A team in my region posted today on the region's Facebook page that they will not be hosting their anticipated 2012 tournament this year. Since I love going to tournaments, this is kind of sad news. But, I fully support the reason for their decision: They have not been able to find an affordable facility in a location without BSL* (breed specific legislation).
This decision means a lot to me. I, for one, would not have been attending the tournament if it was held there, regardless of if the city applied an "exception" for those dogs participating in the tournament (as would be required by NAFA for sanctioning of the event). If you have been following my blog, you will remember my post from a while back when we traveled to a tournament outside of Auburn, WA, which also has (to a much lesser degree) BSL.
It hurts a lot when dog events are scheduled for places with BSL, even more so than when the random strangers act suddenly terrified of my dog only after hearing her breed. Somehow, I expect the dog community to know what BSL is and to support the owners of those banned and restricted breeds**. Hosting dog tournaments or events in places with BSL in place is like giving the city or county the message that the dog owning community is okay with this decision. When the club hosting the event doesn't even let participants, many of whom are not from the area, know about the BSL in place, it feels a lot like a slap in the face to those of us owning the breeds affected; it sends the message that they don't care about our dogs.
Unfortunately, something seems to get lost in translation sometimes. Clubs who host events in BSL locations get told that their event will be boycotted by those who own banned breed. The clubs, instead of listening to the very valid fears these dog owners have for the well being of their beloved companions, react instead as if the boycott is a personal attack on them.
Many people who own banned or restricted breeds, including me, have had our fears of the breed bans laughed at or brushed off by other dog lovers as over reactions. And let me tell you, it hurts. We aren't trying to be difficult, or to upset your club, or ruin your day. We are trying to protect our family. And when dog clubs ignore the effect BSL can have on any dog and does have on those of us who own banned breeds and choose to host in BSL affected locations, it feels like an abandonment by those who should be fighting by our sides.
When it comes right on down to the base of the matter, dog clubs and dog related organizations, including any and all sporting and conformation groups, should be at the head of the line to object to BSL. Having those self same organizations give passive support to BSL by hosting and attending events in BSL locations is like a slap in the face. As a fellow flyball participant and banned-breed owner so elloquently stated it, if anyone should know better and make a statement, it is them (referring to dog clubs of any kind).
So, I really want to say thank you to JCJ for making the decision to not support a BSL town by hosting your tournament there. We all look forward to your tournaments and plan to attend as soon as a suitable facility can be located. The statement that we would not attend a tournament in Enumclaw is in no way meant to be a slight against your team. Instead, it is an expression of our fears for the safety of our canine family members. We hope that you understand where these fears come from and join us in the fight against BSL.
*BSL includes any legislation which specifically applies only to dogs meeting specific breed outlines or physical characteristics, while not applying to those dogs who do not conform to those breed profiles. This includes but is not limited to outright bans, requiring muzzles or additional restraint, requiring owners to carry insurance, or mandatory spay/neuter laws.
**Banned breeds do not just include so-called pit bulls. Breeds affected by BSL include the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Rottweiler, Doberman Pincher, Shar Pei, German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Great Dane, Irish Wolf Hound, Scottish Deer Hound, Mastiff, Boerboel, American Bull Dog, Akita, Chow Chow, English Mastiff, Tosa Inu, Presa Canario, Dogo Argentino, Cane Corso, and Bull Terrier. Additionally, BSL affects dogs over certain weight limits (such as 100 lbs), regardless of breed, and can affect any dog deemed to have the features of any of the affected breeds, regardless of the dog in question's actual heritage.