Ball Star

Toronto's Buehrle talks about his dogs

Updated: 2013-08-30T05:19:04Z

By PETE GRATHOFF

The Kansas City Star

Of course you won’t be rooting for Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle tonight when he starts against the Royals.

Buehrle’s been a thorn in the Royals’ side through the years with a career record of 22-12 with a 3.73 ERA against KC. But after tonight, there’s a very good reason to cheer for Buehrle from here on out. He’s a big-time dog advocate.

So much so that after being traded by Miami to Toronto in the offseason, his wife Jamie and kids (5-year-old son Braden and 3-year-old daughter Brooklyn) decided against joining him in Canada, because pit bulls are banned in the province of Ontario. One of the family’s four dogs, Slater, is a mix of bulldog and American Staffordshire Terrier -- which is of pit bull lineage.

When the Blue Jays were in town earlier this year, I talked to Buehrle about Slater.

“He’s an awesome dog,” Buehrle said. “People see that. Whenever I’ve brought him in the clubhouse a few times, people at first are kind of like get away from me and the next thing you know they say, ‘Oh my God, he’s so awesome.’

“The two older ones are 8 and 9, so in the next couple of years they could be dying off, so that’s the part that sucks.”

The other three dogs are all vizslas, and they came before Slater. The first two vizslas came from a breeder, but then Mark and Jamie realized there were an abundance of dogs at shelters.

“Then we adopted another vizslas and then the pit bull,” Buehrle said. “We’re just trying to bring awareness to people that, like us in the very beginning, didn’t know that there are plenty of dogs out there that are adoptable and are perfect in shelters that just because no one wants them is the only reason they’re dying. So don’t buy them from breeders, go out there and get them from shelters.”

Mark and Jamie have done public-service announcements touting dog adoption in Chicago and Miami, the previous two cities where he played. Buehrle also was in the news in 2011 when he told MLB.com that he rooted for Michael Vick to be injured in a football game because of Vick’s involvement in a dog-fighting operation.

Buehrle’s decision to be away from his family (they’re splitting time between homes in Missouri and Florida) caused a stir earlier in the season. However, he said it’s worth it to bring awareness about the bans on pit bulls. Buehrle believes the problem is not with the dogs, but with their owners.

“A majority of time, it’s been awesome, but at the same time, you also get the negative side of it,” Buehrle said of the noterity. “You’re always going to get the good and bad of it. Some people say, ‘Who cares? They’re just dogs.’ But for the majority of the time, people are just glad that somebody is stepping up, whether it’s an actor or athlete, trying to help out with the bans, whether last year in Miami or this year in Toronto.”

When Buehrle joined the Marlins prior to the 2012 season, his family also faced a ban on pit bulls in Miami-Dade County. However, the family bought a house in a nearby county and Buehrle commuted.

His commitment to dogs runs deep, which is amazing considering he didn’t grow up as a dog lover.

“I never owned a dog until Jamie and I got married,” he said. “We just started getting into it and it just started escalated in seeing how many dogs are out there everyday just for no reason, so it’s just one of those things that caught on and took off.”

Here is a commercial Buehrle did with Jamie and Slater, who does look like a great dog:

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on twitter.com/pgrathoff

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