"A breed of satin and steel. Pit bulls are a mixture of softness and strength, an uncanny canine combination of fun, foolishness, and serious business, all wrapped up in love."

-D. Caroline Coile

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Best Friends Says Farewell to Vicktory Dog, Lucas After a Long Battle with Severe Health Issues


(KANAB, Utah) — A dog who played a pivotal role in saving the lives of canines confiscated from dogfighting busts finally has lost his battle with a myriad of health problems. Lucas, who was Michael Vick’s grand champion, was humanely euthanized at Best Friends Animal Society’s sanctuary Wednesday evening, June 19.

Lucas’ battled-scarred face left a lasting impression on anyone who ever met him—not because of his appearance, but because the often happy-go-lucky Lucas never stopped grinning when he was around people.

Because of the perceived street value based on his previous notoriety and underworld status, the Federal judge who adjudicated the Vick dogfighting case (and authorized the placement of the Vick dogs with rescues), ruled that Lucas be released to Best Friends with the condition that he remain a lifetime-care dog at the sanctuary, located in Kanab, Utah.

Lucas was one of the 22 “most challenging” dogs rescued in April 2007 from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels fighting operation-- dogs that the judge would only release to Best Friends. They came to the sanctuary in January of 2008, following Vick’s trial and the appointment by the court of a Guardian/Special Master to recommend appropriate placement of dogs seized in the initial raid.

At Best Friends, the dogs were affectionately dubbed “The Vicktory Dogs.”

Prior to the Bad Newz Kennels case, there was no hope for dogs confiscated in dogfighting cases, according to Gregory Castle, chief executive officer of Best Friends Animal Society.

"Before Lucas and the rest of the Vicktory dogs came to Best Friends, the policy on dogs taken from fighting rings was that they be killed. That’s it. That was the policy – rescue them from the bad guys and then kill them. After the Vicktory Dogs those policies and organizational positions were changed in favor of every dog being treated and evaluated as an individual.”

John Garcia was co-manager of the sanctuary’s dog area at the time of the case. He was sent back east to get to know the dogs and help them transition to their new life. His relationship with the dogs was chronicled on the National Geographic Channel series “DogTown.”

“Lucas was inspirational from the first time I ever saw him, I was impressed that after all he had gone through, he still loved humans,” said Garcia, who is Best Friends’ emergency response manager. “He showed us the resilience of canines, something we humans need to learn. Bottom line, he was the king. He changed people's perceptions worldwide about who fighting dogs were and what they could become. I think it's time not be sad, but to celebrate his life. He lived a happy life at Best Friends and Lucas saved thousands of other dogs' lives just by being who he was.”

When the dogs first arrived at Best Friends in January 2008, media came from around the country to meet the dogs. While most of the other dogs were very frightened and cowered from the camera, Lucas proudly hopped on top of his doghouse, wagging his tail nonstop and posing for the camera. Several hardened newspeople were visibly smitten with this charismatic dog.

"Ironically, of all the Vicktory Dogs, the one who could never be adopted per court order, was the most social and well-behaved of them all around people,” said Castle. “And that is how Lucas will be remembered around the staff offices where he spent his days. It was a blessing in every way to be around him and to witness his wonderful effect on everyone he met.

“Lucas was bigger than the abuse he had suffered and bigger than his abusers. In fact they never really touched the real Lucas,” Castle said.

Lucas embodied an indomitable and gentle spirit, but also he represented the tragedy and abuse that the worst of humanity imposes upon the best of our animal friends. It was never possible to escape the sad reality that behind his heavily scarred muzzle and intimidating reputation of a grand champion fighting dog was a sweet, affectionate, regular dog who wanted nothing more than to be around people – to love and to be loved.

“Lucas should have been someone’s pet and been raised in a loving home,” added Castle. “His life, however, was stolen by a gang of thugs who thrived on inflicting pain on helpless animals. Yet, he bore not a hint of malice toward people. In fact he makes the case that it is the characteristic loyalty and desire of dogs to please their people that is manipulated and used against them to get them to fight, which most certainly doubles the crime and abuse of dog fighting."

“Lucas was indeed a champion, but his greatest victories were outside the ring. He won our hearts and taught the world about the integrity and depth of character that is a dog.”

By bestfriends.org
KCSG Television - Best Friends Says Farewell to Vicktory Dog Lucas After a Long Battle with Severe Health Issues

Lucky the Bed Bug Dog

Lucky is a common dog name, but this pit bull’s story is anything but common

By Kaycie Goddard (Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)

Lucky’s life didn’t have the best start. Severely neglected, the scrawny, mostly hairless puppy was discovered by his now dad, Peter Schonemann of Russ Pest Control, while he was out performing bed bug inspections in North Carolina.

“I knocked and knocked on the door and no one would answer until I heard this whimpering,” Peter says, “So I took him outside with me and pet his head — it seemed like the only part of him safe to touch. And everyone who saw me said they were glad I had the pup because no one else wanted him.”

Peter took Lucky home to his family who immediately fell in love. A surprisingly clean bill of health had the puppy settling in with his new family in no time. “He ate twice and slept for about four days,” Peter recalls. No one in the family would have guessed that Lucky, seemingly just another of their rescue dogs (of which they now have three), would soon show off a special talent.

Adult bed bugs are just a little bit smaller than an apple seed and can be seen with the naked eye. However, their eggs and nymphs are nearly impossible to find without a special skill set — a skill set that Lucky just happened to be born with. “He would just sniff everything, and yeah he’s a dog, but this was different,” Peter says. Fully trained bed bug detection dogs can cost upwards of $7,000, but Lucky was showing signs that he’d be a good candidate to show what a totally free rescue dog can do. “So we bought some vials to hide the bugs in and Amy started training him to be a bed bug detection dog.”

Peter and Amy are impressed with his progress. “He can sniff out one egg. That’s all it takes,” his dad boasts. “He still gets distracted with other dogs’ toys when we’re searching a place and that sort of thing, but we’re working with him. He’s still such a puppy.”

“Everyone loves him around the office. He comes in every morning to take attendance before we go out for more training,” Peter says. Lucky, now 19 months old, is on track to be a certified bed bug detection dog by the time he reaches his second birthday.

