Recording a roundtable discussion with a major focus on community

Posted August 12th, 2014 in Community by Josh

I hope that many of you will take numerous things away from this filmed conversation between Myself, Tino Sanchez from Peace Love & Pit Bulls, Dana Keithly from THAT Group, Kim Wolf from Beyond Breed and Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent director Jeff Theman…

Issues discussed include BSL, anti-dog policy, housing, insurance, judgment, lack of resources, community engagement and outreach, condemnation, poverty, messaging, media, shelters and shelter politics, mandatory spay and neuter, mandatory training, enforcement, animal abuse registries, Michael Vick, dog fighting, owner vs. guardian termanology, rescue rejection, using tools, dog bite-related human fatalities, responding to hit-pieces, protest, verbal delivery, infighting, amongst other things.

The connection one has with their dog is not a trivial thing

Posted July 24th, 2014 in Inspiration by Josh

sway18

I find it really difficult to write about Sway. I’m not sure why. I think it may be because whatever I do write, I have this fear or this belief that it will just never be able to do her justice. To be clear, it won’t. There’s nothing that I could write that could ultimately do her justice, and with that, the concept of trying has left this wake of procrastination that’s kind of stalled numerous ideas and plagued requests that have come in about her from other people. But I also can’t carry that around, that need to live up to this ever-escalating vision of what she deserves, and not try to be vulnerable about how having her as such an important stalwart in my life was an absolutely priceless thing. She was incredible. Both incredible in general and incredible for me, to me, to my life.

It’s often these same conflicts that arise when I speak about her to other people, if they ask me in person or what have you. I rarely let myself go there, so to them it may come off as more of a canned response that leaves them kind of confused. I don’t know. One thing about me is that I kind of have a reputation for being outspoken and opinionated and raw, and vulnerable. But the loss of Sway throws a wrench into all of that. Point is, my emotions are heavily invested and have been interwoven amongst all of my memories that I carry in my mind. That’s all that I have. It’s quite tough to try to unpack my thoughts and this post may read awkwardly or come off as being all over the map. But instead of not saying anything I want to say some of these things that are in my head.

I physically lost Sway 5 years ago today. Sometimes it feels like yesterday, sometimes it feels so far in the past that I can’t even remember. Both thoughts are scary. Feeling like whatever wounds haven’t even scabbed is scary. Feeling like I have no scabs, like I have no scars, like I forgot something, and thus worrying how much more I’m going to come to forget, is just as scary.

No bullshit, I cannot watch the video that I made of her, the one that sits at the top of the right column of my website, without absolutely losing it. That doesn’t stop me from watching it. I usually watch it really late at night, and my reaction is silent, but it is a massive reaction, and still. I also cannot listen to those songs, even though they are some of my favorite songs, without gazing out of whatever window is nearby and deeply missing her. To be totally honest, I cannot even write what I just wrote without crying. This is the weird thing. After losing Sway I became more hardened in a sense that I cried less. I’m a sensitive person and somebody who isn’t scared to show my emotions, but for years after losing Sway it was damn near only the topic of her that could make me cry. My work in and around shelters, and the bonds with the shelter dogs, brings with it some really difficult pain. As much as I cried for those incredible dogs with the slanted fates, and still do, I could’ve cried triple. It’s like you power on through. Same goes for the non-dog-related issues of life in general, and there’s plenty of that to cry about, but my bond with Sway has this unique way of always cutting through. And that’s the odd thing, even now, that it’s like a faucet of immediacy. I miss her so much. For example, when I was last back home I had asked my mom to sit down and talk about Sway on video. I had a few questions for her and I sat behind my camera and asked them. I was watching her eyes well up with tears because she was seeing my eyes well up with tears. Rather quickly I literally couldn’t breathe because I was sobbing from how much I missed my dog.

How does this happen? It’s been 5 years, right? I’d just say that it speaks quite loudly to the connection between a dog and their person. What else can it say? That I’m crazy or unstable? I’m not. That I love animals more than people? I don’t. It simply states that dogs are extremely important to most folks, that they have a gentle and subtle power about them, and that their relationships with their people are not to be taken for granted or made to seem unimportant. And no matter what breed or mixed breed they might be!

But to keep going, a little over 2 years after Sway passed away I wrote an article for StubbyDog about grief. It’s still very tough for me to read. I’m very proud of what I wrote, but this grief does remain in part. It’s changed, I’ve come a long way with it, I’ve tried to turn it into many positive things, and that’s all that you can do. I imagine that it will always be tough. But love does give you the strength to always keep trying, to always try to find a way to make a difference, and love will always be the light at the end of the tunnel when you are having a really bad day. My dog certainly helped teach me that, and I’d say that that’s a pretty instrumental lesson to learn.

Speaking of bad days, I’ve had a lot of those lately. My life is in a different place than it was 5 years ago, and I’ve really expended a lot of energy trying to do all that I can do on the dog-related issues. Many other areas of my life have changed, some efforts have taken back seats to others, and this world keeps going full speed ahead regardless. I hope that my choices do make a continued difference, and will be something that will eventually propel me to a better place of comfort. It’s tough TRYING TO DO the good and the right instead of the passive or the easy. We all fail at times. I just know that with my own life I want to be able to continue to follow my passions and not have them be tossed into a ditch. It’s doubly tough to compartmentalize whatever efforts you are making and not have the consequences of those efforts trickle into your day-to-day unrelated life. But I only want that comfort if it comes aligned with doing the good and the right. To avoid having turmoil erupt while trying not to stray from that premise is an equally difficult thing to try and maneuver. So amidst the turmoil I often think back to my life with Sway, before all of the advocacy and becoming really tuned in with what goes on, and I wish that I could just lay down on the couch with her or go to the beach and watch her chase her football around. That would certainly lift my spirits.

To close, I couldn’t even fathom being deprived of having Sway in my life. That would’ve been such a shame. I am so grateful that we crossed paths and that she was able to live out her life as a loved dog and not anything less than that. Sway was a dog, and an amazing one at that. She was a great friend to our family cat Rufus and a great friend to my nephew Jaelon. She was a conduit for a personal experience, a changer of minds, an integral part of our family unit, loved by many, and my absolute shadow and friend. Those are the facts. No one can change that.

It breaks my heart that there are actually entities out there that make it their obsessive objective to render these dogs as caricatures of the worst possible thing imaginable. This aims to disregard and end connections like the one that I’ve had, and this is happening every single day. They do these things while ignoring all of the rules of the universe, the golden rule, the concepts of freedom and individualism, and the power of love. To wade through that delusional hate is a tough ask in any number of ways. It absolutely can challenge your senses. But at the end of the day it’s an easy choice to make because they are wrong.

