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Dog lovers walk to support anti-bias measure

Published: Sunday, March 9 2014 5:00 p.m. MDT

Dog owners and their dogs gather to walk around the Utah State Capitol Sunday, March 9, 2014 in support of HB-97.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Growing up, both Jarrett Moe and his wife always had dogs in their lives, though never a pit bull or pit bull mix. He even admitted to having been skeptical about the breed before becoming an owner a few years ago.

“He was such a great dog that when we lost him, we instinctively thought that to replace him we were going to go with another pit bull,” he said. Enter “Monkey,” an 8-month-old gray female pit bull that the couple initially met through a dog-fostering program, then eventually adopted permanently.

Having such a “notorious” breed as a pet brought about some reluctance by some friends and family members at first, Moe said, but once exposed they were all won over.

“Since they have come to visit us and seen our previous pit bull and this one, their attitude has changed a bit,” he said. Moe credited the negative stereotype often portrayed about the breed for the fear and misunderstanding that is sometimes pervasive in many communities.

Now he's working to change that.

The Moes and Monkey participated in a bi-weekly dog walk Sunday organized by SLC StrutABulls, a dog walking club that meets at various locations every other week around the Salt Lake City area to promote the value of pack walks.

Organizers chose the state capitol this week to raise awareness about House Bill 97, which is headed to the state Senate for review. The measure would prohibit a municipality from enacting or enforcing a breed-specific rule, regulation, policy, or ordinance about dogs. Currently, there are 10 Utah cities that outlaw pit bulls or pit bull mixes, according to Natalie Schun with SLC StrutABulls.

“We wanted to support the ban of breed discriminatory legislation throughout the state,” she said. About 60 dogs — mostly pit bulls or mixes — and their owners walked around the grounds of the capitol on Sunday.

“What you hear about so much — and even me before we adopted our (first) one — we only heard about the bad things,” he said. “I didn’t realize how loving they are, how eager to please they are and how trainable they are.”

Moe said laws that target specific dog breed are “alienating to people who are really dog and animal lovers.” He said that people who really care about their dogs would take the time to care for and properly train their pets responsibly.

“Any dog can be a nuisance, no matter what the breed, if they are not properly cared for and trained,” he said.

Salt Lake resident Alissa Tortura said her 8-year old pit bull mix named Princess gets along well with all dogs, especially with her mixed breed smaller dog that was also adopted from a shelter.

“Overall, I just think of (Princess) as a dog, (not a dangerous breed),” she said. “You have to be responsible … it’s all about responsible ownership.”

She said people have asked her if she was nervous about adopting a pit bull mix and her answer was, “I just wanted her to be the best dog and that’s the same for our Dachshund mix.”

Event co-organizer Kelly Lawson said responsible dog owners should lead by example to show others “what good a dog is really all about.”

“The (bad) ones that you hear about are just (a few) out of who knows how many,” Lawson said. “Any dog can be mean if it doesn’t get the proper socialization, exercise and attention that it needs. We are out to show that these are good dogs and can be good dogs no matter what breed they are.”

E-mail: jlee@deseretnews.com, Twitter: JasenLee1

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