“Lucky is the epitome of a pit bull — he’s loyal and loves to play,” Peter says. “Some clients are afraid of him since he’s a pit bull, but he’s got this goofy ear that stands up all the time so I think that helps.”

When he’s not sniffing out bed bugs, Lucky enjoys running with his mom, getting spoiled at the office, and enjoying a quiet home life with his family. Lucky and Amy ran in the 2013 Canine Crawl on St. Patrick’s Day which benefitted their local shelter, the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. Not only did they participate in the race, Lucky and Amy finished in first place in Amy’s age group.

Stay updated on Lucky and his bed bug detection by following him on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cat Adopts Newborn Pit Bull Puppy

Cleveland Animal Protection League photo

A Mama kitty caring for her own litter of kittens at the Cleveland Animal Protection League in Ohio is pitching in to help shelter staff care for a week-old pit bull pup who needs all the support he can get in order to thrive.

Noland the pup came to the APL last week when he was just a day old, and is said to have been rejected by his mother.  Mama kitty Lurlene has accepted Nolan alongside her babies, who are called Rivette, Espa, Zixi and Tallydab, and she mothers the puppy for about 9 hours a day.

Shelter staff bottle feed Noland and take him home with them at night.

APL President Sharon Harvey said, “Pups that old without their mom … their survival rate is pretty iffy,” in explanation of why they decided to see if Lurlene would accept Nolan into her litter. Lurlene and the kittens welcomed him with no problems.

“Lurlene loves him,” said Harvey. “It’s so adorable.”

Noland will remain with the APL for as long as it takes to make sure he is strong, healthy and ready to be adopted.

“Noland is going to be with us for quite awhile,” said Harvey. “We need to be really sure with him. We’ve got to focus on giving him the care he needs right now.”

Lurlene and her little family.
Photo via
Cleveland Animal Protection League at Facebook
Article by: Editor in News

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

10 Celebrities Who Love and Advocate for Their Pit Bulls

When it comes to the canine kingdom, few breeds are as controversial as the pit bull. Often used as fighting dogs, pits have developed an undeserved reputation for being dangerous.

Unfortunately, this perception has been perpetuated by celebs like Kelly Ripa and Kate Gosselin, who have both gone on record as suggesting the dogs are unsafe to keep as pets. The good news is that pit bulls do have some fans in their corner. Read on to find out about 10 stars who are working to break the stigma surrounding the pooches through advocacy, awareness, and/or lots of adorable photos.

Kaley Cuoco

Pit bull advocate Kaley Cuoco starred in a PSA supporting the breed.

The “Big Bang Theory” star is a huge pit bull advocate. The actress recently adopted her third and frequently tweets about misconceptions of the breed and how much she loves her own pups (and enjoys sharing silly photos of herself with her pooches, as evidenced by the shot above). She also partnered with Angel City Pit Bulls to make a PSA for the dogs, stating that she was “so proud” to work with the organization.

Not only that, but she was one of the first celebs to speak up when the dogs were publicly maligned by talk show host Ripa. On her morning show, Ripa referred to the dogs as dangerous and said, “But the gangster’s dog is uh, I mean if it’s a gangster it would have to be a dangerous, uh, Pit Bull kind of dog, right?” Cuoco immediately spoke up, saying that she was, “completely heart broken and disappointed.” She also tweeted, “I really hope @KellyRipa didn’t say what I think she said this am regarding pit bulls. #Please don’t be true.” Unfortunately, it was true, but perhaps all the protests she received — from Cuoco and others — helped changed Ripa’s mind.
Photo credit: Kaley Cuoco Facebook

Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton owns two rescued pit bulls, Seamus and Marlowe.

Kaley Cuoco wasn’t the only celeb upset by Ripa’s ignorant pit bull comments. Cuoco’s occasional “BBT” co-star Wil Wheaton also took to Twitter — and he blasted Ripa’s remarks. In his first tweet, he said, “According to @KellyRipa, Pit Bulls are ‘dangerous’ and ‘the gangster’s dog.’ Her ignorance breaks my heart, and will hurt Pits in shelters.”

He followed that up with, “I’m not a gangster. My friend @KaleyCuoco is not a gangster. My dog Seamus is not dangerous. @KellyRipa couldn’t be more wrong. Millions of people listen to @KellyRipa. When she spreads misinformation about Pit Bulls, it makes it less likely people will adopt them. I hope @KellyRipa will do some research, spend some time with a Pit Bull, and correct the misleading impression she gave millions of people.”

The former “Star Trek” star also took to Tumblr to defend the breed, pointing out that pits make great therapy, service, and search and rescue dogs. His wife Anne also joined in, tweeting that neither she nor Wil are gangsters or thugs. For the record, the pair have two rescue pits: Seamus and Marlowe.
Photo credit: Wil Wheaton Twitter

Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray makes homemade dinners for her pit bull Isaboo.

Ray loves dogs so much, she founded a line of dog food (Nutrish) that benefits shelter pets. Additionally, her pittie Isaboo has been her constant companion for years, long before Ray had a human significant other. And after Ray did settle down and get married, Isaboo continued to have free run of the house. Ray told People that she fixes Isaboo special dinners, and that the pooch sleeps in bed with the couple.

“I make a dog-friendly version of almost everything that we make for dinner, so she gets a lot of home-cooked food. She likes barley or orzo with chicken stock, carrots and parsley. She likes parsley a lot… We have a queen-size bed and the dog sleeps in the middle. John and I are sort of these little quotation marks on either corner. Isaboo starts out under [the covers], she gets too hot, then she comes back over. We haven’t slept well in six years,” said Ray. It doesn’t seem like she minds too much, though.
Photo credit: rachaelray.com

Cesar Millan

Cesar Millan uses pit bulls in his dog training demonstrations.

Millan is famous for his dog-training techniques, and for years his companion in training was a pit bull named Daddy. Daddy’s mild temperament made him an ideal choice for helping to rehabilitate aggressive dogs, and Millan said of the pooch, “[Daddy] never made a mistake — never, never. He’s never displayed aggression or any other negative behavior. He’s just always helped me. I have never had a dog like Daddy. I’ve been astounded by his intuition, consoled by his affection, and awed by his silent empathy.”