I remember holding a picture of Sway up to the Pasadena City Council on the first night that I spoke in front of them, asking them not to scapegoat dogs that they will never know. Telling them how important she was to my life. Simply telling them that she existed. She was not a stereotype, nor was she a soundbyte, nor was she a news headline. She was a wonderful dog that lived a loving life and made a positive and multifaceted impact on the universe. The news normally doesn’t want to cover that kind of thing. But if for some reason they ever did, lord knows there’s enough examples out there for them to choose from.

Calling Craven Desires to jump on video chat

Posted July 23rd, 2014 in BSL News, Prejudice by Josh

My Google Hangout ID is swayloveorg@gmail, ADD ME, LET ME KNOW CRAVEN. While you’re at it, try to prompt Jeff Borchardt into doing the same thing. All I’ve heard is silence, as I’ve put myself out there 100% and you guys continue to yap through text but evade any medium that would require an actual human interaction. I’m also sorry that our video of Clifton has upset so many people, but at least he had the courage to stand there and dialogue with people. I did send him the debate proposal that he wanted and I haven’t heard anything about it. William Johnson has put my request off until potentially 2016, due to a pending lawsuit that he states he is involved in. So honestly, the only trends that I’m seeing is that I’m putting myself out there repeatedly, and that no one is actually willing to step up and have any kind of a public conversation on the issues. Also, Colleen Lynn, consider this another public challenge to fire up your webcam. If your information is so amazing, if it’s so honest and genuine, then why would everyone run from the opportunity to make a fool out of me? And further, if you think that I’m some kind of a loose cannon or something then wouldn’t that make you want to take me up on my offer even faster? You could show how unintelligent and unhinged I am, right?

cravendesires

Talking with Merritt Clifton

Posted July 19th, 2014 in BSL News by Josh

So last Friday I had the opportunity to attend the Animal Rights 2014 National Conference where Merritt Clifton, former editor of Animal People and current editor of Animals 24-7, was set to co-present on a panel entitled “Moving away from shelter killing.” I know… It seems contradictory to have such a person speaking on such a panel, considering Clifton is a pusher of BSL and the concept of eliminating all Pit Bulls. Anyways, after the panel wrapped up numerous people (including Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent director Jeff Theman and Kim Wolf from Beyond Breed) had an opportunity to engage Clifton on some of the questionable claims that his “statistics” aim to support.

During a downtime in the panel Kim interjected to ask him a question about his statistics and why they haven’t been peer-reviewed in scientific journals, to which Merritt said that he has “more than 100 peer-reviewed publications.” That’s a dubious claim, at best. Being quoted in a printed or online publication by a source unaware of your lack of credentials doesn’t exactly count. Clifton then claimed that the JAVMA publications, which is a scientific journal that is peer-reviewed, are authored by “paid, professional Pit Bull advocates,” who he claims he’d be happy to debate at any time in a public forum. Um, okay. I’m certainly not a “paid” advocate but I chimed in from the crowd that we’d be attempting to hold him to that. He asked me what my name was, and I told him, and then he called me a heckler who hollers anonymously from the back of the crowd. I repeated my name again, so I don’t know, apparently we have different definitions of the word anonymous.

After the panel wrapped up I approached him and apologized for being a “heckler,” introducing myself and asking him what his deal was against our dogs. He claimed that “you’re not going to reduce the shelter killing of Pit Bulls unless you have breed-specific legislation.” Holy crap. That’s not true. To his point about “needing” BSL, Merritt gave no acknowledgement to the perpetuation of harsh, negative, inflammatory and untrue stereotypes that his cherry-picked (and often unverified) data tries to promote. He paid no attention to the lack of housing, renter restrictions, insurance restrictions, and so on that that stuff constantly feeds. He gave no acknowledgement to how these laws are often actually used as end-arounds to human being profiling. And he paid no attention to the shelter system structure, many of which practice (off the books) in-house BSL, which obviously feeds the shelter killing of Pit Bulls. All of these quite necessary elements were conveniently left out of his explanation as to “why” we need BSL. Not very genuine, to say the least.

At 1:48 Merritt says “when you consider that there are around 150 recognized breeds, for any 1 breed to make up more than 1% is actually significant.” Wow, well that’s odd. Because when dog-banners talk about Pit Bulls they always say that “Pit Bulls ONLY make up 4-6% of the total dog population.” Key word: Only. First of all, that claim is totally untrue and most definitely dwarfed by reality. But even if it was true, Merritt just said that it’s significant for any breed to be over 1% of the dog population, right? But then that rhetoric is conveniently flipped when it needs to serve another purpose, and in an effort to try to claim that there’s not a lot of Pit Bulls that exist in the country. See, if dog-banners admit that there’s a lot of Pit Bulls in existence then they ultimately have to admit that there’s a lot of Pit Bulls that have never harmed anyone. That’s the reality, to the 99.99999 percentile, and no matter the numbers that you want to work with.

At 3:44 he says “very often, a breeder, if a certain dog becomes dog of the year, they’ll just change which dogs mate, so they’ll turn out Goldens 1 year and Chocolate Labs the next, and out of the same mother.” See the dilution of breeds taking place in just that example? I bet if you saw those dogs most people wouldn’t even be able to tell. Just think about that for a second, and how dogs are clearly dogs. Yet Golden Retrievers are held up on their own, and Labradors on their own, and so on and so forth. But what if a Golden Retriever or a Labrador is mixed with a mixed dog, or is mixed with a random dog that someone considers to be a Pit Bull? Is it now a Pit Bull? At what point does it become a Pit Bull? Dogs are dogs folks.

At 4:38 Clifton starts to talk about high-volume, low-cost spay and neuter programs in a way that implies that it was being tried and done in all of these states (he gives both Ohio and New York as examples), but that nobody seemed to want to take advantage of it. This is just fundamentally not true! Kim Wolf, who resides in Brooklyn, intervened to state that in NYC people actually line up at 5am for the clinics but that 2/3rds of those people are normally turned away due to the demand not being able to be met. Her point is that it was incredibly difficult to access these things, and these are the people with the means to access them! Much more pertinent are the lower income folks who may not have the appropriate information or the transportation to get to such an event. Kim’s point aligns pretty well with what I’ve come to understand and see when talking with different communities from California who are being focused on by animal control without being given access to proper resources that would make voluntary compliance far more likely to happen. For instance, in the city of Indio a 2013 spay and neuter clinic which had 40 spots available saw over 500 residents come out in an effort to get their pets sterilized.

