Want to make a difference? Let’s start here!

Did you know that Montana is on the VERY short list of States in the country where it is NOT illegal to attend a dog fight? Surely this is both shocking and a little more than a little concerning.

In the 2013 legislative session a bill was proposed that would make attending a dog fight illegal as well as actively participating in a dog fight. The Legislature in the state of Montana tabled this bill in 2013. Again in the 2015 Legislative session, a revised version of the bill was presented to our legislature. Again, the bill was tabled.

This upcoming legislative session, the State of Montana will once again be hearing possible legislation to hold those who engage in, attend and support dog fighting accountable. Truly, in my mind, this is a proposal that needs very little consideration. However, our legislators need to know that we want to see harsher penalties for those who encourage, engage in and support dog fighting.

It is now time to start learning more about the upcoming legislation and insist that those who represent us in office are voting the voice of those who elected them to speak on our behalf.

freeing a dog fighting dog

Historically speaking, in our agriculturally based communities, getting animal welfare laws and laws that create harsher punishments for abusers are met with hesitation. “Why on earth would anyone hesitate?” you might ask. The answer is simple, really. Agriculture practices are not the same as practices with companion animals. Those animals are treated differently, and should be to a certain degree. There are many that are afraid that increasing the reach of the law into animal rights would create a change in laws that would require farmers, ranchers, production livestock operations, etc to treat those animals like we would a pet. This is simply not the case, but nonetheless, it leads to a considerable amount of push-back on bills like this from our neighbors. Its not that they don’t want to see these types of animal abusers held accountable, but because they are concerned that someone will read between the lines on a law that creates stiffer punishments for these types of activities and somehow someone will jump from “attending a dog fight” to “attending a rodeo” and soon those who participate in, attend or support rodeo will be lumped into the same category. (Seriously, this is why the bill was tabled in 2013. This very situation.)

We need our friends and neighbors who work hard every day, raising our beef cattle, our dairy cattle, our production swine, our free range chickens and other production animals who give us nourishment every day and feed countless people, that we are not looking to endanger their way of life. We are not attempting to reach across the companion animal/livestock production animal line.

We need our elected officials to know that this is something we take seriously. Something that we want to be pro-active about as a community in our state. We need to make educated decisions on why we would ask those elected members of our legislature to vote a particular way.

I urge you, no matter which side of this proposed legislation you stand on, to join us on Thursday, June 16th at 7pm. Great Falls College MSU, room B101.

get the facts

Legislative Poster take 2 grey bold date

 

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2016 Art Auction success!

This year’s art auction was a huge success and we can’t thank all of you enough. We were surprised to see some of the pieces sell so low, but excited to see the things you guys got really competitive about. There was some super “engaged” bidding going on in those last 10 minutes! We are so grateful to have had each and every person who contributed in some way with this endeavor. From the artists, to the volunteers, those who donated, those who moved tables and chairs, those that helped us spread the word through social media, the local newspaper, the local news channels, those who came and bid, those who came and donated, those who came and colored, those who ate and shared time with us; we appreciate all of you!

Last year, we were so blessed to have some corporate support to help us get this “art auction thing” off the ground. Best Friends Animal Hospital, F&L Pet Resort, Jackson Utilities and the Humane Society of Cascade County all contributed to help propell the Pittie Committee into our unchartered waters to help us make our way into the future. We are forever grateful for all of their support! This year, however, we didn’t reach out for corporate support, we wanted to do this “on our own” (fiscally, anyway). Last year the art auction itself netted around $1800. That amount is what we have been working with for printed materials, community support, etc. This year (drum roll please), the art auction brought in $3705! (Wait… what?!) You more than DOUBLED what we brought in last year! We are a little shocked, to be very honest with you. We knew we had some fantastic art and some amazing supporters, but Lordy, Lordy! You guys know how to make this little group feel supported!

 

Art and Gratitude

As the 2nd Annual Art Auction draws closer and the clock ticks down to auction time, we are struck with a significant amount of gratitude toward our community. Our local artists and artists in our general area of the state have been so incredibly generous that there are days we step back and look at the pieces we get to offer to the public this year and we are so humbled there are no words.

There are pieces that were donated this year that have tugged at our heartstrings, brought tears and, honestly, a little anxiety that our humble little fundraiser won’t be able to do the pieces justice. We have seen our community reach out to volunteer, to offer art pieces, to offer support, to find out more about the Electric City Pittie Committee and to become eager to join us in our mission.

