Alerts

Questions or Information?

Do you have questions or information about state or local legislation? Contact Jennifer Thomas, Love-A-Bull’s Director of Legislative Affairs, at jen@love-a-bull.org.


A Step Up with Ohio’s HB14

HLN published a news story about the change in language when Ohio’s House Bill 14 was passed. Here’s a quick recap of what this HB14 means for Ohio.     (full story here)

Ohio to pit bulls: You’re no longer ‘vicious’
Gee thanks, but we knew that all along!

The Ohio senate voted 27 to 5 in favor of House Bill 14.
So what does it mean?

A new law took effect on May 22, 2012 declaring that pit bulls would be no longer automatically considered ‘vicious dogs.’
Yippee! But does that mean there will still be discrimination in housing, adoption, and communities?

Hopefully pit bulls owners in Ohio will no longer feel snubbed simply for their choice of dog breed (or maybe the dog they’ve chosen to adopt?)…

“When pit bulls were labeled vicious, residents who love their dogs were afraid to take their dogs out in public,” said Marlo Slusarski, director of community outreach for For the Love of Pits, a nonprofit rescue group based in Northeast Ohio.

Okay, this is still sounding good so far. What else?

The terminology ‘pit bulls’ will be removed from the 20-year-old definition, and the new law will now define “vicious,” “dangerous” and “nuisance” dogs without regard to breed. But it won’t overturn pit bull bans in Ohio communities that have passed local laws.
Oh…

Well the change in language will allow pit bull owners to be eligible for standard insurance premiums and shelters will be able to advocate for the adoption of pit bulls.
Yay! Opt to adopt!

Full news story here: http://www.hlntv.com/article/2012/05/23/pit-bulls-no-longer-deemed-vicious-ohio?hpt=hp_t2

Democracy is Not A Spectator Sport

If you’ve heard the phrase, “Democracy is not a spectator sport,” it’s completely true — especially for advocates of pit bull type dogs.  Everyone knows that with the extra amount of love that we receive from the pitties in our lives, comes an added responsibility to be a knowledgeable and vocal force for change in the community. 

But, perhaps more now than ever, our voices need to be heard by our own local elected officials – to confirm that the interests of pitties are being fully represented on the City Council dais.  Well, HERE’S YOUR CHANCE (and we need you!) to join other passionate animal advocates:  Once again, the Austin No-Kill Coalition, along with Love-a-Bull, Austin Pets Alive!, and FixAustin, will be hosting a forum with the 2012 City Council candidates this Sunday at 4 pm at Abel’s on the Lake.  Committed participants include Lee Leffingwell, Brigid Shea, Mike Martinez, Bill Spelman, Laura Pressley, and Dominic Chavez.  

These candidates will be asked some tough questions, and we need to hear their answers.  Love-A-Bull is specifically asking the candidates to share their stance on breed-restrictive housing policies in Austin.  It’s one of the hardest hitting issues that pittie guardians face.  It impacts 99% of the rental community here, various homeowners with restrictive HOA’s – all told, thousands of existing pittie guardians and many more potential pittie adopters who can’t find a place to live.  If you want to hear their responses on this issue, please JOIN US ON SUNDAY.  If you want to know who supports equal treatment of all dogs in Austin, regardless of breed, please JOIN US ON SUNDAY.  If you want to stand up for the rights of pitties in Austin and make an informed decision at the polls, please JOIN US ON SUNDAY.  If you merely want to sit in the audience with your Love-A-Bull shirt and listen to the discussion, please JOIN US ON SUNDAY. 

We are not afraid to speak up on behalf of the dogs we love.  But, our voice can be stronger and louder with you in the room.  Love-A-Bull has almost 1300 local members of its Meetup Group – can you imagine if every one of these members attended this event?  Or even just 10% of this group!  It will be the most valuable hour that you will spend loving your dog all week.  

RSVP to our Meetup event, or just show up.  But, please, JOIN US ON SUNDAY.