At 10:08 Merritt claims that “media reports are the most accurate.” In comparison to what? I then try to ask him why breed remains the primary focus in the face of reckless circumstances like loose dogs, chained yard dogs and unsupervised children. Based on those “media reports” that he claims are the most accurate, 26 of 31 dog-bite related fatalities from 2013 and at least 15 of the 21 from 2014 have involved 1 or more of those 3 reckless (human controlled) circumstances. I tell him that he chooses to focus on breed, which “can’t even be determined.” Obviously I meant that it can’t be successfully determined simply by a media report mention. He says this is not the case. I try to explain that there’s not even a specific or consistent definition of what a “Pit Bull” is, to which he asks me if I can identify Santa Claus… This brings to mind Riverside County’s veterinarian Dr. Allan Drusys and his comparing Pit Bull breed identification to watching pornography, meaning that “you know it when you see it.” Total insanity. Numerous scientific studies reject this notion, including a 2012 study completed by Dr. Victoria Voith. Geneticist Kristopher Irizarry tried to explain this to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors back in October, and they, already having their minds made up prior to even entering the meeting, totally ignored his information.

At 12:00 Clifton makes it seem as if certain dogs come out of the womb pointing, retrieving, fighting. Dog men have stated openly how difficult it is to find a true fighting dog, no matter how they are bred, but Merritt Clifton wants you to believe that every Pit Bull that is born is basically a “fighting” dog. This is a massive load of crap. At 13:22 Jeff directly asks him if he is stating that these dogs were specifically bred for fighting and fighting only. Merritt’s answer? “Basically fighting and baiting.” This, while 99.99999% of all dogs neither fight nor bait in their actual lives. Should I start calling all Latin people reflections of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, just because they may look alike or have the same physical characteristics? Or are people individuals with their own track records and behaviors? This same premise applies to dogs. Dogs are not objects coming off of an assembly line. They are individual dogs!

At 14:31 I ask him if he believes that dogs are individuals, just as a basic principle… Clifton doesn’t really answer, opting to say that “dogs have extremely strong breed-specific characteristics that have been bred into them for years” instead. He then says that people don’t, which makes us all “mutts and mongrels.” He then says that “characteristics and behavior go together,” to which I’d immediately say, well, how do you then account for the actual positive behaviors of the many millions of Pit Bull-type dogs that exist in the country today? He can’t talk out of both sides of his mouth.

At 15:19 he states that he’s been talking to a geneticist that believes that she’s identified the gene that carries the trait for “idiopathic rage,” which they’re now going to try and pin on all Pit Bulls. Clifton states that it “occurs in roughly 1% of the dog population at large, but that it occurs in over 90% of Pit Bulls.” Wait, what? Alert the math police! First of all, based on Merritt’s own 2014 report, Pit Bulls and their mixes make up 6.7% of the dog population. This can in no way be proven, and in reality is likely triple or quadruple that, especially when taking into account how the mainstream media identifies dogs… But anyways, based on Merritt’s 6.7% and a dog population of 70 million, that produces 4.69 million “Pit Bulls.” 5.025 million based on a dog population of 75 million and 5.36 million based on a dog population of 80 million! Now look at their “idiopathic rage” claim again… 1% of a dog population of 70 million dogs is 700,000 dogs (750,000 out of 75 million, 800,000 out of 80 million). Based on Merritt’s own research there’s 4.7 million Pit Bulls in that same 70 million population group. Yet they are trying to pin “idiopathic rage” on Pit Bulls, and stating that it occurs in 90% of Pit Bulls, while at the same time stating that it only occurs in 1% of the total dog population. Using Merritt’s population claim: 90% of Pit Bulls in a total population of 70 million dogs would equal 4.22 million Pit Bulls. 1% of that same dog population equals a total of 700,000 dogs. Their math is ludicrously flawed. Even if every single dog from the “idiopathic rage” group was a “Pit Bull,” that still leaves 3.99 million Pit Bulls! It’s junk science. It’s crap. It’s lies. Just for fun, if we quadrupled Merritt’s estimated amount of “Pit Bulls” from a dog population of 70 million dogs (which is probably far more genuine and honest), that equals 18.76 million Pit Bulls. Now run that number through the same formulation from ^above. You get the point.

At 16:10 Jeff references a behaviorist that appears in his film, and how he states that “we have a lot of genes in our hand, but does it make my hand ball up into a fist and hit you?” Merritt says “if you were better qualified than someone else to be successful, as a behavioral strategy, to ball up your fist and hit somebody, uh, that could evolve the ability to do that successfully, which could evolve into a successful trait.” Keep in mind that Merritt’s claims are based in his belief that all Pit Bulls are dog fighting dogs… Now he’s trying to say that if you were “better qualified” to punch somebody in the face, that that could evolve into a successful gene or trait? I know a lot of people that are “better qualified” to be able to knock someone’s block off if they were to get into a physical fight! Does that mean that they are a fighter? Does that mean that they are a vicious person? Does that mean that they are a detriment to public safety? I mean, where does this type of crap lead? Think about The Rock, think about Jon “Bones” Jones, think about Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, think about Karl Malone or Ray Lewis, think about any professional athlete, think about any athlete at any level whatsoever! What about anyone over 6’5″, or anyone over 225 pounds? Where does the profiling end? This is all profiling pseudoscience!

At 18:25 Jeff talks about how his dog Preston loves to retrieve (my dog Neola also loves to retrieve). He asks Merritt “is my dog a retriever because he displays that trait, or is he now a Pit Bull because he looks like something?” Based on the road that we’ve been going down, this leaves Clifton kind of flustered. We then get back into his data, which he says comes from “classified ads,” but he leaves out the part about it never being made available to be publicly vetted in any way. I ask him how many dogs are not fatally wounding or mauling someone? He knows that the answer is 99.99999% of them, and no matter the breed or type, but I don’t get that answer. He instead claims that 1 out of every 107 Pit Bulls kills another animal each year. I ask him where that data comes from. He tells me to go to his website. How in the world can anyone even attempt to claim that they know this to be true? There’s literally no possible way to know such a stat, and for numerous reasons. None.

At 20:28 a lady who had been standing around the entire time that we were talking to Merritt chimes in and implies that I don’t want to protect these dogs. Protect them by passing BSL and/or phasing them out/killing them? Very PETA-ish of her. I try to explain how breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter is always rhetorically pitched. She doesn’t care. She says that I “agree with breeding,” and in a way that’s surely meant to make me seem as if I’m anti-spay and neuter. I’m not anti-spay and neuter! I just don’t think it should be mandated upon people (especially in a breed-specific fashion), and for a lot of different reasons that go well beyond a soundbyte or a statement that I could just flippantly toss out. I actually believe in voluntary spay and neuter, and making resources available and accessible, and educating people about those resources. My own dogs are sterilized. So put your simplistic breeder-related stuff back in the drawer. I’m not a breeder. I again try to explain how breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter is rhetorically pitched, which is the main reason why I don’t support it. It’s not to get at shelter killing, it’s not to get at overpopulation. It’s to criminalize the dogs as a whole and phase them out by circumventing state law. Look at California for the finest example. Somehow she doesn’t find any of this relevant. She claims “that’s not a good reason to fight it.” I’d strongly disagree! She says that we should be focused on stopping them from being killed. I’m trying to tell her that they are being killed mainly because of the perpetuated stereotype that continues to exist. At 21:45 Clifton tries to claim that the Pit Bulls coming into shelters are coming in because they’ve “had some kind of an incident.” There he goes again, speaking on behalf of countless individual dogs without having a damn clue about any of them. Unreal. We then get into landlord/tenant issues that are far more complicated than Merritt leads on, but that’s another discussion for another day. Merritt totally misses my point about renting and insurance blockades.

