The Long Way Home

June 8, 2011  

Marley’s family skirts BSL on their cross-country journey

By Laura Holt

My husband was surfing the web one night when Marley’s pretty little face showed up on the Internet. She was beautiful and she needed a new home. Even though we already have a full house of seven dogs and cats, he walked the computer over to me and plopped it down on my lap.

There right in front of my eyes was a picture of a pit bull wearing a bright green bandana around her neck, a 5-year-old pit looking for a forever home.

I was struck with the exact same force as my husband – a little phenomenon called love at first sight.

Just bringing Marley into certain areas that had BSL meant that she could be confiscated and then killed.

The listing said she had incontinence issues, but it didn’t matter to us. In fact, nothing else mattered except making sure that her needs were met and we had just the place for her – right in the mix of our gigantic, multi-legged family.

The simple fact of the matter was that Marley needed a home and someone to love her and we had the skills to fit the bill.

Marley just felt right, and we knew then that she would fit into our home even with her health issues and noted quirk about cats.

We filled out adoption papers right away and received a phone call from the Pit Bull Rescue San Diego the next day.

We were approved.

There was only one thing: We had to transport her from San Diego, California, to Tully, New York. In theory it seemed simple: We could fly out, and rent a car to bring her back (since they didn’t advise flying with her due to crating issues).

That is until we learned about breed discrimination laws – also known as breed specific legislation or BSL.

It turned out, just bringing Marley into certain areas that had BSL meant that she could be confiscated and then killed.

We knew we couldn’t take the straightest route back because we had to sidestep Colorado, Illinois, and Ohio due to their BSL policies. Ohio has statewide pit bull restrictions, and we were advised that Illinois and Colorado have numerous cities or counties with BSL. If we crossed the line, Marley could pay the ultimate price.

We were fearful, but that didn’t stop us from finding the determination to bring a member of our family home.

We flew out to San Diego and met Marley for the first time. Her caregivers held a going-away party and were moved to tears that the pretty girl had found a forever home.

We awoke on the next day, hopped in a rental car and headed straight for Vegas. Marley strutted down the strip without a care in the world. It dawned on us then that even though it was a gamble to get her home, we knew we were going to beat the odds.

Then we high tailed it to Utah and decided to burn rubber back home without any more side excursions. The sooner we got our incontinent friend home, the better. After all, every day we were on the road where we couldn’t avoid areas with BSL, she was in greater danger. Her safety – and bathroom breaks – came first but it was a long, arduous journey and worth every mile. The straightest route would have been to take 1-80 East for 2,748 miles, but we couldn’t. We had to duck up north to sidestep Colorado altogether. That tacked on a couple of hundred miles.

The drive seemed endless and at one point, we drove 30 hours straight. After a while you begin to feel every single time the tire rolls around on the road. But when you look in the backseat and see your pal wagging her tail back at you, you know you’d drive a thousand more if she needed it.

We drove as carefully as we could on the border of high BSL states like Illinois and Ohio. The more we stopped meant the greater likelihood she’d be seen. If she were seen in an area where pit bulls were prohibited, we had no clue how to get out of the consequences.

So, for her safety we drove 30 hours straight.

Somewhere along the way, it dawned on us that it was Thanksgiving – and with a new family member in tow, we had a new reason to be thankful. We stopped at McDonald’s for a brief celebratory meal.

Our trek finally ended in the wee hours of the morning. We rolled into Tully at 3 a.m. as snowflakes dusted the ground – like a fresh white carpet welcoming our family home.

Marley got her first taste of cold weather and frolicked in the white stuff. It was like she was rejoicing over not only getting out of the car, but also her new beginning.

In the end, after driving thousands of miles with our incontinent, new friend whom we risked everything for, we learned a few valuable lessons.

First, it turns out her quirk about cats was a thing of the past. She loves them; they’re her family. And her health problems, they’re just eccentricities that we love about her. But the biggest lesson of all is that when you risk everything for love at first sight, even though it’s a huge gamble and you know logically you might lose everything – love prevails.

We’d risk it again for her if we had to because having her lie next to our feet is proof that the house that makes breed discrimination laws doesn’t have to win.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Marley’s story

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2 Responses to “The Long Way Home”
  1. Laura Holt says:

    Oh my Gosh Sandra ! that would be wonderful! Sorry, just got on today and saw your message – Can we possibly meet Monday later in the day? I would love for you to see Marley and how well she is doing. I have sent you a txt, please let me know. That is great!!!

  2. suesmith says:

    Fantastic story and wonderful photos – thank you for sharing them!