"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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

When the President Calls About the Vick Dogs

Now that President Obama has jumped on the Michael Vick bandwagon with an official call to Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie to congratulate him for giving the quarterback another chance, all of us here at Best Friends are waiting for a call from the White House to congratulate us for giving Vick’s dogs a second chance. I’m quite sure that the other organizations that also took on some of the canine survivors of the football star’s dogfighting operation are similarly poised.

The conventional wisdom on this is that the president’s people have put their finger to the wind and decided that Michael Vick has been sanitized for political consumption by his success. (It’s interesting to speculate how he would be perceived if he were having a lousy year.) Personally, I’m kind of tired of hearing and reading about Michael Vick and wish that the media would lose its obsession with the man, especially since any mention of or concern about the dogs who managed to escape with their lives from his care is conspicuously absent from his public statements.

While we no longer wait by the phone for a call from Mr. Vick asking after his dogs, the likelihood of a call from the president has brought new esprit to the switchboard team and I’ve put together some notes on those we call the Vicktory dogs in case someone puts the historic call through to me by mistake. The conversation will go something like this:

“Mr. President, what a surprise! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to commend us for giving the Vicktory dogs a second chance. Sure, I’ve got a few minutes to fill you in … kind of a presidential briefing, I guess.

“To be quite honest, sir, it’s kind of a mixed bag as far as how the dogs are doing. After all, these critters were right there when Michael Vick and his friends were body slamming some of their doggie buddies to death and electrocuting, drowning and hanging others. Unlike Mr. Lurie and the NFL, Bad Newz Kennels wasn’t into second chances. What’s that, sir? Yes, he’s having a great year … yeah, a terrific arm.

“So, as I was saying, it’s a mixed bag on the dogs, though some are doing very well, all things considered. Handsome Dan, Cherry, Mel, Oliver and Halle have all been adopted and some of these guys were pretty shut down, you know, terrified when they arrived here. Mel was mentioned in Bill Plaschke’s article in the L.A. Times about Michael Vick … yeah, he interviewed Mel’s new family in Texas. Poor dog still shakes in a corner whenever a new person comes to the house, but he’s in a great home and that’s what counts.

“What’s that, sir? Sure, we want them all to be adopted and live in homes with a nice family, but unlike Mr. Vick, the court has ordered that most of the dogs, based on their behavior evaluations back in 2007, have to pass a good citizen test before they can be adopted. No, I’m serious. It’s called a Canine Good Citizen certificate, CGC, and it means that the dogs are able to demonstrate self-control, sociability and friendliness toward people and other dogs. Actually, it’s quite an accomplishment for a dog who was encouraged to be aggressive or maybe was used as a bait dog. Sir? Oh, a bait dog is a relatively non-aggressive dog who gets thrown into the ring with a stronger fighter just to give the stronger dog confidence and a taste for blood. That’s right, sir, kinda like a press secretary.

“Anyway, 16 dogs are still at the Sanctuary: Mya, Shadow, Lucas, Layla, Willie Boy, Georgia, Meryl, Ellen, Tug, Denzel, Ray, Squeaker, Lance, Curly, Little Red and Oscar. And they get a lot of attention. Most of them have health issues; some have bebesia, a blood parasite that spreads among fighting dogs and flares up occasionally. Some have immune problems that we speculate came from excessive use of steroids, but they continue to make progress.

“Ray, who was really shy and dog-reactive when he arrived, has earned his CGC. Oscar got his CGC and Shadow has made such great progress that he has a potential adopter coming to meet him next week. We’re very pleased. Most of the dogs are now social enough to share a run with another dog and some spend a few days a week in staff offices, getting comfortable in new environments with people coming and going. Yes, I guess it is a bit like the new Congress, except that most of the dogs would never bite you and I doubt that Congress people are able to share a run, um, I mean, an office.

“Why do we do all this for these dogs? Well, Mr. President, that’s a big question but I’ll try to keep it short. First of all, we don’t believe that killing the Vick dogs, which many people and even some animal organizations wanted to do, would have been right. We know that they are individuals with the potential to have rewarding lives. They were like child soldiers kidnapped by warlords and forced to fight; no one thinks child soldiers should be killed just because they are damaged. Same thing applies here. Also, the Vicktory dogs are victims of a crime. As long as they are struggling to regain even a semblance of the life that should have been theirs from birth, then that crime continues to affect lives, dog and human, and is not yet a thing of the past, regardless of Michael Vick’s jail time or talent. You’re right, sir, it’s not funny and I’d hate to think of Bo in that situation, too.

“Of course, no worries! I’ve got a pretty busy day as well. Nothing like yours, but thanks for calling and please pass along a Happy New Year to Michelle, the girls and Bo from all the animals and staff here at Best Friends…. Oh, just one more thing: I think it would be a great message to send if you adopted a shelter dog as a companion for Bo, maybe a cute pittie girl with a big smile and wiggly butt. Sure, we can set you up. Call anytime — you’ve got the number. And a good day to you, too, Mr. President.”

By: Francis Battista, Co-Founder, Best Friends Animal Society

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pit Bulls Love Christmas, Too!

Meet Lily - Rescued From Starvation, She Now Helps Alzheimer Patients

Shelter dogs often fall victim to the old stereotype: If it's been returned, there must be something wrong with it. Mixed breeds can have a tough time finding a home because potential owners are unsure of exactly what they're getting, but when the rescue pup has bull terrier in its bloodline, the stigma can be even worse.

The truth is that many rescued mutts, regardless of their breed backgrounds, go on to become incredible pets that are sources of inspiration for their families and everyone they meet. (Benji, the canine movie star, was a mutt that brought happiness to millions.) In honor of National Mutt Day, which raises awareness and encourages adoptions from shelters, and to prove you should never underestimate a puppy with a checkered past, we want to tell you Lily's story.

Near Starvation

We know what you're thinking, but despite her strong build, Lily wasn't rescued from a dog fighting ring. Nor is she the least bit aggressive. This pup's sad story is one of severe neglect. In fact, when Lily was rescued by Pennsylvania SPCA officers, she was on her way to starvation, confined to a yard with two other dogs, including one that had died from lack of food.

Lily's rescue was featured on Discovery's "Animal Cops: Philadelphia" in an episode titled "Dead Dog Denial." As the story goes, Lily's neighbors noticed the dead dog and alerted authorities. Lily's owner claimed she knew nothing about the dead dog in her yard, her neighbors told officers a different story. After an autopsy concluded that Lily's brother had died of starvation, the woman was charged.

Meanwhile, Lily was taken in by PSPCA for treatment and put into its foster program. Though Lily's rescue was dramatic enough in its own right, her rescuers had no idea what bigger and better things were in the skinny pup's future.