At 22:36 I ask him about a debate for a 2nd time. I’m certainly not a “paid” advocate, like he alluded to earlier, but I’ve publicly (and respectfully) debated in the past. I can’t get him to commit to anything. I offer to fly to Washington. He tells me to send him a “proposal,” but won’t just commit to the premise of at some point doing it. The other lady then interjects and makes a point about why a law is needed, while at the same time admitting that the BSL from the town in which she lives isn’t even enforced. Kim points out that if they won’t enforce that then why/how do you think they’d enforce a mandatory sterilization law?

At 26:15 Clifton basically admits that MSN-BSL and bans are both used for the same purpose, stating that “I don’t see any reason at all to breed Pit Bulls, or any other dog who is inclined or produced to kill or injure other animals.” There he goes again, condemning a massive group of dogs for things that the vast majority of them haven’t done. I try to explain this to both Merritt and the lady, but they state that if it isn’t born then you aren’t condemning it. Um, but you’re not having it be born precisely for the reason that it’s a condemned dog in your own mind! Hello!

This then delves into a side conversation between myself and the lady over dog fighting. She believes that if Pit Bulls cease to exist then the concept of dog fighting would cease to exist. That basically equates to blaming the dogs and ignoring the actual human being and their criminal behavior of illegally fighting dogs. I state that they’d probably just do it with another dog. She says “are you telling me that they’re going to fight Beagles?” Sidebar, but have you ever noticed how often this type of a tactic is used by proponents of regulating dog breeds? For example, if we are talking about fatalities, someone might say “well, is a Chihuahua going to kill somebody?” Um, are Chihuahuas (and in this case Beagles) the only other dogs available to make a valid comparison with? It’s funny that someone picks the tiniest dog in an effort to make their counter-point. There’s about 50 breeds of dog that are LARGER in physical size than a Pit Bull and just as (if not more) capable of killing a human being. That’s a fact.

At 29:59 the lady asks me “what are you looking to see in the end?” She, like PETA, views the concept of dogs as human companions as dogs being exploited. She admits that she wants to end dog companionship, and that that’s the “only” animal rights position. Yikes.

At 31:51 Kim asks Clifton if he has any peer-reviewed research that’s been published in the United States. He claims that he does. He states that he has an award from ProMED. He does, and it was given in 2010 regarding the controlling of the rabies virus in Asia. It’s not for anything relating to dog-related human fatalities, breed-specific legislation, or Pit Bulls, which is what she was specifically asking him about. Clifton explains why he doesn’t publish in JAVMA, but that he does provide data to them as a supporting writer, and states that he doesn’t make his living writing for journals. Kim asks him that if his data is so good then why isn’t he trying to get it published in peer-reviewed journals. He doesn’t really answer her directly. He justifies his publishing decisions by stating that he simply wants to reach the most people. But what if what he’s writing about is flat out wrong, unscientific or not able to be proven? Isn’t that relevant? He doesn’t seem to care much about having his information vetted in these ways, just that it reaches who it reaches. Okay, fair enough. But that’s kind of an incredible evasion of Kim’s point.

At 35:17 I again ask him about a future debate, because at this point my battery is about to die. He again tells me to send him a “proposal” (which I’ve since done).

At 36:23 the lady who had been talking with us brings up PETA. She doesn’t believe what Jeff and Kim are trying to tell her so I try to hand her a sheet of 40 sourced PETA quotations since the year 2000 which have been used to promote breed bans, all forms of breed-specific legislation, and the no adoption policy for shelter Pit Bulls that Ingrid Newkirk has lobbied for. She refuses to take, or even look at, the paper.

At this point we are out in the hallway, and the lady who had been engaged in our conversation for the last 30 minutes incredibly asks me if I’d been videotaping her. She knows that I had been, as any time I would address her I would physically turn in her direction and point my open video camera at her, but she strangely starts to play dumb. She then asks me for my name, and I give it to her, and then she runs off to get staff members in an effort to have them strong-arm me into giving up my memory card so that it could be erased/destroyed. I told them that that wasn’t happening, and that she was watching me record the conversation for damn near 40 minutes! She could have left the open room at any time. Also worth note, she opted to join the ongoing conversation that we were already having with Clifton, not the other way around. She goes on and on about them taking my camera, which they don’t try to do. Now this lady comes unglued and threatens to sue me. You’d think that if people were knowingly being recorded, and chose to stay around, that they then wouldn’t try and pull this type of crap after the fact. Stand on your information/pov! What are you afraid of other people hearing? If you’re correct then I/we should be looking like fools on my own video, right?

PETA still running from their anti-Pit Bull reality

Posted July 17th, 2014 in BSL News, Prejudice by Josh

Lisa Lange from PETA, upon being approached by myself in the hallway of the Pasadena City Council on Monday night, denied that PETA supports Pit Bull bans or any other form of breed/type regulation outside of spay and neuter. She denied that Ingrid Newkirk promotes/encourages/recommends/lobbies for actual shelter policies of not adopting Pit Bulls out to the public. She told me more than once that I was to blame for Pit Bulls being killed. She told me that since I didn’t support BSL-MSN and MSN that I actually supported dogs being chained and abused. She repeated numerous times that Pit Bulls are “the most abused dog in dogdom,” as if to justify their positions, but while not admitting or acknowledging them publicly. She actually told me that I kill dogs, calling me by name and pointing in an animated fashion at my camera. Her PETA affiliated supporters were chiming in but, to be honest, I was tuning them out. Lange then began to walk away and I followed her, asking how she could wear the shirt that she was wearing (this shirt) while at the same time working for an organization that supports any and every form of breed-discriminatory legislation. She told me again that my “shit” gets Pit Bulls killed and that “I should be ashamed of myself.” As they were at the end of the hall and about to turn the corner Lange yelled back at me “have fun with your little YouTube video.” Condescend much? Lol. I said that I would, and asked her if she liked my last one. Still scattering away, she said that she “doesn’t watch my stupid videos.” At this point their group is about 50 feet ahead of me. I shouted that I didn’t really care if she watched them, but that other people do, which is the point. And all of this was on video, until it wasn’t. Apparently when I unplugged my recording camera from the charger to roll out into the hallway it stopped recording, so then when I went to stop the recording it actually started to record. That’s when I knew that my video was fucked. It’s a damn shame, because the fraud that is Lisa Lange was hitting me with doublespeak like it was nobody’s business, and while wearing a t-shirt with a Pit Bull’s face on it! High comedy if it wasn’t so incredibly depressing, sad and terrifying.