Attention Volunteers!

Love-A-Bull has scheduled our second Volunteer Orientation for this coming Sunday, April 15 from 2:30 – 4:30pm.

We want to introduce ourselves and tell you about all the ways you can help us to make a difference!

Use the link below to sign up so we know that you’re coming. Please make sure to sign up with YOUR email, and NOT getinvolved@love-a-bull.org — it’s just the default.

Sign Up Now / Learn More

Also, if you have not already, please fill out a Volunteer Form in advance so that we have your contact information.

Contact getinvolved@love-a-bull.org with any questions. We look forward to meeting you!

Don’t worry if you can’t make this one, there will be additional orientation meetings scheduled soon!

Does Southwest Airlines LUV the Pitties or Pity the Love?

Guest blog post by Meghan Turner, Love-A-Bull Co-Founder.

On a recent trip from Austin to KC, I was flipping through the most recent issue of Southwest Airlines’ Spirit Magazine.  You can imagine my surprise to spot a letter to the editor responding to a  story highlighting military dogs – including the beloved Sergeant Stubby.   Even better, the letter was written by one of my friends in the Austin animal community (and fellow pittie guardian/advocate), Susan Hightower.  Susan is a long-time volunteer for the Austin Animal Center, an Adjunct Professor of Animal Law at the University of Texas, and a proud member of Love-A-Bull.  Susan’s letter politely but firmly corrected the writer, who described Sgt. Stubby as  a “bull terrier,” not a “pit bull” type dog as we know him to have been, and provided a positive plug for all dogs lumped into the “pit bull” category as the wonderful family members we know them to be.  Sprit Magazine replied that Susan’s letter had “duly clarified” the topic.  I was practically cheering in my seat, nudging my neighbor and showing her my own pittie (proudly – and a bit geekily — displayed on the cover of my iPhone).   It’s the little victories, right?

But, my thrill was short-lived, as I turned a few pages and saw this story about workplace politics.  The story itself couldn’t be more innocuous, but the subheading made my heart sink:  “Is your boss a pitbull or a prince?”  Assuming “pitbull” (sic) was intended to be the derogatory descriptor in that comparative word pair (although, Ozzy can be pretty convincing), this word choice is a stark and disappointing reminder that there is still a commonly held negative association attached to the vernacular label “pit bull.”  Just when I had put Sarah Palin’s comparative slur behind me, here is another example of how offensive semantic associations have an unfortunate degree of staying power.  The language that we use (and that the media uses) is an important part of changing perceptions when it comes to championing our pitties (check out Stubbydog’s recent blog post on this very topic), and as much as I wanted to enjoy my experience flying with Southwest, this took a big chunk out of the respect that they had earned in my book just a few pages earlier.

Evidently, this issue was not “duly clarified” for Southwest’s Spirit Magazine after all, and more work needs to be done.  Journalists and writers need to realize the heft of their word choices – by consciously or unconsciously promoting a message that pit bull type dogs are mean or aggressive (or heaven forbid, slave drivers that make you work overtime), they are undercutting the sweet and loving image that is much more the reality.  It may not seem like a big deal to some, but until “pit bull” is not synonymous with fighters and bullies, we will continue to treat it as a HUGE deal.

Ya listening, Spirit Magazine?  Give the pitties the LUV they deserve.

Rescue Ink is Coming for National Pit Bull Awareness Day!!

This year’s Pit Bull Awareness Day is going to be bigger than ever.  We are so excited to have our One Hundred Pit Bull Parade to be led by special guests, Rescue Ink.  There will be a festival and lots of fun for all.  It’s all still in the works, but Save the Date!!!  You can R.S.V.P here.

Learn more about Rescue Ink’s hit Nat Geo show here and check out their cool website here!  For sponsorship opportunities, download Love-A-Bull Sponsorship Package contact info@love-a-bull.org for more information.  We are also accepting registration for vendors and donations for our silent auction.