A Second Chance

It was through the PSPCA foster program that Lily came to live with her new mom, Alexandra Golaszewska. "When I picked her up, she looked like a black-and-white mutt," Golaszewska tells Paw Nation. "But as she ate more food and got more exercise, her muscles developed. Even the shape of her head changed."

Only then did Golaszewska realize that Lily had some pit bull in her bloodline. However, in stark contrast to her breed's tough-guy stereotype, Lily was quite frail. "She seemed like a dog who probably never got out of her small, fenced-in yard," says Golaszewska. "Her paws were really delicate and got very irritated if we walked even a block on the sidewalk."

Even in the first days at her foster, then forever, home, Lily showed that she was special. "She immediately touched noses with my cat, and wherever I took her she always approached everyone with friendship," Golaszewska explains.

From Rescued to Rescuing

According to Golaszewska, a few friends told her about an upcoming Canine Good Citizen test being held by the PSPCA. Though she thought Lily was probably not ready yet, PSPCA behaviorist Nicole LaRocco encouraged Golaszewska to take Lily as a training exercise. Instead of simply taking notes, Lily amazed her new owner by passing the test on the first try.

Since then, Lily has completed her therapy dog certification and now visits a nearby nursing home regularly. She even has her own Facebook page. The first time Golaszewska took Lily to the nursing home, she witnessed firsthand the powerful effect her therapy pup had on 15 patients in the Alzheimer's ward.

"As soon as we walked into the room, it completely lit up. The patients came to life; they were so happy to see a dog," Golaszewska says. "Lily wags her tail so hard that she looks like she may fall over, which everyone thought was charming, and she toured the room and gave everyone kisses."

Lily's journey from a criminally neglectful home to bringing joy to people at a nursing home makes for an incredible story, but it also illustrates the power rescue pets have to impact and improve our lives. Believe it or not, Golaszewska says she wasn't looking for a dog when she was encouraged by a family member to foster Lily -- but look how that turned out.

Read Paw Nation's article on National Mutt Day and be sure to check out the main site here.

by Josh Lopoer

Here are a few other pit bulls who have a  Facebook page. Each one of these dogs had a rough start in life but after being adopted are living up to their full potential. These dogs are excellent ambassadors for the pit bull breed!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pit Bulls Find a Loving Home -- Together

This is a love story, but it's not between a person and a dog.

It's between two 2-year-old black pit bulls, whose reputation and appearance usually place them among the last dogs to find homes. Not only did Hope, who was found starved and abandoned in Buffalo, find a home, but she found a home for her best friend, too.

Picked up as a stray, Hope was near death and "skin and bones" when she came to the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter, says volunteer Tanya Dyryanka of Buffalo, who fosters animals who need special care or just don't thrive in a shelter environment.

"Everybody said I was crazy when I took her to foster, because she had never even been in a home," says Dyryanka. "But she caught on so quickly." One of the important lessons Hope had to learn was how to interact with other dogs. "She loved them, but she would just run up to them and jump on them, which wasn't good," Dyryanka says. While Hope put on some weight and learned house manners, she also played with another young dog, another black pit bull named Esteban, who was being fostered by a friend of Dyryanka. The two loved to romp and wrestle together.

Dyryanka had had Hope for about three months when she got a text from Melody Halligan of Sloan, whose dog, Sam, had died at age 14.

After Sam's death, Halligan felt it was too soon to open her heart to another animal, but her daughter, Shannon Bailey, urged her to go to the SPCA Serving Erie County "just to look." They saw a dog they liked, but when they returned a few days later, that dog was being walked by a prospective adopter. Although they left without the dog, Halligan realized she was ready to adopt again. She went home and searched petfinder.com, where many rescue groups and shelters post photos of adoptable animals. There she saw Hope.

"I kept coming back to her face," says Halligan. "I'd look through all the animals, and I kept coming back to Hope."

Halligan was glad not to have to go through house-training and puppy problems with the 2-year-old dog. But there was something appealing in her face. She "just looked like she needed a family," Halligan says.

It was love at first sight when Halligan, her boyfriend Ron Swan and her son, Jordan, met Hope. "We fell in love instantly," says Halligan.

At home, Halligan found that Hope "was very needy. She glued herself to my side and always needed affection and attachment." Three weeks after adopting Hope, Halligan contacted Dyryanka again -- this time to ask about a second dog. "I asked if there was anybody there who would be a good match for her."

Little did Halligan know that there was a not only a good match, but a perfect match for Hope. "I was ecstatic, because Esteban was still looking for a home," says Dyryanka. "They always got along so well, they were just attached at the hip. Hope is a sweet girl, but she's high-energy, and Esteban is a really mellow boy, so I knew he'd fit right in with her. It was meant to be," says Dyryanka. She and Esteban's foster owner "had even joked about it for so long, saying, 'Wouldn't it be the perfect home to have Hope and Esteban go together?'"

The reunion of the two dogs was joyous. "They were very happy to see each other, running around and chasing each other," says Halligan. "It was like long-lost lovers when they got together, and I said, 'How can I separate them again now?' I said they're reunited now."

Esteban "looks like a little larger version of Hope," says Halligan. "I have pictures of them side by side, and it looks like Me and Mini-Me. I would say 95 percent of the time they get along wonderful, they sleep together, they lay together. At times, Hope gets on Esteban's nerves."

Has the addition of a second dog taken the canine focus off Halligan? "No," she says. "Now the two of them follow me around everywhere. I never had two dogs at one time before, and the whole family is really enjoying them."

In fact, sweet-natured and devoted Hope and Esteban have inspired others who meet them to adopt pit bulls. Halligan's daughter, Shannon Bailey, adopted Bella, a pit bull, and Bailey's boyfriend's father adopted one, too. "We're just a big pit bull family now. I am now absolutely in love with the breed," says Halligan. "I think they are just wonderful, very loving, very loyal dogs."

The amusing pair love to wear clothes, so Hope, who came so close to death months ago, dressed as a pig and her buddy Esteban was a cow for Halloween. "They like to dressed up and be under blankets and get all snuggly." And, she says, "Everywhere we take them, people say, 'Oh they are so cute!'"

The two dogs who met before they had a permanent home can now look forward to being together for the rest of their lives. "I always say this is their love story," says Halligan.

By Anne Neville http://www.buffalonews.com/life/article278294.ece

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pit Bull Laws Have Teeth, Need Braces

Helen Keller owned one, as did presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

Sergeant Stubby died as a hero serving in France in World War I, and the lovable Tige was Buster Brown's best friend.

Even Petey, which ran the streets in the 1930s with the kids in Our Gang comedies, was a pit bull.

Whether real or fictional, the American pit bull was not always considered a pariah, demonized in news reports until communities worldwide legislated against it, and in some cases, banned it to reduce vicious attacks.