Coincidentally I had just watched Lisa speak 3 days prior at the 2014 Animal Rights National Conference in Los Angeles, where I was attending in order to try and get a word in with anti-Pit Bull “statistician” Merritt Clifton. Lange started off the Friday festivities giving a speech about Sea World and their cruel and inhumane practice of containing orcas and dolphins in tiny tanks for entertainment. I clapped through most of her speech, as I obviously support the efforts to end the captivity of these incredible creatures, just as I support PETA in their attempts to end cruel practices like vivisection and factory farming, among other things. Many affiliated persons risk their lives to gather footage of these heinous things, and they also confront different folks and (at times) pull all kinds of extreme stunts in order to garner attention for the different issues. All that aside, Lange wrapped up her speech on Friday saying 2 things that I found pertinent to my attempt at exposing PETA’s utter hypocrisy on the related Pit Bull topics…

1) “The key here as activists is that we just have to look for every possible opportunity where it exists, and even if you think it doesn’t exist, it does exist. You just have to sit and have a think and go out and do what you can.” And 2) “Realize that our theme is to never be silent. No matter where you are, what you’re doing, what you see. Say something, because if you don’t no one will.”

Now kick around both of those quotes for a second. Isn’t that what I’m doing? Yet, it seems that they only respect these things when it’s regarding something that they approve of. On the other hand, if they don’t agree with you then having those concepts actually play out is frowned upon, and in my case, mocked by the very same lady that spoke those words to a conference room full of people 3 days prior to our run-in at City Hall.

Help Josh run the Carson shelter

Posted July 10th, 2014 in Community, Shelters by Josh

Help Josh get the word out about his willingness to fill the newly vacated position of running the Carson shelter in Gardena, California.

Who to email?
mmayeda@animalcare.lacounty.gov, areyes@animalcare.lacounty.gov, info@lacountyanimals.org, plearned@animalcare.lacounty.gov, dreagan@animalcare.lacounty.gov, molina@bos.lacounty.gov, markridley-thomas@bos.lacounty.gov, seconddistrict@bos.lacounty.gov, zev@bos.lacounty.gov, don@bos.lacounty.gov, fifthdistrict@lacbos.org, info@lacounty.gov, njenkins@bos.lacounty.gov, djordan@bos.lacounty.gov, lrichardson@bos.lacounty.gov, brobinson@bos.lacounty.gov, amjohnson@bos.lacounty.gov, kkatona@bos.lacounty.gov.

Where to call?
213-974-1311 or 213-974-2222.

You can also sign a petition HERE.

Parallels: How the Israel-Palestine conflict promotes collective blame, hate

Posted July 10th, 2014 in Community, Parallels, Prejudice by Josh

Some of the rhetoric coming out of the Israel/Palestine conflict is so disparaging and reminds me of how hateful individual people can talk so terribly about entire groups. It’s a poisoning of the well.

I’m specifically talking about a Facebook post that was made by Israeli politician Ayelet Shaked on 6/30 of this year, 1 day prior to the kidnapping and subsequent murder of a Palestinian boy named Muhammad Abu Khudair. It’s claimed that his death was a random revenge killing that came in response to the murder of 3 Israeli teenagers. Within this post by Shaked, which cites an article by Benjamin Netanyahu’s former advisor Uri Elitzur, she promotes the idea of eviscerating the Palestinian people in a move of mass genocide. This post declares that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy,” that “in wars the enemy is usually an entire people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure,” and refers to Palestinian children as “little snakes,” while attempting to justify the universal destruction of their homes, or else “more little snakes will be raised there.” Terrible sentiments to be sure.

Just to be clear, I’m not implying that Shaked is ultimately to blame for any awful action that was committed by someone else. But the promoting of open genocide and hatred needs acknowledged, and surely adds to whatever energy that’s out there that’s incrementally moving some of us backwards. How this may play out in the public domain, especially when there’s further “support” for the hateful ideas (this particular comment was “liked” over 5,000 times at the time of me writing this), tends to then lead to the misrepresentation by some of pitting 1 group against the other, sweeping everyone up in a bitter and false feud of having to represent a side. This is a continuous perpetuation of divisiveness. Promoting that idea. Leading to that end.

In reality, we are all people, and also individuals in our own right. The horrendous actions of select Palestinian individuals do not represent the entire population of Palestine. They simply represent the person(s) who committed the act. To the same point, the horrendous actions of select Israeli individuals do not represent the entire population of Israel. They simply represent the person(s) who committed the act! Further, those horrendous actions do not represent every person who practices a specific religion, or any other conceptual separator. In a rush to blame, or react, people should not promote these evil ideas of collectively punishing entire groups for the actions of specific people. That is tyranny and the brazen incitement of hatred. It emboldens the draconian ideas of death and destruction. It pushes others to enter a primal state of me vs. you, and at whatever cost, and by using whatever means. As a matter of fact, collective punishment for the acts of a few is a war crime according to the protocols and treaties that came out of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Having this mentality, in any realm, leads to the worst possible ends. This is not what life is all about. 12 million people live amongst these 2 countries. 12 million people.

To relate my thoughts to Pit Bulls: In reality, dogs are all dogs, and also individuals in their own right. Except there’s a certain faction of folks out there who exist only to push collective blame, vilify breeds/types/groups, and promote extermination by any means possible. These are not the same concepts? You explain to me how.

People should try to love each other. We are all that we have. Don’t let evil elements who deal in darkness affect your individual heart and your state of mind. Let’s love the Israeli people and the Palestinian people. Let’s not add to the divisive fervor, turning our backs on the uninvolved (innocent) from both sides in the process. To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

It’s easier to tear things down than build them up

Posted July 3rd, 2014 in Community, Inspiration by Josh

judgment

This past week I was fortunate enough to sit in on a Town Hall meeting about poverty that was hosted by Tavis Smiley. He brought in 5 different panelists and there was some really interesting information shared all around. Smiley is someone who comes at issues in a very genuine way and can take part in a dialogue at any time, no matter the party affiliation or differences in opinion of those that he may be talking with. That’s a great quality. In my eyes we seem to learn the most when there is a kind of friction of ideas, and the working through of those ideas, instead of just some lauded person being surrounded by his or her yes-men.

