family behind if I do because of bsl.  I certainly can’t consider ever moving back to Ontario, but even to visit is complicated.  I would like to take a road trip there with the dogs, but that's impossible.  In order to go back and visit my Dad's grave for the first time I had to leave my husband at home to care for our elderly, special needs dog who is not allowed inside Ontario's borders. Competition obedience is my hobby of choice.  I can't consider going to obedience trials with my young dog in Ontario - even if there were an exemption, why would I want to take her somewhere where she would be sneered at even more and have to wear a muzzle all of the time? 

I don't trust the media.  When I first started fighting against bsl well over a decade ago, I began to realize that the media wasn't getting the truth out there.  They seemed more preoccupied with selling sensationalism than facts.  I have to wonder, if the media does this with a relatively small issue (not small to me of course but in the grand scheme of things) what on earth is the truth beneath some of the larger issues?  This issue opened my eyes to the extent at which the media is willing to misinform the public.

My view of politicians has changed for the worse, which is saying something because my Father was a politician and in fact suffered a fatal brain aneurysm during a council meeting.  I feel now as though politicians would rather look good than do good, at any cost.  I feel betrayed, not only by those politicians, but by a system that would allow my rights as a Canadian to be taken away so quickly with the stroke of a pen, defying expert opinion, logic, facts and data. Why on earth would any government that wanted to serve its constituents enact legislation that doesn’t work when there is such a good example of what does work right here in our own country in Calgary?

Even as far away from Ontario as Vancouver Island, I hear from people that my breed is vicious.  That "they're banned in Ontario you know".  Bsl has created prejudice and fed false stereotypes.  It is no more than government sanctioned prejudiced based on physical appearance. 

I feel as though I am lumped in with dog fighters and drug dealers at times, and yet I am a responsible, law abiding, business owning, community club volunteer with absolutely no criminal record.  I rarely even have a glass of wine with dinner.  I am pretty much as straight arrow living as one can get.  My dogs are competition obedience dogs, well socialized, well behaved, stable, balanced animals.

I have an obedience trainer friend who used to have AmStaffs, who loves mine, and would like to have one again but just got so tired of the politics and being treated badly by people.

I live in fear that the ban will not be overturned even though it is clearly wrong and is not even remotely effective.  I fear that politicians in other municipalities and provinces are watching and waiting, the threat of a costly legal challenge being one of the hurdles that has thus far prevented bsl in some areas.  I feel as though at any moment, I could be dealing with a breed ban in my area.

I feel guilty that I can't afford to fight bsl full time.  I am constantly asking people to support the fight against it, asking for donations, raising awareness.  Sometimes I feel like I don't just own dogs, I own a mission.  My dogs don't get to just be dogs, they have to be ambassadors all of the time, and behave better than any other dog in the room, which is easy for them because they are good, but that's not the point.  It’s not fair to put higher expectations on them than on every other dog.

That is a little of how bsl has had an effect on my life.

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