Dog advocates often refer to breed bans as knee-jerk reactions by politicians to highly publicized attacks, said Ledy Van Kavage, lead attorney for Best Friends Animal Society and co-author of a chapter on dangerous-dog ordinances in the American Bar Association book, Dangerous Dog Laws, published in 2009.

"I call them panic policymaking at its worst," Van Kavage, of Illinois, said of breed-specific laws. "In reality, any dog bites. We want good, safe legislation with the focus on reckless owners and generic, dangerous-dog laws."

Last week, the Dearborn, Mich., City Council turned down legislation to include breed-specific language (commonly referred to as BSL) in its vicious-dog law, in part because of a presentation by Van Kavage.

In Akron, the owners of certain dogs that are believed to be pit bulls, described as any American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or any mixed breed of any of those dogs, and canary dogs, are subject to additional security requirements.

Few serious attacks

A study the American Veterinary Medical Association recently released estimates that about 72 million dogs live in the United States, with 37 percent of all households, or 43 million homes, owning at least one.

While dog bites seem to be rather common based on a national survey of about 10,000 people, the study indicates dog bite-related fatalities appear to be rare, at about three fatal bites per 10 million dogs.

A person would stand a better chance of dying from a lightning strike, the report shows.

The study, published in the October edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, was written by Gary Patronek, Margaret Slater and Amy Marder. The conclusion is that breed-specific legislation does nothing to prevent dog bites.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of Colorado and smaller jurisdictions, Patronek and his colleagues estimate that a community would have to ban more than 100,000 dogs of a targeted breed to prevent a single serious dog bite.

"Enthusiasm for BSL persists despite the lack of empirical evidence that legislation of this type reduces the risk of injury from dog bites or reduces associated costs to communities or insurers," the report indicates.

Breed-specific legislation is appealing to lawmakers for three reasons, according to the report: misperception of risk; misinformation and stereotyping; and erroneous beliefs about its effectiveness.

Sensationalized publicity about certain breeds being particularly aggressive, as well as popular beliefs about some breeds' physical and behavioral characteristics contribute to the erroneous belief that certain breeds have a propensity to bite people, the report states.

Saved from death row

Such misconceptions might have played a role in the fate of a bulldog Akron police impounded during a drug raid a few years ago. The owner of the dog, a suspected drug dealer, ordered the animal to attack officers.

Akron police face this situation all too often, said Lt. Rick Edwards, public information officer for the department.

Officers must assess the situation in each case, he said. If a dog charges an officer, it might have to be put down.

"Each situation is different. They have to look at the aggressiveness of the dog," Edwards said.

In this case, the officers felt the excited dog was vicious and ordered it impounded at Summit County Animal Control, where it was held for several months awaiting disposition of the case. Eventually, Municipal Judge Annalisa Williams issued an order to euthanize the dog because it was used in a crime, said Craig Stanley, director of administrative services for the county.

During the months the dog lived at the pound, caretakers began to realize it was no more than 7 or 8 months old when it had arrived. And although it fit Akron's physical description of a vicious dog, it was obvious the animal was deaf and could not have responded to the suspect's order to attack, Stanley said.

"I would play with him every time I went in. I could stand right next to him and shout his name and he didn't respond," Stanley said.

"When the [euthanization] order came out, a lot of the employees were sad about it."

He visited Judge Williams and explained the situation. She agreed to a plan to take the dog off death row. Pound workers moved it to a shelter outside the county, where it could be placed for adoption.

The chain of events illustrates the problems many animals face if they are the property of reckless owners, Stanley said.

Animal control is a law-enforcement agency charged with protecting the citizens of Summit County from vicious animals in a humane way.

Rescue groups, by contrast, have accepted the task of protecting animals from irresponsible owners, bad breeders and puppy mills, as well as dogs at the mercy of unscrupulous people.

Mistaken identity

Pawsibilities, the Humane Society of Greater Akron, is by law required to rescue and provide care for neglected and abused animals in Summit County.

Four years ago, as many as 80 percent of the dogs living at the Humane Society were considered pit bulls. Today, less than half that percentage call the Twinsburg shelter home.

"The Humane Society is one of the few shelters in the state of Ohio that takes them in and adopts them out," board member Carianne Burnley said.

Kristen Brannigan, director of behavior and adoption testing at the shelter, attributes the successful placements to programs designed to educate the public about "bully breeds." Also, DNA testing is made available — at a potential owner's expense — to determine whether any breeds singled out by law are in the dog's genetic makeup. The $85 tests have helped increase adoptions of long-term residents, she said.

"If the DNA test comes back with no 'bully' breed, the adoption rates skyrocket from 30 to 80 percent," Brannigan said.

At the Humane Society's National Pit Bull Awareness Day program in October, more than 250 visitors were challenged to "pick the pit bull" on a chart with photos representing 24 breeds. The photos were pulled from reputable, pure-bred breeders' Web sites, Brannigan said

"Not one [visitor] was able to pick out the American pit bull on the first try," Brannigan said.

The legal hassle of owning a dog that arbitrarily has been labeled a pit bull because of its appearance is one of the biggest problems the agency faces in placing animals.

Ohio is the only state that singles out "pit bulls" in its legislation as vicious dogs.

Brannigan said every dog at the Humane Society undergoes temperament testing before it may be adopted. Also, anyone who shows an interest in adopting a "pit-bull type" dog is advised of the law in his or her community and given leads on insurance companies willing to provide the $100,000 in liability coverage necessary to comply with Ohio law.

DNA testing in many cases is proving that although a dog's characteristics might indicate a certain breed, the animal's parentage is not reliably assessed by its appearance.

A study published this year in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science indicates that many mixed-breed dogs do not resemble the predominant breeds identified by a DNA analysis. The study, conducted by Victoria Voith, Elizabeth Ingram, Katherine Mitsouras and Kristopher Irizarry, shows there is little correlation between the probable breed composition assigned to a dog and the identification of breeds by DNA analysis.

In other words, it is unwise to judge mixed-breed dog by appearance.

"Justification of current public and private policies pertaining to breed-specific regulations should be reviewed," the study concluded.

Overcoming their past

Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary, a 33,000-acre animal rescue and rehabilitation center based in southern Utah, recently kicked off a national initiative called Saving America's Dog, to restore the pit bull's image and to challenge breed discrimination laws across the country.

In April 2007, in a highly publicized case, 51 pit bulls were seized from a dog-fighting operation at Bad Newz Kennels, owned by NFL quarterback Michael Vick in Smithfield, Va. Vick was ordered to pay nearly $1 million to rehabilitate the animals.

Animal advocates Bill and Kim Jones of Bath Township, who became involved with Best Friends when they helped the agency rescue animals after Hurricane Katrina, were called on to help rehabilitate 22 of the most challenged dogs taken to the sanctuary. They spoke Wednesday at the Fairlawn branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library.