After Daddy passed away in 2010, a new pit bull stepped in to take his place — Daddy’s pit bull protege, Junior. Millan adopted Junior as a two-month old puppy and relied on Daddy to teach the pup appropriate behavior. It worked, and now Junior is the official ambassador for large dog breeds. According to Millan’s website, “Junior [is a] representative of powerful breeds everywhere, from pit bulls to Rottweilers and Great Danes. He will not be a replacement [for Daddy], but a new face of calm submissive dogs at the DPC (Dog Psychology Center), showing the world that it isn’t the breed alone, but the human behind the dog that determines behavior.” In case you couldn’t tell, the Dog Whisperer is a certified fan of pit bulls.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com / Phil Stafford

Jessica Biel

Jessica Biel calls her dog Tina a "55-pound blanket."

Jessica Biel is so in love with her pit Tina that she’s created the hashtag #TuesdayswithTina just to share photos of the pooch on her Twitter and Whosay pages. The pair are often spotted around Los Angeles, where Biel proves that pit bulls make great companions — the active actress regularly takes Tina hiking and to the beach, the park and more.

All that activity apparently takes a toll on the pooch, who has developed a reputation for sleeping in unusual spots. Although Biel was quoted as saying, “I promise I have an actual dog bed for her,” Tina seems content to nap wherever she sees fit. When the dog isn’t happily snoozing away in the actress’ potted plants, the pair cuddle on the couch together (above), and Biel even referred to Tina as her “55-pound blanket.
Photo credit: Jessica Biel Whosay

Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart owns two rescued pit bulls, Monkey and Shanksy.

The “Daily Show” funnyman is such a canine fan that he occasionally lets dogs fill in for him at work (see above). Additionally, he’s a dad to two rescued pits, Shamsky and Monkey, and has gone on record saying that, “pit bulls are very nice dogs.” His most famous observation about the breed happened during the 2008 election cycle, when Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin said that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull was lipstick. Stewart countered with, “One is unfairly maligned in spite of evidence that it is no worse than any other dog, and one is an artificial demographic that is no better or worse than any other mom.”

According to dogster.com, “The Daily Show” is an extremely dog-friendly workplace (a fact that’s confirmed by The Bark). The site reports that, on one particular day, “at least four different [dogs were] roaming around unsupervised. Apparently staff members can and do bring their dogs to work every day.” And during the Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal, Stewart had no qualms about ripping into the quarterback on air. “He calls [dogfighting] a sport! I’d like to cover him in liver and let the dogs see if he’s as fast and elusive as they say he is. My guess is no.” Well said.
Photo credits: The Daily Show Facebook page

Linda Blair

Linda Blair is so passionate about pet rescue that she formed her own organization, the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation.

She may be best known for her pea-soup-spewing role in “The Exorcist,” but these days Blair devotes her time to animal rescue — particularly for pit bulls. The actress is such a huge advocate that she formed her own rescue organization, the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation. Not only does it train, socialize, rehabilitate and work to find homes for pets in need, but the Foundation also provides interesting tidbits — such as Blair’s collection of vegan recipes. Additionally, the organization works to clear the misconceptions about the dogs.

Blair is very open about her love for the breed. “The first dog that I came across that followed me home was this big brown and black brindle pit. Now, the new media said, ‘Run, It’s going to kill you,’ and so I was terrified, like many are still today. The dog that followed me home was asking for help. And he changed my life forever. I gave him a helping hand, and in turn, he healed my heart,” she says.
Photo credit: Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation Facebook page

Alicia Silverstone

Alicia Silverstone's pit bull Butterfly is the "princess of the house."

Silverstone is mom to three pound pups, including a pit bull named Butterfly (also known as “The Pig”). She says that Butterfly has long been the “princess of the house,” and tends to get spoiled the most. ”I’m obsessed with her belly,” Silverstone says. “I love rubbing her belly. It’s so soft.” Silverstone has been advocating for pit bulls for years, in part because she thinks the breed is misunderstood, and that it’s the people who train them to be aggressive that are the problem.

In addition to using her website, The Kind Life, to help aid adoption for shelter pits, she also uses it as a forum for pooch pampering. In 2011, she featured a post on her dogs’ plant-based diet, saying that they are healthier than ever now that they’ve gone meat-free. “Since our dogs have been eating this way, they have stopped getting fleas, hot spots, and their coats look so nice. They are all super healthy with perfect blood work. People always think they are younger than they really are. Feed your animals grains, beans, and veggies like you would eat and you will absolutely see a difference in their health,” she says.
Photo credit: The Kind Life

Josh Hutcherson

Josh Hutcherson rescued an injured pit puppy from a shelter and now takes him on movie sets.

Last year, the “Hunger Games” star made headlines when he rescued a pit bull puppy. The dog, now named Driver, had been dropped off at a kill shelter with a broken leg. A rescue organization saved the dog, and Hutcherson took him home as soon as his leg healed. “[Driver] sat in the shelter for 11 days with a broken leg, and the injury was already about a month old. He’d been sitting in a great deal of pain,” said a rescue worker.

Fortunately, the dog’s life has vastly improved. Not only has Hutcherson provided, “a full stomach, warm bed and a loving owner,” but Driver — who has grown substantially — even gets to accompany his owner on set. It seems that the movies are in the dog’s blood — Hutcherson said his name was inspired by Ryan Gosling‘s character in the movie “Drive.” It looks like the pooch will be hanging out on sets for the foreseeable future.
Photo credits: Hands Paws Hearts and Shutterstock / Joe Seer

Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple postponed her music tour to stay home with her dying pit bull, Janet.

Fans were excited last year when Apple released her first album in seven years. Unfortunately, her tour plans in support of that album were interrupted by her dog’s severe illness. Apple adopted her pit bull, Janet, when the pooch was just a puppy. At the time, she found the four-month-old in L.A.’s Echo Park with a rope around her neck and bite marks on her body, indicating that the puppy had been used in dog fighting. That was fourteen years ago, and the pair have been inseparable ever since. “She was under the piano when I wrote songs, barked any time I tried to record anything, and she was in the studio with me all the time we recorded the last album,” said Apple.

