Diamond, a 15 month old Pit Bull was given this year’s National Hero Dog award by the SPCA in Los Angeles.
Diamond showed this often misunderstood breed’s true colors during an apartment fire at the Steen residence last October. Diamond the Pit Bull not only stayed in the house with the Steen family’s oldest daughter when she was unable to escape, she actually laid on top of Sierra. By placing her body over top of Sierra she shielded her from fire, and remained in place even when it meant that she sustained burns on her own body. Sierra and Diamond were rescued by fire fighters, and have made a full recovery.
This marks the first time in 15 years that a Pit Bull has received the high honor of National Dog Hero. It is important to point out that this award is not intended to be given to a trained rescue dog, it is reserved for family companion animals that perform amazing acts of heroism and selflessness. In the case of the Pit Bull, it is this same loyalty and devotion that have caused the breed to become the target of abusive owners – which are ultimately the cause of aggressive, violent animals (not the breed itself). The honor could not come at a better time for the breed as it faces breed restrictions/bans in many areas across the United States as misinformation continues to be disseminated at a dizzying speed throughout the mass media and internet.
Madeline Bernstein, president of the spcaLA, said of Diamond, “Their house was on fire and the dog knew it, which we have seen before. Darryl was trying to get his daughters out. He was able to get one daughter out and move her out of the window, but he was having trouble getting Sierra out. This dog went to Sierra, put her body on top of her, and stayed there and sustained burns while keeping the girl under her. It’s remarkable.”
During the ceremony Sierra commented about the event, explaining her experience when she woke up in the hospital a few days after the fire, “They told me that Diamond was lying on top of the mattress that I was under and that she would not leave me. And I was like, ‘Wow, she loves me – more than I thought.’ She’s always been nice, since the first moment we got her.”
The Steen Family has been unable to find a new home after the fire as a direct result of Diamond and unaccommodating policies put in place by landlords and property managers. Unfortunately this issue is shared by many Pit Bull and bully breed owners, and I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to secure housing when your choose to share your life with one of these vilified breeds. Luckily in Diamond’s case, I have a sneaking suspicion she might have a much easier time finding an understanding landlord with her new award in tow.
“I’m going to make this quick and easy: stop discriminating against the Pit Bull because you can see what a dog can do for you. I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for this dog.” – Darryl Steen.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.