Can You Hear Us Now?

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“My dog won’t fight, but I will.”

This is just one of the many memorable sentiments displayed on signs that appeared on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol this past Saturday, when Pit Bull owners from all over the country came together for the One Million Pibble March on Washington to protest breed-specific legislation.

Angel, a gentle velvet hippo of a Pit Bull, along with her assistant, translator and guardian, comedian Rebecca Corry, inspired a nation of Pibble lovers to join forces and speak out as one against abuse and discrimination.

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The sun shown warmly down on the crowd, made up of like-minded people of all shapes, sizes, colors and cultures. A bubble of love, hope, and relentless determination seemed to envelop this group of allies as they stood together for what is right and just.

It was a beautiful day to tell our nation’s capital that pit bulls are born inherently good, and that BSL is not okay.

Emcee Chris Williams got the party started with some good, old-fashioned cheering. The crowd, which was in the thousands, responded emphatically.

“When I say pibble you say love!”

“Pibble!”

“Love!”

“Pibble!”

“Love!”

As the crowd was cheering, I noticed that some sightseers in front of the capitol stopped to watch and listen. A few even stayed for the whole rally. It was heartening.

Williams then introduced the woman at the center of this historic event, Rebecca Corry, and the crowd erupted. The tiny woman with the big voice came on stage pissed yet humbled, aggressive yet compassionate, frustrated yet grateful (feelings we have all experienced in animal rescue); she’s an in-your-face force who uses truth, humor and love to inspire, and she won’t back down.

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“Today we are sending a message to legislators on federal, state, and local levels that killing and banning the victim is not, and never will be okay, or the answer.”

Corry spoke candidly about ignorance, media misrepresentation, apathy, and the common denominator within the animal abuse and discrimination plague: humans.

“There is nothing more dangerous than a hate-filled human being.”

She urged everyone in attendance not to engage in conflicts with people who are anti-pit bull and won’t listen to reason. It was a reminder to focus our efforts in the positive direction, and used her beloved Angel as an example.

Angel had acid dumped down her back, hear ears cut off with scissors, and even had cancer, but this isn’t what people focus on when they meet her. People are uplifted upon meeting Angel, who has been described as calm and zen-like. They fall in love with her big eyes and smile at her rotund hippo body (which, in my opinion, she has earned every pound of and then some – so you go ahead, girl).

Where Angel goes, love follows.

“She literally changes lives just by being alive.”

I’d like to note that I’m a fairly prepared event attendee – sunglasses, sunscreen, snacks, water, ibuprofen, hand sanitizer – I had all of the items for a day spent standing outside, but there is one I did not think to bring and should have: tissues.

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The passion behind every word spoken was tangible, and the stories shared made hearts swell like they could burst at any moment. When Leah Brewer told us how a child in Elle’s reading program (Tail Wagging Tales) was afraid to read in class, but felt brave reading to Elle, my eyes welled up. Elle has given children confidence and seniors something to look forward to. She was also named the 2013 Hero Dog of the Year by the American Humane Society!

When Stephanie Doris shared Nana’s resilience after years of unimaginable abuse and then subsequent illnesses and surgeries, I looked around and saw many wiping tears from underneath their sunglasses. “For Nana, life began at 9,” Stephanie said. ”She wears her scars with pride and has refused to let her sad past limit her bright, beautiful future.”

When Officer Kelly Steinhorn recalled her first encounter with Pretzel, who had been stabbed repeatedly and had her throat slashed, but was still “damn friendly and trying to lick everyone,” I could hear sniffles through appreciative laughter. “This is proof that pit bulls are born inherently GOOD!” Kelly shouted.

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It was obvious – people were affected to their core; truly moved, inspired and hopeful.

These stories were not shared to conjure up sadness at this plight; there’s already plenty of that. They were to show that there is indeed hope, no matter how dire the circumstances might seem. That the hard work, sacrifices and tough fights are worth it, and we have to keep fighting harder and harder.

Roo Yori showed us that patience and taking the high road with skeptics pays off in the end. His Pibble, Wallace, went from making people nervous simply because of how he looked, to making people smile as they watched him became a champion Frisbee dog. “You can’t reach everybody instantly, and even if someone doesn’t have a good experience with a dog, make sure they have a good experience with the owner.”

Jamie Buehrle shared her family’s struggle and eventual sacrifice when her husband Mark became a Toronto Blue Jay. Toronto has a city-wide ban on Pit Bulls, but the family could not imagine leaving their Slater behind. Despite criticism from some, Jamie stood strongly by her decision to live separately from her husband during baseball season because it was the right thing to do, and is a valuable lesson for her children that discrimination of any kind is not okay.

