Major league baseball pitcher Mark Buehrle expected he’d be spending years with the Miami Marlins when he signed a 4-year contract in December 2011. There was just one problem with his new job — Miami-Dade’s Breed Specific Legislation, which banned Buehrle’s beloved American Pit Bull Terrier mix, Slater, from the county.
But the Buehrles made do — they bought a house in nearby Broward County, Florida, so Slater could remain with his family. Mark and his wife Jamie made fighting BSL in Miami-Dade their mission, advocating for Slater and other dogs that fit the Pit Bull description.
Jamie told the Huffington Post that Slater, who is an aspiring therapy dog, is a wonderful dog with a great temperament. She doesn’t understand why anyone would outlaw a dog like him from their county.
“He’s laid-back, curious, loves to look around,” Jaime Buehrle said of Slater back in August 2012. “He loves kids.”
Less than two years later, after Mark Buehrle was unexpectedly traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Buehrles realized they’d have to relocate to yet another location that would ban Slater because of his appearance; the Canadian province of Ontario, where the Blue Jays are based, outlaws Pit Bulls.
Mark and Jamie had a difficult decision to make — what were they going to do about Slater now? Buerhle and Jamie are well known for their love of dogs, especially their own; rounding out their family are Drake, Duke, and Diesel, three Vizslas. Getting rid of Slater wasn’t even in the realm of being an option — he is an essential part of the Buehrle brood.
So there was only one option: Slater and the rest of the dogs could not go to Canada. Now, for the first time in his baseball career, Mark will have to spend the season living apart from his wife, his two kids, and his dogs, all because of Breed Specific Legislation. His family will split their time between Florida and their home in St. Louis, Missouri, while Mark heads north to Ontario.
“He’s an awesome dog,” Mark said of Slater. “That’s what’s a shame; just the way he looks is why we have to get separated.”
Jamie promises that she and the kids, 5-year-old Braden and 3-year-old Brooklyn, will be sure to visit Mark as often as they can as long as Mark remains with the Blue Jays and Ontario BSL is alive and discriminating.
“It’s something we’re going to deal with,” Mark Buehrle said of his family’s new arrangement. “It’s going to be tough at the beginning, not seeing your kids, but people deal with it and we’ll make it work.”
Despite reassurances that Slater would likely be safe making the move up north, the Buehrle family wasn’t comfortable taking a chance on Slater’s freedom — or his life.
“Being a responsible pet owner, you can’t just dump your dog off on somebody else or take the chance of breaking the law and taking them up there,” Mark explained. “We’ve had people say, ‘Oh, you can bring them up here. Knowing you have money, no one’s going to take your dog because they know you’re going to fight against it. But the thing is, Slater will have to sit in a cage until that court date gets there, and that could be two weeks, it could be three months.”
“If people don’t own dogs, they’re not going to understand you’re leaving your family and your kids behind over a dog,” the veteran pitcher added.