FEB. 7, 2013 UPDATE: Mark Buehrle has made the difficult decision to live apart from his family during the 2013 baseball season since their Pit Bull, Slater, is not allowed in Toronto. According to ESPN, he will stay in Toronto while his wife, kids, Slater and three Vizlas will live 800 miles away in St. Louis, Mo., which has no breed bans. “We’re going to travel and see each other and make it work,” Buehrle told ESPN. “But those nights when we have a Sunday day game and I can go home and have dinner with the family and give the kids a bath and put them to bed, that’s what I’m going to miss.”
NOV. 29, 2012 UPDATE: Buehrle told the Toronto Star today that he will work to end Ontario’s Pit Bull ban. He and his wife, Jamie, have already contacted local advocacy groups and offered their support. “I think it’s a discriminatory law,” he told the Star. “We are big spokesmen of it and we’re trying to do what we can do to try to help other people out.”
“It’s kind of ridiculous that because of the way a dog looks, people will ban it,” Buehrle told The Miami Herald in January 2011. “Every kind of dog has good and bad, and that depends on the handlers. If you leave a dog outside all the time, it’ll be crazy. Slater would never do anything harmful.”
In fact, Slater is currently training to become a certified therapy dog. Buehrle’s wife, Jamie, told the Huffington Post earlier this year that the couple has to warn house guests about one of their other three dogs, who are all Vizlas – but never Slater.
“He’s laid-back, curious, loves to look around,” she told the Huffington Post. “He loves kids.”
Mark and Jamie Buehrle worked with the Best Friends Animal Society to support an August ballot measure that would have ended the Miami-Dade County ban, but voters decided not to drop it. (Supporters of the measure wondered if voters were confused by its awkward wording: “Shall the ordinance repealing the county’s 23 year old law prohibiting the ownership of pit bulls as a dangerous breed of dogs become effective?”)
The Buehrle family will be leaving Florida soon.
Yesterday, in what Sports Illustrated is calling a “stunning” and “blockbuster” deal, the Miami Marlins traded Buehrle and two other highly paid players to the Toronto Blue Jays in an effort to cut costs.
This is good news for Blue Jay fans, but bad news for the Buehrles.
Pit Bulls are banned in the entire province of Ontario, Canada. (Even the “Dog Whisperer” himself, Cesar Millan, couldn’t bring his well-behaved sidekick, Junior, on his tour there.) Unless he decides to give up Slater, which doesn’t seem very likely, it looks like Buehrle will be facing a mighty long commute to the ballpark.
The unfairness and ineffectiveness of breed-specific legislation (BSL), which includes bans of “Bully breeds,” is being increasingly recognized. In the U.S. this year, the states of Massachusetts and Ohio removed language in their animal laws that singled out these dogs as being dangerous or vicious.
And in the Canadian province of Alberta just last month, the Edmonton City Council voted to drop breed-specific language.
At the same time over in Ontario, a measure called “Hershey’s Bill” that would have ended the province’s strict Pit Bull ban was met with all-party support in the legislature – but it was essentially killed when Premier Dalton McGuinty suddenly stepped down and terminated the legislative session, according to The Toronto Star.
On Oct. 19, a spokeswoman for Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen told the Star, “At this point there is no plan” to drop the ban.
Pit Bull advocates, including the Hershey Anti BSL Group on Facebook, with more than 9,300 members, intend to reintroduce the ban repeal whenever the Ontario legislature reconvenes.
It’s a sure bet that a certain new member of the Toronto Blue Jays will be backing their efforts.
PHOTO: Mark Buehrle Facebook Page