Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Better Dog Legislation Forum - how you can help!

We’ve received a ton of support and enthuasiasm around our September 9 Better Dog Legislation Forum featuring Bill Bruce of Calgary (at right).

As the event grows nearer and our guest list expands, we are working hard to make sure Bruce’s message reaches as many people as possible – and that it is an event to remember.

Want to help? We would greatly appreciate assistance with the following:

Share the invitation with decision-makers who have a voice in creating (and fighting) dog legislation. Please write to your local city council and tell them you hope to see someone from your city at this important event. We've assembled contact information here: www.hugabull.com/citycontacts. Information about the Forum is here: www.hugabull.com/billbruce. (If you have contact information to add to our list of city contacts, please let us know!)

Finding a food sponsor for our event. Do you know a catering company, bakery, or other food service company that may provide sponsored refreshments?

Filming. We would love to have Bruce's presentation filmed, edited, and uploaded online to share with those who can't attend on September 9 - but we lack the equipment and know-how to do so.

Thanks again for all your support to date, and please contact us with any questions or leads at info@hugabull.com. We hope to see you there...in just over three weeks!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The problem with "pit bull" attacks

On Friday, a young girl was attacked and severely injured by her neighbour's dog. By Monday, we began hearing about a "pit bull attack" and we braced ourselves for pointed fingers, calls for breed bans, and the usual outcry that accompanies these media reports.

The SPCA was called in to investigate and soon clarified that the dog was a German Shepherd/bull terrier mix. Although we occasionally see bull terriers targeted by breed specific legislation, they are physically and temperamentally very different from the three breeds commonly defined as pit bulls: American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and American Pit Bull Terriers.

The bad news? The "pit bull" headline stuck in many cases. In this Global BC broadcast (scroll to 14:37) they included "pit bull" in the caption even though they mention the dog's exact breed mix several times in the interview.

The good news? Once the "pit bull" label was peeled off, and the SPCA was asked to comment, the news report became a lot more balanced. The news angle turned to factors behind bites - sexually intact dogs, undersocialized dogs, and children who approach dogs inappropriately. If BSL was brought up, it was to point out its flaws, and the SPCA spoke out loud and clear about it.

In addition to the Global BC report, this Maple Ridge News article is a great example of balanced and fair coverage we'd like to see more of: http://www.bclocalnews.com/tri_city_maple_ridge/mapleridgenews/news/100396369.html

It's really encouraging to see this. Would the angle have shifted in this direction if the attack had indeed been a "pit bull" incident? We don't know. We'd like to think so, and we'd like to live in a culture where reporters hear about a dog bite and look at all the factors, not just breed, before filing their story. In the meantime we'll hope this is part of a trend, and keep working to encourage it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Announcing the Better Dog Legislation Forum

While many cities struggle with animal control policies, the city of Calgary has become a case study in best practices using a common sense and non-breed-specific approach. Their Dangerous Dog Legislation has reduced dog bites by a staggering 75% and Calgary now has one of the lowest bite rates in North America. Perhaps most interestingly, the program operates at a profit due to increased enforcement and fines.

The visionary behind these policies is Bill Bruce, Director of Animal and Bylaw Services. HugABull is pleased to host Mr. Bruce in Vancouver for a forum on effective dog legislation, speaking about his experiences, challenges and successes in implementing Dangerous Dog Legislation.

Event Details
Thursday, September 9
Creekside Community Centre
1 Athletes Way, Vancouver

Registration: 5:30pm
Presentation: 6:00pm

There is no registration fee, but space is limited. Please RSVP to info@hugabull.com.

We are reserving seats for city councillors throughout Metro Vancouver and will be inviting them personally. However, we encourage you to write to your local representatives and encourage them to attend. Many jurisdictions have outdated animal control policies including breed-specific legislation. Please help us spread the word about an alternative that is more effective, safer and more humane.

This event is made possible thanks to a City of Vancouver Animal Welfare Grant.

HugABull is also hosting a half-day workshop specifically for shelter and animal welfare workers the following day: Friday, September 10. This event will feature a second presentation by Bill Bruce. If you work in animal welfare and are interested in participating in our workshop, please contact kristen@hugabull.com.