Taking a Stand Against Vick’s Nomination for Courage Award

Love-A-Bull opposes the nomination of Michael Vick for the Ed Block Courage Award; the award foundation received this letter from the Love-A-Bull board in early February.

PR Campaign for No-Kill Proposal

Love-A-Bull has presented a no-kill proposal to the Austin Animal Advisory Commission which includes a significant public relations component. We are now waiting to take the next steps as the Commission prepares their report and recommendations for Austin City Council. Read the full proposal here: Love-A-Bull PR Campaign Proposal (PDF)

Letter From a Young Pit Bull Advocate

Thanks to Jasmine for sharing her thoughts with us in this great letter. We will be sure to forward her letter to our state legislators as they think about what kinds of laws they want to propose in 2011. Jasmine and other advocates would be glad to hear that our petition against BSL in Texas has reached over 1200 signatures as of today.
Jasmine Bourque Letter_Page_1
Jasmine Bourque Letter_Page_2

Love-A-Bull Proposal to Increase Adoptions at TLAC

Proposal from Love-A-Bull, addressing “public awareness campaign” related to adoptions (Recommendation # 1:  Increase Live Outcomes)
www.love-a-bull.org
info@love-a-bull.org

(Note:  This proposal does not necessarily “fit” the established recommendation categories, so we have chosen to present it with Recommendation #1 “Increase Live Outcomes” because of the public awareness component, but if there is a desire to concentrate on this issue as a separate item, we are open to that.  It is Love-A-Bull’s intent to bring forth a “starter proposal” as follows, for the purpose of initiating the discussion of pit bulls and pit bull mixes in the shelter system.)

In order to achieve a 90% live outcomes goal, it is important to address the challenging issue of re-homing pit bulls and pit bull mixes that currently constitute approximately a third (or more) of the shelter population.  These dogs suffer from a lower adoption rate (and higher euthanasia rate), because of several reasons:

  • Stigma/negative stereotype attached to breed label
  • Over-breeding/population (sheer numbers in the community)
  • Behaviors that are mis-identified (kennel frustration = aggression)
  • Lack of awareness of community resources for adopters (training, support network, information, etc.)
  • No breed-specific rescue in Austin
  • Lack of housing options for potential adopters

Other contributing factors:

  • Tendency to label any dog with large head, stocky or muscular body as “pit bull,” regardless of other characteristics which may more closely align to other breeds
  • No behaviorist/trainer on staff at TLAC to correctly identify behavioral or temperament issues
  • No organized, consistent effort to counter media stories with accurate information

Proposed action items for TLAC:

  • Launch concentrated PR campaign to increase awareness and spread positive image of pit bulls (television, radio, newspaper, social networking, adoption sites, shelter presence, community events, etc.):
  • Create cute, informative “personal ads” that focus on dogs’ attributes, placed on kennels
  • Feature on every kennel the free training info and support that Love-A-Bull offers      to adopters
  • Change terminology to “pittie” or other similar moniker to soften breed stigma
  • Display and incorporate visual examples of pits in home environments, doing therapy work, participating in agility, playing with other dogs, children, etc. in as many places as possible
  • Use breed ambassadors as role models in public events, media stories, etc.
  • Partner with Love-A-Bull to provide campaign support, resources and assistance to potential and new adopters as well as community at large
  • Strive for more pits to be pulled for off-site adoptions and fostering
  • Meet with Apartment Managers Association and other local rental management agencies to discuss lifting breed-specific housing restrictions

Timeframe:  Starting immediately, or as soon as practicable

Measurable: 
TLAC:  Track interest in pits through adoption applications, track numbers of adopted pits, and implement short survey of adoption applicants
Love-A-Bull:  Track those members joining Love-A-Bull via TLAC (or APA) adoption

Austin Pets Alive has also created a proposal, which can be viewed here: http://www.austinpetsalive.org/APA-Proposal-Adoption-Program.pdf

Proposal for Austin’s “No Kill” Resolution

As you may know, the Austin City Council recently passed a resolution directing steps to be taken to move Austin to a “No Kill” city (more info here: http://www.austinpetsalive.org/2009/11/no-kill-resolution-passed-unanimously/) .