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Speaking of fighting, John Rallo took a break from carrying Queen Angel around to remind everyone to stand up for themselves, make their voices heard, and be relentless about it. He would know; he just helped to overturn the Tracey vs. Solesky ruling in Maryland – an unacceptable example of legislation that embraced BSL and strict liability. “BSL is essentially racism in dog form,” he said. “Believe me, if enough people call and keep the pressure on politicians you can effect change. We did it in Maryland and there is no reason you cannot do the same in your hometown.”

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What really drove the point home was the Kids and Pibbles video shown on a large screen on stage. Hearing children speak of kindness and equality in a manner that was honest and innocent really struck a chord. It was a simple truth: we love our pibbles, our pibbles love us, and hurting them is not okay. This is simple truth that has become convoluted, complicated, and wrought with politics, misinformation, ignorance and lies. The keynote speakers wanted to share their stories so that we, as a collective society, can begin to get back to this simple truth.

What’s the best way to achieve this? Education. Educate yourself, spread awareness, be an advocate, make your voices heard, then get up and do it all over again. Our voices have to be heard above the clamor of negativity, indifference, and BS, so that every Pibble has a fair shot at the happy life they deserve. There’s a long way to go, but thanks to Rebecca Corry and Angel, we have a solid platform and one hell of an army.

Written by SYSS Special Correspondent, Carly McGee, who had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca personally and giving Angel a headrub and smooch. (And thank you to Virgil Ocampo for allowing us to share some of his photos from that memorable day.)

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Recent Comments

  • Allison L Connor

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    Thank you, Carly and Virgil – thank you very much. I couldn’t be there though I’d planned to be for some time. I am grateful for your heartfelt description of what I missed. I stand w/ you in spirit, now and always!

  • Lana Gite’ Lawson

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    This is such a positive step to ending BSL , wonderful reading and sharing this event with l those not familiar with is issue on pit bulls, being an owner myself I spend it of time educating those I come in contact with about this breed , by the exams of my pit.
    I’ve changed a lot of peoples perceptions on this misconstrued breed.
    Thanks once again to everyone for being their voice.
    Lana Lawson

  • Jerry Edelman

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    This article says it all, plain and simple so that anyone can understand what our collective position is on ending BSL and more importantly why it is necessary to do so. But it also clearly shows the passion that we feel about this issue and what can and MUST be done to change these discriminatory practices. Education and awareness about the issue is paramount if we are ever going to change people’s minds and this will not happen overnight, as most of us who are on the front lines of this issue are keenly aware. But we can’t and will not give up until our society is made safe for all our pets, no matter what breed they happen to be. Today its your pitbull, tomorrow it could be your dog that is not a pit. Everyone who is concerned about treating our animals as humanely as possible MUST be a part of the challenge for change.

  • cindy bower

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    What a beautiful artical. Made me relive that important and loving day. Thank you so much!

  • Cheryl Huerta

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    Had planned to attend but couldn’t so my advocacy had our own much smaller One Million Pibble March Portland in Oregon the same day as this event took place. So proud to stand with so many determined people to help the world see that it’s not the breed of dog or even the dog that determines how safe or dangerous it is but that it’s the human being involved with the dog that makes that determination.

  • maria

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    Rebecca & Angel are awesome!!!!! Can’t wait for all to take this further & officially end BSL. Angel you rock!

  • Emily Mallett

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    Outstanding piece on a much-needed & inspiring event!! Bravo!

  • Gina Renee’ Powe

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    What a beautiful read, just go to show how much we love and how far we will go for our Pibbles, they are a precious gift from heaven, and we must speak up and speak out for them. They shine as bright as the sun.

  • Fran C

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    Great article. Thank you for writing it. One correction however. Toronto is a city of millions but the ban is throughout the whole province of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. It is 3 times the size of Texas and the area is 344,092 SQUARE MILES. This means one cannot just move out of a city, town or county to avoid breed discriminatory legislation and thus has torn tens of thousands of families apart.

  • Carol Anderson

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    I was there and reading your articles has me getting the tissues out again. I say Pibble You say?