Poverty. What does it look like? What manifests out of it? These are extremely crucial elements and to attempt to solve anything you damn well need to attempt to account for these realities. I’m all for personal responsibility but there is also a thin line that surrounds this concept. We really need to be careful not to turn “personal responsibility” into a soundbite that just comes out in the form of a standard defense mechanism. Meaning, we cannot just flippantly condemn poor people for not taking responsibility if they were only given very few options that would ever pass for “responsible” in the first place. Our lives are all not the same. Each of us live very dynamic lives and it would be the kind thing to do if we could empathize with another person prior to moving to criticize them. By any standard I’m financially poor myself, but I also know that I’m better off than certain folks as well… If not in direct funds available then at least in direct support from engaged family and/or friends. I’m a lucky person, regardless of my real financial hardships that I do face. So with all of that, when I’m down I hope that I’m not kicked, and it’s because of that rule that I really try not to kick others.

What we find ourselves in the middle of today is that less than 1% of our country’s population owns over 40% of the nation’s wealth. A little over 400 individual people in America have a totality of wealth that is equivalent to the bottom 150 million people! 150 million people is half of the country. That half of the country is in or near poverty. This is data taken directly from the United States Census Bureau. By “near” they mean a couple of paychecks away… To give further context to this topic, we need to look at how arcane and out of touch the actual poverty level is ($23,000 for a family of 4), when aligned with living in certain areas of today’s United States. That whole thing might need some updating. Yet this debate, if there ever even is a debate, is always framed to seem like this only affects a small portion of us, as if it’s not relatable and thus not worth making a fuss over. That’s not okay.

For instance, Smiley talked about how nearly 30% of the Californians who are officially living in poverty actually live in Los Angeles County. They matter, their pets matter. We should be showing them support and not indifference or condemnation. This was a great quote that I wanted to include…

It used to be that in California what we did in public policy either cast a long shadow or a long sunbeam across the nation. It used to cast a long sunbeam. So much of what we are doing now is casting a long shadow across the country.

Here’s some pertinent statements from Marqueece Harris-Dawson of Community Coalition…

You look at a community like South Los Angeles. The number 1 employer is the school districts, the city, and the county, and in that order. All of those institutions, for the last 10 or 15 years, they’ve hired virtually no one.

So historically we have an income support system called welfare, and then we stopped that and we said now you have to go to work, except at the same time what we’ve done is that we’ve allowed companies to hire workers and then pay them in a way where government still has to subsidize that family.

We have this idea that we’ve let creep into our government that is actually very dangerous: Every work/job has to be worth more than what we are paying the worker. As long as you have that as an ideal, especially as the rate of profit goes down and down and down, you’ll have a situation where people will be working for things hardly called wages.

^Working may no longer be enough to raise certain people out of poverty. That is a problem. The lack of a living wage. Does that explain everybody or everything? Hell no. But if you think that that isn’t a current reality for some folks out there then you are kind of fooling yourself.

This came from Jonathan Fielding, director of the Public Health Department for L.A. County…

Poverty is a universal poison. We think of lead poison as bad in such a way. Poverty is an environmental poison. It’s a poison for everybody, because if you look at the impact of this poison it equates to higher healthcare costs, higher welfare payments, higher unemployment insurance. It’s causing a tax on everybody else, and so you should feel as though you have skin in the game. Why is the average life expectancy 85 in Brentwood and only 72.8 in Watts, which is just 20 minutes across town?

Well, there’s definitely a connection to poverty and poor health, just like there’s a connection to poverty and crime, just like there’s a connection to poverty and incarceration, and just like there’s a connection to poverty and how someone may treat an animal. That’s not to excuse any of it, just to point out that there’s a connection. At what level? I don’t know, but you can’t just pretend that it doesn’t matter. That’s also not to say or imply that people living in extreme poverty are guilty of any of those crimes. Not at all. But with less options and limited choices comes a higher rate of bad decisions. Poverty isn’t just about people being “poor,” and then allowing that characterization to so easily go in 1 ear and out the other. Poverty can permeate all aspects of a person’s life. It can lead to very legitimate suffering in a bevy of different ways. Many times it is a life and death situation, absolutely. Sometimes these issues are so multifaceted that we don’t even know where to start. But the point is that you have to start. We need more people willing to engage within this conversation. This is a “caring” issue. It is not a 1-stop shop, nor does 1 size fit all. Yet most of the really wild judgment that you will see will come directly out of that ideology. It’s important to make fundamental shifts in the rhetoric, because if all you are going to do is speak about groups of people in this negative and broad fashion then all you are going to end up accomplishing is alienating a lot of people that you don’t even know.

I’ve saw animal-related issues and the many purported solutions to some of those issues directly intersect with poverty, lack of education, and lack of access. If you want to solve these problems then you cannot ignore or condescend this issue. As I learn I’ve tried to include what I’ve learned into my writings. Many times I learn by directly seeing it play out in front of my face. When these topics are touched on there is oftentimes a heavy level of judgment that comes out of the woodwork. I think my first dose of being directly thrown into this kind of a fire/backlash was when I tried to partially defend a man who had his home raided by Scotlund Haisley and Animal Rescue Corps. It’s a whole new world when emotions come unhinged. Aside from that, being the moderator of my SwayLove Facebook page (and just being on Facebook in general) I see all kinds of random commentary that falls into this wheelhouse of outrageous judgement, and in December I wrote about it in a way that took on the hypocrisy of being an advocate for a portion of something while you are out possibly being really cruel to another portion of something else. Then there was the online fallout behind the Karma Rescue fiasco, which saw someone’s dog get rehomed after its owner came forward to try and get her dog back. Do you fight BSL (breed-specific legislation)? Well, if you do then you will find these many issues front and center alongside any desire to profile or target certain dogs, because the profiling goes beyond the dogs. And in May a bunch of us met with and witnessed the testimonies of many good-hearted folks who are trying to do the right thing but are coming up against a backwards mechanism that directly feeds off of this problem.

Poverty. Are we all becoming desensitized to this topic due to an utter lack of coverage on this topic? Quite possibly. A recent study from FAIR shows that over a 14-month period (1/2013-2/2014) “an average of just 2.7 seconds per 22-minute nightly news program was devoted to segments where poverty was mentioned.” Yikes. But this isn’t just a recent failure, this is a failure that simply continues to extend into our present lives. Did you know that it had been more than 50 years since a presidential debate had even asked a single question to any of the candidates about poverty? It only became a minimal focus in 2012 because of the leaked Mitt Romney video that showed him making his claim about the 47%. It’s never on any agenda. Very few in the mainstream media ever focus on it or even talk about it at all (and I say “mainstream media” because they’re the ones that formulate the most plastered messaging).