Sadly, Janet suffers from Addison’s disease, so when the dog’s health took a turn for the worse last November, Apple postponed her tour. In a four-page letter posted to her Facebook page, the singer explained her decision. “She’s my best friend and my mother and my daughter, my benefactor, and she’s the one who taught me what love is. I can’t come to South America. Not now. But I know that she is coming close to point where she will stop being a dog, and instead, be part of everything. She’ll be in the wind, and in the soil, and the snow, and in me, wherever I go. I just can’t leave her now, please understand,” she wrote. She has not released further updates on Janet’s condition.
Photo credit: Fiona Apple

It’s clear that these 10 stars have found loving companions in their four-legged friends. We bet they will continue to advocate for the breed, showing how wonderful, loving and non-aggressive the dogs can be. Perhaps Blair’s comments on pit bulls say it best:

“The misconceptions, the prejudice, and the misunderstanding of this breed… This is the original American hero…There’s a history, and if you get into it, you understand they’re an amazing dog."

Here’s hoping more people follow in these celebs’ footsteps and raise them as the gentle pets they were meant to be.

by China DeSpain

Channing Tatum and Lulu

Dog: Lulu / Guardian: Channing Tatum

                                        By Briana Fugitt (Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)

Here’s another reason to keep your eyes on actor Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street). Channing has his very own pit bull mix, Lulu, who was adopted from a shelter in his home state of Alabama when she was just seven weeks old. He loves to dance with her, and not just any old dancing, either – Channing and Lulu like to reenact the famous scene performed by Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing. Need proof? Check out the video below.

Video du Jour

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Celebrity Pit Bulls!

                                              (Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)

By Briana Fugitt

Actress Lake Bell, from The Practice and Boston Legal, found her pit bull Margaret through her agent, who just happened to be on the Board of Much Love Animal Rescue. One photo of Margaret and Lake was sold. Not knowing much at the time about pit bulls and their bad reputation in the media, Lake couldn’t understand why people would cross the street to avoid walking near her pit bull. In an interview with The Pet Press, Lake explains, “My getting Margaret was based on pure connection. I had no idea that pit bulls were notorious or that there was any bad press about them. It’s weird. I just thought she kind of looked like the dog that was in The Little Rascals. I didn’t think of her as looking mean. She looked beautiful, and so kind and sweet, and she was a little timid when I first got her. She was just special.” A true story of love at first sight!

People.com released Lake Bell and Scott Campbell's official wedding photo. They were accompanied by their "dogs of honor" Texas and Margaret.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pit Bull Problems

I'm often asked about my love of the Pit Bull breed(s).

Why do I love them?
How did I come to love them?
Was I always drawn to these dogs?

Growing up, my family had many dogs of many different breeds. 
But I'd be lying if I said that we ever had a "Pit Bull." I'd also be lying if I said I'd ever wanted to have a "Pit Bull" ... or that my parents would've ever allowed us to have a "Pit Bull."

It's not that my parents were "bad" people... they just didn't know any better. Therefore, I didn't know any better. I was never "against" Pit Bulls, but I also wasn't "for" them, either. Mostly because... I just didn't know much about them. 

But what I *knew* about them... all that I *knew* about them... was based on what I'd *heard* about them.
And it wasn't good.

Back then, I'd never heard anything positive said about "Pit Bulls." 
No one I knew ever had a "Pit Bull." 
No one I knew ever wanted a "Pit Bull." 
No one I knew had ever even encountered a "Pit Bull."

Therefore, even though I never "judged" these dogs, I honestly never thought much about them. And I certainly never thought: "One day... I'll grow up and save them."

So... when did this change for me?
Well, it was in 2009, and his name was Rudy. 

By then, I was 24 years old, and I'd met many other "Pit Bulls." So... I knew a little more about these dogs, and I cared a lot more about them. But even still, at the time, I wasn't using my voice to help them, nor was I using my rescue efforts to save them.

Until... I met Rudy.
He was the one who changed everything.

Ask any "Pit Bull lover." 
Many of us weren't always "Pit Bull lovers."
Instead, it took one dog... one "Pit Bull" ... to change everything. And almost every "Pit Bull lover" can name who "that dog" was for them.

For me, "that dog" was Rudy. 

I'll be honest. I didn't fully trust him at first. 

Not because he was a "Pit Bull," but because he was a dog who had been chained, beaten, and starved for his whole life. I didn't know him... he didn't know me. I was unsure... he was unsure. I didn't know what to expect... he didn't know what to expect.

But I saved him, and he knew it.
So he loved me, and I knew it.

Rudy came to me as a "rescue dog." As with every other rescue dog I take in, I was simply planning to bring him back to health, and then find a family to love him forever. 
Of course, I soon realized... I could never let him go.  

Because he was the "Pit Bull" who would change my life.

At the time, I didn't fully realize just how much he would change my life, my mission, my future. I also didn't realize just how much unnecessary judgment I'd face, as a result of that decision... simply because, I loved a "Pit Bull" ...

Before Rudy, I'd saved many dogs, and I'd always been praised by others for my love of dogs, for my rescue efforts, for my commitment to my cause. But when I saved Rudy, and I began to rescue other "Pit Bulls" like him... that's when the public scrutiny entered my life:

"OMG Ashley!!! A Pit Bull?!"
"Why would you?!"
"How could you?!"
"What the hell are you thinking?!"

Initially, I was utterly shocked, and offended. I'd done nothing wrong. In fact, I was trying to do something "right."

I didn't rescue Rudy, simply because he was a "Pit Bull." I didn't trust Rudy, simply because (or in spite of the fact that) he was a "Pit Bull." I didn't love Rudy, simply because he was a "Pit Bull." 

Instead, I rescued Rudy, because he needed me. I trusted Rudy, because he trusted me. I loved Rudy, because he loved me. 

He was the most amazing, incredible, loving dog I've ever known. And... he just-so-happened to be... a Pit Bull. 

