Thursday, March 25, 2010

Breed discrimination is alive and well

Sheba is a sweet, mellow dog with impeccable manners. After her foster care period, several people applied to adopt her and we found the perfect fit: a young couple living in a Vancouver condo building who were excited about her potential to be a breed ambassador. They had plans for therapy dog and Canine Good Neighbour certification. The applicants checked in with their landlord about their plans for adoption and received the green light to bring Sheba home.

Adjusting to condo living was a snap, and Sheba never put a paw out of place. Her new family loved her, but unfortunately the landlord didn't feel the same way. His small dog reacted aggressively on sight of Sheba, and although Sheba never responded, he felt the new dog was to blame.

Soon the landlord came knocking claiming that their pit bull "made neighbours uncomfortable." Again, Sheba had never been rude to anyone or even barked, but the landlord demanded that she be muzzled while in the building.

Wanting to be good neighbours, the owners complied, although Sheba posed no risk to anyone. Days later the landlord was back saying muzzling wasn't enough and he was still getting complaints. He demanded that they get rid of the dog.

Sheba's owners did a great deal of soul-searching and offered to find new housing, but the landlord was inflexible. He wouldn't allow them to keep the dog, but wouldn't allow them to break their lease either.

The owners didn't have the resources to fight and after making phone calls and exploring their options, they felt their hands were tied. Although they had done everything by the book...although they lived in a city with no breed specific legislation...although there was nothing in their rental agreement about pets...and although their dog hadn't once misbehaved...they risked losing their home and/or money in legal fees.

Luckily Sheba's original foster home was still open, and she returned to a familiar environment where she still awaits her forever home. We know it won't take long because she's such an easy, mellow dog - but that doesn't make this blatant discrimination any easier to take.

How can you make sure this doesn't happen to you?
- Read all pet-related bylaws carefully and obey them. Pit bulls are under more scrutiny than other breeds, so never give a neighbour or landlord a reason to complain.

- If you live in a strata or co-op, get involved with the board and ensure you know about any proposed changes to pet laws. Speak out against any breed specific proposals, and educate your neighbours about effective animal control policies. This page is a great start!

- If you are a renter and unfairly targeted because of your dog's breed, contact the Residential Tenancy Office. You can speak to an Information Officer at no cost to find out your rights, and arrange mediation if needed.

- Consider asking your veterinarian, trainer, or other animal professional to provide letters speaking out against breed specific legislation in general, and about the temperament of your dog in particular.

- Contact us! We can arrange for a certified trainer to provide a temperament assessment of your dog, and provide you with information to take to your landlord or strata.

Friday, March 12, 2010

UPDATE - Hope for Gunner!

A big thanks to everyone who Facebooked, Twittered, phoned and emailed their dog-loving friends to help find a foster home for Gunner.

We received a number of responses from people looking to help, and we found a family we think will be a phenomenal match! They are dog-savvy, committed to responsible ownership, and are willing to provide the time and stability Gunner needs after all the recent turmoil in his life.

He'll be moving to his new foster home today, and if things work out his family is open to a foster-to-adopt. We're keeping our fingers and paws crossed that everything works out because Gunner really deserves a stable home (we are always puzzled when fantastic, well-mannered, social dogs like Gunner aren't snapped up right away!)

Thank you again to everyone who spread the word, with a special shout-out to the people at Respect-A-Bull, another BC-based pit bull rescue, who posted about Gunner's situation and even offered to link him up with one of their foster homes. It's wonderful to be reminded that there are so many great people who care about the breed and are helping us help these wonderful dogs, one dog at a time.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A plea for Gunner - a dog who needs a little stability

Gunner is a stellar little dog who has had a string of bad breaks in his life - and he is a perfect example of why human-oriented pitties do poorly without a family. Gunner is severely stressing out and needs a calm and stable foster home for the next couple of weeks so the poor boy can relax...and we can find him the forever home he so desperately deserves.

We pulled Gunner out of the shelter back in Fall 2009. He was so stressed that he was exhibiting compulsive behaviour - spinning and biting his tail - and the shelter staff was becoming concerned. They called us and he aced his temperament assessment: Gunner is lovely and affectionate with people and absolutely ADORES children. He's very friendly with other dogs and can co-exist with a cat.

Gunner went to a wonderful, experienced foster home with three other dogs and a little boy, and thrived. His stress behaviour stopped completely and his foster mom said that if she didn't already have a full pack at home, she would have adopted him for sure.

A month later, Gunner was snapped up by a great family who adored him. Sadly we learned last month that due to a family emergency his owners were unable to keep him, and through no fault of his own Gunner is back in the program.

Because of the sudden return we've been unable to find him a permanent foster home and Gunner has had to move a couple of times. This, combined with the stress of leaving his family, has taken a toll on the poor boy and he's not doing well. He's still a loving and wonderful little man, but he is STRESSED and some of his shelter behaviours are returning.

With his happy personality and cute little eye patch, Gunner is often compared to Petey from the Little Rascals. He's a perfect breed ambassador and a little gentleman, and it's hard for us to see him in such distress.

Please help us help Gunner. If you know someone who can provide a calm, secure environment where he can de-stress for a couple of weeks, we can continue working to find him a home he never has to leave. He has lovely house manners, and he would do just fine in almost any kind of living environment (house, apartment, urban, rural, pets, children, etc) as long as there's not SO much stimulation that he becomes even more stressed.

Since his stress behaviours increase when left alone, it would be ideal to put him in an environment where he isn't routinely on his own for long hours.

Gunner is a GREAT dog who has had a rough start in life. Please help us put his days of stress and uncertainty behind him, and contact if you can provide a foster or foster-to-adopt home for him.