There’s a lot of stigma attached to poverty as well. Many people would probably rather not even admit that they are in it. Can you blame folks for not wanting to self-identify or acknowledge that they’re in dire need of help? Pride is part of the human condition. That, along with the demonization aspect of being called (or treated as if you are) “lazy” or worse. But knowing how much this issue may touch our own lives, and definitely people that we know, it should then be an issue that is ultimately able to galvanize lots of support instead of being something that splinters people and makes them feel ashamed.

More from Marqueece Harris-Dawson…

When people are living in poverty the choices that they end up making are really shaped by the choices that they have. A lot of times it’s not a lack of will or motivation but because of structural barriers that cause lack of opportunity and lack of investment in our neighborhoods and in our young people and their future.

^So very true. Someone’s socioeconomic status is of incredible importance. What kind of education do people have access to? What are their employment options? Will it pay a decent wage? What resources are present in their community? Is it safe? Does it have healthy food? What is the level of social neglect or police surveillance? Is there ample access to parks and playgrounds and churches and hospitals and grocery/drug stores? These are all factors that matter.

What are some more solutions, both in the bigger context of poverty and what we could take for the more focused realm of animal-related issues?

These are 2 differing thoughts from Tavis Smiley…

Wall Street has helped get us into this mess, Wall Street can help get us out. How? It’s very simple. It’s a small tax on every financial transaction that is done. Wall Street doesn’t produce products, they produce deals.

The toughest problem is that what we are trying to solve is that getting the media, getting those of us who control these stories being told, to tell the story that ought to, in fact, be told.

^I think a lot of people could take a very important lesson from that last statement. It’s up to us to advocate on behalf of the taken advantaged of, provide a voice or some kind of support, provide a platform for other people to share their stories, let them talk about what they are seeing, or worse, what they are enduring. Remain rational, represent yourself well, keep the judgment at a minimum, step outside of an already held perception. All of these things go a long way in “telling the story that ought to be told.” To his point about Wall Street, it also needs added that many financial establishments are doing this with fiat money that’s being printed out of thin air. So, how about they stop doing that already? Or tax those transactions. Or both! Towards the end of the forum I also gave a short comment that could easily be a solution to some of the nation’s financial woes… End the wars. Stop the militarism and interventionism, stop the policing of the world. This would immediately save $1 trillion (probably closer to $2 trillion) dollars a year. In turn, imagine what that money could be used for instead…

In summing up the point of this piece, I’m not saying that people should universally be given a pass, NOT AT ALL, but just that they shouldn’t be universally scapegoated or talked down to as if they aren’t actual individuals. That’s all. In my view, if you can at least treat people with respect then you’d be helping and not further perpetuating the many issues that often eat at the core of pet ownership, breed neutrality, and animal rescue.

To close, people might say: “Well, you try to tear down shelters all the time! How hypocritical of you!” No I don’t. When I speak about shelter-related issues it is primarily linking back to the Carson shelter, and in those cases they are pretty specific and detailed/documented statements/criticisms that I put out there. These things are based in actual incidents and not uninformed generalities. When I talk about shelters in the more general sense I mindfully scale back how I speak, and while I at times still have what I’d feel are legitimate criticisms, I never state or imply that all shelters are 1 way or that everyone that works for them are 1 way. I’d challenge anyone to find evidence to the contrary, as I’ve written enough about both topics. There’s a huge difference in speaking about specific incidents and/or examining the way a public shelter is run and typecasting massive groups of anything (whether by race, religion, economic status, place of residence, appearance, etc.) by judging them in the most ignorant of ways. A huge difference.

judgment2

Parallels: NFL cheerleaders and the shelter system

Posted July 2nd, 2014 in Parallels, Rescue, Shelters by Josh

So this past week I was watching Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and there was a story that Andrea Kremer did on NFL cheerleaders that I found especially interesting, mostly because of the system structure and how I found it to be eerily paralleled with that of the shelter and rescue worlds. Bear with me as I lay this out and then I’ll get to my point soon enough, if you won’t already have seen it coming for yourselves…

Kremer interviewed Lacy, a girl who’s been cheerleading her entire life and is now a member of the Oakland Raiderettes, cheerleading squad for the Oakland Raiders. Her 2013 Raiderette agreement outlined how they’d be paying her a paltry $125 for each home game. Lacy stated that in the moment that was a secondary concern compared to the excitement that she felt after making the team…

So I get the contract and it’s like, where do I sign? I was over the moon.

Being a former cheerleader for the Golden State Warriors, Lacy viewed this Raider job as the pinnacle of her profession. Andrea Kremer described her life as “young women growing up wanting to be them and grown women fighting every year wanting to join them.” It was made abundantly clear that there were an endless array of girls lined up and waiting to fill any void left by someone who may have taken issue with any portion of the job. Regarding the lackluster money, keep in mind that the Oakland Raiders payroll is close to $125 million per season and the NFL is both the most popular and wealthiest sports league on the planet.

With the season now behind her it’s detailed how they practiced 3x a week, did 9 months worth of photo shoots and team meetings, as well as 9 months worth of workouts. They were paid for none of this. Each girl made barely over $1,000 for the entire season, much of which was soon gone because they had to come out of pocket for all of their own expenses (hosery, eye lashes, makeup, tanning, nails, amongst other things). Lacy soon learned that this wasn’t the exception but practically the rule for all of the other NFL teams as well…

You don’t make money. You’re better off serving beer and hot dogs in the concession stand than you are performing on the field as a cheerleader.

Then we meet Alyssa and Maria, 2 members of the Buffalo Jills, who cheerlead for the Buffalo Bills. They didn’t even get paid for their home games. They both went into debt to cheer, 1 girl using her student loan money to pay for the $650 uniform. These girls had to routinely perform a “jiggle test,” equating to jumping jacks in very little clothing, so that their coaches could see if their body was “tight enough” to be on television. Either Alyssa or Maria (it wasn’t made clear in the piece) actually failed 1 of the jiggle tests and they were actually held back from cheering for numerous games…

We’re just thinking, who are we to question this contract? We just made the Bills cheerleading squad.

They spoke about how the squad leaders wanted “total control.” Some of the “glamour requirements” that are present in the Buffalo Jills handbook speak to such an accusation…

11) Never use a deodorant or chemically enhanced product. Simple, non-deodorant soap will help maintain the right PH balance for your vagina.

12) When menstruating, use a product that is right for your menstrual flow. A tampon too big can irritate and develop fungus. A product left in too long can cause bacteria or fungus build up. Products should be changed at least every 4 hours.

14) Do not be overly opinionated about anything. Do not complain about anything.

Other requirements for the Jills ran the gamut of having to attend fundraisers in skimpy clothes, getting auctioned off at these events and then having to ride golf carts around while sitting on the laps of men, and being routinely groped and touched in unwelcome ways. This exchange was both obvious and sad…

The glamour requirements, is it really about how you insert a tampon? What do you think it all comes down to? Control. Why do it? For the love of cheering.