For those of you who might be new to the ECPC or aren’t quite sure what our motives were for starting this little group of change makers, it all started with one dog. (as it often does)

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Photo by: Crystal Gillen

This hunk of pooch laying across my lap is Trace. He was adopted out of a shelter in Twin Falls, ID in 2009. When I adopted Trace, he was just a puppy who stole my heart. I didn’t see breed, I saw MY dog. He was born in the shelter, and we were lucky enough to know exactly what he was. His momma was American Pit Bull Terrier, and his daddy was an English Pointer. How he ended up being born in a shelter to begin with is part of our mission. When the family dog became pregnant by the expensive hunting dog, and the family didn’t want to deal with the puppies, mom went to the shelter. Thankfully he was fostered by an amazing home and was well socialized the minute I got him. I may have overdone it where his socialization was concerned, birds, rabbits, snakes, rats, hamsters, people, horses, cattle, sheep… he saw it all as a puppy since I took him everywhere while I was getting my degree in Veterinary Technology at the College of Southern Idaho. When I took a job back here in my hometown, obviously my “kids” came with me, including this little dude. I was aware of breed discrimination, but in Idaho, where I was at, he was just another dog. I didn’t feel the discrimination, I was able to stay disconnected from it. Then, I got here. Great Falls, MT. My hometown, where I was born and raised. I watched my neighbors cross the street to get away from him. I watched people scoop up their children and their dogs and scurry away from me and my little squishy pittie mix. I was called names at the dog park, and people would approach me to ask if my dog was going to “eat” their dogs if they let them off leash. I became so upset that I couldn’t take my dog anywhere that I had a “taking Trace out shirt”. It said “Yes, he’s a pit bull” on the front and “Yes, he’s friendly” on the back. I decided if I wore the shirt, maybe people wouldn’t ask questions that I thought were incredibly ignorant and ill-mannered. When I started talking to some of these people, I found that they only knew what they saw on TV about “Pit Bulls”. They had zero personal experience with anything that they could call a “pit bull” in person, because they had been so afraid to engage with a “Pit Bull”. I found myself talking to more and more people. I found myself carrying around the statistics from the American Temperament Testing Society, and studies regarding genetics and behavior, breed identification information. I thought, “I need to be less offended and start meeting these people where they are at and change some minds.” Trace and I suddenly had a mission in life. I wanted everyone to know the happy, wiggly, belly-rub-loving, funny dog that I knew. I couldn’t imagine someone thinking my dog was mean. Why? Because of how he looks, not how he acts? How is that fair?

I found in my conversations that folks were honestly surprised to hear that I was college educated, and with a degree in Veterinary Technology at that. Why would someone who has experience with all of these types of dogs choose a dog that is (*gasp*) a “Pit Bull”? I realized that not only does my dog have an unfair judgement placed upon him just because of how he looks, but suddenly, I did as well. I have tattoos, I have piercings, I have a pit bull. The Trifecta!! I must be uneducated, unemployable and a menace to society!

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Photo credit Jessica Becker

People would be beside themselves when I would tell them that Trace was AKC Canine Good Citizen Certified, was a registered therapy dog and would visit nursing homes. The fear in their eyes was both unfortunate and exactly what I started to look for. Trace can warm even the hardest heart. (As you can see above, he really hates teaching kids how to approach a dog and touch a dog safely!)

In 2012 after a few years of defending myself and my dog every time we went somewhere, I started doing it with a logo! (Big thanks to Crystal Gillen for our ECPC Logo) My first partner in crime was Paige. Sadly, she was deployed and then PCS’d to Guam after her deployment. It was sad to see her go, and I was a bit concerned that the ECPC might lose traction. Over the years, I have met so many folks with a similar story and after a year or so, I started to meet people who wanted to get involved and do what I was doing. We started meeting monthly to start planning making an impact in our community. Our meetings were myself and board member Ashley and Rikki for the better part of a year.

A year ago, we seated a board and decided it was time to make the ECPC a legitimate organization and start laying the groundwork to eventually apply for 501 (c)3 status. (that is a 2016 goal.)

From our very humble beginnings to where we are now is sometimes overwhelming to me, personally. I can’t thank our board members enough for validating this “Crazy Dog Lady” and sharing this vision and this journey. To every person who joins us at an event, buys a tshirt, sports a hoodie, supports our fellow “Pittie people” when we reach out for help for our community and those who show up to those things that we do every year we thank you!

To those of you who have donated to the Art Auction this year, we are so grateful!

We have received some of the most heartfelt, valuable items this year. We all have grand plans for the Electric City Pittie Committee, and we have only just begun, but each and every donation, each and every piece of work that was given to support our goals and help move our committee forward is so very personal to us.

Each piece that was so graciously donated to the ECPC is an opportunity for us to expand our reach within our community. Dream bigger, work harder, speak louder, walk further and impact more people.

Thank you, to every last one of you for dreaming with us, laughing with us, walking with us, teaching with us, learning with us and making a difference with us!

 

From me, to the board: Ashley, Rikki, Jessica and my husband, Jeremy; thank you to all of you! For everything!