The Joneses arrived at Best Friends the same day as the Vick dogs. They found the animals so traumatized, they cowered in corners when humans entered their pens and refused to cross thresholds because "it meant something bad was going to happen to them," Kim Jones said.

Today, with some mishaps along the way, the majority of the Vick dogs are doing well. Three are certified therapy dogs and many have found new, adoptive homes after their painful start in life, Bill Jones said.

Because of the experience, the couple, along with Best Friends, have become breed advocates urging the removal of breed-specific language in favor of more effective laws to protect people from vicious dogs. Best Friends will be bringing that message to Ohio next year, Bill Jones said.

"Best Friends has targeted Ohio to get the [breed-specific] law rescinded," Jones said.

Readers can take a "pick the pit" challenge at http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/findpit.html

By Kathy Antoniotti

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pit Bull Halts Flow of Tears With Toys and Tenacity

When Susan Dyer Reynolds hired a professional trainer for her newly adopted pit bull, Jasmine Blue, the trainer started his assessment by putting a treat on the floor and saying, "Off." Of course, Jazzy went straight for the treat and promptly got squirted with a water bottle. Again, he put a treat on the floor. This time Jazzy looked at it longingly, but didn't move. When the trainer said, "It's OK," only then did Jazzy timidly approach the treat. "She's going to be easy," the trainer told Reynolds. "She's smart and incredibly sensitive."

After the trainer left, I went downstairs to check on my dad, who was watching a baseball game. Jazzy climbed into bed with him and tried to sneak in another bath of kisses. My dad laughed, and she wagged her big pit bull butt. "I love my granddog," he said. "I know," I smiled, "and she loves you, too."

One week later, my 76-year-old father passed away quietly in his sleep.

The day that followed was a whirlwind of friends taking turns making sure I was never alone. When my dad's longtime girlfriend, Kickie, arrived, she fell into my arms, a pile of grief and tears. Later that evening, we sat on the sofa, talking a bit, but mostly just sitting in stunned silence. Then Kickie perked up.

"Where's Jazzy?" she asked. Normally Jazz was there - usually on the sofa between my dad and Kickie, while I was relegated to the dog bed because there wasn't enough room on the sofa for me.

Kickie headed downstairs to check on her. When she returned, she was clutching my dad's favorite hat. "Jazzy was lying on your Dad's side of the bed," she said, tears streaming down her face. "She got up and went into his closet, sniffed his shoes, his slippers and his hat, then got back up on his side of the bed again. It's like she knows he's gone."

A week later, I drove Kickie to her home in San Jose. When I returned, it was the first time I had been alone, and that's when it finally hit me. I curled up on my bed and was sobbing when I felt something push at my back. I turned around to see Jazzy above me holding her pink stuffed bunny. Her ears were back and her butt was wagging tentatively. I rolled over and continued crying.

Again, I felt something nudge my back. This time she had her orange octopus. "Go away, Jazzy," I said. But she didn't listen. Now she had her Girducken, a stuffed duck with giraffe spots. When I sat up, I discovered she had taken every toy out of her toy box, as if she were determined to find the right toy, the one that would make me stop crying, the one that would make it better.

I wrapped my arms around Jazzy's neck and wept into her fur. She rubbed her cheek against mine, she pawed at my arm and she tried to put the Girducken in my mouth. When I started laughing, she dropped it on the bed and tried to give me a lick. Some people like it, some people don't; I'm one of those people who doesn't mind. Not when it comes from an incredibly sensitive dog.

This story first appeared in "Jasmine Blue's Tails of the Dog Park," published monthly in Northside San Francisco magazine ( http://www.northsidesf.com/). Reynolds is working on a book based on the column.

By: Eileen Mitchell

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Video du Jour

Hector The Pit Bull’s Never Ending Quest For The Perfect Bed


Pit Bull Thwarts Home Invasion Attempt

When the Boltz family adopted the deaf Pit Bull, they knew that she would provide them with wonderful companionship. What they didn't know was that the newly adopted dog would save their house, perhaps even their lives.

Just weeks after adopting the deaf dog, someone attempted to break into the family's home in the middle of the night. They first attempted to access the home through a cellar door, breaking a chain. They eventually smashed a window and kicked in a door.

A brazen, bold attack on an innocent, sleeping family. But there was a surprise in store for these would-be robbers. Inside of the home, they were met by a 165 lb Great Dane, and the family's newly adopted deaf Pit Bull, Dolly.

The family heard the commotion and they were able to call their senior Great Dane back, but the deaf Pit Bull, unable to hear the frantic calls, chased the crooks away into the darkness.

The family was frantic - their newly adopted dog was lost. The next day, they contacted the local humane society and animal shelter. After 48 hrs., they attempted to file a report for the missing dog, but the police did not want to help.

They tried to contact the local media, to share her heroic tale, as well as to get assistance in locating the lost dog. They were told by the media outlets that they could not run a story like that because of the stigma surrounding Pit Bulls.

Rescue Ink learned of the lost hero dog and they assisted the distraught family in their desperate search. Thankfully, after several days of searching and multiple postings of "lost dog" flyers being put up, Dolly was found.

It turns out that a neighbor had found the lost dog. She had taken her in after seeing her running loose. The neighbor was frightened for the dog's safety - apparently she had overheard some boys talking about capturing Dolly and using her for fighting.

When the neighbor saw the lost dog flyers, she called the owners and a happy reunion followed.

Dolly is an amazing dog. She courageously protected her family, even though that family was new to her. After just weeks in her new home, she may have literally saved her family's life.

Who knows what the people were capable of? To smash windows and kick in the doors of a home that is occupied is a bold move - perhaps desperate. Thankfully for Dolly, the Boltz family will never have to know what those people had in mind that night.
As for that local media that would not share Dolly's heroic tale due to her breed? They didn't hesitate to run 2 stories in the following weeks about Pit bull attacks. It would seem that they pick and choose what information they want the residents of the area to hear.

By: Penny Eims


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blind Kids Get A Helping Paws From Pit Bulls

Pit Bulls, a breed often associated with the stereotype of uncontrollable aggression, are proving just how loving, protective and helpful they can be to those in need!!!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Peanut-Detecting Dog Sniffs Out Danger, Helps Boy Fight Peanut Allergy

Grey Sheer, who's allergic to peanuts, snuggles up to Layla, the family’s pit bull mix that's been trained to detect their scent.

As a service dog in training, Layla searches her family's grocery bags, kitchen cabinets, backpacks, stairwells, playgrounds, hotel rooms and other suspicious areas for the odor she was trained to detect: peanuts.

When the young pit bull/bulldog mix detects even the tiniest scent of a peanut, she lies down on her belly, stares at the culprit and points with her paw.

Her reward: a squeaky ball.

