The Day A Man Hit My Dog

Mark was found on the side of a busy road. He was unaltered and looked like he had been on his own for a bit. My husband and I took him to Dekalb County Animal Services, a local Atlanta shelter, in case anyone was looking for him.

When no one came for Mark, we decided to foster him.

His goofy face and long, awkward legs were definitely selling points. But what really made us fall in love with him was his demeanor. Loving, friendly and unbreakably happy. He fit in perfectly with our family.

From the day we got him, we could tell he was happiest around other dogs. So once we properly assessed his temperament and gave him time to decompress from the shelter, we began taking him to our local dog park.

We smiled as his goofy legs tried to keep up with his body; he would crash into the fence if he wasn’t careful. He greeted everyone – dogs and people – with such a friendly, outgoing disposition.

And his happiness rubbed off. Mark possessed so much love and was eager to share it with the world. I just wanted to stay in his blissful, but naive world forever.

About a month after we got Mark, I took him to a dog park across the street from our house. I remember the huge smile that was plastered across my face as I saw him clumsily dart across the park.

I noticed a man and a small, fluffy dog standing in the corner and I watched as Mark eagerly approached him. He playfully jumped on the man and I heard the man scream. As I walked over to figure out what happened, the man began yelling about his shirt being dirty. Then he took my dog by the neck and began hitting him in the face – multiple times.

I quickly grabbed Mark and tried to get him out of the situation as fast as I could. And that’s when I heard it.

The man shouted, ‘That’s what you get for owning a pit bull.’

The reality of the situation slapped me in the face and jolted me backward. I turned around and looked at a man that wasn’t upset a dog had jumped on him. He was upset a pit bull had.

For pit bull owners, these harsh reminders happen often. It’s why we purchase shorter leashes. It’s why we are always on guard. It’s why we ask vets to lie on our vet records. It’s why we call ahead before bringing our dogs to sit on patios. It’s why we avoid dog parks.

Sometimes I forget how these dogs are perceived in the outside world. And then Montreal bans pit bulls. And then PETA supports them. And then a man hits my dog.

The fight over this breed is not over. And in its wake are thousands and thousands of dogs who were killed just because of the way they look.

Each day, we get to choose how the animals in our community are treated. Which side will you be on?

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