  • Elizabeth Carr

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    I will continue to support the Pibble movement and stick up for the Pitbull breed.. I could never nor ever give up on my girl Honey.. She has changed my life whole heartedly, just with her love and devotion to me.. I dont know who rescued who?? One thing is for sure I will continue to love her until one of us has our last breathe.. I made sure that if it is I who goes first, she will be taken care of by someone I know very well and will take care of her and love her the way I do.. And also who will stick up for her the way I do and face the ignorance and uneducated about such a wonderful and loving breed!! I cant Thank Rebecca enough for all she does for our breed, she is a super hero to all our babies!! Dont ever give up!! Thank you and God bless..

  • Abby DeMillo

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    I am a long time dog handler/volunteer for the ASPCA, and a couple of us joined you last Saturday for this important and heart warming event. We brought with us the photos of all of our beloved ASPCA pits: Baby, Rolo, Romeo, Ghost and others who have landed in our shelter through either the services of our Humane Law Enforcement officers or sheer luck. We can’t keep up with the dogs we rescue from dog fighting rings and other abusive situations. BSL does not work. Period. In fact, I believe that it works to drive the dog fighting and abuse problems further underground.

    Rebecca – please let’s rally again next year. I only found out about this event by reading the Huffington Post – if you hold this next year, I will help you promote in the NYC area.

    Clearly this was the best day of the year for me – and you are right about the tissues. I also did not bring enough supply.

  • Mandi Karras

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    What a great article! Very well written. Thank you for the brilliant recap for those of us who were unable to attend.

  • Meg Swecker

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    I laughed and cried as I read your post. Thank you for capturing the passion of the Million Pibble March.

  • Alan Baragona

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    Fantastic fantastic fantastic. Wish I could have been there. My Lilly would have loved being around so many other pibbles.

  • Stephanie Jesus

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    I along with many other rescue minded people I am proud to know have spent our lives saving/rescuing dogs/animals and am so proud to be part of any group who will do what is necessary to protect, educate and rally to bring an end to ridiculous laws and ignorance concerning ‘Bullies’ or any other breed…

  • sharon illenye

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    Thank you for starting this up. Two years ago I adopted a pitbullx catahoula leopard dog and at first was concerned in case as I read somewhere about pitbulls– ‘ they may one day just snap or kill your cats etc etc. ‘ He is one of the most senstitive dogs I have ever known, at night he wakes me up to ask if he can jump on the bed (all 75+ pounds). I have just adopted another pitbull though when I watched her for awhile I realize she is a boxer mix, but would by the general public be called a pitbull. Then I realized that there are many dogs being called pitbull and they all look very dfferent from each other– its really a mutt. this march I hope will begin the process of taking back our dogs. and not allowing people to take advantage of their loyal and willing to please nature.

  • Robert Faraone

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    Stop the nonscence

    • Robert Faraone

      Friday, 09 May, 2014

      Put a end to the nonscence

  • Anne

    Friday, 09 May, 2014

    I wasn’t able to attend but I commend everyone that was there for our angels
    Education is so important I talk to everyone I can about pits hoping they will see what I have for many years here in Florida we do not have bsl exempt in Miami ( that’s why I don’t live there I lost my pit and now I’m going to be adopting another I can’t imagine life without one keep up the great work

  • linda

    Saturday, 10 May, 2014

    I was not able to attend but every facebook , Twitter post and youtube clip I watched.i got chills..and tears flowed….Pibbles are special to me..my pibble Kiah is the best..I will fight for her. .because she is a lover. THANKS FOR BEING THEIR VOICE????

  • Ellie Jackson

    Sunday, 11 May, 2014

    TU Carly for taking the time to share your well-written account of this event that so many of us could not attend. I would also like to thank everyone who participated and showed their support of pits everywhere and stand together against BSL.

  • Leslie

    Wednesday, 14 May, 2014

    I have a small story. I was at my McDonald’s and I had a puppy about 6 months old out of the car to go potty this elderly couple came out that I just happened to park beside. The lady yells omg that is. Pitbull me being a rescue person and someone who just loves the breed says maam would u like to meet my dog? She says yes it will not bite me will it i said his name is moose and no he will not bite u. The dog knowing he’s in the hot set went to this woman and sits and Beggs like a champ. She falls in love. So I take this moment to swoop in and tell her about pits.. she was very understanding and ask questions. . When she was done loving moose he shook her hand… As we parted she said to her husband omg that was. Pit bull and he didn’t eat my arm off.. I so bad wanted to say yeah I feed him before I left the house.. but this is the type of thing that made me happy that day I changed one persons mind about pit bulls and every time I take one out I change another person’s mine…ty for reading my story

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