This subtle act of heroism is a lifesaver for her Manhattan owners and their 6-year-old son, Grey, whose severe allergic reactions to peanuts and shellfish have landed him in the hospital at least a dozen times.

The boy's food allergy first reared its head when, at age 2, Grey went into anaphylactic shock after eating a peanut butter cracker that had rolled under the couch.

"We're constantly afraid that he's going to die," said his mom, Catherine Sheer, 28, who noted that Grey's allergy is so bad he can break out in hives just walking down the aisle at the Whole Foods market. "It's like living in a world where there's cyanide everywhere," she added.

Peanuts - or their scent - are all around us. Their residue, which can be in the form of butter, oil or dust, is found or left behind in schoolyards, libraries, movie theaters, on airplane seats and just about anywhere people go.

For that reason, many kids with peanut allergies are home-schooled and rarely have play dates.
"I was determined for him to have a normal life," said Sheer, who is dismayed that service dogs are not allowed in New York City's public schools.

Still, Grey attends public school in Chinatown - unlike his preschool, it is not peanut-free - where he is shadowed by a paraprofessional who makes sure the boy steers clear of any nuts. Grey's family and the school nurse are armed with epinephrine and Benadryl to treat allergic reactions.

Meanwhile, Layla, a rescued pooch, was never meant to be a peanut-detector dog. Grey and his mom were on their way home from school one day when they spotted the 4-month-old puppy playing in the window of the Animal Haven Shelter in SoHo. Layla had been flown in from an overrun Missouri shelter by Paws and Pilots as part of a big rescue effort.

It was love at first sight for Sheer when Layla licked her hand and then rolled over and went to sleep.

"She's gentle and calm and the best dog in the universe," Sheer said of the mixed breed with a bad reputation, who, despite urban myth, is even tender with her year-old baby, Scarlett.

The idea to train Layla as a scent detection dog occurred to Sheer in August during a month-long family trip to San Diego, but she was told that scent dogs are generally shepherds, poodles and golden and Labrador retrievers.

When the family took a day trip to Legoland, however, Layla stayed at the Snug Pet Resort, where trainer Mike Stone saw great promise in the loyal mutt as a "peanut dog" and agreed to try training her, Sheer said.

After spending two months out West with Stone, Layla recently returned to Manhattan, where, despite her young age and breed, she continues to show great promise as a lifesaver for Grey.

While pit bulls aren't generally used as scent dogs, Sheer believes their great desire to please their owners make them worthy of the job.




Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Oddest Couple in the World

A male Chihuahua's tenacity in guarding his beloved pit bull girlfriend helped save their lives. Now, the couple is inseparable.

Sometimes even an abandoned, injured dog with a bad rap ends up doing great things. And so it was with a female pit bull, being guarded by her beloved boyfriend, a Chihuahua.

What the Pennsylvania dog warden did not realize when he rescued the pair on Labor Day, was just what a sweet story these two dogs had to tell.

Once the pit bull got into a crate on the warden's truck, the Chihuahua would not follow. Instead, he put himself between the two, barking and growling at the warden.

"So I sat on the ground ... all the time having a conversation with a Chihuahua that was guarding a Pit Bull!," the warden writes in a story about this odd couple.

"Eventually he let me get close enough so we could have a face to face & heart to heart discussion. I told him that his intentions were very noble and would not go unrewarded for the both of them."

The warden would not follow his usual routine when finding a pit bull — to take the dog to a facility that could euthanize her within 48 hours. "Due to this little guy's tenacity and I do believe true affection for his Pit Bull lady," the warden writes, "I was not going to let that happen." Cute couples, it turns out, melt hearts.

The warden found them safe haven at the no-kill Washington Area Humane Society. He asked the staff, could they please find room in their already overflowing no-kill shelter for just two more dogs?

"We truly didn't have room but we could not let them go," says Alice Wancowicz, assistant manager of the shelter in Eighty Four, PA. "They stayed in the bathroom for two days until we could get a run open."

And so, the staff embraced the pair, naming them Bonnie and Clyde. "We were trying to think of a good duo kind of name," says Wancowicz. "They're kind of like rebels but they're not, they stick together."

Now, it is Bonnie who protects little Clyde. "They are just adorable together," Wancowicz says. "Bonnie just lays there and Clyde jumps all over her. They are totally inseparable." The couple goes on walks together, eat together, sleep together, with Clyde snoozing on top of Bonnie or cuddled within her front arms.

"When Bonnie got spayed, Clyde was beside himself," Wancowicz says. "He wouldn't settle down, was crying, on your lap, off your lap, you could tell he wasn't himself."

So it comes as a surprise that they have not been adopted. "They would fit in anywhere," says Wancowicz. "They don't have issues with adults or kids."

The dog warden writes that we need to change our opinions of pit bulls: "You may find a loving, loyal and dedicated companion to fight for like our Chihuahua friend did. Perhaps this story will give you a second chance to revisit your thoughts and opinions concerning Pit Bulls. They deserve the opportunity to overcome a stereotype that can most certainly lead them to death."

We know that Tonic readers like to take action. If you want to help out Bonnie and Clyde, click here (http://www.washingtonpashelter.org/) to visit the Humane Society's website. Or, you can call them at 724-222-PETS (7387)

By Diane Herbst
Photos courtesy Washington Area Humane Society.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Saving Audie: A Pit Bull Puppy Gets a Second Chance

When Michael Vick's dog fighting ring was discovered, more than forty dogs were rescued. But their struggle was far from over. Most animal advocates believed the former fighting dogs were too damaged to save, but Audie and his kennel mates would prove them wrong when public outcry and the publicity surrounding Michael Vick's punishment won them a chance at a happy life. Teaming up once again with William Muñoz, photo-essay veteran Dorothy Hinshaw Patent gives an emotional account of one dog's heartwarming story, showing how Audie, who was only a puppy when he was rescued, was rehabilitated, adopted, and now enjoys the love he deserves.

Buy the book here.

Check out Audie's Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dog Owner Can't Forgive Michael Vick

An appropriate article to read after Michael Vick's blowout game last night. (Not to mention Desean Jackson's comments)
Mel, a black pit bull, cowers to the corner while another dog, Pumpkin, shields him. Mel was one of the 47 pit bulls in Michael Vick's interstate dogfighting ring. (Richard Hunter / November 16, 2010)

While Michael Vick was screaming toward the sky, a black pit bull named Mel was standing quietly by a door.

On this night, like many other nights, Mel was waiting for his owners to take him outside, but he couldn't alert them with a bark. He doesn't bark. He won't bark. The bark has been beaten out of him.

While Michael Vick was running for glory, Mel was cowering toward a wall.

Every time the 4-year-old dog meets a stranger, he goes into convulsions. He staggers back into a wall for protection. He lowers his face and tries to hide. New faces are not new friends, but old terrors.

While Michael Vick was officially outracing his past Monday night, one of the dogs he abused cannot.