Soon, I realized that very few others were willing to rescue Pit Bulls. Therefore, I started saving more of them. Clearly, it was a choice I made, based on my experience with Rudy. I wanted to save others like my baby, the dogs who had no other hope. 

But it didn't take long for me to understand the weight of my decision. 
When I started rescuing Pit Bulls, I suddenly realized that I was now "different." 
In the minds of many, my rescue dogs were not "dogs" at all.
Instead, I was saving "monsters." 

This realization changed me, in so many ways. I was hurt; I was angry; I was disgusted. Suddenly... I was on a mission... to prove every critic wrong. Because they WERE wrong.

That being said, I don't save "Pit Bulls," simply because they're the only dogs worth saving. I save "Pit Bulls," because these dogs are equally deserving, equally amazing, and equally loving, when compared to any other dog (maybe moreso?). Plus, they're the most judged, most misunderstood, and most hated breed in existence. And very few other rescuers can/will save them. That's where I come in...
I mean... if you were hated, based on nothing more than how you look, wouldn't YOU want someone to stand-up for you?? I know I would...

I could go on for days about how incredible the Pit Bull breed(s) are, but please... don't just take my word for it. 

Instead, go to a shelter, and meet a Pit Bull. Contact an animal rescue group... and ask to walk a Pit Bull. Seriously, go freaking love-on a Pit Bull. 

Trust me... it just takes one... to change your perspective.And that one "Pit Bull" ... just may change your life. 

*Written in loving memory of "the one" who changed me, Rudy

By Ashley Owen Hill, founder of Lucky Dog Rescue

Thursday, May 2, 2013

To Hercules With Love

     In 2010 and 2011, I featured a story about the most amazing duo I've come across - a sweet little girl, Kylie and her beloved pit bull, Hercules. Those posts will forever be my favorite story that I will share on this blog. If you have not had the pleasure of reading them, they are here: first one, second one. Tonight, I read some news that I have been dreading ever since I first discovered this sweet pair. You see, Hercules has been battling cancer for five years. He has been holding on for so long, even after losing a leg, but he does not have much fight left in him. Hercules has touched hearts all over and he will never be forgotten. Here is the post from the photographer who introduced the world to a beautiful girl and her dog and the astounding bond between them.

My good friend Hercules, the pit bull, has about 2-10 weeks to live. Cancer is getting the best of him and his time with us running out. Many of you know him, have met him at events or know him through the portraits of him that I have taken in the last few years. He has marched in several Luv-a-Bully marches, first with 4 legs and then with 3 legs and served as an “ambassadog” at many rescue events around Orange County.

I met Hercules in 2009 at a Luv-a-Bully march in Brea. The march was a gathering of about 200+ pit bulls and their owners to dispel the public opinions that pit bulls were mean fighting dogs and protest BSL (Breed Specific Legislation). Dr. Paula Terifaj (now the owner of DogSpa) asked me to photograph the event and that is how I met Hercules and his family, Kylie (now 5) and mom Leslie. I snapped some photos of Herc and Kylie at the event and a few months later Leslie contacted me, in a panic, to do portraits of Kylie with Hercules because Hercules had cancer and she did not know how long he would live. Kylie was two then and Leslie was afraid that without photos Kylie would not be able to remember Hercules when she grew up. Since that time, the bond that Hercules shares with his girl Kylie has become a personal photographic project for me. The images of Kylie and Hercules together have touched many people and helped to change the negative perception some people have of the pit bull breed. The portrait work has served as a medium to communicate the true nature of pit bulls as protectors and kid-loving, furry balls of love.

I know a lot of pit bulls!!! Of all of them, Hercules is the most loving, the most patient, and the best ambassador for the breed I’ve ever met. His work here on earth is just about done. I’ve captured some memories with the photography we’ve done, but it’s still so difficult for Kylie and Leslie to deal with the loss they will grieve someday very soon. I have been trying to think of something to do to help them and then today it hit me . . . I know we are all busy people, but I would like to make a simple but heartfelt request . . . send Hercules and/or his girl Kylie (who is now 5) a card or a note before he goes. Wish Hercules the best, send hugs, send notes of gratitude for allowing us to see what dedication and love is all about. Tell Hercules how brave he is to have fought cancer for 5 years. Tell Kylie and Leslie how you admire that they have cared for him so well these five years while Hercules had numerous treatments to keep his cancer at bay.

I have tried to remember all of the people that Hercules has touched in his life, but I’m sure there are so many more. Feel free to share this message with anyone you know, that might know Hercules or be interested in his story. Tell everyone about him and spread his story far and wide. He’s a good dog and good pit bull and he’s leaving a big ‘ole pawprint on my heart and the hearts of many.

I have also posted this on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lspetportraits

Please send cards and love to:

Hercules c/o FOCHP
26423 Scott Rd.
Menifee CA 92584

Thank you so very much for caring about the breed we love.


P.S. If you haven’t already read it, Roni Raczkowski wrote a wonderful article about Hercules and it was published on the Best Friends site and went viral a couple of years ago. http://bestfriends.org/News-And-Features/News/Are-You-There,-God–It-s-Me,-Hercules/

P.S.S. For those of you who do not know, a portrait from 2012 of Kylie and Hercules are featured as the month of July in the Unexpected Pit Bull calendar http://theunexpectedpitbull.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=50

One of the first portraits of Hercules and his girl Kylie (Summer of 2010). This image is up on display in several Orange County location, has traveled all over the internet, and has been seen by thousands of people.

Here are some shots from the session we did last summer. Some of these images are featured in the Unexpected Pit Bull Calendar 2013.


This portrait was shot on April 24th. Hercules still seemed to be feeling OK but he was a bit slower and got tired a bit quicker. He still enjoyed being with his girl and I got more than a few kisses from him.

When I was done shooting I handed Leslie the camera and asked her to take a photo of me and Herc. I am so glad I did. Thanks Leslie for everything.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

There Is No Us vs.Them: We ALL Want Safe Communities

In February of 2013 House Bill 5287 and Senate Bill 178, were introduced in Rhode Island. The companion bills called for state-wide regulation of the ownership of “pit bull” dogs and would have required, among other things, mandatory insurance, confinement, muzzling, and banned from walked within 100 feet of a school, and other severe restrictions. The bills would have created statewide BSL. In March of 2013, both bills were withdrawn by their sponsors.

