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$500K Name Change!
An Australian couple paid $300 for their puppy and $500,000 to save his life.
Would you deem this brindle Pit Bull puppy dangerous?

If you have dogs, people always ask "What kind of dogs do you have?" I often take this question as an invitation to blabber uncontrollably about my variety pack. "Oh, I have two Dalmatians who compete in agility, a Catahoula - are you familiar with that breed? They’re bred for herding and hunting. I also have a Pit Bull mix - she's super sweet - and a true Heinz 57. She looks like a hyena. Seriously, one of my neighbors asked me if she was one. She competes in Frisbee. Yeah, so I have five dogs. They range in age from 3 to 13 ... ."

Unfortunately for my audience, I can go on and on, but I'm usually interrupted the moment I  mention my Pit Bull mix. Some people are surprised that I have one of those “vicious” dogs. If possible, I invite them to meet my belly-rub-lovin’ Shelby so they can cast off those horrible stereotypes.

It would never occur to me to lie about Shelby’s breed. Hiding what she is only adds to the ignorance. And yet, if I lived in Queensland, Australia, I would rethink being so open about her bully breed background. Gold Coast couple Kylie Chivers and John Mokomoko paid $300 for their American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) puppy Tango. They soon learned that APBTs are deemed dangerous dogs in Queensland and subsequently banned. Their only choice was to move to a different state or allow him to be euthanized.  

Mokomoko’s job made it difficult for the entire family to move, so they opted to board Tango at a kennel out of state in New South Wales. They also initiated legal proceedings to change his breed from APBT to American Staffordshire Terrier (AST), which is not considered a dangerous dog in their region even though it can be argued that APBTs and ASTs are practically interchangeable. Take this quiz and see if you can find the Pit Bull. How did you do? (I thought I would ace it but was far from perfect!)

The couple have faithfully visited Tango for the past five years as they took their battle all the way to the Supreme Court. They spent $500,000 on this battle on behalf of Tango and other people determined to keep their dogs, regardless of what they’re called. You can read about the court’s findings here.  

Do you agree with the ruling? Why or why not?


Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Erin | April 26 2010 |

It just show the government's ignorance of these wonderful animals. I have known several Pit Bulls that are very loving and kinds. Sure there are some out there that are dangerous, but that is due to their owner's treatment. I bet you can find other dangerous dogs from other breads that have had similar poor treatment, but they are not banned.

The government should ban the actions of the owners and deal with dangerous dogs on a case by case basis, but to put a blanket decree over a bread is sad.

Submitted by Cheryl | April 26 2010 |

Breed bans are stupid but...

That $500k could have been put to better use by donating it to advocates for the breed or they could have researched and educated the public and the law makers themselves about the truth about dog attacks and the statistics used as "scientific" justification to ban specific breeds.

They were just trying to manipulate the system to get their way.

Submitted by Anonymous | June 19 2012 |

The gov are idiots for introducing the BSL.
The BSL should the OSL (Owner Specific Legislation)

These people wanted to save their dog. They love their pet.
If I had the money I would do the same for my dog.

Submitted by Ann | April 26 2010 |

Well, I don't even have to read the article, I just have to read the comments to know that ignorance prevails. There is bad behavior in every breed and yet people still lean toward punishing the animal for the owners deeds. It sickens me to read over and over about legislation designed to lump all dogs from a single breed together as vicious. This is as ridiculous as saying all women are bad drivers, all men are lazy and all politicians who legislate are idiots, oh wait, scratch the last one, that one is true!

Submitted by SaraG | May 11 2010 |

I gotta agree with Cheryl. Half-a-million dollars could have helped so many dogs--including Tango. And I'm not sure how changing this one dog's breed designation helps Pit Bulls.

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