The importance of bonds in our species and culture is immense. We possess powerful bonds with the people and things with which we are close and familiar, and even have bonds with the distant and unfamiliar through empathy and commonalities. To some of us, the bonds that we share with dogs and other non-humans are very important. To others of us, those non-human bonds are shallow, illusory or nonexistent. But for all of us, our bonds exist within the framework of our life experiences.
My first pit bull forced me out of my framework, and into new experiences that expanded my perspective. People cross the street when they see me walking; I am reviled and blamed for the actions of others; most home insurance companies won’t cover me; many adoption agencies wouldn’t adopt children to me; I am assumed to be , or be no better than, a dog fighter, gangster or drug dealer. If I were a soldier serving my country, I would not be allowed to have my dog on base. There are landlords and apartment complexes who won’t rent to me, and neighborhoods and even entire towns and counties in which I cannot live. However, if I was a convicted rapist, a registered sex offender, or even a paroled murderer, I could live in towns like Overland Park, KS, Denver, CO, or Miami-Dade County, FL. But as a tax-paying, successful business-owning, volunteering, voting pit bull owner with no criminal record, I am not welcome in any of those and many other communities.
Being a pit bull owner is as much a part of my self-identity as anything else. Owning a pit bull is a rare opportunity for me to experience how fear and bigotry can affect a person’s life and this fleeting glimpse has been plenty. Bigotry by proxy is more than enough bigotry for me.
My bond with my dogs has deepened my bond with people. The plight of the pit bull has become an allegory of sorts, a parable that has taught me a lot about people who are different, who struggle, who are underdogs, who fight judgment and bigotry: people who just want to be who they are and love who and what they love, and people who work hard in the middle and lower classes yet lack voices in government. My bond with my dogs has taught me a myriad of lessons. That bond has driven home the importance of equal treatment and equal opportunity, made clear the power of critical thinking, the dangers of the “culture of fear,” shown the importance of good government, and also the power of misinformation.
We are all connected and all share a bond in one way or another. We all face our own challenges and difficulties and we all deserve a fair shot. This site will slowly define itself over time, through word and deed. What we want to find is common ground and common goals, a better life and a better community. We believe the best way to help the end of the leash that some of us care about, is to start at the end of the leash that all of us care about. Help people. Help dogs.
- Anthony Barnett, Founder/Director