What: A group called “Families and Dogs Against Fighting Breeds” will be holding a demonstration / rally / petition signature gathering event on September 1, 2011 (this Thursday) at 5:30 PM at Westlake Park, 401 Pine Street, Seattle. The group is pushing the Seattle city council to ban “fighting breeds” of dogs from city parks.
More Details: FDAFB defines “fighting breeds” as: Akita, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Cane Corso, Dogo Argentino, Dogue de Bordeaux, Juvasz, Presa Canario and Tosa Inu. However, their primary focus has been on “pit bull”-type dogs.
Note that FDAFB’s initiative is not an effort to stop dog fighting, or to punish owners who engage in such training and abuse, or even to regulate individual dogs that have been raised and trained to fight. As with most groups that are supportive of BSL, FDAFB is unconcerned with a dog’s actual genetics, breed history, or training. All that matters is that the dog “looks like” one of the breeds that the group considers a “fighting breed.” (Even the group’s list of “fighting breeds” does not appear to be based on a set of criteria that makes sense.)
The group’s founder, Ellen Taft, has made headlines in the past for her efforts to discriminate against owners of certain dogs; her early efforts included calling for “fighting breeds” to be prohibited from serving as assistance dogs for people with disabilities, and in 2008 her group tried to get the Seattle city council to ban “pit bulls” from the city. She is associated with Dogsbite (Colleen Lynn) and the two groups have worked together.
City Council Says: Many Seattle city council members have stated that they are unsupportive of BSL and breed bans. The apparent exception at this point is councilmember Tom Rasmussen; Taft says that Rasmussen agreed to support the group’s efforts to ban “fighting breeds” from parks if the group could show that there was enough public support for it.
How to Show Your Opposition: Opinions are divided as to the best way to oppose FDAFB’s initiative. There are two prominent options on the table. You may choose neither, or one, or both.
1. Contact Seattle city councilmembers and express your opposition to any kind of BSL or ban, including a breed-specific ban in city parks (or anywhere else). You may also wish to express your opposition to FDAFB’s discriminatory agenda in general—so that council members will remember the public’s sentiments no matter what idea FDAFB is trying to push. You can find Seattle councilmembers’ contact info here: http://www.seattle.gov/html/citizen/city_officials.htm Please remember, only Tom Rasmussen has publicly expressed support for FDAFB; please correspond with council as if they are generally in agreement with you (remain polite, informative, and succinct—do NOT attack or insult). Let’s keep city council on our side, not piss them off.
2. Attend one of the counter-rallies on Sept 1. Families Against Breed Bans is the largest known group that is planning a response. If you plan to go this route, please remember to be responsible and respectful (and please consider that most dogs should probably stay home). A counter-rally can be a good way to visibly and vocally combat discrimination. On the flip side, the mere existence of a counter-rally can unintentionally lend credibility to FDAFB—in addition to any negative incidents that may occur at the counter-rally. Be aware of the need to be on your best behavior.
StopBSL does not intend to officially track this issue unless and until a councilmember agrees to write up a breed-specific ordinance—but we will be keeping an eye on developments and will issue alerts if an elected official takes up the flag in support of BSL.