Animal Farm Foundation’s Executive Director worked closely with Rhode Island the constituent who submitted the bill to his legislators, in order to help affect a positive outcome. She writes about her experience here:

Last month a Rhode Island Senator introduced legislation targeting “pit bull” dogs. The language was some of the most inflammatory I have ever seen in legislation. But as I read the legislation it was clear that this was motivated from a place of deep emotion.

My experience as an advocate has taught me that almost every single instance of proposed breed specific legislation is motivated by emotion – a reaction to a single, frightening event. Or, maybe it is a reaction to something frightening that could have happened, but didn’t. BSL is always fueled by fear and a desire to address the issue of safety. It’s always about the fear of not being safe in our own communities. We all want to feel safe. And that’s something we can all agree on.

I called the senator who sponsored the legislation and asked him if he was willing to tell me about his motivation for filing the bill. In order to help him understand that I wasn’t calling to start an argument, I explained that while on the surface it may seem that we didn’t agree, that I was certain we really did. I explained that we both probably wanted the same thing: for ALL the citizens of Rhode Island to feel safe. So although the senator and I did not agree on how to get there, we shared a community of interest. We both agreed everybody in Rhode Island deserved to be protected from reckless dog owners. We had established common ground to stand on together.

safety circles

Turns out, I was the first person who had called the senator with solutions regarding building safe communities, instead of complaints. The senator asked me to speak with the constituent who had asked him to take up this legislation in the first place. I was glad to!
The constituent, a dog owner himself, had a very scary experience with a dog in his community. While they were out for a walk, another person allowed their dog to severely injure this constituent’s dog. The dog needed emergency surgery and lots of stitches. It was a legitimately terrible experience for this citizen and his family – they were afraid their pet was going to die. They had every right to be angry and frightened. I would have been too.
Afterwards, there was a dangerous dog hearing regarding the incident. It became clear that the reckless dog owner didn’t care if his dog was destroyed. He’d simply get another dog if this one was gone.
The dog owner was the problem – he’d failed to properly manage his dog – and he was the one to blame for the incident. But since the victim does not live under the “pit bull” tent as so many of us do, he was susceptible to the incorrect notion that the “pit bull” was to blame for what happened to his dog. He believed that in order to prevent this sort of thing from occurring again, it was “pit bull” dogs that needed to be restricted. He didn’t want what happened to his family to ever happen to another family. He had exhausted all recourses allowed by law, but nothing had really changed. He knew he needed to do something to bring attention to the problem of reckless dog owners.

So after months of meeting with his city council about this matter, this gentleman was given the opportunity to meet with his senator to discuss a legislative solution. The result was that statewide breed specific legislation (BSL) was proposed in Rhode Island.
Obviously, I do not agree with their legislative solution. But as a dog owner who would do anything to keep her pets safe, and as a human being who genuinely cares about the well-being of her friends and neighbors, I could understand why they felt like they needed to do something. I know firsthand what it feels like to live in a city where legislation (fueled by the acts of a single, reckless dog owner) would ultimately force me to either leave my home and my job, or surrender my dog to be killed, was being considered. I was afraid. And I no longer felt safe in my own community. And I also know what it is like to feel unsafe in my own neighborhood because a reckless dog owner will not properly contain his dog. I have a “pit bull” dog who is still too afraid to go for walks in our own neighborhood because he was bitten by the neighbor’s at-large dog.

In talking with the constituent it turned out that we’re more alike than we are different. Instead of focusing on our disagreements, we started with our shared community of interest and our goals regarding building a safe community. We discussed how BSL has never been proven to reduce dog bites and fails to increase public safety. We agreed that in order to reach our shared goal – community safety – BSL was not going to be an effective solution for addressing reckless dog owners in Rhode Island.
Together we determined that there was much room for improvement in how Rhode Island currently deals with reckless dog owners and that by focusing our efforts there – on addressing reckless owners of ANY dog – we could affect real transformational change in regards to increasing public safety. We looked at existing animal control laws and discovered where a lack of enforcement (of current ordinances) could be addressed. When current legislation isn’t being enforced, introducing new legislation makes little sense – why not try enforcing what you already have on the books, before introducing new legislation? We could both see that there were many steps we could take to improve community safety in Rhode Island, without banning dogs based on physical appearance or breed label.
Today, there is still much work to be done, but all the stakeholders now agree that BSL is not going to be the solution.
It’s worth noting that I didn’t attempt to influence the constituent’s decision by talking about how much I love “pit bull” dogs. I was not attempting to change how he felt about “pit bull” dogs. From the beginning it was clear that we were both on the same side, so I focused the discussion on our mutual interest in building safe communities and shared the research that shows BSL would not lead to an increase in public safety. BSL fails responsible “pit bull” dog owners, such as myself, and it fails our neighbors and fellow community members, such as this gentleman.
We all wind up losing with BSL, no matter what side we’re on.
us vs them

The takeaway here is that there is no us vs. them when it comes to wanting to be safe in our own communities. I am absolutely certain of this. Responsible dog owners (of all kinds of dogs) and various community members typically have more in common than it might seem at first. On the surface it seems as if we are worlds apart, but remember: safety is the goal for everyone. We all want to be safe. Rather than creating a divide based in misunderstanding and anger – us vs. them – we can start the conversation from the common ground we all share: a desire to be safe in our own communities. Safe from reckless dog owners and safe from ineffective, discriminatory legislation. That how real solutions which truly benefit everyone are achieved.
I think that the us vs. them syndrome is rooted in the chronic fringe that dances around those of us who are working hard to make a difference. On one side, there’s the anti-”pit bull” dog, agenda-based hate groups that masquerade as champions of victims’ rights. On the other are the arrogant, reckless dog owners who disregard basic ownership laws allowing their dogs (“pit bull” dogs or any other dog) to become a nuisance or a threat to all of us. Both are the exception. They are on the far ends of the spectrum and have little in common with the majority of us who live together and are working towards fair, safe, effective solutions. These fringe groups do not get to define how the rest of us interact with one another.
Let’s refuse to play this divisive game of us vs. them. We did. Together, we found a common ground solution that benefits all the people of Rhode Island. You can do this too. You don’t need to be the Executive Director of a non-profit or even a member of a group to build bridges and let the “other side” know that you understand their concerns and want to work with them to create safe communities for all of us to enjoy.

