Sunday, March 8, 2009

Coming up ... fighting military breed ban

My next blog posting will be filled with facts and stories about how breed bans and legislation hurt and punish vastly more good, responsible owners/families and dogs than those that don't have respect for the law as it is. For the mistakes of few, thousands have suffered and will continue to do so. These bans are political moves that give a false sense of security to an ill-informed public and do little to protect us from dog bites or fatal attacks. There are better and more effective alternatives to individually and equitably categorize and identify potentially dangerous dogs of any breed and irresponsible owners who create the monsters in the first place.

Sadly, the U.S. Army instituted a post- and base-wide breed ban in military housing on Jan. 2009 throughout the country that targets all large, powerful breeds AND mixes. Imagine trying to determine who is allowed or not allowed when mixes are included? And, who is making these breed and mix determinations? At the WSMR post, this includes pit mixes, shepherd mixes, rottie mixes, dobie mixes, dane mixes, akita mixes, malamute mixes, etc. The WSMR housing's list of breeds it has banned was released before Jan. 2009 of this year and names alot of breeds and their mixes. The U.S. Army memo that was released in January names fewer breeds.

This ban is already having devastating affects on the men and women and families that already sacrifice so much for our welfare, and it is also putting a burden on already overburdened animal shelters (which will also increase kill rates, especially here where our kill rate for 2008 was 66%). With the growth of soldiers moving to the El Paso Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range posts in the next few years to number in the tens of thousands, it is imperative we all pitch in to lend our voices to help change these bans.

When the breed bans went into affect on the WSMR post, anyone already living on post with any of these breeds was allowed to keep their dogs ... they were "grandfathered" into the system. The problem is that if this same person gets transferred to another location/post, and they want to take their beloved family dog with them, they'll be forced to give them up when they relocate to another post. This is what is happening nationwide, which is forcing families to relinquish the dogs at shelters, try to find relatives or friends to foster or care for the animals until the family can move out of military housing, or in some remote places where shelters are not nearby, dogs are being ripped away from families and killed. That seems like a strange way to maintain or lift morale for soldiers and their families, especially at a time when the suicide rate for those returning from the current war is higher than that of the Vietnam era.

This was the topic of this week's Criter Connection radio show out of Ruidoso (listen to this wonderful show online at 10 a.m. each Sat. morning off, station 105), where host Sunny Aris had many guests talking about these issues, including Sgt Ron Portillo, a wounded combat veteran who runs the non-profit Canines for Combat Wounded , a legal expert from Best Friends's campaign to stop BSL and the founder of Pit Bull Rescue Central, whose husband is in the military now.

I will go into greater detail in my next blog post coming in a couple of days. I will also let you know what we can all do to help change this ban.

Get your letter-writing skills sharpened up! We need to inundate President and First Lady Obama and key Army officials with the message, as well as our state's representatives and senators.