"Some people wonder, are we ever going to let Michael Vick get beyond all this?" said Richard Hunter, who owns Mel. "I tell them, let's let Mel decide that. When he stops shaking, maybe then we can talk."

I know, I know, this is a cheap and easy column, right? One day after the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback officially becomes an American hero again, just call the owner of one of the dogs who endured Vick's unspeakable abuse and let the shaming begin.

Compare Vick's 413 total yards, four touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns against the Washington Redskins to the 47 pit bulls who were seized from Bad Newz Kennels, his interstate dogfighting ring. Contrast one of the best three hours by a quarterback ever to the 21 months he spent in prison.

Cheap and easy, right? Not so fast. Vick's success is raising one of the most potentially costly and difficult perceptual questions in the history of American sports.

If he continues playing this well, he could end up as the league's most valuable player. In six games, he has thrown for 11 touchdowns, run for four more touchdowns, committed zero turnovers and produced nearly 300 total yards per game. Heck, at this rate, with his Eagles inspired by his touch, he could even win a Super Bowl, one of the greatest achievements by an American sportsman.

And yet a large percentage of the population will still think Michael Vick is a sociopath. Many people will never get over Vick's own admissions of unthinkable cruelty to his pit bulls — the strangling, the drowning, the electrocutions, the removal of all the teeth of female dogs who would fight back during mating.

Some believe that because Vick served his time in prison, he should be beyond reproach for his former actions. Many others believe that cruelty to animals isn't something somebody does, it's something somebody is.

Essentially, an ex-convict is dominating America's most popular sport while victims of his previous crime continue to live with the brutality of that crime, and has that ever happened before?

Do you cheer the player and boo the man? Can you cheer the comeback while loathing the actions that necessitated the comeback? And how can you do any of this while not knowing if Vick has truly discovered morality or simply rediscovered the pocket?

If you are Richard Hunter, you just don't watch football.

"When you look at Mel," said Hunter, a radio personality from Dallas, "you just don't think about how Michael Vick is a great football player."

A couple of years ago, Hunter and his wife Sunny were watching a documentary on Best Friends Animal Society, the Utah sanctuary where the court sent 22 of Vick's 44 seized dogs. It was after 1 a.m. when the show featured a Vick victim that had been so badly abused, it refused to move, behaving as if paralyzed.

"My wife said, 'Get out of bed, get on the computer and e-mail those people, I want one of those dogs,' " Hunter recalled.

Nearly 18 months later, they became one of six people to adopt one of the dogs. The process included a home visit by caseworkers, an extended visit to the southwest Utah sanctuary, home monitoring by a dog trainer and a six-month probation period.

"These dogs were scarred in many ways both emotional and physical," said John Polis, Best Friends spokesman. "It was something we had never really seen before."

Hunter and his wife quickly saw Mel's scars. The dog wouldn't bark, wouldn't show affection, and would spend nearly an hour shaking with each new person who tried to touch him.

It turns out that Mel had been a bait dog, thrown into the ring as a sort of sparring partner for the tougher dogs, sometimes even muzzled so he wouldn't fight back, beaten daily to sap his will. Mel was under constant attack, and couldn't fight back, and the deep cuts were visible on more than just his fur.

"You could see that Michael Vick went to a lot of trouble to make Mel this way," Hunter said. "When people pet him, I tell them, pet him from under his chin, not over his head. He lives in fear of someone putting their hand over his head."

On Monday night, no, Mel was not hanging out by the televised football game. He was hanging on his owner's bed as they watched something on HBO.

"How can you support football when you know one of their stars did this to a dog?" Hunter said. "If more people saw Mel at the same time as they saw Michael Vick, he wouldn't be so lauded."

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the lessons learned from Vick's crimes were on display in a postgame quote from Eagles star receiver DeSean Jackson.

"We were like pit bulls ready to get out of the cage," he told reporters.

Cheap and easy, huh?

By Bill Plaschke


Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Honor of Veterans Day

Here's an incredible story about the value dogs have in the lives of veterans suffering from PTSD. Starring a pit bull named Cheyenne.

When You Think of Liberty Think of Me

 When you honor the red, white, and blue
When you celebrate our nation's liberty
Think of the one who's been beside you
in spirit, in heart, in body...
No being could be as loyal as me, for I am
your best friend, your partner... your family

When our nation was young
I was the runner, carrying messages
in a war that would leave us undone
where brother fought beside brother.

And, alone in the face of terror
I moved through enemy lines,
as families fought one another,
my mission foremost in my mind.

I was the one waiting for you even though
I sensed you would not be coming home
I languished on our wooden porch
growing thinner, until the war was over
and my days on earth were done.

I was in the trenches, fields, and meadows
accompanying you into foreign lands.
With you in the jungles and swamps
and at your heels on hot, dusty roads
or on blistering, desert sands.

I have been first in the line of fire
first to enter a field laden with mines
putting myself in your stead.
I went unflinching, leading,
to wherever, doing whatever you said.

With you I've jumped from the belly of a plane
dropping into places neither of us had ever seen.
All for the greater glory and good. All for humanity.

When a bullet took your life I laid by your side
my chin on your chest--despair in my eyes.
Content to have remained with you,
until a man in our unit lifted me up,
carrying me back to the war... as he cried.

When we had parted, when you'd gone home
and when on foreign soil I was left all alone
through no fault of your own I was forsaken.

The government advised you that your friend
and helper; the soldier who'd been by your side,
would not be accompanying you home...
To our home, our country, I could not be taken.

And so it was that we were abandoned
after you tearfully told us we could not follow
the men with whom we had served.

Confusion set in as we watched you depart;
being left behind, we had not deserved.
You left us dispirited, empty, and hollow
for we had given to you all of our all.
Like ghosts were we, missing our souls,
for you had taken with you... our hearts.

I have been injured for you.
And I have died for you.
In your absence I have wasted away
from the loss of you.

I'm the scruffy, thin dog sitting quietly
next to the veteran in his wheelchair.
On the hill, the band plays a song
and the man softly cries, while
fireworks light up the night's air.

Gently I place my paw on his knee
lay my muzzle on his withered leg.
He looks at the small flag he is clutching
then he turns his attention to me.

His eyes are filled with thoughts and tears
but his smile is as warm as the sun.
"Thank you for reminding me," says he,
"what's been sacrificed for the freedom we've won."

In the now, we cannot know
who will be needing who.
But what you may not know is
that when you'll be needing me
I'll be needing and looking for you.

We've been a team, you and me
through the many years
that have shaped this land,
and God has blessed us mightily.

So, every now and then, thank me--
with a look, kind words, and the
touch of a gentle hand...

When you think of liberty
and count the reasons you are free...
Don't forget to think of me!

Copyright © 2004 by Kathy Pippig Harris

Read an article here about Sgt. Stubby, America's first canine war hero.

