2018 - We are so ready for you. But before you arrive, we have to gather our wits from the whiplash lessons of 2017.
It was an undeniably difficult year. Because the connections between fundamental human rights and companion animal issues are so intrinsically intertwined, the larger world events of 2017 brought conversations and challenges we never saw coming.
Empathy skills animal lovers have developed for the very best reasons were put to the test in the most painful ways as fellow humans on this planet endured hardship and shocking intolerances. As 'pit bull advocates,' we seem to have been primed for the most visceral reactions to widespread injustice and intolerance.
We worked to make sense of our rapidly changing world while staying on-course with our mission of helping pit bulls and dog owners in general, and we found solidarity with a larger community of thinkers and activists who welcomed us with teaching moments, marches, and brilliant if not dramatic discourse about our responsibilities to fellow humans, cultures and to the natural systems that sustain us. Communicating the undeniable connections between human rights and companion animal issues with our BADRAP audience came with some risk: We lost numerous facebook followers who felt betrayed by messaging outside of a purely pit bull-myopic focus. On the same hand, our relationship with supporters who joined the conversation deepened, and we feel more 'at home' in our work than ever before.
2017 brought heartache and victory. We grieved horrible loss from the year's hurricane and wildfire disasters, and joined the thousands of responders who rallied to help both the human and animals victims. (These six pit bulls came to CA from hurricane ravaged Florida.) We saw Montreal's breed ban swiftly and decidedly kicked to the curb when animal lovers voted in Mayor Plante. Yes, YOU did this, animal lovers. Thank you!
Our KeepEm Home focus gained supporters and picked up steam. Our monthly events were well attended (approx 750 served), spay/neuter requests always full and we hammered out new materials and a better website to help us streamline the need. We were changed by many of the connections made through this work, we watched a drop in shelter numbers become the new norm at longtime partner, Berkeley Animal Care Services, and we celebrated some truly fantastic and life changing adoption connections.
2017 was the 10th anniversary of the Vick Dogs' homecoming, and we grieved the loss of home boys Teddles and Audie to old age. Along with a follow up book (The Found Dogs) from Lost Dog's author Jim Gorant came a realization that the lessons from that groundbreaking case are now so deeply ingrained in animal welfare lore and culture that the foundation underneath our feet for tackling today's human-animal challenges is solid and permanent. The dogs succeeded in every way and we can officially move on, in other words - and it feels so good.
The work of acknowledging our connection with the larger world through the heart and lens of the pit bull advocate is full of possibility. And it's slightly terrifying too -- new territory always is. Thank you for your steady friendship and support as we take the lessons 2017 brought and carry them with us into a brand new year.
May the Force be with us ALL!
Donna Reynolds for BADRAP / Photos Kathy Kinnear