Animal welfare professional and Pit Bull advocate, Neely Conway shares her expertise and experience as a contributor to the Huffington Post.
Her recent article, “The Day A Man Hit My Dog” is a shocking reminder of just how deeply the stereotypes and prejudices against Pit Bull-type dogs truly run.
Conway lives in Atlanta with her husband, Joe and two rescue dogs. The shelters in her area are overburdened and underfunded. Pit Bull-type dogs represent a large portion of the abused and neglected animals that shelters like Dekalb County Animal Services and Fulton County Animal Services strive to rescue every day.
One such dog is Mark. A goofy, long-legged black and white Pittie mix found by Neely and Joe. Mark was on the side of a busy road, he appeared to be on his own and he hadn’t been neutered. The couple brought him to the Dekalb County shelter, and when no one claimed him, they decided to become his foster parents.
The Conways immediately noticed that like many strays, Mark felt more comfortable in the company of other dogs. After allowing him time to adjust to his new home and assessing his temperament, they decided that Mark could benefit greatly from visiting the local dog park.
He is an incredibly happy pup who insists on greeting every dog and human with his clumsy gait and good-natured grin. The Conways adored watching him bounce off the fence and romp with the unabashed exuberance that only a carefree dog can achieve.
About a month after Mark came to live with the couple, it happened. Neely watched as Mark galloped joyously through the park as usual. And then he approached a man and his small dog standing in the corner.
Neely heard a scream as Mark playfully jumped up to greet the man. She rushed over to see what was happening and heard the man complaining that Mark had gotten his shirt dirty. He then took the bewildered dog by the neck and began striking him in the face repeatedly.
As Neely frantically grabbed Mark and tried to remove him from the situation, she heard the words that chill the blood and pierce the heart of every Pit Bull parent:
“That’s what you get for owning a Pit Bull.”
She realized the man was not angry that a dog had dared to jump on him – in a dog park of all places – he was furious that a Pit Bull had done so. It’s a cold and sobering reminder that the fight to protect this breed, and any dog that even slightly resembles a Pit, is far from over.
Countless dogs with blocky heads and stocky builds are mistreated and killed because of the way they look and what the stereotypes say they might possibly be capable of doing someday. BSL laws and public discrimination have drawn a line in the sand.
Canine advocate, foster mom and shelter volunteer, Neely Conway asks, which side will you fight for?