We’re all more alike than we think. The same goes for the dogs: “pit bull” dogs are not uniquely different than other dogs – for worse OR better. The way to move forward effectively isn’t to get stuck championing how different or special or unique our dogs are or by spewing anger at the other side. We can accomplish so much more if we focus our energies on what we have in common. We’re all on the same team. We all want safe communities.
For more information, please watch our presentation on Breed Specific Legislation.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

“Pit Bull” Dog Advocates: Is the Info You Share Hurting or Helping?

Here’s a riddle for anyone who communicates on behalf of “pit bull” dogs:
What happens when you promote “pit bull” dogs for adoption and advocate for their fair treatment while ALSO communicating outdated, fear-inducing information about the very same dogs?

Answer: You wind up hurting the dogs you’re supposed to be helping.
We’re betting the public are left scratching their heads when organizations that are seemingly FOR “pit bull” dogs, are simultaneously putting out information that makes the dogs they’re advocating for look like highly deviant, potentially even deadly, dogs.

Think we’re exaggerating? A quick look around the Internet and various “pit bull” advocacy pages and the average person – who may have no prior information about “pit bull” dogs – will discover subtitles such as “Pit Bulls: Never Trust Them Not To Fight,” among other inflammatory and subjective pieces.

If our mission is to promote the adoption of “pit bull” dogs from shelters and to advocate for breed neutral laws that do not discriminate, then what purpose does it serve to scare the public sideways, with articles that perpetuate fear and have little to do with the individual dogs themselves?

Pit Bull Dogs: Playing and Tired
                        We trust that these two “pit bull” dogs are simply playing. To set them up
                        for success we get to know the dogs as individuals and we supervise the dogs
                                    during play groups.  No breed-specific warnings necessary.

That kind of tired, negative information promotes fear not fact, and hardly supports our collective work to end canine discrimination and save lives.

Could it be that some advocates and organizations don’t consider “pit bull” dogs to be normal dogs? That’s the only conclusion we can come to based on the inflammatory information we find on various “pit bull” advocacy websites, such as “because of their strength and fighting ability, Pit Bulls can easily do a lot of damage in a short period of time.” After reading breed-specific hype like that all over the web, how can we expect anyone to adopt a dog labeled “pit bull” or not be afraid of them?

The very people who are supposed to be advocating on behalf of the dogs are making them look like deviant monsters, set apart from all other canines.

Dogs are more alike one another than they are different. There is NO behavior that is unique to one dog breed.
                                     Dogs are more alike one another than they are different. There
                                     is NO behavior that is unique to one dog breed. You can get to
                                         know “pit bull” dogs by learning more about DOG behavior.

If our goals are to save lives, help the public to better evaluate the right pet dog for their families, to properly care for the “pit bulls” they already own and love, and to end discriminatory polices, then animal welfare organizations and advocates need to promote accurate information, not hysteria-inducing sound bites that further marginalize dogs labeled “pit bull.”

In short: Scare tactics are not resources.

And further: our opinions are not facts, even when they’re based on our personal experiences.

“Pit Bulls” are dogs. The behaviors they exhibit are DOG behaviors. And not a single one of these canine behaviors are unique to “pit bull” dogs alone. But just looking at the websites with “pit bull” dog resources would make anyone think that “pit bull” dogs are in need of highly specialized, vigilant, and skilled handling…or disaster will strike.

If advocates use fear in order to get the public to be responsible (like some sort of canine “Scared Straight!” for dog owners), they’re missing the point. ALL dogs need responsible owners. We don’t need to make “pit bull” dog owners afraid of their own dogs in order to discuss responsible dog ownership or give them excellent resources to help them set their dogs up for success. Fear-based generalizations aren’t helping the dogs.

                                     All dogs need responsible owners who manage them properly
                                and care for them based on their individual needs. Don’t single out
                               “pit bull” dogs as different than any other dog or burden them with 
                                 breed-based generalizations that may cause more harm than good.

It is our responsibility as advocates to constantly re-examine our language, the information we’re sharing, and the research that we’re promoting. Rather than weeding out old content published back in the ‘00s, many sites have kept outdated, inflammatory posts and information on their websites and in their resources. This information, published years ago, might have been the best information and advice available at the time, but in the progressive world of animal sheltering and canine research, five to ten years is a lifetime ago. Our work has changed, as the information and research we’re privy to changes.

The dogs are depending on us to stop adding to their problems by recycling old content and tired warnings. Stereotypes, myths, generalizations, and opinions that are floating around the internet are promoted and perceived as fact. We owe it to the dogs to be vigilant in the information we provide to the public, even when that means admitting we were wrong in the past or that new information has come to light. We must also be aware that what we say might be misunderstood in and outside of the animal welfare world, resulting in serious, real life consequences for the dogs and their people. And we need to stop using fear and warnings in place of solid, fact-based information and resources.

The dogs need us, the experts, to revamp the outdated information that perpetuates the misperception that “pit bull” dogs are uniquely different than all other dogs and further marginalizes them in shelters, in the law books, and even in the homes of the people who love them. Fear isn’t Fact.

Article from: http://animalfarmfoundation.wordpress.com/

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tips for Attending Meetings on Breed Discriminatory Laws

10 Tips for Attending a City Council Meeting or Public Hearing Where Discriminatory Dog Laws are Being Discussed

Reprinted with permission from If Dogs Could Talk and StubbyDog.org

(1) Stay for the entire meeting. I recently attended a public hearing in Middletown, New York, where a new dog ordinance was first on the agenda for discussion. After the dog discussion ended, the dozens of advocates in attendance left the hearing; I was one of two people who stayed put. Several of the council members voiced disgust over this. One said, “These dog lovers claim to care about the community, but they leave after their issue is finished. How can they say they care about the community?”