The cheerleading squads, which are owned or contracted out by the teams and not the league, generally make below minimum wage. By contrast, the team mascot usually makes between $35,000 and $65,000 a season. Lacy is now suing the Oakland Raiders for failure to pay minimum wage…

I just felt I had to do it, no one’s done it. What if no one ever does it?

This has prompted more lawsuits (Bengals, Jets, Buccaneers, Bills), and Alyssa and Maria are part of the lawsuit that’s currently going forward against the Buffalo Bills and its squad manager Stephanie Matheson. Here’s how Matheson views the situation…

These girls were never made to do anything they never wanted to do. We were creating a team of well-rounded young ladies and they could have resigned at any time. They are told right up front what is expected of them. If you think it’s going to be too much you don’t have to do it.

Matheson said that she oversaw and ran the cheerleading squad by herself, and with no financial support from the Bills, which is why she didn’t have any resources to actually pay her cheerleaders. The Buffalo Bills lawsuit has “forced” Matheson to suspend the entire Jills team “indefinitely.”

Shockingly, the Raiders and the Bills, as well as the NFL, declined to be interviewed for the segment. Also worth note: This season the NFL will allow fans to use their cell phones to order up cheerleaders to their seats. WTF!? -Dead-

Now before I go into the many directions that my brain was firing on while watching, why has no NFL franchise player put a stop to this/shined a light on this? Someone making $20 million a season could easily bankroll his entire franchise’s cheerleading squad for the year and probably receive the world’s most powerful PR while doing it. How has this not happened? Maybe because they’d embarrass their team/employer? But I mean, this entire story is embarrassing! Also, allowing drunk fans to order cheerleaders to their seats? Wow. Just wow. Anyways…

So, after reading #14 from the Jills handbook you should probably know where I’m going with this… “Do not be overly opinionated about anything. Do not complain about anything.” This type of a statement always seems to coincidentally find its way into shelter volunteer applications and rescue partner “contracts,” as well as other types of papered agreements that serve to grant people a certain level of access. This could not be a bigger red flag.

Viewing the story as a whole, the normal question is WHY? Of course, why would you put up with x, y and z? Well, the girls already answered that and I think their answer would serve to represent many other people (in many other forums) as well. Love. Love for whatever you may be interested in.

With that, if people truly love something, anything, why must others sometimes feel the need to take advantage of them while holding what they desire in front of their nose like a carrot? This is so relative to the sheltering system. Do you know how many people enter their jobs with great attitudes and aspirations, only to be desensitized and covered in red tape? You shouldn’t have to shear off half of your principles just to do something that you love. That goes for anything. You shouldn’t have to make internal deals with your conscience in order to justify staying around for the access to the animals. The access is the cheerleading job in this parallel.

Just as potent, animal rescuers have all the dirt on the most poorly run shelters, not compassionate managers, and blatant violations of basic operating procedures. Yet many will not talk. Why? Because they have a certain level of access and they don’t want to be retaliated against, thus having their access taken away. Some are surely shills for the system, but many others dislike whatever system but have made an internal barter of silence in order to save as many animals as they can save. I totally understand this point of view! It makes perfect sense to me. But it also allows the injustices to keep happening, and that can’t be ignored in the context of how do we change (insert here) system. Why doesn’t a cheerleader for the Raiders rock the boat? Because there’s 500 other girls who would gladly take her place. To hell with feminism and women’s rights, proper pay, decent work conditions or general respect. That’s why.

Some will say: “Well, they signed the contract.” To that I say, so what? Wrongs are wrongs, violations are violations, indecency is indecency. None of that gets repackaged or justified simply because you “signed a contract” not to say anything. To hell with that cowardice, minion way of thinking.

Speaking of minions…

In this HBO segment Stephanie Matheson represents herself like a total sellout in every aspect. Her flippant and dismissive attitude of compartmentalization and abandonment of any cause is quite literally what’s wrong with this country. Way to lead by example Matheson! Dismissive literally defines her person… Telling the girls that they could leave at any time, and that they know “what is expected” from them. What do you think goes into the process of interviewing/hiring someone to be an animal control officer with the L.A. County Department of Animal Care and Control? Hmm. Then, when her girls get the courage to file a lawsuit attempting to address the many wrongs that they all face (including Matheson), Matheson fails to stand beside them and instead suspends them indefinitely! Sound familiar? I know Carson shelter volunteers that have been forced out, just like I know Rancho Cucamonga volunteers that have been forced out, and this isn’t a rare concept. Control.

If a dog were to kill someone in Pasadena tomorrow does that then make Steve Madison a prophet?

Posted July 1st, 2014 in BSL News, Prejudice by Josh

If we woke up tomorrow to the news that a “Pit Bull” killed a person in Pasadena would that then immediately make Councilman Steve Madison a prophet?

Would it justify the hundreds of thousands of days that have literally went by without a Pasadena death being linked to a dog or a dog bite (actual proof and reality) then being wiped from the history books?

Would this singular incident then justify all of the rhetoric used by Mr. Madison over the span of the last 2 years (much of which has entered the realm of referring to them as “killing machines, extremely dangerous, inherently dangerous, rocket launchers, fully automatic machine guns and time bombs”) in order to sweepingly indict millions of dogs simply by the way that they look?

Would Steve Madison bother to check the circumstances surrounding the incident, instead of using the “breed” of the offending dog as his talking point and focus?

Would this happening immediately serve to render all of my many points made to counter his bigotry null and void?

Would this incident mean that every other Pit Bull in Pasadena should be viewed as guilty of the same thing?

The answers are 6 very obvious NO’s. But if Councilman Steve Madison were taking this same quiz he would probably offer up a YES for every question instead.

We’ve already saw glimmers of this type of arrogant, grandstanding behavior when Madison gleefully flaunted and exploited the police shooting of 3 loose dogs (identified by them as being Pit Bulls) days after the January City Council meeting. The dogs were alleged to have bitten a man who was walking his bicycle in the wee hours of the morning. Conveniently, Madison payed no attention to the fact that the dogs were out and running loose, amongst other questionable things. Prior to this we’d heard him say on numerous occasions that “it’s only a matter of time” before (insert here) happens in Pasadena. This is the behavior of a fearmonger hellbent on exploiting the sensationalism linked with this topic, and at the expense of flat out ignoring the depth of the issue…

What’s so surprising to me is that Councilman Madison almost relishes an attack, so that he can then proclaim himself “right” in the press and have a specific body to be able to stand upon while continuing to push for his desired agenda. This is shameful behavior from any elected official and his blatant disengagement from reality (and ignoring of public safety) should be far more concerning to residents than any dog.

Please consider coming out to the next Pasadena City Council meeting where this issue will be on the agenda, happening on July 14th.