Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pit bull rescuer: Breed ban isn't the answer



Megan Trotter
Herald-Citizen Staff
Sunday, Aug 16, 2009

WHITE COUNTY -- Many people in White and surrounding counties rejoiced last week when the White County Steering Committee announced to concerned dog owners that steps could not be taken to ban the pit bull breed without zoning in the county.

Jodi Preis of Jackson County was one of those dog owners. As the owner of her own rescue organization, Bless the Bullys, Preis currently has 11 pit bulls that she cares for herself at her home. She firmly believes that breed specific legislation is not the answer.

"Dogs are a product of their owners. If you're a good owner, you're going to make sure your dog is cared for, it's always under your control, it's always in your yard," she said. "Pit bull owners aren't the only ones guilty of being irresponsible, unfortunately. I commend Sheriff (Oddie) Shoupe's desire to work with the citizens of White County in creating an animal control ordinance that is enforceable and effective and will ultimately result in a safer community for people and animals alike. The issue of 'problem dogs' cannot be tackled without first addressing the issue of 'problem dog owners.' We must invest time and effort to educate dog owners on responsible ownership practices, and hold those who choose to be irresponsible accountable for their actions or the actions of their dogs."

One of her current rescues, JoeJoe, was found chained to a house that his owner set on fire. The dog was badly burned and still sports a hairless spot under one of his eyes. Preis took him in after seeing a photo of his injuries. Preis keeps all 11 of her dogs in separate cages large enough for a Great Dane, and lets one or two at a time out to play in her back yard. She says she rarely has a problem with aggression between dogs, and has never had a problem with her dogs being aggressive toward humans.

"You will very rarely run across a pit bull that is human-aggressive. If they are, it's a really good sign that the dog has been mistreated or it may have some really severe temperament issues," Preis said. "I hate talking about the dog-fighting aspect, but the dogs who had been raised to fight back in the early part of the century, they were still trained to be extremely human friendly. Because these people who were fighting them were fighting for money, fighting for dogs, and if the fight was not going the way they wanted, they wanted to be able to get into that pit and get in between the dogs and not be bitten."

Preis fell in love with the pit bull breed after adopting her first rescue, Tiffin, who is now 12 years old. She found him listed on an adoption Web site and knew right then that this was the dog for her.

"He looked pathetic. His backbone was sticking out, he had sores on his legs," she said. "I saw that dog and just thought, 'That dog needs me.'"

After bringing Tiffin home and introducing him to her family, Preis' mother started sending her Web pages filled with more homeless rescue dogs. Preis says that it became overwhelmingly obvious to her that more rescues were needed. After a while, she contacted a local rescue group and agreed to be the foster mom for two puppies.

"After you do it one time, you're hooked," she said. "There are times when I think, 'Holy cow, what am I doing? I've got all these dogs!' but I don't think I ever regretted anything I've done that would help an animal. You sacrifice a lot personally because you're always doing more for the dogs than you do for yourself. But you've helped animals to live and to find a better life and to find people who need them."

For more information about Bless the Bullys, visit www.blessthebullys.com.