My Story

When I was 3 years old, I was attacked by my babysitter’s dog. This bite happened while Breed Specific Legislation was active and while I was a resident of Denver.

Usika was a sweet looking, fluffy dog. A Samoyed. My babysitter’s dog, labeled as a family dog. I was playing outside, as I did every day. Something about my movements, the eye-level at which I was to Usika, led to my bite. There was no second guesses on leaving me outside to play with Usika. No fear of a bite solely out of breed. She wasn’t the short haired, muscular ‘pitbull type’ dog that the media portrays as being responsible for mauling children and adults. There was no predisposition instilled. No over-alert adults watching out of fear.

I was outside, on the back step. I don’t remember much of the attack, partly out of age, partly out of trauma. I only remember reaching upwards, towards the backdoor handle after being bit. Clear skies, red, clear skies, red, black. The spinning as I was trying to reach the handle. Going into shock. Eyes back open. This time, laying on my back. Black. Ceiling. Black. Spinning faces around me. Black. I later remember the red being the blood running into my eyes and the black from going into shock.

I don’t remember the plastic surgery, the stitches or the bandages. I remember the van ride home with my mom. The popsicle I got as a reward for being so good. I didn’t know just how brave I really had been. I told the plastic surgeon thank you. I gave him a kiss. I later found out that the surgeon who agreed to take me into his care, was doing me a life-long favor. That I was blessed, as I would come to find out over time, at his generosity. We didn’t have insurance, it was a miracle that my face has healed the way it has. But not without time. It is true, that time heals all wounds, though what they don’t tell you is that not all wounds can be seen.

These wounds, in which you cannot see are what helps me to tell my story. My hope is to outline how BSL failed me and continues to fail the public on a regular basis. How being so inclusive actually adds to the issues surrounding public safety.

I was not the first person that dog bit. Due to the lack of a tiered dangerous dog ordinance and rather using BSL, it was not immediately labeled dangerous or aggressive from the first bite. There was no law or ordinance in place to address the first incident, which would have later prevented mine.

Due to this bite and the physical scars it left, I know what it feels like to be judged solely on appearance. I know what it feels like to allow that judgement to make you angry, distant and fearful, alongside so many other emotions. As an APBT owner, I know the constant battle of defending my dog, regardless of his temperament, due to the stigma BSL has created. What I also know is with love, dedication and perseverance; we can alter our reactions and our instincts. I have had to learn to evaluate my past and adjust my reactions. All of these things are human characteristics that can be used to be a responsible owner for a breed so misunderstood. I have learned that people will first judge me based on my appearance and it is my responsibility to alter their first impression by my personality.

This is why I am a voice. I am a voice for the breed that I love. I am an advocate dedicated to having BSL replaced with something that better serves the safety of the public. I am an advocate helping to enact laws that meet these scenarios on a case-by-case, not breed by breed basis. 

With the right love, companionship, patience and understanding of my past, I have found my purpose and my meaning. Why not give this breed the same love, companionship, patience and understanding? Why not help them gain what I have? Why not use my experience to ensure the public’s safety in a wider way? Why not advocate for public safety and dogs as a whole, rather than just a breed or type?

I think responsible dog ownership can be viewed in the same light. It is our job as owners, especially those so broadly misunderstood, to be responsible and to be positive role models. Socialization, temperament and general understanding are key points to owning any breed of dog, not just the APBT which is targeted by BSL. Any breed, exposed to poor socialization, poor training alongside other trouble areas, can create what can be labeled as an aggressive dog. 

It is my goal to help change the general consensus. It is my goal to help remove BSL and implement a broader, tiered, dangerous dog ordinance that addresses any breed of dog and the behaviors it exhibits further ensuring public safety.

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