Read the story about a veteran who was prescribed a pit bull after serving in Iraq. Denver, Colorado said that the service dog violated the city's ban on pit bulls.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pit Bulls' Visits Heal Patients, Reputation

Joyce Baldwin, Plainfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center resident, loves visits from Murphy, a 4-month-old pit bull. Murphy's owner believes pit bulls make good therapy dogs. / Matt Kryger / The Star

Pit bulls have long been known for their vicious behavior and little else.

Whether it is fighting other dogs to the death or attacking people, pit bulls have developed a bad reputation that has been hard to shake.

A Mooresville woman, though, is making an attempt to tear down that stereotype one nursing home at a time.

For the past six months, Kim Lane has visited nursing facilities in Anderson, Martinsville, Mooresville and Plainfield with her "two boys" -- Milo, a 3-year-old pit bull, and more recently Murphy, a 4-month-old pit bull -- to provide therapy for staff and residents.

"I promised Milo when he was a puppy that we would change people's minds," she said. "It was hard at first because as soon as some places heard the word pit bull, they said, 'no.' I even gave up at one point. But six months ago, I decided I would try even harder, because I felt Milo's talents were just wasting away."

Milo already has a Canine Good Citizen certificate and is being trained to be certified as a therapy dog and to serve in hospices.

Lane said what makes pit bulls such good therapy dogs is the same trait that some owners take advantage of when they are training them to fight and be mean.

"Pit bulls will do anything to please their owner, even if it means fighting to their death," Lane said. "But if you channel that desire to do good things they were meant to do, they have the perfect disposition for it. My dogs have been treated and handled with nothing but love, so Milo, in particular, is just one big mush ball."

The people who get weekly visits from Milo and Murphy couldn't agree more. Many say it is the highlight of their week.

Joyce Baldwin, a resident at Plainfield Nursing and Rehabilitation, can't wait to have the dogs climb up on her bed with her.

Baldwin said she lost her dogs just prior to moving to the facility. So Lane's dogs have helped her cope with the depression many nursing-home residents endure.

"Aren't these dogs the sweetest things?" Baldwin said. "They have brought me so much joy and always cheer me up. What you hear about pit bulls isn't true. They are good dogs. I don't know how anybody could not like these two."

Chris Ray, administrator at the Plainfield facility, said he believes in pet therapy and often uses dogs, birds and even fish to help cheer up and relax residents there. So he was delighted and had no hesitation about having pit bulls come into the facility as therapy dogs.

"You always think about the concerns when you hear pit bull, but once you meet them, that all goes away," he said. "You can just see the change in the residents' faces when the dogs come around."

Lane said she believes both dogs can sense when someone needs extra love and attention.

They can even do a few tricks to entertain residents, and Lane also allows residents to feed them low-fat treats.

"As long as we can change at least one person's mind about pit bulls and make someone happy every visit, I consider it a good, productive day, and hopefully, it starts a domino effect that changes people's perceptions," she said.

By: Josh Duke


Monday, November 1, 2010

Pit Bull Resources

Here is a list of pit bull resource websites compiled by
The American Dog Magazine:

All or Nothing Pit Bull Rescue  

Animal Farm Foundation  

Bad Rap

Bama Bully Rescue 

Bless the Bullys   

Bull 911 

Casa Del Toro Bully Breed   

Chicagoland Bully Breed Rescue   

Dead Dog Walking Pit Bull Rescue   

Defending Dog  

Denver Kills Dogs   

For Pits Sake   

Hug A Bull   

Indy Pit Crew   

Karma Rescue   

Love A Bull Rescue   

Mid-America Bully Breed Rescue    

Mike's Dog House   

Missouri Pit Bull Rescue   

Natl Canine Research Council   

Our Pack   

Out Of The Pits   

Pawsitively Pit Bull   

Pit Bull Rescue Central   

Pit Bull Lovers   

Pit Bull Rescue San Diego   

Pittie Love Rescue   

Recycle-A-Bull Rescue   


Save A Bull Rescue   

Save The Pit Bulls   

Stop BSL  

Understand A Bull  

Villalobos Rescue Center  

Wiggle Butts Bully Rescue  


Friday, October 29, 2010

Three Things You Can Do To Make Your Community Pit Bull Friendly

This past Saturday was National Pit Bull Awareness Day so I hope everyone was thinking pits as they went about their daily rounds. They certainly were aware of Pit Bulls in the Bronx (yeah, I know it’s Bronx, N.Y., not the Bronx, but that’s where we lived when I was born and it’s always been da Bronx to me). To help plant a flag for this annual commemoration, Best Friends sponsored Pet Bull Palooza at Crotona Park in the Bronx in collaboration with ASPCA and The Mayor’s Alliance for New York City Animals. The ASPCA rolled in two of their mobile spay / neuter vans (which were booked out by 8am) and scheduled a few dozen more follow up appointments with local’s eager to customize their pit bulls. In addition to free spay / neuter services, PBP offered:

•Free vaccinations and microchip
•Free ear cleaning and nail trimming
•Free leashes and collars for first 300 dogs
•Free toys and treats for first 300 dogs
•Free dog food

Everything went! What a great day. These kind of events make the point against mandatory spay / neuter laws…no law required…if you provide low cost or free s/n services, they will come. But I digress.

Why all the attention on pit bulls? Well, for a variety of reasons, they are the most killed breed/type of dog in America’s shelters. If we want to get to No More Homeless Pets, pits are an essential piece of the puzzle.

Pit Bulls rock! They are remarkable, eager to please, animals with mad athletic skills and an abundance of personality. Of course you can make them fight, you make them do just about anything…including make coffee, but what they’re best at is being ridiculous… big grins, a motor driven tail and goofy poses and expressions.

Best Friends is committed to restoring the reputation of pit bull type dogs and has some exciting programs in the works featuring very effective tools and resources to help keep your community pit bull friendly.

At the No More Homeless Pets Conference 10 days ago, we were delighted to announce a partnership with Petsmart Charities called the “Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project”. Basically it’s a pilot project based on a very successful partnership between Best Friends and Salt Lake County Animal Services. It’s had a demonstrable impact on increasing the number of pit type dogs adopted and consequently reducing the number of such dogs surrendered and killed at Salt Lake County Animal Services.
Petsmart kicked in $240,000 to get the program started in 5 target communities that Best Friends will partner with: Rancho Cucamonga, California, Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Carlsbad, California and Tampa, Florida.

All great stuff you say, but what can I do in my city to make it Pit Bull friendly?

