Mark Buehrle, MLB pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays, will be living by himself away from his family during the 2013 season. This isn’t that unusual – many baseball players live and play in one city while their family lives somewhere esle (especially for those players that tend to get traded a lot).
The reason Buehrle will be away from his family is what makes this case unusual though. Mark Buehrle and his family happen to be the proud owner of Slater, a pit bull, and several other dogs. However, in Ontario, Canada (where Toronto happens to be), pit bulls are banned so the Buehrles had a tough decision to make – give the dog to someone else, try to live in Toronto with the dog secretly or just have Mark be on his own. They decided to have Mark go to Toronto himself rather than move without Slater.
When people suggested they should leave the dog with someone else, Mark’s wife Jaime said:
“To me, that would be like if we moved somewhere that only allowed boys. I wouldn’t leave my daughter behind. Six or seven months is a lot of time. Slater would adjust. He’s real easygoing. But I don’t want him to bond with someone else. He’s our dog. That wasn’t really an option.”
As an animal lover myself, I applaud their decision. We currently have three dogs and I couldn’t bear to give one of them up – I would rather live on my own if I had to than to see them live with someone else. We had a hard time when we had to move from England to Oklahoma with our Rottweiler because of similar Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) – though rotties weren’t banned, the insurance coverage required to allow rotties on any rental property made it tough to find a place for myself, my wife and our rottie Jacob to live (read all about Jacob in my book “From Abused Puppy to Beloved Family Member: The Life Story of Jacob the Rottweiller” available via Amazon.com).
Mark and his family are huge animal-rights advocates. When Mark was traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Miami Marlins, they ran into the same issue because pit bulls are banned in Miami. However, in this case, they simply just had to move to Broward County instead (the commute for Mark is only 30 mintues) – this wasn’t an option in Toronto because the closest place would be in Niagara (90 minutes away).
The Buehrles could try to be sneaky and do what other pit bull owners do – keep the dog inside, only walk them late at night or early in the morning but instead they try to fight the BSL while at the same time abiding by it (even though they don’t agree with it).
Breed Specific Legislation doesn’t work – if someone wants to own a “dangerous” dog, they will. Just because the “majority of fatal dog attacks” are tied to pit bulls, doesn’t mean a pit is “dangerous.” Dog bites from large dogs such as pit bulls, Dobermans, German Shepherds and Rottweillers simply result in a visit to the doctor while a bite from a Pomeranian or Chihuahua doesn’t. However, in my life I’ve been bitten more by “little yappy dogs” than I have the “dangerous” ones. There was even a case of a Pomeranian killing an infant in the 1990s in California. Any dog can kill in the right situation – the breed doesn’t matter.
I applaud the Buehrles. People may make fun of them because “its only a dog” but anyone who’s ever owned a dog will understand their dilemma and the tough decision they had to make.
Even though I’m a New York Yankees fan, I wish Mark the best of luck in Toronto and maybe one day, all governments will realize that BSLs punish the dogs when it’s the bad owners that need to be punished.