The Animal Advisory Commission and staff of Town Lake Animal Center are working together with the community to discuss ways to achieve this goal. The timeline includes weekly public meetings on various topics designed to generated a comprehensive set of recommendations to be presented to City Council in March.

The meetings started Monday November 30, and run for the next 9 weeks or so. Please see schedule and info below, and feel free to attend any or all. You do not have to speak at the meeting. The meetings take place at 6:30 pm at the Austin Energy Building at 721 Barton Springs Road.

Love-A-Bull has expressed interest to the AAC and staff in being an integral partner in finding solutions to the issues involving pit bulls.

The AAC encourages all interested people/organizations to comment, make suggestions, or submit proposals on any of the AAC recommendations to make Austin a no kill city. That can be done one of these three ways:

  • The first 10 persons to sign up to provide suggestions or comments will have 3 minutes.
  • The first 10 individuals/organizations to sign up to present a proposal will have 6 minutes.
  • Written responses may also be submitted 48 hours in advance of the meeting.

Should you choose to present a proposal, it should address the following…

  • Which AAC recommendation are you going to discuss?
  • Brief description of your proposal or solution.
  • What resources and/or expertise can you contribute to the solution that you are proposing?
  • What is your expected measurable impact and timeline?

Here is the schedule

Nov 30th: AAC Recommendation III: Structural Changes to Enhance Lifesaving

  • Revise mission of animal services

Dec 7th: AAC Recommendation I: Increase Live Outcomes

  • Offsite adoptions

Dec 14th: AAC Recommendation I: Increase Live Outcomes

  • Increased capacity for adoption make-ready, behavioral
  • Empty kennel usage
  • Davenport building use after shelter move
  • Increased public awareness.

Dec 21st: AAC Recommendation I: Increase Live Outcomes

  • Large scale foster program

Dec 28th: AAC Recommendation II: Decrease Shelter Intake

  • Reduce euthanasia of owned animals
  • Increased return to owners
  • Increased owner awareness of possible euthanasia
  • Increased owner safety net services

Jan 4th: AAC Recommendation II: Decrease Shelter Intake

  • Reduce feral cat euthanasia
  • Increased feral cat spay/neuter, increased community care, and increased re-release rates

Jan 11th: AAC Recommendation II: Decrease Shelter Intake

  • High volume, free and low cost spay/neuter
  • Increased services available to the community

Jan 18th: AAC Recommendation III: Structural Changes to Enhance Lifesaving

  • Public involvement and candor
  • Increased public relations on all aspects of sheltering

Jan 25th: AAC Recommendation III: Structural Changes to Enhance Lifesaving

  • Explore outsourcing possibilities
  • Increased community involvement to reduce costs and increase lifesaving

Feb 1st: Finalize draft of implementation plan.

In compliance with the Texas Open Meetings Act, all agendas will be posted through the City Clerk’s office.

Write your Legislators this Holiday Season

The holiday season is a great opportunity to gently remind your legislators that they need to keep pit bull owners in mind when they’re writing legislation and voting on it.

Include them in your holiday card recipient list, and in your card, enclose a nice photo of your family and your dogs. (You don’t have to write anything political in the card; just sign and mail.) It’s a simple gesture that reinforces the idea that pit bull owners are caring citizens just like any other dog owner—and it makes it harder for them to consider laws that discriminate against us.

Send a card to your state senators and representatives at a minimum; you might also consider local representatives like your city council or county commissioners.

Stop BET and Viacom from Airing the Michael Vick Project

Please write or call BET and express your opposition.