Here are three things you can do to keep your community Pit Bull friendly:

1. Be Proactive
Does your community have a comprehensive dangerous dog ordinance? If not, don’t wait, take steps to get a good one passed. It will be a bulwark against regressive and reactive breed bans or other breed discriminatory regulations. A good dangerous dog ordinance targets the deed, not the breed. It focuses on irresponsible owners of whatever breed of dog who encourage aggressive behavior, take pleasure in having the “baddest dog” in the neighborhood, blow off neighbors concerns and turn their dogs into extensions of their own anti-social selves with the result being that when, not if, someone gets bitten, the dog and probably the breed get blamed. Best Friends has model dangerous dog ordinance language available and our team will be happy to help shepherd you through the process of working with local officials to get good laws in place before bad laws are dreamed up by grandstanding and / or uninformed politicians. Click here for model ordinances, resources and more.

2. Use The Best Friends Breed Discriminatory Fiscal Impact Calculator

If your community is plagued by a grandstanding pol or has a well meaning but uninformed neighborhood activist or for some other reason is considering a breed ban or some other form of breed discriminatory legislation, the best strategy to move the conversation from fear mongering hysteria to a rational discussion of what’s best for the community, use THE CALCULATOR! The Best Friends BDL Fiscal Impact Calculator will tell you how much it will cost the taxpayer to enforce, defend and implement a breed ban. When dollars come into the conversation, everything slows down and the reality of a breed ban can be considered in a different light. Does your community really want to introduce a police state with door-to-door searches that leaves kids crying on the doorstep as family pets…family members…are hauled off to be killed or does it really want to protect the community and promote responsible pet ownership through proactive enforcement of progressive dangerous dog laws.

3. Host A Pit Bull Palooza
Have some fun, fix some pits, create a community of pit bull advocates who love these dogs and are sending all the right messages.

Pits are great dogs and they need our help to get out of shelters, to stay out of shelters and to be recognized for the great dogs that they are. For help and resources for your community be sure to visit the Best Friends campaign site for Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dog.

By Francis Battista
Article found here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pit Bull Owners Take a Stand for Their Dogs

We've all heard the stereotypes: only criminals own pit bulls, people only want these dogs to fight them, pit bull owners don't care about their dogs.

And we all know where these stereotypes lead: to pit bull-type dogs facing unfair restrictions and bans, innocent dogs not getting a fair shot at adoption, and thousands of animals killed by shelters just because they look a certain way.

The best way to break stereotypes is to shatter them with reality. Everyone who lives with a pit bull knows this; we've all converted friends and family who abandoned their media-generated fears once they spent a little time up close and personal with our dogs. Many of them went on to adopt their own pit bulls.

And that's why Pit Bull Rescue Central created the "I Own a Pit Bull" campaign. It's time for pit bull owners to stand proud and dispel all those myths about pit bulls and the people who share their lives with them.

When cities, like Denver, pass breed specific legislation, they think they're targeting the drug dealers and other criminals in their town; people too busy breaking the law to go to the polls. Because it's proven again and again that knee-jerk policies targeting dogs based on breed don't reduce dog bites or reach irresponsible pet owners.

City officials don't imagine that they're profiling the small business owners, doctors, nurses, veterinarians, artists, computer programmers, teachers, waitresses, neighborhood watch coordinators, community volunteers ... but that's who's impacted whenever laws are passed that judge a dog based on his appearance, and not his individual actions and the irresponsibility of his owner.

So, now through tomorrow, October 23, use your Facebook status to stand up for your dog and show that you're not a stereotype. The formula is easy, and PBRC gives a few handy examples: I own a pit bull and I vote Green Party; I own a pit bull and I am a cancer survivor; I own a pit bull and I need coffee to get going in the morning. PBRC also provides a template for "I Own a Pit Bull" business cards that you can hand out. If you don't have a pit bull, use your status to show that people who love pit bulls and support their owners come from all walks of life, too.

Why now? Saturday, October 23, is National Pit Bull Awareness Day. At events across the country, pit bull owners, rescuers and advocates will be setting the record straight, promoting responsible pit bull ownership and showing their communities how fantastic these dogs are. I encourage everyone to check out the events in your community, and do your part to start changing minds.

Breed profiling is nothing new. Bloodhounds, Dobermans, German shepherds, and Rottweilers have all that their day. But the prejudice against pit bulls is unprecedented. The constant, widespread access to media reports of "pit bull attacks" (regardless of whether the dog was actually a pit bull or whether there was actually an attack) has kept the fear alive, and every day, responsible pit bull owners face new threats of breed specific legislation.

The only way out of this cycle is education, not only about the misconceptions about these dogs and the failings of breed specific legislation, but also about who we are.

by Stephanie Feldstein


Saturday, October 23, 2010

National Pit Bull Awareness Day!

The National Pit Bull Awareness campaign is a nationwide effort to bring positive awareness and attention to the American Pit Bull Terrier and their responsible owners.

To anyone who shares their life with a "pit bull," the need for a national day of awareness for these misunderstood dogs is clear. Constant negative media attention and sensationalized hype that surrounds pit bulls has the breed in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The media and public have stereotyped and judged an entire group of dogs, as well as their owners, based on the actions of a few.

National Pit Bull Awareness Day was established as a day to educate and foster positive communications and experiences in the communities in which we and our dogs live. It is a day to focus on these incredible dogs and their devoted, responsible owners. A day to change perceptions and stereotypes.

The Pit Bull may be one of the most misunderstood animals in our country. For those of us who know this type of dog, we understand them to be incredible animals and great pets.
I cannot recall a single type of dog that has caused as much hype and hysteria as the Pit Bull. I say "type" because the Pit Bull is really not a breed but rather a moniker applied to several breeds with similar characteristics: American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bull Terrier and American Bulldog.

For responsible Pit Bull owners, we know these dogs to be loving, loyal, gentle companions that enrich our lives as much as we enrich theirs. We can relate to the "nanny dog" character, Petey (of Little Rascals fame), and see in our beloved pet the honor and courage of Sgt. Stubby, and of course the resilience and strength of heart of the now infamous Vick dogs. We are also constantly haunted by the threat of Breed Specific Legislation.

It is for this reason that responsible Pit Bull owners need to take the opportunity to join other responsible Pit Bull owners and organizations in supporting National Pit Bull Awareness Day.

On this day and every day it is imperative that we showcase our dog ambassadors at their best. Get involved with organizations that support education and programs to allow your "ambassadog" to interact with the public in positive ways.

Is your dog an AKC Canine Good Citizen? If not, make that your goal to gain CGC certification for the benefit of helping to minimize the negative public perception of your companion and to get some additional benefits from the AKC.

What do you know about Breed Specific Legislation? Educate yourself on the issues surrounding BSL, where BSL is enacted and how to get involved with fighting BSL in favor of more fair legislation that seeks to punish irresponsible dog owners rather than the dog.

And have a happy, safe National Pit Bull Awareness Day!

Article from:

What are YOU going to do to celebrate??
Find a pit bull event near you or volunteer at a local animal shelter!