(2) Dress to impress. There’s a time and a place for our doggie t-shirts and sweatshirts; a formal political meeting is not it. We’ll be taken more seriously if our attire conveys professionalism and respect. And if you’re like me, your dog/advocacy paraphenalia is ragged from wear and tear. Politicians are not impressed by this. They wear formal ”work” clothes to these things, and so should we.

(3) Avoid the “isms.” It’s tempting to compare discriminatory dog laws to racism, the holocaust, fascism, and other social atrocities. Don’t. It especially insults people who have experienced those “isms” firsthand, and your legislators could be one of them. A Washington Post column noted, “Nazi comparisons are the most extreme form of political speech; once one ties his political opponents to the most deplorable chapter in human history, all reasoned argument ceases.” In an Ohio hearing to discuss the repeal of state-wide breed specific legislation (BSL), one committee member was so offended by a comparison of BSL to racism that she walked out of the room. You want/need them to stay in the room.

(4) Don’t come empty handed. When you speak, it’s important to present the facts, studies, and research to demonstrate that discriminatory dog laws have never resulted in increased public safety. But don’t expect the legislators to remember everything you said. Instead, present them each with hard copies of what you cited. Having one printed copy per legislator shows respect and makes it easier for them to digest everything. They probably received countless emails on the topic, so delivering these materials in person increases the chances they’ll really read it. It might not save the trees, but it could save the dogs.

(5) Propose a solution. There’s a good chance you’ll convince legislators that discriminatory dog laws are not effective, but don’t forget the most important part: the solution. A small town Mayor once told a room full of dog advocates, “You all say that our proposed ordinance is not the answer, but none of you has proposed an alternative plan.” Once an elected official proposes legislation, it’s hard to go back on the promise to take action; even though their opinions may change, they still feel the need to “do something.” Propose that something. It can be as simple (and effective!) as enforcing existing leash laws, fining owners who don’t license their dogs, or partnering with community groups to offer low-cost vaccination and microchip clinics. If the legislator can claim this as his own idea/solution, even better! But spell this out for them, so they can take action.

(6) Focus on public safety for people. Legislators are interested, first and foremost, in ensuring public safety for their voting constituents. So frame your arguments in ways that appeal to their goal. They may or may not care how much you love your dog, and sadly, they may or may not care about the plight of dogs in your community. But they will always care about public safety to people. Fortunately, effective dog laws also enhance public safety for people. These are the points you want to stress. Help legislators understand that this is not a zero-sum game; the existence of your dog does not come at the expense of humans’ wellbeing.

(7) Share your stories strategically. Telling legislators how much you love your dog doesn’t always change minds, especially if they mistakenly believe your dogs exist at the expense of public safety. Instead, tell stories of how your dogs have benefited the community. Is your dog a therapy dog? Describe how he’s enhanced the lives of vulnerable people in your community (e.g., isolated seniors, children with special needs). Do you spend money on your dog? State the dollar amount you pay annually to local business owners (e.g., veterinarians, pet food stores, dogwalkers, trainers) because of your dog.

(8) Practice your poker face. This is a tough one, especially when emotions run high. But the dogs are counting on you to be polite and in control of your words. There’s a good possibility that a legislator (or another audience member) will say something hurtful and offensive about you and/or your dogs. Don’t let this catch you off guard; get a friend to practice insulting you (for real!) and test out your poker face. If you can’t stay collected after hearing these insults, better to find out now rather than in public and on record. Also, don’t moan-and-groan, roll your eyes, whisper to the person next to you, or tsk-tsk when someone says something offensive. Reacting that way will hurt, not help, your case.

(9) Introduce yourself to legislators after the meeting. When the meeting is over (and you’ve stayed to the end, of course!), kindly introduce yourself to the legislators – even the ones on the other team. Shake their hand. Look them in the eye. All of this puts a human face on the issue, and those simple interactions can go a long way in humanizing the issue. And it’s a good business practice.
(10) Say thank you. When you’re shaking hands, thank the legislators for being concerned about public safety. In doing so, you can reiterate that you share this goal.

For more information on challenging discriminatory dog laws, visit Stop BSL, Bless the Bullies, the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, or the National Canine Research Council.

Download the PDF

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Raja, the Dock Diving Pit Bull

Dock diving gives a timid pit bull the courage to soar

By Kirstyn Northrop Cobb ((Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)

The SPCA worker knew about the frightened little pit bull running through her neighborhood, and frequently tried to get her in off the streets. Due to sheer determination on the part of the SPCA worker, the little pit bull finally ended up in the shelter, afraid, heartworm positive, and very pregnant. Within a week, little pit bull puppies were born. As is too often the case, the puppies were adopted, but mom was left behind. One of those puppies went home with Ashley Rogers, but had to return to be microchipped. During that return trip, the shelter worker asked Ashley if she would like to meet her puppy’s mother. Ashley said “yes” and was led to an office where the little mommy pit bull was residing during her heartworm treatment. When Ashley sat down, the mommy pit bull placed her head in Ashley’s lap. The shelter worker started crying, because this was the first time that the little pit bull had voluntarily gone near someone, much less put her head in someone’s lap. It was fate, and the little pit bull was adopted and named Raja.

Raja was still nervous, and life was still overwhelming; she would go to the pet store with her mom and cower the entire time. About a year later, Ashley became involved in dock diving, a sport where dogs jump off a dock into a body of water, and are judged by the distance that they soar. Maybe dock diving would be the thing to build confidence in Raja.

At first, Ashley had some concerns about taking a pit bull into a sport dominated by labs and Chesapeake Bay retrievers, but the community was very supportive of her. Soon, Ashley had a winner on her hands, and Raja won the senior title! Currently, Raja is the #1 pit bull in the country, with a personal best jump of 19 feet.

Dock diving did the trick, and Raja gained confidence. And don’t think that the accomplishments stopped at dock diving – Raja has also earned her Canine Good Citizen certificate and passed her therapy dog test! How amazing is that?

Congratulations to Ashley and Raja, two amazing champions!