BET E-mail: https://bet.wufoo.com/forms/contact-us/

BET Phone: 202-608-2000 or 212-258-1000

VIACOM (BET’s parent company): http://www.viacom.com/contact/Pages/default.aspx

Please tell them you will boycott their sponsors, cancel your cable/satellite. PLEASE CROSS POST.

Petition Against Breed-Discriminatory Legislation in Texas

Texas state law currently prohibits discrimination against individuals based on their dog’s breed or appearance (also known as breed-specific legislation, or BSL).

However, recently, Texas has seen an upswing in cries for breed-specific legislation, including an anti-pit bull rally in Tyler and a petition in Rusk County / Jacksonville calling for statewide discrimination against “pit bull” owners that has garnered hundreds of signatures. The last Texas legislative session also saw an attempt to get legislation passed against “pit bull” owners.

We need your help to stop this discrimination before it starts!

Love-A-Bull is starting a petition which directs our state lawmakers to:

  • Keep intact the current state law that prohibits breed-discriminatory legislation
  • Refuse to propose or support legislation which would discriminate against people based on a dog’s  breed or physical appearance

Please help us gather signatures for the petition, which will be presented to Texas state legislators in January 2010, and again at the start of the 2011 Legislative Session.

Download the petition text and signature page now! (2 PDF Docs)
OR
Download the petition text (Word Doc) and signature page (Excel) now!

Instructions:

  1. Download and print out ONE (1) copy of the petition text.
  2. Download and print out as many of the signature pages as you want.
  3. Gather signatures from people who are eligible to vote in Texas. (They do not have to be registered voters.)
  4. Make a copy of the signature pages for your records if you wish.
  5. Send the original signature pages to Love-A-Bull
    Mail to: P.O. Box 18792, Austin, TX 78760

The text of the petition is as follows:

 

A Petition Directing the Members of the Texas Legislature to Oppose Discriminatory Legislation Against Dog Owners Based on a Dog’s Breed, Type, or Appearance

To be presented to the members of the Texas House and Senate on January 31, 2010 and at the start of the 2011 Legislative Session

Whereas we recognize that each and every dog is an individual in temperament and behavior, and physical appearance does not determine behavior;

Whereas all dogs have the potential to do serious or lethal harm, and this is not dictated solely by a dog’s physical appearance but by a number of complex circumstances;

Whereas dog owners should be held strictly liable for the actions of their dogs regardless of the dog’s physical appearance, so that both dog owners and victims of irresponsible dog owners are provided equal rights and restitutions;

Whereas breed-specific or breed-discriminatory legislation is unethical and inhumane, and has been shown to be financially unsupportable, a detriment to public safety, and a legal quagmire;

Whereas non-breed-specific or non-discriminatory laws provide public safety in an effective, humane, legal, equitable, and moral way;

The undersigned citizens of Texas do hereby direct the members of the state legislature to do the following:

  1. Keep intact Texas Health and Safety Code 822.047, which prohibits municipalities from declaring dogs dangerous based solely on breed.
  2. Refuse to vote for or support any discriminatory legislation against dog owners, including but not limited to breed bans, restrictions on particular types of dogs, or unequal ownership requirements that are based on a dog’s physical appearance.

Time for a Break

The 2009 Legislative Session in Texas is over.

All objectionable bills died in committee, including HB 925, which would have discriminated against pit bull owners. The next legislative session will start in 2011.

U.S. HR 3501: Tax Deductions for Pet Owners?

U.S. Representative Thaddeus G. McCotter (R-MI) has proposed the HAPPY (Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years) Act, which would give tax breaks to pet owners for qualified expenses, like veterinary care, up to $3500 per year.

What do you think? Check out the short, easy-to-read bill here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.3501:

You can contact your U.S. representative here to express your opinions about the bill: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

2010 Elections

Elections give us the opportunity to vote for pit bull-friendly legislators. We will perform candidate surveys in the months before Election Day. Check back here for more information!