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Bruce the Pit Bull Tastes Freedom at Last!

Bruce the Pit Bull Tastes Freedom at Last!

It’s been almost three full years since Bruce, an American Staffordshire terrier, was seized under the United Kingdom’s 1991 draconian Dangerous Dog Act (DDA.)  Before being removed from his home, Bruce was a happy pup who shared his life with a woman named Shannon and a yellow lab. 

DDA Act
Much criticism has been rumbling about the infamous DDA Act which gives authority to kill any dog that resembles a pit bull, regardless of whether the dog has committed an act of aggression toward people, animals or even a chew toy for that matter.

Bruce lived in Northern Ireland where the DDA is the law of the land.  Early on, a Southern Ireland rescue group specializing in bully breeds — East Galway Animal Rescue (EGAR) — had offered Bruce sanctuary.  Not surprisingly, the judicial system moves as slowly in Ireland as it does in the United States.  Despite a worldwide outpouring of attention and call to action last year, it wasn’t until now that Bruce was granted his freedom.

On Thursday, July 29, EGAR‘s Sarah Gunther and Daithí O’Hanlon drove to Bangor County Mayo, Northern Ireland. (Roundtrip, the trek was nearly 500 miles!) It is there where Bruce has been held for the past 1,044 days while his appeals dragged slowly through the courts. Gunther reported that when she arrived, Bruce appeared to have been drugged: “Bruce looks so dopey because they filled him up with ACP – he was so doped he could barely walk,” Gunther said. 

The Global Effort to Save Bruce
The two, with Bruce in tow, drove back to EGAR in a state of utter euphoria.  Here’s why: after almost two years of stall and delay with Bangor courts, a few committed people made a concerted effort to bring Bruce’s plight to the attention of the public — and his story went global. 
Caroline Rothwell of Seattle, Wash., who has relatives in Ireland, was determined to save Bruce. She started a campaign to send emails, letters and make phone calls to Bangor authorities calling for them to spare Bruce’s life.  Twitter, Facebook, Bebo and other social networking sites were utilized to spread the word.  A Care2 petition was started in October, 2007 and has garnered nearly 17,000 signatures.

British songwriter Maria Daines even penned a song for Bruce called “I’m Coming Home”.



A worldwide candlelight vigil was held for Bruce, with Rothwell organizing the New York City event. Supporters turned out in the rain to make Bruce’s message public. And people throughout the world responded.

Even with all the global support for Bruce, it still took the Irish courts another year before finally allowing him to be released to the custody of EGAR Sanctuary. But I’m happy to report he is now safe and living a charmed life at EGAR. In the end, and through all the frustration of governmental bureaucracy, a miracle named Bruce survived. Thanks to everyone who signed the petition, sent emails and made calls on Bruce’s behalf.

Sarah Gunther Describes Bruce’s Condition at Rescue
Aside from being drugged, apparently Northern Ireland felt it necessary to provide six Enforcement Officers to deliver Bruce to Gunther.  “I opened their van door and said hello to the poor mite and attached the lead to his collar and he came out very unsteady,” said Gunther in an email to me.  “ALL six jumped back and one hid behind my van with a catchpole. I told him there was no need for this contraption and led Bruce across the yard to my van. He clambered into my van and collapsed in the crate.”

To comply with the law, Gunther had to muzzle Bruce while driving through Northern Ireland.  She was also given an escort out of Belfast and was forced to sign a document she would not stop in Northern Ireland. “This is ludicrous,” Gunther said. “It felt like I was transporting Hannibal Lecter.”  

Indeed… but it certainly explains how the DDA came to be.

—————–
Stay tuned to Care2 for more follow-up on Bruce as he adjusts to his new life.


Sources and More Info:

Can social networking save Bruce the pit bull?
URGENT: Bruce the pit bull needs your intervention
Bruce the dog garners worldwide support: Ireland are you listening?
Maria Daines writes ‘I’m Coming Home’ for Bruce
New York speaks pout against BSL and supports ‘Bring Bruce Home’ Campaign
Vigil for Bruce brings Hope – Ireland are you listening?
Candle lighting vigil for Bruce

Read more: , , , , , , ,

Photo of Bruce and Sarah Gunther after his release is courtesy of Sarah Gunther, from EGAR.

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283 comments

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5:32AM PDT on Jul 14, 2014

Let's work for saving more lucky ones like Bruce

7:03AM PDT on Jul 12, 2014

thank you

4:32PM PDT on Apr 19, 2013

Punish the deed not the breed.

6:48AM PDT on Apr 18, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

2:03AM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

Great story. I'm very happy this lovely dog's been saved.

10:45AM PDT on Apr 7, 2013

Good story, discrimination is wrong on any level

7:55AM PDT on Apr 6, 2013

Animal Control has become the animal version of concentration camps they of all people know that pit bulls are just like every other dog breed, they of all people know that the vilification of this breed is based in ignorance NOT science. This type of breed discrimination has gone on for TOO LONG! Science has shown us time and time again that violent animals are a result of violent owners. To NOT allow an animal that is wanted to be adopted is NOT logical its cruel and worse to kill no MURDER this puppy that so many people wanted is evil. Animal Control is murdering the pit bull breed not for any scientific reason or logical reason THIS IS GENOCIDE They are Animal Concentration Camps and they are no better than Animal Nazi's its the Animal Holocaust

5:04AM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

Dogs in Britain are not put to sleep just because they may "resemble" a banned breed. Experts have to confirm that the dog is indeed one of a banned breed.

6:19PM PDT on Mar 31, 2013

Gee serial killers don't even get this treatment??? Very bizzare behaviour. Anyway i'm just happy that he's been saved!!!

12:59PM PDT on Mar 26, 2013

By the way, I signed the petition to help keep him alive because I was pretty sure he'd be responsibly owned. I am not a Pit Bull hater... just hate people who get dogs and then pretty much ignore the training aspect that should come along with the responsibility. I have 2 Pit Bulls about 4 months old living in the next yard over and they're already trying to scale the fence to get into my yard to get at my terrier (who has become afraid to go anywhere near that area of the yard yet has lived here for years and loved his own back yard.) He's very smart and he's very afraid now. Yet, it's me who's putting up a higher fence which is something I can't really afford to do but have to do to protect my dog. The owner? Gone all day with the dogs outside barking ALL day and ALL night, 24 hours a day. I also wonder if I don't need to drive metal stakes down into the ground to prevent the Pit Bulls from digging under my fence? Yes, Pit Bulls are a joy to have as neighbors... so sorry for my negative attitude but, if YOU don't live next door to totally untrained Pit Bulls... then you probably would think they're just great.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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He's definitely one of the better ones we've had in recent history.

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