With great joy and even tears our community heard the news Monday that Santa Rosa Animal Services would end the practice of breed bans on adoptions. Moving forward they will base decisions on a dog’s temperament instead of the breed.
Members of the community rejoiced at the news. Navarre Press posted the breaking news to its Facebook page and more than 34,000 people were reached. The comments were from people who were brought to tears and many who posted photos of their bull dogs who appeared to also be smiling at the news.
This is a major advancement in policy for the shelter and we applaud their openness and willingness to make changes. The volunteers and staff who work at the shelter probably celebrated too. And while the shelter currently leads the state in rate of euthanizations, no one who works or volunteers there wants to be in first place for that. They work tirelessly to provide the best possible service they can. But policy was against them.
Painting dog breeds with a common brushstroke is outdated and ignorant. Dogs are who they are taught and trained to be no matter the breed. There are behavioral differences in dogs and when recognized can be properly treated. We are not saying that all behaviors can be “cured” but most of them can with proper training. Dogs without proper obedience training can be put into a bad situation with a bad outcome.
A staff member told us her experience when she lived in Fort Walton Beach. She went out the back door of her place of employment and coming down the alley was a huge pit bull pulling a heavy tow chain behind him. You could see where he broke the chain to get away from where ever he was. He was scared of her at first but with some coaxing he came to her. She took him inside and saw the scars on his body where it looked like he was in a fight for his life…because he probably was. Later she would take him to the vet and it was discovered that this dog, who became to be known as Shiloh, had the inside of his mouth sliced with razor blades in preparation for being fought. The thought was sickening so she kept him. Shiloh showed his gratefulness to his rescuer every single day. He was the most well-behaved dog. Kind and gentle doesn’t begin to describe him. Later he would give his rescuer his son who was equally like his father. Triton was big and muscular with the heart of a baby. Once, his vet called him “a big ol’ galoot” because he was just a gentle giant. Triton died at the age of 12 earlier this year. Between the two pit bulls, they helped raise a boy and even the boy’s son.
Our Facebook page is loaded with photos of dogs just like Triton and Shiloh. Those people will tell you they would trust those dogs with their life. They would trust their children’s lives with their dogs. Pit owners know it isn’t about breed. If you didn’t know – chihuahuas are the dogs who have the most bite reports. Sometimes it’s the little guys you have to worry about.
Pit owners understand that the appearance of their dog can be intimidating. We know people who dress up their bull dogs so people are less afraid of them. They just want their dog to be shown in a different light than what people are used to seeing. There is a great side to every breed.
Santa Rosa Animal Shelter is furthering that message with the end to an awful policy. We thank all of the rescue organizations and individuals who worked so hard to bring this about. We know more changes are coming and we can’t wait to hear all about it.
There is still work to be done. We are cheering on A HOPE of Santa Rosa County as they do everything they can to bring low cost spay and neuter to the county. It is so desperately needed. We have a serious overpopulation problem and that would go a long way to fix it.
We also think it would be a good idea for adopters to take a “parenting” class, if you will. Education is a big key to making sure animals are properly secured, are vaccinated, cared for properly and go home with people who are ready to take on the challenge of acclimating a rescue.
We know this is a work in progress but Monday’s step was one of the biggest. Navarre Press thanks everyone involved in making this happen.