I am just one person: I am just one voice: I am very powerful … and so are you.
I live in a small town and yet people hear my voice and see my face around the world. I have that exposure … and so do you.
Throughout last year, I became increasingly involved in the movement to eradicate Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). I live with it every day because I live in Ontario and have a dog, Bella, who, according to BSL, is a “pit bull”.
Bella is well known in our community – she is a prime example of why the stereotype against these dogs is so wrong. The local kindergarten class loves to say hello to her when we walk by and she is often met with affection at our local baseball diamond and children’s parks. When we take her to our local Global Pets, you’d think she was a celebrity!
For the purpose of brevity, I won’t go into details here about what my dog means to me, or why I am inspired to fight in her name. Please visit my blog if you’d like to read more about all that. May I recommend my post: “Don’t Ever Tell Me it’s Just a Dog” in particular.
Between my personal feelings for Bella and what I have come to learn about the plight of these dogs, I have been inspired into a level of activism that I never saw coming. I am a mother to a toddler, I also have a paid job for which I work from home, and I run a charitable foundation – my “spare time” is almost non-existent. And yet, just over the past 11 months, I have started this successful blog, which has been read by nearly a thousand people and my audience is growing; I have attended 11 protests against BSL with many more to come; I have met with my local government official (MPP) to demand action against BSL; I left my comfort zone on several occasions and have given a speech on BSL as well as spoken to the media and have given two, one-hour radio interviews on the subject; I became an informed voice for the Chatham 21 dogs, also covered in my radio interviews and blog posts; I realized that generic Facebook posts were not receiving the traffic I wanted and so I made a video plea to sign the Boycott Montreal petition that went viral (last I checked, it sits at nearly 54,000 views and was shared over 1500 times on Facebook alone); our family were chosen and featured in a documentary short film about BSL which has also gone viral and received media attention; I manage a dedicated Facebook page for the “pit bull” community, under a provincial network; I became involved in dog rescue, joining the effort to re-home dogs who have been mis-labeled by shelters who, under BSL, would otherwise have no hope of finding their furever homes; I have written nearly a thousand e-mails to politicians, law-makers & judges in support of “pit bull” type dogs and for the Chatham case; I make a point to tailor my wardrobe nearly every day so that something I am wearing, or that my dog or my child is wearing, makes a statement in support of breed neutrality and stimulates important conversations about BSL … and this is just the beginning.
Over the course of the next year, I will be writing a children’s book about the dangers of fear and discrimination, inspired by Bella and my daughter, who have a bond that is truly extraordinary. I will attend many more BSL-related events, participate in many more meetings with members of parliament, the media, etc. I will continue to protest against the stereotypes on these dogs, to advocate for responsible dog ownership and breed neutral laws. And I will continue to use my social media accounts to get the message across that BSL is ineffective and unjustified. To name a few!
Please don’t misunderstand: I am not stating this to toot my own horn. I am telling you that we ALL have this potential – we all have the power to create change, to raise awareness, to spread the truth over misinformation, discrimination & lies. Do not ever feel that you are powerless. You are not. Do not just look up to people who take action – take action yourself! We owe it to these dogs to be their voice: to raise awareness, to spread the truth over discrimination and lies, and to force positive change. Our dogs give us so much.
I am just one person, who loves her dog more than I can put into words. I will not sit idly by while Bella’s precious, remaining years are lived under the black-cloud of BSL. And I will not sit by while my daughter grows up in a place where she is told what kind of dog she can and cannot have.
Bella has taught me what unconditional love truly means and that just because you have a biological child does not mean that your fur child is loved any less. Bella has inspired me to fight for the underdogs, to fight for her rights and for my own, she has shown me that you can never judge a book by its cover nor by reputation, and she has shown me that the “pit bull” loving community is a place of great dedication and purpose. Through this community, I have met so many like-minded, wonderful people who inspire me further every day to be a voice for Bella. I have even made a few genuine friends.
Bella has brought so much to our lives. It is the least I can do, to do everything in my power to give back to her the freedom and neutrality that she has earned and deserves.
Please do your part. Together, we go further and our voices are louder.