Why I Don’t Support “The Path to Love”

This morning I received an email (see below) from the Humane Society of Huron Valley, asking me to donate. If I raise enough money, I get my name on a brick in their “Path to Love.”Email from HSHV

A “Path to Love” sounds lovely, indeed. But there’s a catch: the Humane Society of Huron Valley actively supports breed discrimination, in the form of mandatory spay neuter laws that target pit bull dog owners. They don’t just support it — they asked for it.

So I sent an email to the Executive Director, explaining why I can’t support the “Path to Love.”

To: tanya@hshv.org

From: kimtwolf@gmail.com

Date: Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Subject: Fwd: Walk & Wag 2013: You are very close the highest achievement of “Path of Love”

Hi, Tanya

I hope you are well. I’m writing about the email I received, asking me to raise money so I can have a “Path of Love” brick with my name on it at your shelter. 

I greatly appreciate the work your organization does for homeless pets, but I cannot support a shelter that actively supports breed-discriminatory legislation targeting pit bull dog owners. 

I was disappointed when you fought for this in 2010. You told the Ypsilanti Board of Trustees, “We do believe it is a tool… one that will help address the sheer abundance of these dogs.” 

I understand you used to be a social worker. We have that in common — I used to be one, too.

As a social worker, we know that compassion is more effective than compulsion. We know that our role is to help consumers help themselves. We know that the greatest tool we can offer our clients is  resources, and our role is to empower them to access these resources. And we understand the importance of relationship-building and treating all people with respect.   

Breed-discriminatory legislation takes the opposite approach. 

It treats people as criminals just because their family pets are pit bull dogs (or because your shelter labels them that way based on appearance). It sends a one-way message to pit bull dog owners that they are different, that they are less capable, and that they don’t deserve to be engaged with in a respectful manner. It’s dehumanizing and it’s counter-productive to animal welfare goals. It goes against everything we know as social workers.

In cities around the country humane organizations are taking progressive approaches to pet owner support. They’re meeting pet owners where they live, offering affordable and accessible pet care in a respectful manner. And they’re not targeting dog owners by their dog’s breed; they’re reaching out to all pet owners.  

The results speak for themselves. 

I understand that your organization provides resources to pit bull dog owners to spay and neuter their pets. This is a great start. But as the organizations above have shown, the challenge is not about convincing pit bull dog owners to spay/neuter; the challenge is meeting the demand. As representatives of these organizations have all said, “If people don’t want what you’re offering, then you’re probably not offering it the right way.” 

For these reasons, I will not be donating to the “Path of Love” project. The approach you’re taking does not accurately reflect the name of this project. I hope you will reconsider your stance on breed-discriminatory legislation, in light of the resources I’ve shared and the successes other groups have accomplished.

My hope is that when I receive an email from your organization next year, I can donate my hard-earned money because HSHV will be on a true “Path to Love” — one that reflects our values as humane professionals, supporting people and pets alike.

Thank you, Tanya

Kim Wolf

Email: kimtwolf@gmail.com

Website: www.beyondbreed.com