My Harley

Falyn Traina, Staff Writer & Featured Columnist

Present any normal person with a pug or chihuahua or golden retriever and your ears are suddenly filled with “ooo”‘s and “ahhh”‘s and rather annoying puppy talk. On the other hand, present someone with a pit bull. They seem to cringe and back away, as if you just threw a cockroach at them.

To me, this problem is too big to ignore any longer. After my grandfather passed away, his pit bull, Harley, became ours. Already having three dogs, taking in a former stray and stereotypically vicious dog didn’t sound like an easy task. I had never even met the dog before. All I knew was that she stayed in my grandpa’s backyard and attacked the local mice, but there was a whole lot more to her story.

In 2004, Harley was found having just delivered her second or third batch of puppies under a dumpster right outside of New Orleans. It was clear to the person who found her that she had given birth, but her puppies were gone. No one really knows what happened to them, but we like to believe that they were picked up to be taken care of due to the fact that they were cute and small and well, puppies.

Graphic by Anna Villano.
Graphic by Anna Villano.

Harley was the neighborhood’s punching bag, its target practice. If she was seen by the railroad workers, they would often hit her or throw rocks at her, just because she was a pit bull. The local kids would shoot at her with air-soft guns, and to this day, she still has three pellets embedded in her left leg. No one cared about her. No one cared to save her. She was a pit bull, supposedly vicious by nature. Who would want to take in a “monster”?

Harley was found by an unknown man who happened to have a mutual friend with my grandfather. He got a call from the friend saying, “If you don’t come get this dog, she’s gonna get shot.” So that day, my grandfather drove out to get her and took her in for a while. Although she remained an outdoor dog, her life was a lot better with him. She had food, water, toys, shelter, everything she could want.

On Feb. 8., 2013, my grandfather was found dead in his home. It is believed that he had been dead for a few days, meaning Harley hadn’t been fed or watered in that span of time. After a long trip up to Plano, a good meal and bath, and a trip to the vet, Harley was now ours. After what she’s been through, it was natural to believe that she would be rough and angry and mean. But the funniest thing is, she is nowhere near that.

On the first day we met, she stuck to my side. She was my girl from the start. She’s goofy and sweet, and can cuddle like no other. She is nothing like the stereotype. Because that’s all it is. A stereotype. A rumor. It means nothing.

There’s a saying that goes, “it’s not guns who kill people, it’s people who kill people.” The same applies here. Pit bulls aren’t born to be vicious – they’re trained to be that way by low-life dog fighters. In some places, such as Santa Monica, California and Madisonville, Texas, it’s illegal to own a pit bull. According to The Examiner, studies have shown that up to 200 pit bulls are euthanized everyday in Los Angeles County, CA, because no one will adopt them. That’s 200 goofy, sweet, awesome cuddlers killed everyday.

There is a fix to this problem. The stigma surrounding these kind creatures needs to be broken. There are thousands of homeless pits out there just like Harley. They’re alone and confused. They need homes. All I ask is that before you make an assumption, educate yourself. Know the difference between a vicious animal and a reckless owner.