Before moving to BC, Samantha lived in Ontario, where pit bulls are banned from the province. She had never met one, and if she thought about them at all, it was along the lines of media portrayals: mean, destructive, unstable creatures that often bit people and children. But everything changed when she relocated to Vernon to be with her boyfriend Geoff.
It was there that Sam met her first pit bull Kane and his guardian, Steffie. Sam saw how well Steffie looked after Kane, from the regular socialization sessions at the park to ensuring she kept up his obedience training and exercise schedule. To her surprise Sam met more and more people from all walks of life with bully breeds as companions, and none of these folks fit the “thug” pit bull owner stereotype.
It was dogs like Kane and HugABull’s Zayda, who Sam describes as the world’s sweetest, happiest, kissiest pit bull, that convinced her and Geoff to take the plunge into fostering. Sam and Geoff fell instantly in love with their first foster, eight-week-old Jelly Bean. They became, as Sam calls it, the “Crazy Parents Who Post Endless Pics of Their Baby on Facebook”. Every day brought new photos and updates of their foster puppy’s antics but also, to Sam’s dismay, unsolicited comments from friends and family back home. Ranging from warnings like “be careful, she’ll bite you” to more derogatory anti-pit bull sentiments, these comments were posted on Sam’s wall for all to see.
Travelling also became more complicated for the family. While their own non-bully dogs were free to go in and out of Ontario unhindered, a dog like Jelly Bean faced possible seizure if she accompanied the family on a trip back East. Sam and Geoff realized that they could never adopt a pit bull if they intended to one day move back home.
But that realization didn’t slow down their commitment to fostering and advocating for better understanding of the breed. These days you can find Sam, Geoff, and current foster Dolly at pit bull community events and lending their voice to advocacy and education wherever they can. Reflecting on her time in Ontario, Sam feels that the opportunity to make an informed decision about pit bulls was taken away from her by the government. “How can you know,” she says, “when you never get to meet them or when you do see one, they’re muzzled and kept away from people and other dogs?” In her opinion, the bias against pit bulls and their owners is on par with any other inequality – no different than discrimination based on religion, sexual orientation, or race.
Until they moved to BC Sam and Geoff hadn’t known that living with BSL meant feeling compelled to lie about your dog’s heritage or not sharing tidbits of your life on social media in case someone made offensive remarks. They didn’t know the frustration of trying to educate friends, families and strangers who had spent their entire lives believing sensationalized media reports and breed ban propaganda. And they didn’t know that the love of a breed could push them to willingly tackle all those obstacles and cheer others on as they do the same.
Sam finds fostering and being a member of the HugABull community immensely rewarding, and feels that she’s found a family of caring, compassionate, amazing people with whom to share her breed enthusiasm. HugABull feels just as excited about you, Sam!
Contributed by guest blogger Cara, proud adopter of Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rigby.