FILM ACTRESS Linda Blair called on the Denver City Council to repeal a ban on pit bulls as she joined animal activists nationwide pushing to overturn the law.
"This whole thing has had a trickling down effect across the country," Blair said from her home in Hollywood. "I'm not blaming City Council. I'm asking them to open their hearts and minds and let responsible dog owners offer up alternatives that will work."
Blair, 45, gained fame for her role in the 1973 classic The Exorcist. Today, Blair is the founder and president of Pacific Coast Dog Rescue, an animal shelter that seeks to rescue pit bulls and other dogs. Blair also established the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation in 2003. The non-profit foundation seeks to raise money to rescue and find homes for stray and abandoned dogs. The organisation also raises money to assist disaster relief efforts worldwide.
Blair said that she plans to actively campaign to protest Denver's pit bull ban and hopes to travel to the city in the coming month to make a personal appeal to the City Council and animal control officials.
Denver has become the latest battleground in a campaign being waged by animal rights groups locally and nationwide to end what some consider unfair breed-specific laws.
Blair first spoke out against the ban last week during a segment on Denver's pit bull ban aired on Court TV's Celebrity Justice.
Denver resumed enforcement of the ban May 9. Since then, animal control officers have confiscated about 148 pit bulls.
A majority of the dogs impounded were turned over by their owners, taken from homes or found loose on the streets, said Doug Kelley, director of animal control. Denver City Council members remained unmoved by Blair's appeal for canine clemency Wednesday.
Councillor Charlie Brown played the redneck card by commenting: "Linda Blair doesn't live in my district, I don't need some Hollywood type telling us how to run the city and county of Denver."
Blair and the Washington-based anti-VSL campaign group the American Canine Foundation said publicity surrounding the resumption of Denver's ban has created a sense of paranoia among pit bull owners across the country that fear other cities will follow Denver's lead.
They claim that many pit bull owners are turning their dogs over to shelters, and in some cases, abandoning the dogs on the streets. The push to repeal the ban stepped into high gear this week as more than 100 pit bull owners and animal rights activists staged a protest in front of City Hall.
Blair insisted that pit bulls are being unfairly targeted and labelled as vicious and dangerous and that this unfair discrimination makes her feel sick.
She added that she once feared the dogs until she came to the rescue of her 9-year-old pit bull terrier, Sonny Boy, eight years ago. Sonny Boy, tattered and abused, followed her home from a park in north Hollywood.
"What I saw in him was a dog crying out for help," she said. "He came into my home, hid behind a chair and curled up in a ball. He turned out to be kind, gentle and funny. "These dogs are like babies. When treated correctly, they're your friend for life," she said.